By 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
by 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
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
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.
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
By Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering
In my last blog, I discussed how ground infrastructure providers like iDirect have a tricky job keeping their technology at the pace of change of developments in space. Much has been said about the exciting changes in the VSAT industry, not least with the many High Throughput Satellites (HTS) launched or planned.
The reality is that there is no common way to build an HTS satellite. O3B is exceptionally different from the other constellations, but we have also seen many other differences in terms of numbers of beams, size of transponders, polarization, onboard process and many other factors. I talked about some of the different business models here.
One thing they have in common is that HTS brings many more beams to cover a similar geographical area. For example, a typical Ku satellite beam could cover Europe, but with an HTS Ka satellite, you may require 30 or more beams. This multi-beam frequency reuse is obviously one of the key advantages of an HTS architecture, but I will not talk about that here. Intelsat do a very good job on the “teach in video” you can view: http://www.intelsat.com/blog/intelsat-presents-a-high-throughput-satellite-teach-in/
Let’s consider how this change impacts the ground vendors or service providers using a TDMA platform like iDirect. With a non-HTS Ku satellite, from a design perspective, we would assume for Europe wide coverage that a single DVB-S2 outbound would sufficiently cover the continent, up to a limited amount of total IP traffic, and we can run some sophisticated modeling to work out numbers of terminals contention ratios, SLA, rain fade with resultant ACM impact. Easy! Read More
By Dave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe
In my last blog I looked at the rise of aero platforms in the Defence and security environment using SatCom, particularly UAVs.
I mentioned that there were some challenges when operating in the aero environment and I’ll address those in this blog.
In the commercial sector, the main thrust is large amounts of data on the downstream to the aircraft. The military sector wants the data, particularly video streams, to be passed largely on the upstream, i.e from the aircraft. This offers some challenges when using IP technology, designed around web traffic, which traditionally pulls more data from the core network on the downstream than it pushes back via the upstream.
The use of SCPC is often the most efficient method of getting a live video stream off a platform, but having the ability to switch back to Adaptive TDMA once the video stream is complete means that the C4 (Command, Control, Communications and Computers) element will be operating at its most effective. When using Adaptive TDMA, employing TRANSEC ensures that the link is protected and security is assured. Read More