June 18, 2017

Future Investments in VSAT: What you Need to Know

From Via Satellite

…Another company at the forefront of the technology revolution in satellite is iDirect. The company aims to overcome barriers of interoperability and transition satellite service providers toward a fully standards-based and agile service model. “We are moving toward what we are calling dynamic service delivery — the ability to offer services on demand to anyone that needs it whenever and wherever they need it. It requires an open flexible ground system built with the latest networking standards and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that can fully integrate with the core Internet Protocol (IP) network as well as the spacecraft technology,” says iDirect’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kevin Steen.

Steen says the steps to get here are quite complex with the need to look at the underlying infrastructure to ensure companies like iDirect are enabling ground and space concurrently for scale, performance and efficiency. “The next step is to virtualize the functions on the network to allow unification of all functions. From there we add in the ability to program the networks for real-time operations and automation through APIs. As we do this in concert with the space segment, we are enabling a much more agile business model that will allow for lower capital expenditure and ongoing operating expenditure. We can get to market faster with service and change the delivery of them based on the customer requirements,” he adds.

iDirect is encouraging VSAT service providers to adopt network architectures traditionally associated with cellular providers, such as using the evolved packet core as a framework. Steen believes there is significant value in aligning VSAT to the same methods and techniques wireless providers use. He says these terrestrial providers have already optimized their networks for mobility and made it easier to deploy value-added services. “By adopting these techniques, VSAT takes advantage of all these pre-existing mobility benefits. Plus, it enables clean interfaces, so VSAT ‘plugs into’ terrestrial mobility networks without integration challenges,” Steen adds. “Through this means, VSAT can embrace upcoming 5G architectures and standards, introducing new synergies with wireless providers on the ground. So instead of the VSAT industry worrying about competition over 5G frequencies, VSAT becomes an essential extension of the 5G infrastructure, supporting telco reach to all areas of the globe.”

Steen says mobility is definitely a hot market with substantial growth ahead. “One trend we are excited to help drive is breakthrough innovation in the antenna industry, where next-generation electronically steered Flat Panel Antennas (FPAs) will continue to make VSAT more affordable, easier to install and ultimately reduce the size and agility of the terminal,” he adds.

Steen says the rise of LEO will accelerate LTE/LEO/MEO/GEO interoperability and will drive the need for a more standards-based approach and orchestration among all these technologies. “This has been part of iDirect’s vision, and we are supporting this through dynamic services, roaming, LTE/5G interoperability and orchestrating the management of blended portfolios. We envision the capability for a service provider to provision and deliver the same service to the end-user over any orbit,” he said. “With LEO as a new benchmark, satellites will need to be manufactured much more cost-effectively, be smaller, and support shorter life-cycles including the potential to be disposable. Launch costs will need to be reduced significantly.”

iDirect aims to take its partners beyond the first wave of DVB-S2X through the next several generations of HTS. The company believes it’s all about smart, rapid access to innovation whenever and wherever it’s needed. Its ultimate goal is to remove every barrier to growth —be it network speed, operating cost or market viability. The company has pushed through a set of engineering challenges that aims to put the company ahead of what the satellites can do. It hopes the result of this will be that it gives customers the capability to go into markets that have traditionally been untouchable. Continue>