Category Archives: Technology

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

First Global Xpress Satellite Successfully Completes In-Orbit Testing

Boeing platform and payload meets all the specifications

iDirect completes FAT and SAT testing of core GX modules

Inmarsat today confirmed that the first satellite in its game-changing Global Xpress (GX) constellation (Inmarsat-5 F1) is on course to achieve commercial service introduction (CSI) by mid-year 2014. The announcement follows the successful completion of Inmarsat-5 F1’s month-long in-orbit testing (IOT) programme, in conjunction with its partner Boeing, which saw the new Ka-band satellite pass key tests with flying colours.

With IOT successfully completed, Boeing has now handed over the first of four Ka-band satellites it is constructing for Inmarsat. The second and third GX satellites are scheduled to be deployed by the end of 2014, which together with Inmarsat-5 F1 will create the world’s first globally available Ka-band, mobile broadband satellite network, providing high-throughput services on land, at sea and in the air.

Inmarsat has also confirmed that its technology partner iDirect has successfully completed Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) and Site Acceptance Testing (SAT) of the infrastructure and VSAT technology that will be the foundation of all GX terminals. With IOT now completed, over the coming few months, Inmarsat and its partners will be running full, end-to-end tests of the radio access network (RAN). Read More

Power to Scale to HTS Networks

Denis SutherlandBy 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:

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

Challenges Facing Aero Systems

Dave DavisBy 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

What to Look for at SATELLITE 2014: The Debate about HTS Business Models

From Via Satellite

High Throughput Satellites (HTS) is undoubtedly one of the industry’s hottest topics, no longer confined to a few geographies. As HTS “globalizes,” new questions arise such as how platforms will tend to evolve worldwide; what challenges and opportunities are expected from the emergence of empowering service architectures; and the business models and technologies behind them. With the entire satellite industry gradually transitioning to HTS, these are important debate topics. They affect all stakeholders in the satellite broadband, backhaul and trunking ecosystems including manufacturers, satellite operators, telcos/MNOs, service providers, broadcasters, technology vendors and — most importantly — end users.

Central to the HTS debate is the topic of the business models and, in particular, the pros and cons of the so-called “closed” and “open” network architectures. This is subject to further exploration, debate and clarification during Satellite 2014.

“Closed” HTS Models

The number one goal through this architecture is achieving the lowest possible operational cost per bit on the satellites. This usually pushes HTS architectures toward some degree of vertical integration; such as when the roles of the satellite operator, network infrastructure and IP service are integrated and managed by a single player. Prime examples of this model are HughesNet and ViaSat exede in the U.S. and Eutelsat tooway (KASAT) in Europe. Continue>

Smooth Sailing for Maritime HTS?

iDirect's Terry Neumann

iDirect’s Terry Neumann

Market forecasts show that the number of maritime vessels relying on VSAT as their primary means of communications will more than double by 2016, to more than 26,000. Terry Neumann, iDirect’s director of market strategy, talks current trends and future direction of this market with regards to HTS.

Set the current stage with regards to the adoption of VSAT broadband in maritime and where you see the biggest opportunities ahead. 

Neumann: We have already seen operators in segments like cruise, offshore oil and gas, and super yachts heavily adopt the use VSAT technology. They are actively leveraging their VSAT networks to help improve ship-to-shore communications, boost business productivity and address crew welfare. Demand in these markets continues to grow as new IP applications are increasing throughput requirements every year.

Outside of these segments there is still plenty of opportunity for VSAT broadband to further permeate the maritime market. Large market segments, like industrial fishing or commercial shipping, have been slower to adopt VSAT despite the fact that they could greatly benefit from using VSAT for all the aforementioned purposes and more. To date, they have been hesitant to adopt due to a range of variables including cost and bandwidth requirements. Read More

Constant Connections

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

We all wanted to be connected to our friends, family, work and social networks 100% of the time. In fact, research has shown that the brain feels the lack of social connection in a similar way to physical pain, so now you can really say it’s painful when the flight attendant tells you to switch your phone off!

Recently, I battled through the floods in the UK to attend the GVF Connectivity 2014 Event.

The event was about trains, planes and ships and staying connected. After two days discussing the wonderful connectivity people have on cruise ships, in remote regions, on airliners and super yachts, I was on the train from London to Portsmouth only to discover there was no cellular service and certainly no VSAT on the train. I suppose I was lucky to have a seat! Read More

SIS LIVE Delivers the First of 18 Ka Band SNG Trucks

From Live-Production

SIS LIVE announced the completion and delivery of the first vehicle as part of its 7 year Ka Band satellite newsgathering (SNG) contract with ITV and ITN. This highly-specified uplink truck will form part of a fleet of 18 HD vehicles, all due to be delivered in 2014.

The new fleet is based on Mercedes Sprinter and Vito vans with 1.2m and 1.0m SIS LIVE uplinks. The antennas are the lightest, most flexible vehicle mounted satellite systems in the world. The reduced weight, compared to competing antennas, allows for a higher spec system to be installed in a smaller 3.5T vehicle, thus avoiding the 56mph speed restriction of the 5T vehicles and allowing the swiftest response to breaking news stories. On board equipment includes HD, SDI, fibre and wireless camera inputs as well as highly specified vision and audio mixers. Each (ITN) truck is dual path capable with redundant transmit chains and features a generator with battery-powered UPS backup. An enhanced dual modem system ensures the most efficient and reliable use of bandwidth for IP over satellite.

ITV and ITN will be the first to benefit from SIS LIVE’s extended provision of IP services which sees the launch of a new iDirect hub at MediaCityUK to work alongside its existing Milton Keynes iDirect services. This new infrastructure provides greater resilience and additional new functionality. Continue>

First Global Xpress® Satellite Achieves Key Milestone

From noodls

Inmarsat announced that Inmarsat-5 F1, the first in its fleet of three Global Xpress® (GX) satellites, has successfully completed its orbital deployment stages on schedule. Inmarsat and Boeing engineers, working from Inmarsat’s GX teleport in Nemea, Greece, are now beginning a month of comprehensive payload testing, in preparation for commencing live end-to-end testing of the high-speed, mobile broadband GX connectivity services, scheduled to start in March.

From its geostationary orbital location at 62.6 degrees East, Inmarsat-5 F1 will offer high-throughput broadband services for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The satellite, built by manufacturing partner Boeing, features 89 beams and 6 steerable high-power spot beams, which will enable Inmarsat to dynamically increase capacity based on customer demand.

Part of a US$1.6bn investment programme by Inmarsat, the revolutionary Global Xpress constellation is on course to achieve full global coverage by the end of 2014 and will be capable of delivering download speeds of up to 50Mbps on land, at sea and in the air, virtually anywhere in the world. Continue>