Satellite and the End-to-End Network: Evolving Telco Capabilities

By Renato Goodfellow, Head of Global Satellite, BT Global Services

Satellite’s role in creating a truly converged end-to-end network is an ongoing industry development and continues to generate more conversation with the introduction of new technology innovations and the growing demands that drive them. It is gaining more and more momentum with the growing end-to-end functionality requirements of our customers, such as security.

The series’ previous blog post by NSR addressed the next generation of innovation in satellite, while posing the question around which trends in telco will continue to drive future innovation in satellite.

BT Global’s communications network provides connectivity to nearly 200 countries, most of which rely on terrestrial fiber. We also serve over 37,000 sites around the globe to which fiber will not reach and this is where satellite enters the discussion.

Over recent years, BT Global Services has invested heavily in growing our VSAT infrastructure to take advantage of VSAT strengths. Satellite is a quick-to-deploy and secure solution that enables global connectivity, and has played a vital role in helping complete our BT Connect Global MPLS network reach. We have installed dedicated VSAT hubs in key regions of the world, which helps us optimize communication performance, with a single BT managed solution for our customers.

In addition, we are also creating solutions that fit specific industry practices for customers—particularly in such markets as oil and gas, mining and manufacturing, among others.  Satellite is often a more cost-effective backup for us to provide to sites than duplicating the terrestrial MPLS infrastructure, for example.

Most of our customers will say: “We don’t care if it’s terrestrial or satellite, as long as you can give us connectivity and it works for our applications.”  We say to these customers, “We will create the connectivity you require.” We map in the cloud with our MPLS network to provide the dedicated bandwidth and deliver the customer applications.

We have, however, sometimes been constrained by proprietary satellite protocols, which have limited what can be achieved. Ideally, our customers want full transparency, end-to-end, so that local applications can easily map over MPLS and extend reach with satellite. The growing demand for seamless services that reach all parts of the globe is a major trend that satellite must adapt to fulfill.

This is why we are happy to be working with iDirect and their new Layer 2 over Satellite (L2oS) feature as part of the iDirect Evolution® platform. L2oS enables us to overcome proprietary satellite protocols, allowing the satellite connection to emulate a transparent Ethernet link. This provides the freedom to pass any protocols and provide more flexibility in network management

With this, BT Global Services is launching end-to-end Ethernet connectivity initially in Turkey, the Middle East, western Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. By connecting sites through a Layer 2 network, it simplifies the process for our enterprise customers to make local applications available across all sites.

This is a very significant step forward in continuing to innovate with satellite technology. As we continue building our infrastructure and technologies around cloud-based services, satellite is a key co0nnectivity and can now better play it’s part.

All of this prompts a question back to satellite operators: What are the next steps in innovation for helping carriers seamlessly augment the network around the globe?



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