By Nikita Demidenko, Regional Manager, Russia & CIS, Europe
Today, when economic growth is largely dependent on cutting-edge technologies, and the industry moves on to 4G level, the development of information technologies is among the strategic objectives of each country. High-quality satellite communications is an integral part of the global technological progress. VT iDirect is one of the world leaders in the field of satellite communications. Its solutions represent almost half of the world market in the B2B segment. Specifically, more than 50% of operators in Russia and the CIS are using iDirect satellite communications technology. Join Nikita Demidenko, regional director, as he talks about VT iDirect’s global success and its work in Russia.
VT iDirect is a global giant of satellite communications, one of the largest VSAT manufacturers. What was the prerequisite for this success?
Demidenko: VT iDirect was founded over 20 years ago to implement the development of satellite communications technologies in the corporate market segment. At that period the competition was weak, if not to say it was non-existent. The company grew rapidly, and today iDirect solutions in the satellite industry occupy more than 50% of the market share worldwide in the B2B segment; about 350 organizations are among our partners. Historically iDirect operates in GSM, oil and gas, maritime, aero, and construction segments.
Our solutions allow partners to optimize networks, to differentiate services and to expand business. The range of products under the iDirect brand combines innovative technologies and solutions to support all network requirements for bandwidth, location, satellite frequency, topology and applications. iDirect, in fact, changed the market due to the transformation of business proposals for operators, TCO reduction and improvement of operational efficiency.
Which projects do you consider the most successful?
Demidenko: In recent years we have focused on the solutions with global coverage in complex systems. It resulted in such projects as Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) service. GX has three geostationary satellites operating in Ka-band and provides global coverage — on land, sea and air. The iDirect platform was chosen to support the GX, providing the ground communications equipment (hubs and routers) at each site.
Intelsat, Telenor, SES and others also appreciated the effectiveness of our new solutions. Panasonic Avionics provides broadband connectivity and cellular technology to connect aircrafts shuttling around the world.
In Russia and the CIS more than 50% of satellite operators use our technology.
Now we are developing a new line of equipment. Our new line of DVB/DVB-S2X satellite routers called the iQ Series and hub equipment will have better performance and will enable operators to provide services with the most effective signal structures and, consequently, to lower prices on the satellite communications services for the end customer.
How do you see the role of satellite communications in the development of the 4.0 Industry and IoT and your company in particular?
Demidenko: To be honest, I do not believe in the mass application of satellite communications in an “Internet of Things” project in the literal sense of the word. Indirectly, we create channels of communication through which you can control any device. But the reality today is that the cost of satellite communications is still 10-50 times more expensive than the ground one. While for business applications, monitoring, management the satellite communication has become indispensable, it is still expensive for a consumer. Satellite communication is necessary, for the most part, where there is no option for fiber optic connectivity.
VT iDirect is active in Russia: half of the country’s satellite operators use your technology. How would you describe the quality of the ICT infrastructure in Russia?
Demidenko: In general, I believe informational technologies have rapidly developed in Russia, but the country is large and there are still challenges. There are many districts with restricted access with no coverage. Another issue is price policy, which is often inadequate to income in those regions where the satellite services are offered.
According to the experience of foreign manufacturers of satellite communications equipment, a significant number of projects are in the public sector. How do you think the business initiative will inspire the development of satellite services in Russia?
Demidenko: I am sure that private initiative allows developing the market more efficiently; though in Russia it is still very difficult to plan one’s activities.
I say this with confidence because 10 years ago I created a satellite communication operator from scratch by convincing some investors to believe in my business plan. In the course of work on the market CJSC “Dozor-Teleport” entered the top ten of the largest satellite operators in the country and it is still successfully operating in the telecommunications market.
What are Russia’s prospects in the global satellite communications market?
Demidenko: Russia has been and remains one of the leaders in this industry. But unfortunately, lost orbital slots are not so easy to get back. All orbital slots were divided between the countries long time ago. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) coordinates each slot. If some slot allocated to a country remains unused for a certain time, then gets transferred to another country. For example, a spacecraft belonged to Russia fails, and if no other spaceship takes in the same position in a strictly specified time, the slot would be transferred to another country. Unfortunately, a lot of slots have been lost since 1991. Nevertheless, currently we do not have a lack of frequency and in-orbit capacity, and the existing slots will be enough at competent approach to them.
We, in turn, work every day on making the satellite communications services more available to users all around the world, wherever they are: in the air, at sea or far from modern infrastructure.