Category Archives: Technology

VSAT Plays Critical Role in Disaster Relief Efforts in Vanuatu

During times of natural disaster VSAT plays an essential role in maintaining critical communications associated with relief efforts. Such capabilities were on display in the wake of Cyclone Pam, which hit the island of Vanuatu at the end of March.

One of the initial relief efforts deployed to the island was a 73-meter yacht, the M/Y MTN disaster relief1Dragonfly, tasked with transporting aid, SAR and medical teams from Port Vila to isolated islands that are without communication. The yacht was equipped with satellite technology and equipment donated from iDirect, MTN Communications and Intelsat.

The M/Y Dragonfly, was the first to answer a call for disaster relief efforts to the island by YachtAid Global. YachtAid Global is an organization dedicated to delivering humanitarian, developmental and conservation aid onboard yachts to isolated and underprivileged coastal communities around the world.

When disaster strikes, it is important to have a communications plan that is quickly MTN disaster relief2deployed in any environment and under any circumstance. The use of satellite, independent of terrestrial infrastructure, becomes the ideal choice, providing fast setup and connectivity.

iDirect technology is used in emergency relief scenarios around the globe, providing  relief teams with reliable global coverage whether in densely populated urban areas where the infrastructure is damaged, or remote locations where infrastructure does not currently exist. With the technology, first responders are given complete communications capabilities with voice, data and video.

Ground Players Tackle Bandwidth Optimization in an HTS World

From Via Satellite

For any industry, making the most of the resources you have available is critical to success. The managing of bandwidth for the satellite industry is vital particularly as we look at things like 4K and move into a more data-intensive world.

The launch of ViaSat 1, Intelsat Epic NG and other new High Throughput Satellites (HTS) is increasing the amount of bandwidth in the sky by a factor of eight to 10. At the same time, the promise of performance embodied by HTS has upped the stakes for the ground segment to devise new ways to squeeze more efficiency out of existing networks while ensuring that infrastructure investments made today will serve customers needs for broadband on the fly tomorrow.

“Our customers are demanding much more dynamic delivery of service from us,” says Andrew Lucas, global operating officer for Harris CapRock, which teams with iDirect and Comtech EF Data to serve customers in the maritime, energy and government sectors. “In our world, a customer may be in a location for only a short period and then change, but they may not be able to tell us where they are going next. We need to deliver very quickly.”

Mark Ayers, director of RF satellite engineering for Alaska-based GCI, a voice, data and video services provider, is also feeling the pressure to serve more demanding users, especially as it delivers high-bandwidth to schools and clinics in rural Alaska for applications such as telemedicine. “We’re highly focused on being as efficient as possible with our bandwidth because of the high cost of satellite capacity,” he says. “Every single link we deliver is focused on maximizing the spectral efficiencies we can achieve.” Continue >

iDirect’s Observations from Satellite 2015: TDMA and SCPC

Day one the Satellite 2015 Conference was filled with a diverse grouping of presentations covering a bevy of different topics. From market specific content around maritime and cellular backhaul to technical sessions on satellite waveforms and future payload capabilities, many of the thought leaders throughout the satellite industry were on stage sharing their views.

iDirect is in attendance to give you a first-hand perspective of the key topics throughout the conference.

This entry is focused on TDMA and SPCP.

The Technological Solutions to Solve the SCPC vs. MF-TDMA Debate session could easily have been titled “The battle for the middle”. The four panelists represented various ground infrastructure vendors, one of which was iDirect’s Guy Adams. The key takeaway from this session is that no one still believes that there is a real battle between the extreme edges of TDMA and SCPC, but that the true solution lies in the middle ground between the two extremes.

Adams took a creative approach by going through a series of questions that were really focused on answering what an end customer cares about when looking for a solution. There are three facts that address their needs: they are looking at an appropriate level of service to meet their specific needs, they want to pay a fair price, and they want to get what they paid for. This gave the audience areas to consider when looking at the two different technologies.

The other three presentations from Comtech, Advantech and Newtec were all similar in the fact that they talked about their solution that “solved” the dilemma between TDMA and SCPC.

A key takeaway from this session is the fact that the solutions that offer flexibility to provide shared or dedicated capacity depending on requirements and markets being served are the new normal. The debate between TDMA and SCPC has changed to be a debate about which solution takes the best of both and combines them to offer a better solution in the middle.

iDirect at Satellite 2015: Four Questions with Denis Sutherland

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect

With nearly 20 years experience in the telecommunications and network industries, Denis Sutherland is firmly entrenched in the world of global communications, and the role of VSAT.

At the forefront of leadership discussions around HTS, Sutherland will be continuing such discussions at Satellite 2015. We sat down with Sutherland to get his perspective on this year’s show—including what he is anticipating the most from his time in Washington, D.C. at the event.

Q: Tell us about your new role with iDirect as Director of Business Development.

DS: Business Development in iDirect supports our customers with long term and strategic programs, and is very much customer facing. Therefore, this role is exactly where I have wanted to be for a while, taking the lead on discussing a number of exciting HTS programs with our partners. In general, iDirect is seeing a great deal of optimism in the VSAT community, and personally it’s great to be part of that.

On the whole, I would say that the time to act is now. With that in mind, many organizations are looking at how they participate in the HTS programs that are coming online very soon. Companies are dusting off the strategy books and working out their core strengths. That may be providing a gateway to a HTS operator, or for others it could be as a vertical specialist offering multiple VSAT offerings. The key is to have a defined plan, before service launch.

Q: You’ve been at the forefront of the Ka-band vs Ku-band debate for the industry. Talk about the biggest considerations influencing this debate going forward.

DS: This has been a hot topic since Ka-band was first proposed a number of years ago. The more interesting discussions are evolving into ecosystem comparisons, around all aspects of the satellite operators’ approach. Frequency is one, but you also have discussions associated with open or closed business models, terminal integration approach and a number of others.

The question of which satellite operator ecosystem will offer the best solution for you organization will depend on many things, not least being the vertical market that you are addressing. Read More

Great Expectations

Dave DavisDave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe

It’s an exciting time to be in an industry that is evolving fast. High Throughput Satellites are leading the charge and with them are coming technological advancements in terminals and hubs, but above all mindsets. Some of these developments are clearly outlined in the recent blog on Raising the VSAT Opportunity by iDirect’s Denis Sutherland.

The defence sector once led the communications world, with many commonplace technologies such as the mobile phone, or the Internet, starting as defence-based programs.

In recent decades, there has been a dramatic switch to the technological drive coming from the commercial world. Technologies like HTS are providing capability far beyond that of current defence assets. As a result, closer communications between the defence requirements teams and commercial industry is needed and a collaborative approach from an early stage is essential.

At February’s Mobile Deployable Communications Conference (MDC)in Prague, the main thrust of the conference was predictively SWaP and ARC.

SWaP, or Size Weight and Power, is at the forefront of the minds in the defence and security community. However, another point well made at MDC was the additional requirement to not burden the warfighter with information overload. Such programs as the UK’s FIST will have to balance situational awareness (SA) with decision fatigue.

DDAVISTo address the challenges of SWaP, the iDirect next-generation manpack board level router, the 950mp, has been designed from the ground up with these three key elements in mind. Compared to our e850mp it’s been made smaller by far, is obviously lighter and is incredibly power efficient. The 950mp will be on the iDirect stand at Satellite 2015, Booth #4000. If you’re there, make sure you come and say “hi” and have a look at the terminal up close.

I am really looking forward to seeing the terminals that will now be possible as a result of the new 950mp. I predict a real step-change from man-portable to a true manpack, bringing capability to the front line that was only possible in vehicle mounted or suitcase sized terminals only a few years ago.

There is also a new rack mounted router, the 9350 and it looks great. OK, I’m biased, but the product development team have certainly done their job well and have produced a router that is highly capable, offers much higher speeds, easy to use, ready for future HTS deployment  and is well adapted to life in a harsh environment. Read More

Getting Ready for Satellite 2015

Satellite 2015 is less than two weeks away and our team is excited to be there! We hope to see our Partners at Booth #4000 and we welcome anyone else who is looking into satellite technology to visit and talk to us. We have a number of our executives set to speak on panels ranging from small cells to adaptive payloads, the Internet of Things and military satellite.

This year we’ll be showcasing every aspect of the iDirect portfolio ─ our exciting growth strategy for Evolution® customers; our new Velocity® product line for HTS Operators launching managed services; a sneak peek at iDirect Pulse®, the next generation management system; and our entire remote portfolio.

We look forward to seeing you at Booth #4000!

 

A New NMS Called iDirect Pulse®

Chris-Burdick-smWe recently sat down with Chris Burdick, VT iDirect’s Vice President, Product Management, Network Management System (NMS), to better understand the importance of the NMS as the critical “glue” that binds all parts of a satellite communications platform together.

VT iDirect:  Why is VT iDirect developing a new NMS?

Chris:  We’ve seen a lot of changes in the satellite industry in recent years, such as the launch of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) payloads, improvements in technology and the implementation of new service models. Satellite communication services have also evolved, and we needed to reflect that in our management system. So in our new NMS, we’ve focused on facilitating greater scale, improving reliability and security, and making it much easier to integrate with back office systems and terrestrial networks.

VT iDirect:  What is the name of the new NMS and why?

Chris:  It’s called iDirect Pulse®, and we believe the term “pulse” captures the true essence of what we’re creating. Since the NMS is a system that touches every aspect of a customer’s business, our new NMS denotes the pulse of a vibrant industry, the pulse of a particular network element, and keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your business.

VT iDirect:  How long has iDirect Pulse been in development?

Chris:  First of all, we had to start from the ground up to account for the new requirements in the industry and aim for the future VT iDirect envisions; this is not an easy task. We looked at every aspect of the design of iVantage– both the things that are very good and the things that can be limiting. Building on the success of iVantage, we wanted to introduce a solid architecture that will last for at least the next decade. Read More

NetHope Official: Satellite Response to Ebola is on ‘a Scale Never Seen Before’

From Via Satellite

Gisli Olafsson, emergency response director at NetHope, a consortium of 42 top global humanitarian organizations,has been in West Africa as part of the international response to the Ebola outbreak since October 2014. He has traveled between Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, spurring on the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to combat the disease throughout the three countries.

Telecommunications infrastructure, a vital part of any emergency response, is often very basic in rural parts of Africa. Most of the time in these regions, General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is the fastest mobile data network available, while in the absolute most rural areas, there is no mobile signal at all. In an interview with Via Satellite, Olafsson said the influx of responders into affected rural areas has put pressure on already fragile networks.

Fortunately, there has been an unparalleled response by the satellite industry.

While the industry is often called upon to restore communications in the wake of natural disasters, the Ebola outbreak is different in that the affected area is much larger than a typical disaster.

“In a natural disaster you have a path of destruction,” explained Olafsson. “This path of destruction damages the critical telecommunication infrastructure in that area. Here there was no damage of critical infrastructure. The outbreak however affected the entire three countries, including very remote areas with no existing infrastructure. This led to us having to provide services over a much larger area than we have ever had to deal with before. Overall the response community has brought over 250 mobile satellite terminals and over 100 VSATs into the three countries. This is a scale we have never seen before.”

NetHope has been deploying more than 120 mobile broadband terminals such as Thuraya’s IP+ and Inmarsat’s Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) terminals, as well as more than 50 VSATs. Companies such as Eutelsat and Facebook have also contributed satellite equipment. The majority of the installations have been in rural areas where connectivity was close to non-existent before. This infrastructure is aiding in bringing a halt to the febrile disease’s spread, which can resurface up to 90 days after the last survivor is released. Continue >

Bringing New Hope to Enslaved Children

From Better Satellite World

For most of us, slavery is a horror of the past. It is a current reality, however, in more than 100 coun­tries around the planet.

The Walk Free Foundation estimates that there are nearly 30 million people living today as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers and child brides in forced marriages. According to the UN, girls account for two out of every three child victims and girls and women together make up 70 percent of all victims.

The exploitation of human beings for sex, labor and other purposes happens everywhere, but it clusters in less developed nations, with hot spots in sub-Saharan Africa, India and parts of southeast Asia. It is also in these regions that hope arises, often from unexpected directions.

The Crossover International Academy is a school and home in the Lake Volta basin of Ghana. It is dedicated to helping children escape from slavery and rebuild their lives. Slavery is embedded in the fishing and agricultural economy of the region, and David Yayravi, a refugee from Togo living there, chose to do something about it. He recognized that children could not escape slavery if they had no place to escape to and no hope of a better life. He launched the Crossover Academy in a small schoolhouse to give ex-slaves a safe haven where they could gain an education.

The challenges were as great as the number of children seeking freedom. Education takes dedication and talent but also money, and that last resource was in short supply. Seeking access to better educa­tional resources, Crossover sent an email in April 2013 to iDirect, which sells satellite equipment for Internet connectivity. The cost of that equipment turned out to be much more than the Academy could afford. But days after giving up on the satellite option, Crossover received an email from Josh Cohen of iDirect. Cohen had learned that Crossover was not just a business prospect but a life-saving mission, and he offered to provide the equipment for free. Cohen also introduced Crossover to a local service provider, SkyVision, which agreed to provide 12 months of satellite connectivity free. Continue >

Satellite and the Role of Specialized Services for M2M

By Toni Lee Rudnicki, Chief Marketing Officer, VT iDirect

What is the role for satellite in the market for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications? It is a question that I often get asked as customers look towards future TLopportunities.

Most would point to the near ubiquitous level of reliability and availability offered by satellite. After all, the value that M2M presents to an organization is the ability to know where all assets are at any given time. But another area where satellite can play a unique role is with the high level of service specialization.

NSR highlighted this aspect as part of its recently published report titled ‘M2M and IoT via Satellite 5th Edition’. According to NSR, one of the most notable strengths of satellite-based M2M relates to applications that require high-service level agreement (SLA) in remote regions of the globe—often out of the range of terrestrial coverage.

Let’s take a customer in offshore oil and gas, for example. These companies are making a big push towards greater usage of M2M-based applications, such as the use of remote-operated vehicles. Many are using such equipment to help increase production through the ability to perform maintenance on rigs and report any issues back to shore. This is a service that can be highly specialized and tailored to the specific customer based on the level of data that needs to be obtained.

This is one of the distinct values that iDirect delivers with the Intelligent Platform. We have specifically engineered the platform to allow our customers to build out differentiated service offerings. The ability to offer application-level SLAs within a customer’s network, along with multi-tiered services creates a unique opportunity to serve the highly tailored M2M-based demands of customers.

The value of M2M is constantly evolving. Likewise, the role that satellite plays in helping machines talk to other machines is changing. The two fronts seem highly symbiotic on multiple levels.