Category Archives: Technology

20/20 Vision for Building the “Network 2020 Environment”

Cisco_Watko_Hi_RezEric Watko, Vice President, Technology Initiatives, iDirect

It’s tough to say you have 20/20 vision on anything, much less a goal that is roughly six years down the road. But as we continue to talk about satellite’s role in the converged end-to-end network, some things are coming into clear focus about the path we need to take as an industry to get there.

I’ve been asked to present this week at VSAT 2014 on the topic “Preparing for a Network 2020 Environment.” And as I think about what that environment will look like, and the role that satellite must play, I cannot help but reflect on my past where I saw a similar path towards network convergence play out.

Prior to iDirect, I was a senior engineering development and business manager for Cisco’s space systems group.

During that time, Cisco was a major part of a transformation in the telecommunications industry from dedicated circuits to IP networks to end-to-end services.

I see the satellite industry following a similar path, starting with legacy networks more than 20 years ago, through the development of IP-based satellite communications, pioneered by iDirect. And now satellite communications is poised to join the converged end-to-end network, ready to deliver unique value in terms of global reach, unique applications and market opportunity.

Yet, as we talk about satellite taking that next step on its path, there are definite gaps that need to be filled. One of these gaps exists with regards to network standards, similar to the way in which terrestrial-based technologies like wireless, wireline, DSL, and optical shifted from disparate networks to become one core network. Read More

An NMS Must Deliver a Superior Customer Experience

By Chris Burdick, VP Product Management NMS, and Guy Adams, VP Systems Architecture NMS

During this blog series, we’re taking time to explore iDirect’s vision for what an ultimate Network Management System (NMS) should look like and how it should positively impact your business. In the last post, we reviewed the importance of a well-designed NMS to operational productivity.

Another critical function of an NMS is to extend service plan knowledge to end users. It’s common today for an NMS to provide limited network visibility. However, a customer portal must be more than just a window to the network; it should also allow customers to actively manage their service.

A customer portal must enable customers to view real-time data and bandwidth utilization reports and interact with the network through self-service features, such as scheduling additional bandwidth for a big event or requesting changes to their service plans.

NMS3-iDirectThe NMS should also be a means by which service providers develop additional, differentiated offerings for their customers. Through Web Service APIs, service providers can leverage the NMS to create a broad variety of tailored apps that meet unique end user or market needs. For example, an app can offer customized reporting tools for a captain on a cruise ship, or enable a utilities field engineer to find the location of deployed equipment along an oil pipeline. Turning knowledge about how customers operate into innovative service features can deliver unique value and build customer loyalty. Read More

An NMS Must Raise Operational Productivity

By Chris Burdick, VP Product Management NMS, and Guy Adams, VP Systems Architecture NMS

In this portion of our blog series, we will explore iDirect’s vision for what an ultimate Network Management System (NMS) should look like and how it should positively impact your business.

A typical Network Operations Center (NOC) is characterized by tremendous activity and diversity. There are multiple networks to monitor, individual tasks to manage and systems to integrate. NOC technicians need to ensure Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are met, operational costs are minimized and customer satisfaction is high.

The ultimate NMS should optimize all time-intensive tasks to simplify the job of each person inside the NOC. That means the ultimate NMS should be designed with the user in mind. The NMS should provide tailored workflows for each type of user and the tasks they perform most often, boosting efficiency through easily accessible tools and predictive interfaces. This will lower operational costs and free up critical time to focus on customer service and business growth.

NMS2-iDirectImproving productivity starts when all the common user workflows are mapped and analyzed for everyone that touches the NMS, including NOC technicians, service managers and even customers. Case examples help illustrate the impact of the NMS on specific workflows, such as rapid problem resolution. Then NMS functions can be aligned to maximize each step of the workflow. Read More

Satellite and the Promise of ‘Yes’

Kevin SteenBy Kevin Steen, Chief Operating Officer, iDirect

A promise can be very powerful. Take, for example, the promise that we make everyday to our customers and partners of delivering better technology and greater value. But as an industry we should also be thinking about the bigger promise at stake.

It’s a question I am pondering as I prepare for this week’s World Satellite Business Week conference. I am participating on a panel discussion, ‘VSAT Solutions and Services: Delivering the Broadband Promise’ and as preparation I have been asked to think about promises the satellite industry has delivered, as well as which promises the market should expect us to fulfill in the near term.

Naturally, one big-picture “promise” that comes to mind is satellite’s role as part of a converged end-to-end network. As an industry we are working diligently on what it takes to become part of this network convergence—things such integrating into the core telecom network and driving down the overall cost in order to become more price competitive, and delivering a user experience that parallels terrestrial ones.

Success is defined as the point at which the access technology, whether fiber, wireless or satellite, is irrelevant to the end user—the experience is the same regardless of what access technology is deployed. We must think in end-user terms; words that are used to describe delivery of service in traditional telco language, such as “provisioning” vs. “commissioning” and expectations that end users have based on how telecommunication services are delivered today on a broader scale. Read More

A Vision for Creating Value with Your NMS

By Chris Burdick, VP Product Management NMS, and Guy Adams, VP Systems Architecture NMS

High throughput satellites (HTS) will make it increasingly difficult to differentiate based on speed or price. Instead, service providers (SPs) will need to differentiate by delivering unique and meaningful value to their customers. While advances in technology may level the playing field, no one understands an SP’s customers better than that actual SP. Therefore, no one is in a better position than that one SP to deliver the value that the customer needs now and in the future.

To create value, a business and network must be primed to operate at peak performance and have access to key insights across the operations and customer base in order to make decisive, strategic decisions. What if there was one system that could improve all of these business aspects, one solution that could advance operations, optimize the network and increase customer satisfaction?

NMS-iDirectThere is such a tool – a system that already plays a central role and has the potential to be transformational to the business; this tool is the Network Management System (NMS). It’s through the NMS and inside the Network Operations Center (NOC) that key events are managed and important decisions are implemented that impact profitability, growth and differentiation. The NMS provides the visibility into the network and customers, and tools to optimize operations. It enables delivery of new and better levels of service, and creates added value in the ways customer care about most. Read More

iGT Offers Advancements in Satcom Connectivity to Meet DoD and Intelligence Requirements for Increased Bandwidth and Throughput

iDX 3.2.3  Enables Adaptive TDMA for greater Network Design Flexibility to support High-Speed Communications on the Move (COTM)

Herndon, Va., July 7, 2014 – iDirect Government Technologies, Inc. (iGT), a wholly owned subsidiary of VT iDirect, Inc. (iDirect), today announced the availability of iDX 3.2.3 software, which meets the  military, intelligence and public safety communities growing needs for increased bandwidth and higher throughputs.

iDX 3.2.3 features Adaptive Time Division Multiple Access (ATDMA), which improves return channel performance and increases network availability under rain fade and satellite link degradation. The software enables customers to design networks for a typical case scenario instead of worse-case scenario, saving time, costs and complexity without loss of performance.

With ATDMA, customers can boost their network throughput, increase network availability and reduce bandwidth and terminal costs or combine these benefits to support high-speed COTM in a maritime, terrestrial or airborne environment.

iDX 3.2.3 has been submitted for Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level 2-compliant remotes and line cards. Each multi-channel demod line card is capable of supporting as many as 8 inbound channels with TRANSEC, and meets Wideband Global Satcom requirements. Read More

Hub Side Fade

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

In the last blog, we left off discussing about rain fade and the possibility it could hit on the hub side.

Adaptive will help mitigate rain fade on the hub side of things, but from a hub reliability and redundancy standpoint these are becoming even more critical. The centralized nature of having all of your hub equipment in a single feeder link, typically at a single teleport or multiple teleports in different feeder links, leads to larger network sizes, and the need to have a lot more redundancy and reliability of the link, in general.

Hub Side Fade

Utilizing Ka band as their uplink frequencies from the feeder links, this provides a challenge in being able to handle rain fades on the hub side. iDirect is introducing a feature that actually will allow a complete hub switchover from one hub to another hub located at a different location, seamlessly, that will allow the ability to overcome Ka band rain fade on the feeder links. Read More

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.


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