How Granahan McCourt Capital is working to drive global connectivity

Four billion people across the globe – both within and outside of the developing world – remain underserved or wholly unconnected. Investment firm Granahan McCourt Capital is working to drive global connectivity through government partnerships. We met with Chairman and CEO, David C. McCourt, also Chairman at Skyware Technologies, to hear more.

  1. How do you see the role of the satellite industry changing as companies such as Facebook disrupt?

Governments and the private sector need to come together to find the best solutions for providing connectivity. Facebook is providing its own solutions, using a mixture of technology that is largely made up of satellites and drones. Their motivations are right, and their approach is interesting, but it’s not going to fix the entire breadth of connectivity problems across the developing world. To do this, we need more projects where public sector states, who have the interest of their citizens at heart, and private sector telecom experts join forces.

As broadband becomes increasingly expensive in less dense areas, emerging public-private partnerships will likely use a similar mixture of technology, and make connectivity viable in underserved areas. As more governments pursue these models to ensure their citizens have access to all of the opportunities that connectivity grants, we’ll begin to see true progress being made at a rapid rate. This is the kind of model Granahan McCourt Capital is pursuing.

  1. What are the aims of GMC over the next 5 years?

Granahan McCourt Capital has spent 2016 developing and implementing a range of innovative and exciting projects. Our subsidiary enet is shortlisted for Ireland’s National Broadband Plan, a €1.5 billion tender to provide ultra-fast internet access across rural Ireland. We’ve also secured a milestone public-private partnership through Skyware Technologies with King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology (KACST), the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia.

The next five years will be equally exciting as we continue to provide broadband and other forms of connectivity to underserved people around the globe. We’ll pursue new opportunities to form public-private partnerships with governments all over the world. In media, we’re increasingly focussing on content. The launch of, our video streaming service and social media platform, was a substantial milestone of 2016. Moving forward it will provide creatives across the Middle East, North Africa – and soon Sub-Saharan Africa and South America – with the resources and training needed to create professional-quality content relevant to their audiences.

Granahan McCourt Capital is at the forefront of cutting edge technology as we pursue focused investments in big data and mobile crowdsourcing, finding new ways to use technology to disrupt markets around the world.

  1. How do you see the role of the operator change when working with rural communities?

Regardless of location, the role of the operator is to provide the best service possible.

The formula we’re seeing in Ireland is a model we’re looking to replicate all over the world by different states with common objectives. Ireland is still relatively underserved, and the National Broadband Plan aims to extend high-speed broadband across Ireland over the next five years. enet worked in conjunction with the plan, launching a 1Gb/s fibre broadband network. We have created an operating model with a genuinely open-access network that any service provider can utilise, making it easier and cheaper for previously underserved people to gain access to world-class connectivity.

  1. Collaboration is a key topic in VSAT at the moment, how do you see this happening in practice?

Providers are often hesitant to work in the developing world and in rural areas due to economic reasons, leading to a growing number of public-private partnerships as governments seek to provide their citizens with connectivity.

These partnerships often incorporate a mixture of technologies; as broadband networks are costly to establish. From an investment perspective, many private companies enter them for the wrong reason. Governments take policy seriously and should work with trusted providers like Granahan McCourt Capital who have demonstrated their commitment to long-term solutions through previous partnerships.

Partnerships are the future for major telecom projects, particularly in areas where connectivity is very poor or non-existent. Partnerships with governments are needed to attract the right commercial partners to provide the best solutions to these types of problems.

  1. You recently chaired a panel discussion at VSAT Global on the role of satellite connectivity in remote areas. What was the main message you brought to the discussion?

There have been two major advances in the evolution of satellite. Firstly, the improvement of terminal economics has allowed costs to come down. Secondly, an increased number of high throughput satellites have allowed for more sophisticated product offerings at increased speeds.

These two things have removed the barriers on cost and speed, and are making satellite a viable option for a significant proportion of the 4bn underserved.

David C. McCourt is Chairman and CEO of TMT investment firm, Granahan McCourt Capital. He is also founder of advanced integrated terminal solutions and satellite RF electronics firm, Skyware Technologies, and new online digital TV platform View his speaker profile on VSAT Global.

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The transition towards a brave new data-centric world, and the emergence of 5G prospects for satellite

Views around the ramifications of a move for satellite operators and VSAT providers toward a ‘data-centric’ operating model informed morning debates on day two of the main conference at VSAT Global.

In his opening remarks, chair Christopher Baugh, President at Northern Sky Research, described the satellite sector as going through “an upside down time”, starting with a glut of capacity that’s placing satellite operators under pressure to look further toward diversified revenue streams. This ‘new normal’ is also having a knock-on effect on VSAT service providers anxious to stabilise their own revenue expectations by reviewing operating models and embracing exigent strategies focused on partnerships, consortia, and other forms of consolidation – including M&A.

Baugh observed how the satellite sector is “now data-centric and starting to look like a telco market”, with the sustainability of some pricing models now within sight of being tested down to $500-per-Mb.

Following on from earlier discussions around the future evolution of flat-panel antennas, Baugh reiterated the perception that value-added prospects for the satellite business in general are being coupled to the speed with which this technology can be brought to market.

Ronald van der Breggen of LeoSat focused on the implications of the move to a data-centric market: when fully deployed, LeoSat’s solution, he told delegates, is “not a satellite technology, not a gap-filler for when waiting for fibre installation… it is a networking technology”. Indeed, it will be in some cases superior to both fibre and other satellite technologies and terrestrial fibre, Breggen said.

In response to challenging delegate questions on LeoSat pricing models, Breggen confirmed that the company’s core service (scheduled for launch 2018-2020) would not necessarily be competing against GEO and other satellite offerings, but rather positioned as a ‘premium product’ – a differentiator that he predicted (without irony) will lift it above higher-altitude rivals: LeoSat customers will be prepared to pay a premium for services that offer better latency, and whose ‘touchless architecture’ means is able to offer additional security assurances.

How satellite technology will ‘be used’ in 5G environments was also a key theme. In some opening devil’s advocacy, a delegate questioned whether speculative debates on satellite and 5G interplays were really a discussion priority, for the time being, the global satellite industry faced other issues of higher criticality.

However, panellists’ responses confirmed that there are some topics that it is timely to place under consideration. Jesus Hector Jimenez, VP–Global Engineering at RigNet, said that 5G is undoubtedly forcing satellite operators at least to think differently about their future role in the wider communications ecosystem. Satellite could play a very big role in 5G deployment in some parts of the world, he added, because in the absence of fibre, it will drive opportunities for satellite operators to become primary endpoint device service enablers in the move toward 6G and 7G standards.

Jimenez also pointed out that from an OPEX perspective, maintaining satellite-based 5G network infrastructures may well prove to be less costly that having to dispatch engineers to repair broken fibre installations in remote regions of developing global markets.

In his comments John Landovskis, VP, PLM & Business Development VSAT & Modem Products at Advantech Wireless, called attention to the fact that latency should not be the only issue of concern in regard to running enterprise-class applications across all-5G networks. Jimenez envisaged a future scenario where end-user organisations entering emerging overseas markets where 5G becomes the only available communications infrastructure, might find that core applications – SAP or Citrix, say – might have to be reconfigured to operate wholly over satellite-enabled nets.

Panellist Renato Goodfellow, Head of Global Satellite, BT Global Services, called upon leading players in the satellite industry to initiate conversations with major enterprise applications software vendors with a view to identifying any issues that deploying their software extensively and exclusively over satellite-based 5G networks might throw up.

The closing panel discussion focused on how mobility applications are increasingly becoming a growth sector that’s providing opportunities for VSAT players to fill revenue gaps left by downturned markets such as energy (oil and gas). Panellists including Harris CapRock Communications President Tracey Haslam, and Intellian Technologies VP Global Satcom Jon Harrison, agreed that many of the best prospects here lie in maritime, as shipping fleets the world over turn increasingly to satellite to support a panoply of applications for both manned and unmanned vessels, including tackling the growing threats of maritime cyber-security.

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HTS defining factor in driving VSAT sector’s competitive reorganization

Successive debates that enlivened day one of the main conference at VSAT Global (London) focused on how HTS (high-throughput satellite) technology is precipitating change on several fronts for both satellite operators and VSAT service providers.

Among the broad range of topics addressed at the industry-leading event, speakers explained how HTS’s promise to dramatically boost satellite bandwidth delivery now has to be understood within the context of the wider repercussions its deployment will cause.

The capacity boosts will, of course, enable satellite operators and their VSAT partners to better meet the increasing demand for bandwidth being driven by both the consumer and enterprise sectors – most specifically by the rise in mobile data consumption.

HTS is opening up a mix of opportunities, making VSAT providers well-placed to work with mobile network operators (MNOs), for instance, to provide mobile backhaul capacity, or to partner with them to extend broadband coverage into territorial regions where installation of fixed fibre network links cannot be cost-justified.

However, the satellite industry also needs to be mindful of the dilemma that MNOs increasingly now face: mobile data demand is driving the need for additional network infrastructure investment from operators who are not themselves deriving much revenue benefit from the content surge.

This situation may develop further as VSAT operators investigate opportunities to transition their business models away from being pure-play service providers toward a spot-beam enabled model that includes bundling value-added services in addition to core communications provisioning.

Consumer applications will probably not provide the key ROI assurances here; but globally, if significant demand for non-consumer services exists in landlocked regions where conventional fibre broadband installation is impracticable, opportunities certainly exist for value-added VSAT providers to extend their business models, most speakers agreed.

However, as was noted by Simon Gray, VP of Humanitarian Affairs at Eutelsat, re-positioning as an international value-added VSAT services provider calls for some fundamental realignment of business models, especially when it comes to understanding the complexities and nuances of operating across multiple national cultures.

For VSAT players keen on such self-reinvention, however, concomitant market developments must first come forth to aid their mission. The unit cost of end-user terminal price points, for instance, must fall to a level that is not only affordable by Western standards, but also for early adopters in developing countries. As some speakers claimed that terminals are already being retailed on minimal margins, this presents a formidable challenge for the industry, unless some kind of subsidised environment can be introduced.

These and other changes are highlighting the changing nature of the competitive landscape for satellite operators and VSAT service providers. Consensus of opinion expressed at VSAT Global was that satellite operators with ambitions to establish more direct corporate customer-facing operations – and thereby effectively compete with their VSAT partners for enterprise end-user business – risk underestimating the demands of such a course, and will find the new demands of customer relationship management taxing.

Satellite operators will also lack the speed to market and agility needed service the needs of emerging demand in markets where VSAT is the only feasible wireless communications solution. This is the case for established VSAT-savvy verticals, such as maritime – speakers such as Harris Caprock CTO Rolf Berge, SES VP sales Data & Mobility Europe Simon Gatty Saunt, and Intelsat VP Americas Mark Rasmussen, each explained how burgeoning digitalisation of cruise ships and container shipping are turning a range of vessels into significant centres of VSAT demand – and to other transport sectors such as passenger aeronautical (inflight broadband access) and connected autonomous cars.

Day one of the main conference concluded with an interactive panel discussion based on delegate poll on ‘which tech innovation will have the biggest impact on the VSAT Industry’. Antenna Innovations followed by LEO topped the poll.

Antenna improvements have the potential to open up new market opportunities, predicted Sandeep Kumar, Head of Satellite Sales, Sales Specialist, at Telstra.

Liquid Telecom’s Group Managing Executive – Satellite & VSAT Scott Mumford, agreed: the availability of antennas with gigabit connectivity and low latency would be a game-changer to opening-up the consumer and enterprise markets for satellite broadband, but even then price-point-per-terminal could still prove a challenge to uptake; but every incremental improvement in this direction is a step toward some seismic VSAT market shifts which will redefine the industry in the years leading up to 2020.

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SES Launches Global Maritime+ Solution to Deliver High-Speed Connectivity to Vessels Traversing Oceans

Maritime customers to enjoy seamless global roaming through new fully-customisable and scalable managed service.

SES S.A. (Euronext Paris:SESG) (LuxX:SESG) today announced the launch of its global SES Maritime+ service that will deliver high-speed connectivity to vessels traversing oceans.

SES Maritime+ will enable maritime customers to have easy access to customisable bandwidth and coverage packages, ensuring satellite capacity is effectively utilised. Vessels traversing the oceans will be offered seamless roaming, leveraging SES’s global fleet of over 50 satellites, extensive ground infrastructure of over 20 teleports and more than 6,000 points of presence.

The managed connectivity service combines SES’s global network infrastructure and hybrid satellite capacity with the latest technology from VT iDirect, enabling SES customers to deliver a complete platform solution to maritime users on a worldwide basis. Commercial benefits include customised service level agreements and scalable throughput options, with standardised pricing regardless of region or season of operation.

The global SES Maritime+ product is part of SES’s enhanced data network, SES Plus, which is offering customised products and solutions to tackle the evolving needs of the mobility and enterprise markets. In March of this year, a regional Ka-band maritime+ offering was unveiled specifically to target Europe.

“SES Maritime+ gives our global customers the nimbleness and agility to customise their capacity demands whenever needed, and the peace of mind to focus on delivering the best customer service experience to the vessel owners,” said Elias Zaccack, Head of Mobility Market Solutions Centre, at SES. “We will continue to further improve and develop the throughput capabilities of SES Maritime+ to ensure that vessels can travel around the world with seamless roaming.”

“At VT iDirect, we support the strategic growth of key maritime providers like SES, innovating on our highly scalable platform so that our partners bring new services to market and differentiate their business,” said Kevin Steen, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Chief Operating Officer at VT iDirect. “Demand for VSAT connectivity continues to grow and is generating significant value across the maritime sector through a range of business, crew and passenger applications. Today, a new wave of service innovations like SES Maritime+ is making VSAT networks more powerful, affordable and easier to use, which drives even greater return on investment for maritime operators.”

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The Role of VSAT in Disaster Recovery

Guest post by Alvaro Sanchez, Sales & Marketing Director, IntegrasysOriginally shared to the Satellite Evolution Asia June 2016. 

Satellite communications, and in particular VSAT systems, have an important role to play in disaster recovery and emergency response. Naturally, the very nature of a disaster means that it is impossible to know when and where it will occur and very often it is in a location with little or no connection infrastructure. Even if there was previously a connection of course, the disaster can very often disable that. Being able to enter a disaster zone with all the equipment to quickly get connected can seriously impact the number of lives that can be saved and VSAT technology is the key to enabling that.

Vital Connections

Connections in a disaster situation really can be a matter of life and death. So much so that a great deal is being invested into new technology to get disaster response teams and the general public connected, and fast.

When a disaster strikes, there will often be multiple agencies involved in the relief effort. This means there is an urgent need for coordination between these different agencies, in order to ensure that those there to help know exactly where that help is needed and that the resources are being used in the best way possible. The only way to do this effectively is by having a good communication infrastructure in place. Teams on site also need to communicate with their colleagues outside of the disaster zone to communicate what additional support is required, whether that be in the form of additional teams or the delivery of provisions, for example.

With mobile networks often going down in an emergency, giving the public a connection can often also be a factor, ensuring they can get help to them and each other as and when needed, as well as communicating with friends and families elsewhere to reassure them. It can also be about the disaster response teams being able to communicate with the affected public to ensure they remain informed and also know of any particularly dangerous areas to avoid, for example.

News coverage from disaster scenes is a crucial element. After all, it is widespread news coverage that promotes emotion and often a response in the general public right across the world. In-depth global coverage from disaster scenes is often met with crowdfunding on a massive scale, enabling those charities and organisations working in the field to help people affected by the disaster much more extensively and quickly. And let’s face it, that is what will ultimately save lives.

The VSAT Challenge

Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) are often the only way to communicate from within a disaster zone. The emergence of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) has made VSATs much more efficient and reliable. Small antennas and equipment are relatively easy to transport to even the remotest area, and connection is possible anywhere in the world. Technology has come on a great deal, meaning if the antenna is well aligned and the team trained to operate the equipment, getting a connection can be extremely quick.

However, whilst VSAT naturally brings a wealth of critical advantages for disaster recovery, it is not without its challenges. One of those is the very fact that other communications infrastructure will generally not be in place, either due to the nature of the location or because the disaster has caused a breakdown in any existing infrastructure. Disaster teams may have to travel long distances to reach the disaster zone, whilst carrying sensitive equipment, and when they arrive with no existing communications in place, they are on their own in terms of getting that equipment setup and ready to go.

This is further amplified by the fact that most disaster recovery teams are unlikely to be highly trained in satellite communications, which means that the margin for error is high. A slight misalignment of the antenna can cause a multitude of problems and lead to an unstable or no connection and a great deal of time spent trying to get that rectified – time which should be spent saving lives.

Getting Online

It is clear that getting connected fast can make a huge impact for disaster recovery efforts. There are two main ways that we, as an industry, can ensure that happens.

The first is through better, more automated commissioning tools to reduce the possibility for human error and subsequent issues, such as connectivity losses or satellite interference. At Integrasys we have developed smart tools to make it much easier for VSAT to fulfil the connectivity need in these critical environments by simplifying the installation and commissioning with Satmotion Pocket.

Today a remote could be commissioned in a minute with optimal performance and minimizing any interference. Integrasys actively works with the Satellite Interference Reduction Group (IRG) on developing new solutions that solve interference challenges. We believe strongly in giving operators the right tools to make antenna alignment in the field simple, quick, and error-free.

The other way is with automated maintenance tools, controlling networks in the region affected. By controlling our networks within this region after the disaster happened we can be sure which remotes should be revisited and which ones do not need revisiting. At Satellite 2016, Integrasys released a new solution, Alusat, that enables customers to perform an unmanned RF check on the overall network and ascertain which remotes have been de-pointed or degraded and which ones could be used for recovery purpose already installed on site. Alusat can even recover out of service remotes without the need of an installer on site.

Moreover we can also ensure a quicker and smoother connection is by training. If all the people responsible for operating satellite equipment in these situations were kept up-to-date with the latest training, they would be much better equipped to deal with any issues they may experience once in the field. We have worked with the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) to deliver training sessions along with other satellite companies to various satcom users. One example is an 8-day project with twenty-one militaries in the Asia-Pacific region or the interactive GVF 514 Satmotion training on-line. These trainees gained valuable knowledge and understanding of satellite operations and equipment and I’m certain it will have made them much more efficient in their day-to-day operations involving satellite communications.

Saving Lives

When it comes to disaster recovery, it will always be about saving lives. Satellite technology is helping those agencies working in disaster zones to do that faster and much more effectively than ever before thanks to smarter tools which automate the difficult processes in order to solve the challenges facing our industry.

Alvaro Sanchez is joining a panel at VSAT Global 2016 in London on September 13 – 16, to discuss antenna innovations that will enable new services. 

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Speaker Spotlight – Tech start-up Swissto12’s Emile de Rijk

It’s less than a month until VSAT Global – four days of debate and discussion around the biggest issues shaping the satellite industry. With the emergence of new technologies set to be high on the agenda, we spoke with Emile de Rijk, CEO and co-founder of tech start-up Swissto12 to hear how 3D-printing is helping the company contribute towards global satellite internet access.

How does Swissto12 use 3D-printing in their manufacturing process?

Swissto12 specialises in the manufacturing of Radio-Frequency antenna components. Rather than machining mechanical components out of metallic materials like aluminium, we 3D-print them from plastic materials. We then cover with a thin layer of copper to make them functional.

3D-printing allows antenna components to be produced at a lower cost and weight. Lead time is reduced too, because traditionally pieces needed to be manufactured separately whereas we’re able to build them in one single piece.

  1. How does your technology address the changing needs of the satellite industry?

The satellite industry aims to deliver the best service possible to the maximum number of people at the lowest cost. The emergence of high throughput satellites suddenly makes connecting ships, aircrafts and people in remote locations possible – but the cost of ground antennas connecting to these satellites is high.

3D-printing brings down the barriers, allowing new services to reach even more people. New mega constellation projects like OneWeb and LeoSat that are working to connect people across the earth rely on these high throughput satellites – in this context our technology can reduce weight, price and ease of production for both satellite antennas and user terminal components.

  1. What do you think makes tech start-ups successful in the satellite industry?

A collaborative approach is important. We work with partners, whether they’re satellite manufacturers, user terminal vendors or operators to integrate their antenna concepts into our technology. We adapt to suit their needs, and as a result we produce a different product for each partner.

  1. There’s a surge of interest for VSAT coming from the maritime industry. How does Swissto12’s product address this?

Maritime applications are one of the four areas we’re currently developing products for, alongside satellites, ground terminal components and aeronautic antennas. Maritime is an interesting space as the prospective volumes are high, with the focus on making them as cheaply as possible while maintaining high throughput connectivity.

  1. What is the key priority for the satellite industry at the moment?

This is a relatively risk-averse industry, given the volumes of money at stake per launch. The emergence of constellation projects has placed a pressure on geostationary satellite platforms to be competitive. These projects need a lot of satellites to operate, meaning the cost per satellite needs to come down to be successful.

  1. What do you expect from speaking at VSAT Global in London in September?

The industry needs to be working together at the moment. A key issue I’m keen to discuss is how we get new technologies through qualification, especially for applications in Space. With an increasing pressure on the space industry to lower costs, we need to collaborate to change the approach to quality and requirements. It’s vital that it’s safe enough to put satellites into orbits, but the industry should also offer sufficient versatility to move towards more innovative core technologies.

Find out more about Swissto12, and  join Emile de Rijk in the ‘Innovation Accelorator: Game-Changing Tech at VSAT Global in London, 13 – 16 September 2016.



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Further Evolution In Satellite Technology

Guest post by Darren Ludington, Senior Director of Sales, iDirect, & Alvaro Sanchez, Sales & Marketing Director, Integrasys

Rural areas across the globe are lacking connectivity, especially in Latin America, Asia and Africa. 

Now, worldwide governments and commercial entities are trying to connect the unconnected. For example, Silicon Valley players are focusing their efforts to provide affordable Internet to the most remote areas of the world at a lower price point and doing their best to bridge the digital divide.

Thanks to the advances in satellite technology in the space and ground segments, VSAT technology has been extremely well positioned for connecting the unconnected in a reliable, fast and secure way.

High Throughput Satellites (HTS) allow end users to experience greater bandwidth capacity at a lower cost. Among HTS advances are the frequency reuse through multiple spot beams architecture—by minimizing the footprint, the bandwidth is increased and the price drops by reusing the same spectrum multiple times within the same spacecraft.

Space technology innovation has pushed ground technology to quickly adapt to this new way of thinking; therefore, equipment manufacturers, such as iDirect, are innovating to lower the cost of network deployment and to also support massive network expansion.

Integrasys has developed the cutting edge technology on self-installation antennas and commissioning of the remotes. Together, iDirect and Integrasys bring forward an unprecedented combination for simplicity, service availability and performance in approaching the solutions for the digital divide.

Today, VSAT is the preferred solution for many service providers as this technology is much easier to deploy (previously a main concern), is more cost-effective and provides a greater service.

Recently, VT iDirect was awarded by Entel Chile for the provisioning of a Universal Satellite Hub and several Evolution® remotes for the rural VSAT market, specifically for 2G, 3G and 4G backhaul deployments. This will allow Entel Chile to deploy their networks with the latest iDirect technology.

iDirect leverages Satmotion Pocket from Integrasys as the iDirect remote commissioning solution for intelligent and quick deployment of VSATs. Satmotion Pocket is used by Entel Chile for auto-commissioning their VSATs without contacting the NOC—that adds the important value of having the maximum quality of the service and, at the same time, being able to complete deployments in as short a time frame as possible.

Satmotion Pocket enables the installer to perform the commissioning process by using the intuitive iOS or an Android App. This brings extreme efficiency to those service providers who aim to benefit their customers of the most innovative technology.

While the collaboration between these two technology providers has been successful, customers are demanding even more and asking: Why not use Satmotion Pocket from the hub to virtually monitor the site?

Typically, site monitoring requires sending an installer to the site, which can take a few days. Today, Integrasys has introduced Alusat, the evolution of Satmotion Pocket. Alusat allows users to check the RF health of the overall network at the hub without the need of the tedious processes necessary to coordinate all actions with satellite operators or the local support at the site.

Service providers can ensure Quality of Service (QoS) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) compliance automatically using an intuitive tool for remote maintenance. This is a huge step forward in the ground technology innovation that is being driven by HTS.

This new remote maintenance technology aims to further simplify the VSAT solution by providing greater value to service providers looking to save operational expenses without compromising service availability and network performance.

Alvaro Sanchez is joining a panel at VSAT Global 2016 in London on September 13 – 16, to discuss antenna innovations that will enable new services. 

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Industry experts predict the future of the satellite industry

With rapid development of new technologies and a colossal increase in mobile devices and internet usage, there’s a new pressure on connectivity and a question mark over the future role of satellite.

We ran a survey to take stock of the current industry. Everyone from C-level Satellite operators to end-users from maritime, oil and gas and the aviation industry responded. The results are in, here are your top 7 predictions:

  1. Over the next 5 years, the satellite industry will see a huge amount of change

Pressure from new technologies LEO and HTS will change the landscape of the industry a great deal. While many agree that innovation will enable entry into new markets, it’s yet to be seen whether the major players will remain the same, or if new providers will disrupt.

  1. LEO innovation will have the biggest impact on the industry

40% said LEO technology will impact the industry the most, enabling the satellite industry to manage the ‘significant data increases’. 30% said antenna innovations will drive the most change, with flat panel antennas suggested to be revolutionary.

  1. Cruise will be the biggest growth area for satellite connectivity, closely followed by unconnected populations

With the cost of smart devices lowering, 21 billion connected devices expected to be on the planet by 2020 and the falling cost of satellite capacity thanks to HTS and other innovations, VSAT connectivity will be a key player in connecting the unconnected. Whilst growth in satellite is expected across maritime, aviation, military and oil and gas, you said VSAT will make the most gains in cruise and unconnected populations.

  1. Whilst LEO has the potential to be revolutionary, implementation may be challenging

Half of those asked agreed that LEO will not only become a reality, but also has the potential to be change the face of the industry. Although its deployment wouldn’t come without challenges, ‘exceptional costs’ and ‘challenging development’ being listed among these.

  1. HTS will be important to the satellite ecosystem over the next few years

High-throughput technologies (HTS) will enhance data rate capabilities. Expected to generate $4.9 billion in revenue by 2024, it’s not surprising HTS is being seen as vital for VSAT survival. HTS will enable more applications, dramatically changing the price point and increasing demand for satellite technology.

  1. Satellite will be a crucial technology in the 5G world

How satellite will integrate into the 5G network is yet to be seen, but satellite is expected to add significant value to the 5G ecosystem – perhaps in areas of limited infrastructure, or where current mobile networks are saturated.

  1. Integration of satellite with other technologies is crucial

It’s been predicted the most successful network of the future will be a ‘system of systems’. It’s widely agreed that a ‘seamless integration’ is important, with it being ‘impractical to connect end devices to satellite’.

You can view the full results of the survey here. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to have your say in future surveys.

Check out the full line-up for VSAT Global now

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Preparing for the next decade of satellite communications

At VSAT Latin America, Susan Bull of Comsys discussed the trends, challenges and upcoming opportunities for the satellite communication industry. Here’s a copy of her presentation if you missed it:

Susan will also be speaking at VSAT Global in London in September, identifying the key forces driving change in the industry. Check out the agenda for her session,  and register now. 

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Speaker Interview: Marcio Brasil, Managing Sales Director for Intelsat Brazil

With VSAT Latin America, less than a week away – we spoke with our Intelsat speaker, Marcio Brasil, the Managing Sales Director for Brazil, about Intelsat’s HTS Launch and how the evolution to HTS will impact the satellite industry as a whole.Marcio Brasil

  1. Intelsat has recently launched Intelsat EpicNG, its next generation satellite platform – Why was HTS such an important evolution for Intelsat?
    Responding to exponentially increasing demand for bandwidth-hungry applications, the satellite industry is undergoing a technology renaissance. However, in order to increase satellite’s role and share in the broader communications landscape, we need to break away from the traditional satellite architecture.  In its place is a Globalized Network that is open architecture in design and backward compatible.  HTS is the tipping point of what is shaping up to be a huge transformation of the satellite industry and the way in which we provide our customers with innovative solutions.When we set out to create our next-generation satellite architecture, we approached it in a very different way than our competitors.  We started by addressing the need to be highly efficient providing our customers with more bits per Hz and more profitable business models. And we took it a step further: We designed our system to ensure full continuity with our customers’ existing infrastructure and equipment and to give them choices. Intelsat EpicNG is based on an open architecture that allows customers to choose and deploy hardware that meets the needs of their business (not the needs of the network). By retaining control over their brand and service offering, our customers can affirm their differentiation in the market place.

    HTS is a very important – even essential – part of the solution, but it’s not the exclusive disrupter.   In order to be fully disruptive, we’re leveraging our Globalized Network and driving innovation across all levels – the development of ground systems, antenna technology, software-defined technology, and hybrid end-to-end networks – as enablers for our customers. By working with Intelsat, our customers gain the ability to quickly react to market changes and future-proof their business.


  1. What new revenue streams do you think the launch of HTS will open up?

    Our sector’s transition to new, high-throughput technologies is driven by the need for connectivity everywhere for billions of devices. HTS brings higher performance to demanding applications like web browsing, video streaming, video conferencing for the media, oil and gas, cellular backhaul, corporate enterprise and government industries, and enables them in mobile networks to serve the aviation and maritime sectors. The economics and performance of HTS will also unlock new, mass market segments such as the Internet-of-Things, Machine-to-Machine and Connected Cars. And this is not a distant vision. EpicNG is already a reality: IS-29e entered service in March 2016 with early performance tests exceeding our customers’ expectations.
  1. How is Intelsat using strategic partnerships to improve its service offering?We generally work with service providers to accelerate their growth into new regions, or to expand into adjacent markets. This in turn provides scale in our business which supports our new offerings such as fully managed services. For example:
  • We’ve worked with major platform manufacturers to bring to market next generation equipment that take full advantage of EpicNG’s unique performance and capabilities. Each one of these vendors brings their own innovation and expertise, allowing EpicNG to address the whole spectrum of applications and end users. Amongst other benefits, these new technologies enable better performance and economics, smaller and more cost efficient terminals that are easier and faster to deploy.
  • Leveraging these highly efficient technologies, we developed managed services such as IntelsatOne Flex and IntelsatOne Prism which enable our customers to climb up the value chain.
  • Our investment in Phasor will help unlock and expand the Ku-band broadband market to smaller aircraft which are currently unserved due to a lack of suitable avionics solutions.
  • Pairing the EpicNG platform with Kymeta’s high-performance metamaterials antennas will deliver cost-effective and convenient solutions for a range of applications, the first of which will center on mobility applications.
  • In the space segment, our investment and future interoperability with the OneWeb constellation will strengthen our expansive portfolio of satellite solutions and bring an additional layer to our Globalized Network. This will enable us to extend our service offerings to the polar cap regions (an important element for our aviation and maritime customers) and will complement our highly-efficient GEO assets with LEO high-elevation angles for geographies like mountains or urban canyons where GEO signals may be blocked.
  1. How do you think the satellite industry will change over the next 5-10 years? How will Intelsat continue to innovate?As the HTS market becomes more established and customers gain confidence in the systems, a surge in usage, driven by increased customer requirements, is expected in most regions. According to Euroconsult statistics, by 2024 HTS will be a $4-billion business globally. Corporate networks are forecast to demand 350 Gbps, and backhaul/trunking 260 Gbps.

    We are only beginning to scratch the surface and will continue to push the boundaries of innovation to enable better solutions to customers: in space, by moving towards software-defined payloads which breed flexibility and faster time-to-market, and on the ground with powerful and flexible antenna terminals that are smaller, less expensive, easy to install and easily re-configurable, enabling easier access to connectivity for any device anywhere.

  1. Why do you think VSAT Latin America is such an important event?

Intelsat has been committed to the Latin American continent for many years. Today, 15 of our satellites serve the region, including our first Intelsat EpicNG satellite. Several more satellites will be launched in the next couple of years. Intelsat’s leadership in satellite innovation results in solutions that address the different needs of our partners, customers, and target segments. VSAT Latin America highlights current technology and market trends across the industry value chain and offers important opportunities for networking and idea exchange.

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