Category Archives: Technology

iDirect Asia Partners With ST Teleport To Introduce Web-based Monitoring Platform To Maritime Customers

VT iDirect, Inc. (iDirect), a company of Vision Technologies Systems, Inc. (VT Systems), today announced that iDirect Asia Pte Ltd partnered with ST Teleport Pte Ltd (ST Teleport), a Singapore-based full-service satellite and fiber communications solutions provider, has launched a unique and advanced vessel-location tracking and network-monitoring platform to help maritime customers achieve greater operational and cost control, and improve customer satisfaction.  iDirect is a world leader in satellite-based IP communications technology.

Marketed as Nautical, the platform is a proprietary solution built by ST Teleport using iDirect’s award-winning Network Management System, SatManage, which features a comprehensive suite of web-based tools that enable automation, monitoring and integration of hybrid satellite networks and Network Operating Center (NOC)-based applications from single or multiple locations.

As a unique service offering, Nautical is fully customizable and offered as a standalone or “white label” solution to customers. Its interface provides an in-depth view of real-time and historical VSAT performance statistics, “live” tracking of vessels and timely automated generation of detailed network utilization management reports. The platform’s compatibility with popular mobile devices means customers can access vital network information anywhere and anytime. There is no further hardware investment required for customers that are already using iDirect VSAT terminals. Read More

Delivering Profitable Services In Africa Using Satellite

From Communications Africa

In the latest issue of Communications Africa, Richard Deasington, iDirect’s director of market development, provides perspective on the ways in which various technology, regulatory, industry and market developments are positioning satellite to help mobile operators deliver profitable services in Africa like never before.

Technology: The biggest economic change is being lead by the launch of High Throughput Satellites (HTS), coupled with the introduction of low-cost, more power-efficient small cells from the cellular industry. When combined, these developments help bring down the point of entry for smaller-sized communities.

Regulatory: With regards to geo-political and business challenges facing companies that are trying to do business in Africa, Deasington suggests that it is time for regulators to take a new look at landing rights in the continent. Many of the most economical HTS services are provided by satellites that land their traffic in different countries or continents from the originating country and then return it via fibre. While this type of setup raises security flags, it could be time to revisit such scenarios.

Industry: As demand in a data-centric world makes its way to remote parts of Africa, the low-cost smart phone will be a key enabler for the digital revolution. With this in mind, Deasington says that the best option for most new networks will be a leap straight to 4G LTE, rather than 3G. This is further impacted by the fact that the cost of handsets is not as much of a handicap as it was in years past.

The impact that this has on satellite is in the fact that the arrival of higher bandwidth demands, has coincided with deployment of HTS. This means that satellite can deliver an order or magnitude more bandwidth for the same cost as older broad-beam satellites.

Market: Backhaul remains a vibrant opportunity for satellite in Africa. iDirect currently works in nearly every country in Africa, providing, among other markets, connectivity to remote and rural cellular sites. The traffic, which ranges from voice to data, becomes further optimized with the introduction of iDirect Sathaul.

Check out Communications Africa for the complete interview, which also includes a deeper look at iDirect Sathaul and some of the fastest growing markets for satellite in Africa.

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 >