Satellite 2015 is over, but the fun is just about to begin! Here’s my key takeaway from this year’s event: If you have not done so already, you seriously need to start putting a high throughput satellite (HTS) plan in place.
Those who doubted this to be case got a taste of reality at the keynote session during Satellite 2015. Titled ‘Big Four – Crunch Time Approaches’ the keynote featured the CEOs of Intelsat, SES, Telesat, and Eutelsat stepping to the stage with the message that “crunch time” is rapidly approaching.
In the coming months a number of new programs will hit launch on their HTS service. The consensus is that HTS will form a very important part of the satellite market going forward, and people should consider how they should engage.
I am fortunate that in my role as Director of Business Development with iDirect, people are constantly approaching me to discuss HTS plans. That was certainly the case at Satellite 2015, as a number of companies from various parts of the ecosystem, and with different approaches to HTS, engaged with me on their views for HTS.
I find that the companies in the best position to be successful typically have well-defined plans and are engaging their partners very early in the launch cycle. One good thing about HTS is that you have plenty of notice about it coming online, with satellite launches being planned many years in advance.
That is not to say that only satellite operators are facing crunch time. In fact, the changing dynamics of HTS will alter the entire satellite ecosystem, for the most part. For example, if a satellite operator is selling Mbps rather than Mhz, where does that leave service providers? I think they will have a very important part to play, especially providers that have a very strong grasp of the needs of the end users of satellite services, and typically these providers are very focused on vertical markets. Such companies are activity looking at the merits of different HTS ecosystem, which would include frequency, business models and terminals, to determine what service and service level agreement (SLA) they can provide for their customer.
At the #Satshow, iDirect showcased our Velocity product line, aimed at satellite operators launching a managed service. But we also exhibited our Evolution platform, which today is in use by more than 350 service providers. These are service providers that are buying Mhz on HTS. Let’s not forget our forthcoming next-generation network management system (NMS) Pulse, which is the glue that ties it all together. If you did not get a chance to see the products at the show, drop me a line and we can arrange an update.
The Time is Now
Looking at the broader takeaway from Satellite 2015, I’d say that with the opportunity related to global connectivity at an all-time high the satellite industry is well positioned to capitalize. This opportunity is being fueled both internally and externally.
Let’s look externally first. New entrants in the market are looking to elevate the story of satellite in the eyes of the general public. From big-name players like SpaceX and Virgin targeting the idea of lowering launch costs, to new entrants like OneWeb unveiling a new way to design and produce satellites, our industry has definite becoming a mainstream conversation.
Internally, existing satellite operators and service providers are feeling a push from this mainstream attention and elevating their game as well. Discussions I had with satellite operators at the show indicate that these new entrants are lighting a fire under them to move forward with plans of their own.
Of course, doubts related to technical, business, and regulatory aspects remain in focus with these new entrants. But I must say that it’s all adding new energy to the market overall.
Ready, Set, Go?
All things considered, the idea of the satellite industry entering crunch time goes well beyond just the topic of HTS. Judging from my conversations at Satellite 2015, there are many questions that still need to be answered. But we must be optimistic as there are many great plans in development and innovative minds leading the charge.
The heads of the big four satellite operators challenged the market to be ready. I know that many of us are set. Now it’s time to get going!