Category Archives: Technology

Antenna Size: Does it Matter?

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering

In the last blog, we left off discussing how satellite operators can best utilize spectrum. Now we’ll talk about antenna size.

One key question that customers of satellite service providers will ask is if Ka band allows them to use smaller terminals, or higher data rates from a reflector of the same size. This is a very attractive proposition to most satellite users, especially if size or weight is a consideration, usually for many military applications.

The reflector will be smaller because of the nature and physics of satellite communications. For an equivalent performance, Ka Band typically would require a smaller reflector due to smaller wavelengths and can be used by bands of a higher frequency. Many equipment manufacturers have been developing smaller Ka band terminals. Kymeta is one company that is pushing on with flat panel development with some exciting plans.

The next part of the diagram represents the ODU, or mainly the BUC.

image1

I hear some people say a terminal is more than a reflector; the other antenna components are more complex like filters and that Ka filter component is newerand thus not as small as KU, where years of development may have resulted in miniaturization. Read More

Ku vs Ka: Battle of the Bands

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering 

Much has been said about the Ku v Ka band, but as we pivot to High Throughput Satellites (HTS), let’s consider how frequency will impact the ecosystem.

First we had the Ka revolution, where the VSAT industry entered a new era of satellite communications, dedicated to delivering data services. Then there was the battle of the bands where the VSAT community debated if it really was a Ka play, or could the same architecture be delivered with KU.

NSR coined the term “HTS” to encompass this model, whether with KU or Ka, but which band do you think is better suited to HTS?

Do you want to know the answer? … it depends on a few factors, but new entrants without access to Ku spectrum will more than likely look to Ka. Incumbent satellite operators with vested interest in Ku will likely use the spectrum they have. L and C will not be going away, but it’s unlikely they will be used in a HTS model, let’s consider why.

Satellite services are delivered on a range of spectrum as shown in the diagram below. I have tried to give a rough idea of the impact that the frequency band has on a variety of characteristics. So in general usually a L band based service would have lower throughput than a C Band. Ka band on the other hand has potential to offer much higher speeds. This is mainly due to the amount of spectrum available. It is always surprising to me, just how little spectrum is allocated to L Band. It requires much less spectrum than Ka, so if you look at the services provided here they are providing much less aggregate throughout at the IP layer regardless of the technology used. Read More

A Conversation with Jack Waters of XipLink – Part 3 of 3

Josh CohenBy Josh Cohen, Director, Sales Business Development

iDirect’s Director, Sales Business Development, Joshua Cohen, who has been with iDirect for over 13 years, recently sat down with Jack Waters, the President and CEO of partner XipLink to discuss the company’s latest venture with iDirect, the XipLink-X7 Xtreme Bundle Solution.

This is the third in a series of the conversation.

In the second part of the blog, we left off with:

Josh: Finally, I believe that XipLink has recently custom-designed a product specifically for iDirect customers – your XS-iDirect solution?

jack watersJack: Yes, that’s correct, Josh. Our XS was designed to allow iDirect Hub Operators obtain up to 100 Mbps of combined downstream and upstream TCP traffic from the hub out to one remote site. It is ideal for the most demanding customers in Maritime, Mining, and Oil/Gas markets. The XS was specifically designed for use with your Evolution X7, which iDirect offers as the XipLink-X7 Xtreme Bundle Solution.

Josh: Turning now to the technical side, what is your “secret sauce” so to speak that allows the XipLink suite of products do what it does?

Jack: The main innovation in the design of XipLink’s technology is that we have implemented key optimizations in the kernel of the operating system, which is significantly faster with a smaller impact to the hardware. This results in two main advantages to our customers: Read More

A Conversation with Jack Waters of XipLink – Part 2 of 3

Josh CohenBy Josh Cohen, Director, Sales Business Development

iDirect’s Director, Sales Business Development, Joshua Cohen, who has been with iDirect for over 13 years, recently sat down with Jack Waters, the President and CEO of partner XipLink to discuss the company’s latest venture with iDirect, the XipLink-X7 Xtreme Bundle Solution.

This is the second in a series of the conversation.

In the first part of the blog, we left off with:

Josh: Turning now in a bit more detail to the XipLink solution, can you highlight some of the specific applications you support on the hub side in your XHO Hub Optimizer solution?

jack watersJack: Sure, let me highlight the two major ones:

  • XiPix JPEG image transcoding (lossy compression): This takes the JEG image and compresses it, and by doing so, it reduces the amount of bandwidth that is consumed by these JPEGs when they travel over the link. The nice thing about our lossy compression is that the service provider has full control over the quality level of the JPEGs, allowing them to respond in a very granular fashion to the demands of their customers.
  • GZIP Compression of HTTP data (lossless compression): Our lossless compression meanwhile automatically compresses web sites using HTTP compression standards, with decompression being done by the web browser. All modern browsers support HTTP Compression, but it is often not enabled on web servers, presenting an easy opportunity to compress the data for traversal over the link. A compression ratio of 1.5 is typical for web browsing, which represents significant savings. For instance, from a bottom line business perspective, with these ratios a service provider could support three customers with the same capacity that formerly supported two customers, which results in additional revenue to the service provider. Meanwhile, because less bandwidth is transferred, web pages appear faster, which improves overall end user experience as well.

Josh: And then on the remote side, could you highlight the main features of your XA appliances and how this product benefits end-users – I believe this is where the end-user can get the added option of VPN, IP-Sec acceleration? Could you also highlight the difference between the XA, XE and Virtualized variants of your remote product suite? Read More

iDirect Becomes World’s Largest Enterprise VSAT Systems Manufacturer

Market-leading sales for IP satellite hubs, and a quadrupling of terminal shipments since 2004

Herndon, Va., April 8, 2014 – VT iDirect, Inc. (iDirect), a company of Vision Technologies Systems, Inc. (VT Systems), today announced that it has become the world’s largest VSAT systems manufacturer by enterprise hardware sales, garnering a 32% market share, according to the 13th Edition of The VSAT Report, published by market analyst COMSYS. Latest revenue figures included in the report highlight the fact iDirect has grown revenues for ten consecutive years, solidifying its lead in the enterprise VSAT market. iDirect is a world leader in satellite-based IP communications technology.

iDirect continues to maintain the number-one market position in the satellite market for IP hub sales. Its share of terminal shipments has quadrupled from five percent in 2004 to nearly 20% in 2012. Such success helps iDirect solidify its lead in the enterprise and mobility VSAT segment, while building a larger foundation for the future.

The pivotal past year for iDirect was further solidified by the introduction of Velocity as a new product line to complement Evolution. Designed for satellite operators deploying HTS architectures, Velocity also enables service providers and operators to meet the requirement of high-speed mobility specifically in multi-spot beam environments. Evolution continues to be the optimal system for the majority of iDirect’s customer base, designed to meet customer requirements ranging from narrowband to high-bandwidth applications. The two products will be unified under a new common network management system and share a range of remote terminals. Read More

Intelligent Payloads: The Key to Ensuring Greater Return on HTS

DavidBettingerBy Dave Bettinger, CTO

The goal for operators of spot-beam High Throughput Satellite (HTS) is clear: to improve the economics of satellite communications by increasing the supply and efficiency of capacity. However, the very nature of spot-beam architectures introduces a challenge to achieving this goal.

Achieving a high utilization rate

Here’s the issue: Launching a satellite is a 20-year bet on where customer demand will be located and how big that demand will be. With a traditional wide-beam satellite, the geographic target could be set fairly large. There was broad flexibility to allocate bandwidth to where it was needed on the ground as demand changed over time. And satellite operators could commonly maintain a capacity utilization rate of 90%.

Capacity allocation is much less flexible with a spot-beam satellite. Operators need to determine beam how much bandwidth and power is required for each and where each beam should be pointed. Once an operator has designed the beam pattern, it cannot easily be adjusted. As a result, operators lose much of the flexibility to sell out capacity in the ways they are used to with wide-beam satellites. And the risk is much greater that an operator could underestimate or overestimate demand on the ground.

Any cost equation is a factor of both supply and demand. While spot-beam satellites will add abundant new capacity to the sky, selling out that capacity is the key to better economics. The cost of HTS capacity will likely not come down until it matches utilization rates of fixed satellites. If capacity is locked up in the wrong beams, an operator would only be able to monetize a lower portion. And that would keep costs high. Read More

SWaPping Comms for Ammo

Dave Davisby Dave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe

At the recent Mobile Deployable Communications Conference in Amsterdam, the main themes were no surprise. The requirements of the defence and security community continue to be very much focused on contingency operations. As a result, adaptability, agility and scalability are the key requirements. In addition, ever tightening budgets across the board continue to bite, but there is still an extant requirement for bandwidth and interoperability.

However, one other constant theme that struck a chord with me was the necessity to drive down the Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) requirements of mobile terminals, particularly those carried on the backs of soldiers. These three key elements of terminal design are often the critical deciding factors in the choice of terminal.

It was pointed out at the conference that the weight carried by soldiers on patrols hasn’t changed that much in the last 40 years, but what has changed significantly is the amount of specialist modern electronic equipment, such as PDAs, cameras, personal radios, blue force tracking kit and tactical and strategic satellite communications (Satcom). Satcom kit was once the preserve of headquarters elements; for use as strategic out of theatre backhauls. Now, these terminals are often extended to the section level for the patrols on the ground and for insertion into patrol bases, operating well away from regular logistic and operational support.

So what used to be carried instead of modern electronics? For every kilogram of electronic kit carried, the modern soldier is sacrificing carrying the key thing that dictates the length of time they can operate: ammunition (and to a certain extent, water). By reducing the SWaP characteristics of equipment, manufacturers are often simply increasing the amount of ammo that can be carried. In a firefight those extra rounds of ammunition can prove vital. Read More

Satellite 2014: Recapping the Action

The major players in satellite made their annual descent onto Washington, D.C. last week to talk emerging markets, new applications and the next generation of technology innovation.

Naturally, the topic of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) was a central theme of the show, and iDirect CTO Dave Bettinger was right at the heart of the discussion. In a standing-room-only session on “What’s Next in HTS,” Bettinger helped provide guidance on how we can take HTS to the next level.

Bettinger outlined key developments for the future design of HTS networks to maximize opportunity and minimize risk. While HTS is projected to transform satellite connectivity economics, Bettinger emphasized that the industry should soon be able to measure HTS success and make the right adjustments where needed.

Richard Deasington, director of vertical marketing, participated in a discussion on wireless backhaul, debating whether the mobile data revolution will eventually go rural. The group envisioned about three to four years until we see broad adoption of 3G and 4G in remote areas.

During a panel discussion on mining, oil & gas and electrical utilities, Ed Smith, sales engineer manager for North America, talked about the role we play in helping facilitate reliable and efficient connections for customers in the utilities market regardless of the service provider. Eric Watko, vice president, telecoms and space systems, helped navigate what’s ahead for the role of VSAT for maritime—one of most talked about vertical markets for maritime as of late.

Our partners were also well represented on the agenda. In one of the larger panels at the show, eight representatives from across the value chain—including Intelsat and Eutelsat—mapped out the future of satellite serving Latin America, including opportunities in such areas as maritime and challenges associated with governmental issues in the region like landing rights. Intelsat and Iridium, were also part of a discussion on how commercial satellite services could help government customers combat budget cuts with fixed service rates. Read More

Satellite 2014: Wireless Backhaul via Satellite: Making 3G/4G Affordable for Everyone

Mobile backhaul is one of the most promising satellite markets. It’s even more so with the projected global boom in mobile traffic – 12X growth between 2012 and 2016, with a potential to add 2.6 billion subscribers over the next four years, according to market data cited by NSR research director Jose Del Rosario.

But as Del Rosario pointed out in the Satellite 2014 session he moderated called “Wireless Backhaul via Satellite: Making 3G/4G Affordable for Everyone,” will the mobile revolution go rural? Is there a strong enough business case for satellite backhaul to bring 3G and 4G services into the heart of developing nations?

The answer is challenging, according to experts from iDirect, O3b Networks, Comtech, Hughes, Intelsat and Ericsson, who formed the panel. The core pieces of the solution are in place, but more needs to come together over the next three to five years for 3G and 4G backhaul to catch on.

Richard Swardh, director of business development at Ericsson, noted that mobile operators might need to rethink how they charge for service – moving to a pay-per-use model. He also noted that companies like Facebook are considering developing slimmed down versions of their applications that require less bandwidth, helping to make data connectivity more affordable. Read More

Satellite 2014: What’s Next in HTS

One of the most widely anticipated sessions at Satellite 2014 was “What’s Next in HTS.” NSR president Christopher Baugh moderated a panel of industry leaders who shared their insights on how HTS will propel satellite communications forward and how best to manage this critical inflection point.

Defining HTS 

The session opened with an attempt to define HTS. The answer isn’t an easy one, though. As several panelists suggested, you can argue when the first High Throughput Satellite launched or whether to define HTS by throughput, architecture, beam size, payload or all of the above. But the panelists all agreed on this: HTS represents an increasingly rapid improvement in capacity, throughput and pricing.

Mike Cook, senior vice president with Hughes, outlined the exponential leap in throughput on a Hughes satellite, surging from 10 Gbps in 2008 to more than 150 Gbps today. iDirect CTO Dave Bettinger shared NSR’s projection that HTS capacity will soon exceed 2.6 Tbps.

John Zlogar, vice president of commercial networks at ViaSat, highlighted the massive increase in HTS launches and the significant improvement in the cost of capacity per bit. And Ashok Rao, O3B Networks vice president of product development, shared his company’s bullish growth plans, which included an elliptical orbit fleet, higher throughput rates and new target markets.

Maximizing HTS Opportunity 

Certainly, the numbers are strong, Baugh suggested, before setting up the day’s key question: How can the industry best monetize all this new capacity? Are all the business cases in place, or could this be another version of the satellite industry placing a risky 20-year bet on an uncertain future? Read More