Category Archives: Technology

VSAT Mission for Defence: Network Interoperability

Eric-WatkoBy Eric Watko, Vice President, Technology Initiatives

Throughout the past two decades, the telecommunications industry has transitioned from delivering dedicated circuits to now providing end-to-end services. Access networks are converging onto a common architecture, and satellite is following a similar course with full network convergence in its sights. However, when it comes to the defence and security sector, the idea of full network convergence becomes a bit more complicated.

The access landscape for defence looks like such: defence satellite Ka, Ku, X, commercial satellite Ka, Ku, C, and terrestrial access networks. Add to this the variety of infrastructure of secured teleport and commercial teleport, and you begin to see where things get a bit more complicated.

Let’s paint the picture with a common scenario. A national ministry of defence wants to launch a Ka-band defence network. It may wish to operate on a commercially available platform to cover the areas of operation that are not covered by its own satellite network. Roaming onto the other satellite networks might be an ideal choice.

However, this requires a level of management and control across satellite networks of various operators. This level of interoperability doesn’t quite exist today.

Of course, interoperability challenges are coupled with other challenges, including the high cost of capacity, no common management plane and interface, and ease of use and performance.

At iDirect, we believe the strategy requires addressing the issue of convergence across multiple fronts. Read More

Preparing for a Network 2020 Environment: The Industry Responds

Cisco_Watko_Hi_RezOver the past two weeks Eric Watko, iDirect’s vice president, telecoms and space systems, has helped set the framework for satellite’s ultimate role in the broader converged end-to-end network. And the industry is responding in a positive manner.

Presenting at VSAT 2014 on the topic ‘Preparing for a Network 2020 Environment’, along with a follow-up webinar hosted by Via Satellite last week, Watko outlined the opportunity for satellite playing a broader role in the converged end-to-end network. As communication demands continue to evolve and the need for every access technology to work together within the network becomes more apparent, satellite provides the global reach, resiliency and specialized services necessary for achieving this global IP connectivity.

Watko addressed the technical details associated with gaps that exist with regards to helping satellite become part of this core network, including the need for this industry to embrace modern IP networking standards, among others.

Following the webinar Watko fielded a series of questions related to the topic. Attendees were interested in a wide range of topics, including what this will ultimately mean for the future of the value chain, new markets and enabling technologies. Here is a sample of this dialogue with the market, post webinar:

The role of the satellite service provider: When asked how the role of the satellite service provider will change in this new environment of the converged end-to-end network, Watko outlined a landscape where they become more aggressive with the ability to discover new opportunities. Whereas in the past the terrestrial service provider would be in position to leverage more opportunities, he sees the satellite service provider being able to move up the value chain, expand their influence and offer additional services. Read More

An NMS Must Extend Across All Systems

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) would look like and how it should positively impact your business. In the last two posts, we examined improvements in operational productivity and the customer experience.

In order to produce the maximum benefit, the NMS should be integrated with other operational and support systems, in order to effectively communicate with the terrestrial networks that are part of a customers’ total communications environment. Then you can operate at peak performance and serve customers at the highest quality possible.

Open yet secure Web Service API technology plays a key role here. It enables the NMS to connect with other business systems, such as those that manage billing and inventory. This further streamlines NOC operations by synchronizing multiple independent systems and reducing human error. For example, if a remote is being deployed at a new customer site, an integrated NMS would be able to automatically upload remote specifications from the inventory system and then modify the inventory records to indicate when the remote has been provisioned and to what customer assigned.

NMS4-iDirectThe NMS should have a modular design that makes it easy to upgrade components without disturbing the entire platform. This would be true whether developing code to further customize NOC operations, incorporating an off-the-shelf plug-in that enables interaction with a popular billing package or adding a core module tailored for mobility networks that can launch a new mobility-based service plan. Read More

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