March 27, 2018

Exploring the Meaning of Universal Satellite Connectivity

iDirect's Greg QuiggleBy Greg Quiggle, Vice President, Emerging Products, VT iDirect

Last week, the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) held the Connectivity 2018: Air, Sea, Surface, & Rail:  Evolving the “New” New Verticals event at the Canary Wharf in London. It was a chance for the satellite industry to explore the universal ecosystem necessary to serve a variety of emerging market verticals. Thanks to Martin Jarrod and the team @globalvsatforum, I had the privilege to participate on the conference’s first panel session, focused on the foundational space and ground segments for this ecosystem.

It was great to collaborate in a forum that, although centered on satellite, was specifically crafted to stimulate a broader discussion on wireless and carrier networking. The opportunity for satellite to extend reach and deliver rich services to smart cities, land vehicles, trains and aircraft, are all driving us to think more holistically as an industry. Users are not looking to VSAT connectivity alone. Instead, they are seeking a unified satellite/5G Radio Access Network (RAN) that will deliver seamless and responsive services no matter the access method.

Greg Quiqqle - GVF Connectivity 2018It is very clear that antenna innovations, emerging satellite architectures, and the cloud will each serve as key technology enablers for this unified RAN. But these advances will only realize limited success if formed in isolation, designed only by VSAT researchers within proprietary R&D labs.

Instead, it’s crucial that we innovate within the context of industry standards, such as 3GPP and 5GNR, to foster greater adoption, automation and a consistent user experience. Doing so will enable satellite’s unique qualities to shine in support of a unified RAN. Only then will we be able to enjoy the fantastic industry growth that is promised by opportunities such as Connected Car and IoT.