September 16, 2019

Accelerating Our Path to Growth

By Kevin Steen, President and CEO, ST Engineering iDirect

As another busy conference season kicks off, there’s a vibrant sense of optimism in the air. The world is entering a new era of technology development; one in which advances in connectivity will define innovation and drive human progress.

Satellite has a key role to play. To capture a new horizon of opportunity, we’re redefining the very core of how we operate. At ST Engineering iDirect, we have taken that mandate to heart. The strategy behind our pending union with Newtec is to create a new standard in satellite ground infrastructure – one designed to meet the needs of our rapidly transforming market.

Over the next few months, we will begin sharing more of our vision and joining the industry-wide conversation about satellite’s promising future. You can find us at several industry conferences under our new name, ST Engineering iDirect. We recently attended World Satellite Business Week (WSBW) in Paris, where I spoke with other industry leaders on “Next-gen Satellites and Services,” covering topics such as the impact of increased capacity and LEO-HTS constellations on our business. Next, I’ll be at Satellite Innovation, where I will present on “GEO Systems – Growth and Competition” on October 9 at 2:30 p.m.

This transformation for our company couldn’t come at a better time in our industry. New capacity from MEO, GEO and soon LEO satellites is creating more opportunities to connect and is advancing the common drive toward 5G, which sets the stage for satellite to become fully interoperable within the end-to-end telecommunications network. The goal is to enable our customers to deliver services rapidly across the right choice of access technology, providing end users with a similar great service experience, no matter what location or access network.

To successfully integrate, however, we must continue to rethink the concept of ground infrastructure networking. ST Engineering iDirect is at the forefront. We are innovating our architecture and technologies to take advantage of these transformative changes. We’re embracing best-in-breed industry standards, virtualization and open source technologies in a move toward cloud-based architectures and full-service orchestration. These advances will build the foundation for a multi-orbit, multi-access communications system that is fully merged within a scalable end-to-end converged network.

Being part of the fully converged network requires our industry to collaborate more closely and enable interoperability. One of the first early milestones in meeting that mandate is to enable provider-to-provider roaming.

ST Engineering iDirect is leading the industry-wide development of provider-to-provider roaming, by which a satellite service provider can partner with other service providers to enable a mobility terminal to roam between autonomous networks while keeping the same end-user experience; an experience similar to cellular networks and mobile phones. What powers that seamless experience is the use of global standards such as 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for the automation of all aspects that define network roaming: authentication, pre-negotiated service level agreements (SLAs), billing reconciliation and more.

Provider-to-provider roaming is one step – but a foundational one – toward full interoperability.

ST Engineering iDirect has been very forthcoming in leading the collaboration with technology partners to push forward these innovation concepts. With a commitment to active collaboration on a larger scale, our industry can help satellite achieve its full potential and open new opportunities for our customers.

The next few years will see some big changes for our industry. The next few months at ST Engineering iDirect will see some big changes as well. As our company transforms to empower the connected future, we look forward to seeing you at this season’s many conferences and sharing your ideas, challenges and aspirations for the future of our industry.