2023 has been another year of important developments within the satellite industry. It’s also been a significant year for ST Engineering iDirect. As we close out the year, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the milestones we have achieved over the past 12 months and prepare for 2024.
Each year, we advance on the vision of integrating of multi-orbit satellite and terrestrial connectivity. An influx of capacity is changing on-orbit economics with falling prices driving the emergence of new use cases. Software defined satellites are bringing dynamic capabilities that are highly flexible and reconfigure on demand.
The obsession over speed and efficiency in our sector is giving way to completely new challenges – ones of virtualization, standardization, orchestration, interoperability, and the unification of technologies to establish one cohesive connectivity landscape.
Next-generation ground networks must enable seamless integration and roaming across networks, cost-effective scale on demand, and significantly easier ways to deploy and manage networks.
We are still at the beginning of the new space and new ground revolutions. And there is considerable work ahead to lay the foundation for a stable and successful future.
Our Own Transformation
2023 saw substantial changes in the leadership team at ST Engineering iDirect. Don Claussen took the reins as company CEO in January. He has redirected the company on a strong path for growth and a renewed spirit of innovation that has generated immediate momentum across every area of our company.
Emma Park joined the company as Senior VP of Market and Growth Strategy. She is focused on our company’s go-to-market strategy, leveraging our cutting-edge technology to achieve growth across a wide array of market opportunities.
Tim Verschage is onboard as SVP of Product Strategy and Development to concentrate on ensuring that ST Engineering iDirect technology is aligned in a way that fast-tracks innovation to meet a variety of new satellite applications.
The most recent strategic appointment is Sridhar Kuppanna, who is our Senior Vice President of Engineering. With over 25 years of experience in managing global R&D teams, driving innovation, and bringing new products to market, Sridhar will focus on the development and delivery of ST Engineering iDirect’s next generation platform.
Under this new leadership, we have gone through a period of re-evaluation and have established a clear pathway forward that will enable our customers to unlock a huge addressable market. We have re-focused our vision along three core operating principles:
- Standards-Based Innovation: The most significant opportunities to provide worldwide connectivity are achievable only if they interoperate in a global, multi-domain, cloud-enabled, standards-based telecom model. So, iDirect is dedicated to taking its customer on the same digital transformation journey that mobile operators and cloud innovators are pursuing.
- Operator Focused: Major satellite operators, as well as regional players and large service providers, need to deploy highly flexible networks at scale. We will enable our customers to simplify their operations, reduce their capital and operational expenses, and speed time to revenue, while providing end users with increasing levels of control.
- Collaboration as the Cornerstone: The challenges of new space are too complex to be solved in isolation. Our vision fosters an environment of collaboration and partnership with global and regional satellite operators, telecommunications companies, technology leaders, and our entire ecosystem.
Collaboration and Partnerships – A Year of Milestones on Our Innovation Journey
2023 has been a year of successful proof of concept demonstrations, laying the foundations for our next-generation platform and proving that virtualization, interoperability, and ultimately cloud deployments are possible.
- We continued our work as part of the DIFI Consortium that has developed the DIFI v1.1 standard, supporting the digitization of the interface between modem and RF components. In September we took part in a DIFI plugfest to gain a better understanding of DIFI compliance and interoperability across the consortium members.
- We have been working closely with Microsoft to virtualize our satellite hub and modem baseband capabilities and prove that satellite network architectures can be built with commercial off-the-shelf components that leverage cloud computing to its fullest potential. Last year we showcased the demodulation capability of an iDirect virtualized high-speed SCPC modem running as containerized software on a COTS server located on Azure. In May 2023, we took this to another level, and showcased the virtualization of the modulator capability of the modem to run on Azure. That marked our proof of concept of fully. Next, we plan to migrate our network processing functions to the cloud.
- We formed a strategic partnership with Airbus to enable tighter space-to-ground integration, advancing Airbus’ satellite portfolio to reduce in-orbit costs and time to orbit, and to deliver flexible on-orbit solutions.
- We took the lead on the European Protected Waveform project, where consortium members will develop and productize the waveform for use by European nations.
What’s Next for 2024
Moving into 2024, our vision aligns with our customers’ future aspirations and the satellite industry’s position within the broader telecom industry.
We believe that our commitment to open standards will make iDirect the most relevant satellite communications provider to help our customers interoperate with the telcom network-of-networks model. Our elevated focus on network operations will transform our customers to become enablers of a harmonized global communications environment.
Our Next Generation Platform will serve as the foundation on which we will build a global, multi-domain, cloud-enabled, standards-based communications capability that will enable a collective goal to shape the future of how the world connects.