Category Archives: Technology

Find a Satellite the Easy Way with SatMotion Pocket

Dave DavisBy Dave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe

In my last blog, “Advanced technology comes with challenges,” I discussed three challenges that come with employing advanced satellite technology. As well as interoperability and the requirement to manage divergent networks, one of the key challenges facing troops on the ground is the increasing complexity of satellite technology and the training required to be able to set up a satellite terminal and commission it into an existing network. Add to this a high-pressure environment and you have the necessity to be able to set equipment up rapidly and with ease.

The next-gen remotes iDirect offers, the 950mp and 9350, will not only be more powerful than anything on offer currently, but they’ll also be easier to use. However, there’s a very powerful tool already on offer, which already makes commissioning remotes that much easier.

Some of the satellite terminals containing the iDirect board product, the e850mp, are designed to reduce the amount of interaction required, but the user still has to align the antenna and carry out basic commissioning protocols.

With a traditional VSAT (made up of an indoor router and an outdoor antenna, BUC and LNB), the issue becomes more pressing with a full line up required. Also, a knowledge of how to operate a spectrum analyser is needed, along with a back channel method of communications with a Network Operations Centre (NOC) to carry out the test, requiring a satellite phone, or similar. Read More

Advanced Technology Comes with Challenges

Dave DavisDave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe

There has been a massive explosion in the amount of data being passed across satellite technologies over the last few years. In the military environment, the drivers are broadly the same and a need for high quality, or high volume video imagery is at the forefront.

Military surveillance is getting more and more sophisticated and technologies like Ultra High Definition (UHD) 4k imagery are being used to give an ever clearer picture of what’s happening on the front line. The requirement of backhauling this imagery from remote or temporary locations means that satellite links are the go-to technology.

Another technology driving the throughput of satellite links is cellular backhaul, where deployed bubbles or puddles of coverage, be it 3G or LTE, are used to connect the devices that are already deployed into the wider network seamlessly.

These devices operate as you would expect in any well served street at home. This is known as Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD. This also means that devices can be upgraded, replaced or adapted and will still connect anywhere, any time. The key word is interoperability, but it produces an increased reliance on satellite technology.

It is critical that we future-proof these satellite links for the next cellular generation, 5G. Although 5G, is “beyond 2020,” work has already started and it will no doubt, produce data requirements way above and beyond the current needs. A scalable, flexible platform is an absolute must to be able to cope with growth and change. Read More

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