September 11, 2017

Transforming Satellite Ground Infrastructure to Capture Greater Market Opportunity

Kevin-Steen-2017-blogBy Kevin Steen, President & CEO, VT iDirect

The fall event frenzy has begun this week. All around the globe, the satellite industry will be discussing the most pressing questions facing the industry. I’ll be attending the World Satellite Business Week Summit for Satellite Financing this week in Paris. And I’ll be speaking on “Next generation satellite infrastructure and services” with CEOs from Speedcast, Telespazio, Hughes Network Systems and Viasat.

Here’s what I plan to share. We all know that the satellite communications industry is undergoing massive innovation. There are dramatic improvements in speed, bandwidth availability, and cost competitiveness coming from so many industry leaders. Together, we’re expanding satellite beyond a niche form of connectivity, opening new markets and opportunities for all.

At iDirect, we know that ground infrastructure plays a critical, central role in bringing innovation to life. That’s why we’re expanding our platform in dramatic ways, including the adoption of existing telcom technologies, with the goal of delivering a significantly higher level of value to our customers.

To start, we have redesigned the foundation of our satellite remote. Our new iQ Series is built around the latest DVB-S2X standard, increasing performance and efficiencies. It leverages a common software-defined architecture that enables us to bring modems to market faster, and they can be continually upgraded over the air to increase network capabilities and throughput levels. This gives service providers a new degree of flexibility to meet requirements, while dramatically extending its deployment life.

With the next wave of Ultra High Throughput Satellites (UHTS), satellite manufacturers are designing next-generation features, like beam-hopping and load-balancing that enable satellites to adjust their payloads based on real-time demand on the ground. iDirect is collaborating with these manufacturers to ensure ground equipment is tightly integrated to leverage the new Intelligent Payload capabilities of UHTS.

When it comes to scaling a satellite communications network, hub-side infrastructure is one of the largest capital expenses. So iDirect is incorporating the latest virtualization and cloud computing technologies to reduce the hub footprint, while greatly improving performance, resiliency, and scale while reducing the cost and complexity of implementation.

With 5G on the horizon, we are moving to adopt telco-based architectures to streamline integration with cellular and terrestrial infrastructure, making it incredibly simple to enable services. With advances in Software Defined Networking (SDN) techniques, we will be able to enable operators to dynamically scale and cost-effectively deliver services to whomever needs it.

And we understand the future requires multi-waveform capabilities, offered through a converged platform that combines capacity from all orbits, integrates with 5G cellular networks, and allows subscriber roaming across service provider networks. These are key priorities for the ongoing innovations for iDirect and topics I look forward to discussing in detail with my colleagues this week.

Today, our customers need access to new cost structures to scale exponentially, combined with the greatest abilities to provide service across the end-to-end network and the agility to keep pace with current and future connectivity demands. World Satellite Business Week, with its collection of industry leaders, will be the ideal platform for such discussion. I look forward to seeing you there.