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XipLink Successfully Demos LTE Using Satellite

Wireless link optimization specialist XipLink has completed a test with a significant Asian cellular service provider, delivering accelerated voice, data and video traffic exceeding 90 megabits per second (Mbps) to a remote LTE base station over a satellite connection...

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5 Things We Learned at Global MilSatCom Today

Global MilSatCom is one of the main events for military and communications executives and officials...

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Cobham Satcom Debuts Lightweight Sailor VSAT Antenna Systems

Cobham Satcom has revealed two new 60cm Ka-band VSAT antenna systems for maritime customers...

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Eutelsat Inks new Broadcast and IoT Deals

Eutelsat Communications has signed up a number of customers in Africa and in Europe for broadcast services, and also tightened it’s collaboration with Internet of Things (IoT) pioneer Sigfox...

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Avanti, Global Invacom Demo Encrypted Satellite TV Over Ka-band IP Networks

Avanti Communications and Global Invacom, in partnership with Microsoft and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program, are demonstrating satellite broadcasting using standard IP-enabled networks such as Ethernet or Wi-Fi...

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Iridium GO! Gains Five Third Party Apps

Iridium has made five mobile applications from third party developers available for Iridium GO!, the company’s global smartphone access device...

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Industry Coalition Launched to Extend Role of Satellite Broadcasting

Six leading satellite operators and manufacturers announced the formation of the SAT>IP Alliance at the 2015 NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nev...

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New Market Opportunities for Satellite Start to Emerge From Global Connectivity Boom

The “connected car” and “smart cities” are two potentially new and exciting markets the satellite industry could play in over the coming years, particularly the former as the potential for “always-on” connectivity could be a big draw for satellite...

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Swiss Space Systems Opens Croatia Subsidiary, Plans Spaceport

Swiss Space Systems (S3) has inaugurated a new subsidiary in Croatia, where the company hopes to build a spaceport as well as a facility for manufacturing the upper stage of the SOAR launch vehicle...

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SpaceX Satellite Project Boosted by $1 Billion Google, Fidelity Investment

Google and Fidelity have confirmed an investment of approximately $1 billion in SpaceX, powering the second large-scale Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications constellation...

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GX Launches Getting Dicey after Proton Puts Telecom Satellite in Wrong Orbit

Failed Proton Launch - Opps - Wrong Orbit:

After last Tuesday's failed Proton launch Inmarsat's GX launches look riskier than ever...

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News

XipLink Successfully Demos LTE Using Satellite

 

Wireless link optimization specialist XipLink has completed a test with a significant Asian cellular service provider, delivering accelerated voice, data and video traffic exceeding 90 megabits per second (Mbps) to a remote LTE base station over a satellite connection.

Jack Waters, CEO of XipLink, told Via Satellite the test always achieved 100 Mbps or more on a 97 Mbps link (90 Mbps downstream, 7 Mbps upstream), and that the actual throughput in this test was 155 Mbps.

The demonstration showed XipLink’s high speed Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) acceleration capability, and used several optimization features. The company’s streaming compression technology reduced text traffic from 90 Mbps to 14 Mbps, an 84 percent decrease, and its XipLink Real-Time (XRT) feature reduced the bandwidth of voice traffic 40 percent using header compression. The test also achieved a 90 percent gain in packet per second throughput rates using coalescing techniques.

Through XipLink’s satellite-centric flow control, packet loss was also reduced to 0.1 percent, which has the effect of higher throughput on the link due to no retransmissions. The Asian cellular service provider is an existing XipLink account that has traditionally used XipOS for Wi-Fi aggregation and backhaul with excellent results. The addition of GTP tunnel acceleration to XipOS was required to meet LTE standards for transmitting cellular TCP traffic over the S1 link while also optimizing non-TCP traffic such as User Datagram Protocol (UDP).

Via Satellite 11-19-2015

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5 Things We Learned at Global MilSatCom Today

 

Global MilSatCom is one of the main events for military and communications executives and officials. Here, we look at the five key learnings from day two of the event.

 

MUOS and the International Question

The United Sates’ Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), which will likely be in full operation by summer next year, was described as a game changer today by Harold Haney, chief of the satcom and spectrum management division at the United States Strategic Command. One of the most intriguing things to come out of Haney’s presentation was that he raised the possibility for international partners to be a part of MUOS operations, which is a significant policy decision on the part of the U.S. While nothing appears imminent on that front, international partnerships involving MUOS are an exciting possibility.

Haney believes MUOS takes U.S. military capability to the next level. The system will be all IP, which mean a warfighter does not need to bring another device to transmit data.

Haney said MUOS will be fundamental to all missions, bringing a level of management that is a 100-percent improvement on what the United States currently has in narrowband. With so much emphasis on wideband at the event, such talk on narrowband was particularly interesting.

MUOS is being planned into every mission, Haney said; it will provide worldwide UHF secure communications to mobile warfighters with enhanced features and connectivity options. Over the next few years, we will see if it lives up to the hype.

 

The More Things Change, the More They Stay The Same

In conversations with many people today, a frequent observation is that we are hearing virtually the same things that we heard last year. Some presenters have even used the same slides. The key theme, as mentioned earlier, is about greater collaboration and partnerships with the commercial satellite sector — but, is it really happening? It appears like the answer to that question is no.

However, in one of my conversations with a leading government official, they said things could definitely be on the cusp of change. Everybody right now is talking about investing in next generational capability over the next two years. But the nature of the conversations could change, as departments of defense around the world look to make the most of these new capabilities coming online.

Certainly, despite the calls for greater collaboration and partnerships, this has yet to be heeded. It seems everybody is researching the potential of next generation satellites separately, and there could be far greater benefits if nations got together and created study groups to examine these technology issues going forward.

Overall, the push for greater international cooperation was a major theme at the event. It seems like Global MilSatCom 2015 is not that much different from Global MilSatCom 2014, but change could be coming.

 

NATO’s Latest Plan Close to Gaining Approval

NATO is close to gaining approval for its latest 15-year plan, and should be done by the end of the year. This ambitious 1.5 billion euros strategy (CP130) will run from 2019 to 2034. Tom Plachecki, chief of network services and IT infrastructure service line at NATO Communications and Information Agency, told attendees that out of the 1.5 billion euros ($1.65 billion), 1.1 billion euros ($1.21 billion) will be spent on space segment, and 400 million euros ($439.57 million) on ground infrastructure. This will form a key part of NATO’s CP130 Capability Package.

This investment of 1.5 billion euros signals an almost doubling of the existing investment between 2005 and 2019. Plachecki admitted NATO is opening the door for commercial satcom more than it has ever done before, saying NATO wants to provide more capability through commercial satellite partnerships. This represents a shift in thinking. Anytime you mention a figure of 1.5 billion euros, it also gets peoples’ attention!

 

Role of Commercial Satellite Sector Still Up For Grabs

A number of speakers are optimistic that, in the new environment, nations can use commercial satellite capacity more than ever before. Brian Rodriguez, director of business development and strategy at Raytheon, called for expanded collaboration between commercial and military satcom and partner nations. He said resiliency and diversity through a combination of various commercial and global military satellites “is now within reach.”

Another key theme was that small satellites across different orbits will also play a major role. Commercial satellites being used in milsatcom does not necessarily mean GEO. Ultimately, small satellites could provide a very cost-effective alternative to bigger satellites, and with an emphasis still on reducing costs, it seems as though small satellites could definitely find a bigger niche in the military market.

O3b Networks was one of the presenters at Global MilSatCom 2015, but the role of a company such as O3b in this market is open to debate. It remains to be seen whether this market will become a major revenue stream for the company.

 

Hosted Payloads — Is the ‘In’ Thing of Yesterday Going to be ‘In’ Tomorrow?

One of the underlying themes of the event today is the future regarding hosted payloads. While they have been much talked about, there have still not been a huge amount of deals in this area. One government official I spoke to says that hosted payloads still have a bright future.

As new capabilities come online, and the U.S. Department of Defense and others figure out the partnerships they want to build, it will be interesting to see whether the hosted payload deal will remain en vogue in the satellite industry, or whether the partnership model will ultimately move in a different direction.

 

And Finally

There are more cows in Nebraska than people. 1.9 million cows compared to 1.7 million people. Thanks to Harold Haney for that one…

Via Satellite 11-04-2015

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Cobham Satcom Debuts Lightweight Sailor VSAT Antenna Systems

 

Cobham Satcom has revealed two new 60cm Ka-band VSAT antenna systems for maritime customers. The new Sailor 60 GX and Sailor 600 VSAT Ka weigh 37Kg each, and enable connectivity through Inmarsat’s Global Xpress and Telenor’s Thor 7 High Throughput Satellites (HTS), respectively.

The new antennas target customers such as yachts, fishing vessels, short sea shipping and ships with space restrictions. The antennas balance size and performance by leveraging HTS spot beams instead of wide beams to operate anywhere in the satellite footprint and provide a strong link to the satellite.

Installation of both new antenna systems uses features such as a single cable between antenna and below deck equipment for RF, power and data; automatic azimuth calibration; and automatic cable calibration for “one-touch commissioning.” Additionally, the use of dynamic motor brakes inside the antennas removes the requirement for mechanical brake straps, ensuring antenna balance in no-power situations at sea or during transport.

Via Satellite 09-24-2015

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Eutelsat Inks new Broadcast and IoT Deals

 

Eutelsat Communications has signed up a number of customers in Africa and in Europe for broadcast services, and also tightened it’s collaboration with Internet of Things (IoT) pioneer Sigfox. New broadcast customers are planning to launch collectively more than 175 channels, with the transition from analogue to digital opening up new doors for satellite.

United Business Machines EG (UBM), an IT specialist company in Equatorial Guinea purchased capacity for a new pay-TV platform called EG SAT, which will broadcast more than 60 channels. Telekom Austria Group doubled the number of transponders leased on Eutelsat 16A from four to eight to support Antik Telekom’s upcoming platform with more than 90 channels, of which one third will be in High Definition (HD). Canal+ is also launching a new pay-TV service by the end of the year with 25 channels, contracting a 72MHz transponder on Eutelsat 3B, and Arqiva in the U.K. inked an agreement for a 14th transponder for the country’s Direct-to-Home (DTH) market.

Broadcaster Frenzy

Each broadcast customer has plans to expand channels and video content. For most, leveraging satellite is boosting the transition to digital in the face of analogue switch offs.

Using Eutelsat 16A, UBM will focus extensively on providing Spanish content, and will also include French, English and Portuguese content to support the ongoing effort to integrate the country’s Spanish-speaking populace into the predominantly French- and Portuguese-speaking regions of West Africa. The company will also broadcast Equatorial Guinea’s three national channels on a Free-to-Air (FTA) basis and deliver them to terrestrial re-transmitters and headends.

Arqiva, with its new transponder, plans to expand its digital multiplex offering and broaden the options available to its existing and future customer base.

Antik Sat a joint DTH platform between Telekom Austria Group and Antik Telekom, launches next month targeting the Slovak and Czech markets. Antik Sat folds satellite broadcasting into Antik Telecom’s services, which include Internet, IPTV, and Voice Over IP (VoIP) services via fiber and wireless infrastructure. The platform will include local channels, international channels, an online archive and second-screen online solutions for smart devices.

Telekom Austria Group Director of Wholesale Stefan Amon said in a Sept. 11 statement that the satellite broadcasting venture began with Eutelsat two years ago with the goal of accelerating the transition from analogue to digital in Central and Eastern Europe. The new service will be marketed online and through more than 150 independent distributors across both Czechoslovakia and Slovakia. Antik plans in a second stage to offer hybrid boxes combining satellite reception and IP services, and will also seek to forge partnerships with other service providers in both markets.

Canal+ Overseas, the Canal+ subsidiary in charge of broadcasting internationally and in French overseas territories, is also using satellite to shift to digital in Africa. The company’s new C-band transponder capacity will deliver channels to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) transmitters in approximately 10 French-speaking countries in an area stretching from Guinea to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Eutelsat Chairman and CEO Michel de Rosen described Africa’s transition from analogue to digital as a catalyst for satellite during the company’s earnings call in July this year. Comparing the market to Europe, he highlighted significant potential.

“This market is significantly underpenetrated. Four numbers illustrate this point: There are only two channels per million inhabitants in Africa, whereas there are 11 channels per million inhabitants in Western Europe; HD penetration is low in Africa at just 5 percent compared to around 18 percent in Europe. DDT transition, which is usually the booster for channel line up is largely ahead of us in Africa, with a number of countries expected to complete digital switchover in the next years,” he said.

The Internet of Things in The United States

Eutelsat participated in a financing round for Sigfox, a fast growing Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) company, earlier this year. Along with international telecom operators, a financial sponsor and other industrial partners, Sigfox raised $115 million for its low power connectivity network. On Sept. 14 the company announced it would integrate Eutelsat’s ‘SmartLNB’ into its infrastructure as one of the solutions to enable base stations to exchange data.

Sigfox provides subscription-based communications services for connecting IoT devices wirelessly, focusing on small message exchanges to limit power consumption. This in turn allow years-to-decades of device battery life and lower communications costs. The company intends to use the SmartLNB with Eutelsat 113 West A for coverage in North America, with the U.S. as it’s first market.

“Our customers run business-critical applications on our network and we therefore use high availability solutions throughout our infrastructure to ensure that our network continues to function in all events,” said Rodolphe Baronnet-Frugès, executive vice president of networks and operators at Sigfox. “We have selected Eutelsat’s SmartLNB solution for base station backhaul connectivity because of its very high reliability and ubiquitous coverage. This solution also simplifies the selection of base station sites while lowering operating costs.”

Looking to Ultra-HD

Eutelsat has also released new forecasts on Ultra-HD television sales from GfK, predicting a striking 200 percent spike in Ultra-HD screen sales from June to December 2015. The research group expects that by 2020, more than 70 percent of total sales across Europe and almost 60 percent in the Middle East and North Africa will be Ultra-HD. The annual volume of screens sold in these markets is expected by then to have reached 37 million. Eutelsat has embarked on other projects in the video market as well, joining the Sat>IP Alliance and forging the Future Video Initiative with SES while at IBC 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Via Satellite 09-15-2015

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Avanti, Global Invacom Demo Encrypted Satellite TV Over Ka-band IP Networks

 

Avanti Communications and Global Invacom, in partnership with Microsoft and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program, are demonstrating satellite broadcasting using standard IP-enabled networks such as Ethernet or Wi-Fi. The home platform uses the SAT>IP protocol to offer up to eight live streaming channels and satellite multicast push Video-on-Demand (VoD) services with the option of integrating multiple satellite sources. The content can be clear or encrypted, with the satellite broadband providing the connection for content playback authorization and interactivity.

Encryption follows the guidelines provided by Microsoft PlayReady, which allows decryption at application level and the ability to secure content inside the home network, enabling content protection and access to encrypted and Free-to-Air (FTA) satellite TV platforms. The access to media and broadcast content will be possible via apps on mobile devices, smart TV, and other connected devices in the home. In addition, the platform provides the possibility of safe storage for VoD content with the addition of a standard USB hard drive.

“The project showcases some of the innovations possible when you embed and integrate Ka-band satellite technology within broadcast TV services. It has exciting application for both sectors,” said Graham Peters, director at Avanti Communications and Avanti Applied Technologies (ApTec).

Avanti CEO David Williams has mentioned Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcasting as a potential new market for the company.

Via Satellite 09-09-2015

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Iridium GO! Gains Five Third Party Apps

 

Iridium has made five mobile applications from third party developers available for Iridium GO!, the company’s global smartphone access device. The apps are expected to help enhance functionality of the Iridium GO! for markets such as maritime, outdoor recreation, lone-worker safety, and aviation.

Three of the apps are developed by OCENS. Grib Explorer Plus melds GRIB weather and ocean data into detailed images for environmental insights. The aviation app Flycast provides flight-specific aviation weather forecasts out to 12 hours for any location on Earth, and the company’s Quick Web Information Pulls (QWIP) app delivers news, stocks, sports and other information.

PredictWind Offshore, created by PredictWind, enables users to download PredictWind GRIB files, weather routing, departure planning, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) text forecasts and satellite imagery for offshore travel. RoadPost and two10degrees jointly developed the fifth app, GeoPro, a lone-worker safety, monitoring and communication service for keeping in touch with a user’s workforce. According to Iridium, GeoPro addresses even the most rigorous lone-worker legislative requirements.

Iridium GO! provides global voice and text messaging for smartphone users as well as targeted additional data capabilities and connects to any Android or Apple iOS smartphone or tablet, providing connectivity anywhere on the planet for up to five devices.

Via Satellite 07-22-2015

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Industry Coalition Launched to Extend Role of Satellite Broadcasting

 

Six leading satellite operators and manufacturers announced the formation of the SAT>IP Alliance at the 2015 NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nev. The partnership formalizes a coalition that was initiated last year to develop compatible hardware and software for the SAT>IP technology. The SAT>IP Alliance consists of SES, Hispasat, Panasonic, Nagra, ALi Corporation, and MaxLinear.

SAT>IP technology converts satellite signals into IP at the reception point using a small server, which may be located in the satellite dish or in the user’s home, and then distributes it to the different IP devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops. This technology makes it possible to provide high-quality content via satellite more efficiently to all the screens in a home, using pre-existing networks in the building. SAT>IP is currently a European standard (CENELEC EN50585) compatible with satellite and ground networks.


The SAT>IP Alliance, which will be constituted shortly in Luxembourg as a non-profit organization, will be in charge of setting forth SAT>IP-related strategic developments and creating working groups through its executive committee. The main aims of the Alliance will be to promote the use of the SAT>IP protocol throughout the industry, facilitate certification of new devices, and develop and improve the SAT>IP standard.

Via Satellite 04-16-2015

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New Market Opportunities for Satellite Start to Emerge From Global Connectivity Boom

 

The “connected car” and “smart cities” are two potentially new and exciting markets the satellite industry could play in over the coming years, particularly the former as the potential for “always-on” connectivity could be a big draw for satellite. Andrew Lee, principal consultant on automotive and transportation at Frost & Sullivan, says this is a burgeoning market and that car manufacturers want to make connectivity more dynamic. In its own consumer survey, Frost & Sullivan found two out of five drivers still use their smartphone rather than their navigation system, which shows a fairly significant lack of faith from customers (drivers) in these in-built navigation and connectivity systems.

However, there are also compelling reasons why car manufacturers would want to boost capabilities in terms of connectivity. Lee said the two biggest pain barriers are recalls and warranty costs. A system where updates can be done over-the-air, rather than cars having to go back to sellers could save car manufacturers a significant amount of dollars.


“Last year, there were two recalls in the United States; both were related to a potential fire hazard. GM had 370,000 vehicles. Tesla had 29,000. GM’s direct cost was $100 per vehicle. It took GM five months to do 80 percent of the updates. There is a 20 percent risk for GM to be sued here,” he added. “The estimated cost for Tesla was $20 a vehicle. They turned it into a publicity stunt: 100 percent were updated overnight. One of the key pain points was to do with recalls.”

Lee said satellite will be one of the ways in which car manufacturers collect data.

“Over-the-air updates require continuous connectivity [and] 3G systems are not known for their reliability. There needs to be a way of keeping that continuous connectivity,” he said. “The automotive industry thinks satellite connectivity is costly. … [but] we do see connected cars as a huge growth area. Satellite is one of the key technologies that will play a role, but, the question is, how it will work? It will be on a case-by-case basis.”

 

Smart Cities

One of the other potential growth areas for the satellite industry, which was discussed at the recent Connectivity Conference in London, was the concept of “smart cities” and the role the satellite industry could play in it. Martin Wiesner, director of satellite and smart cities at Stream Technologies, works with a number of local governments as they look to “get smart.”

So, what does a smart city entail? This naturally involves a higher degree of connectivity, which would be used for smart buildings, smart traffic management, smart parking management, smart street lighting, as well smarter grids, etc. For example, Wiesner spoke of a situation in China where there is a potential role for satellite to play. “China is building 20 cities at a time, and looking 20 or 30 years in the future at a time [with these smart cities]. They want to talk to one connectivity supplier. With smart city development, you need to be on a menu of connectivity. What we see with people in China is they don’t have a problem with satellite. The first question they have is how easy is it? It is then easier to accept a use for it,” says Wiesner. “We all know data backhauling can be done in a secure manner over satellite. A lot of low power radio data needs to be backhauled. Satellite, to these guys, seems complicated. It is very easy if you have someone that understands it. There is a very big opportunity for satellite to participate in smart cities.”

When asked what his advice would be to satellite companies seeking to play in this space, Wiesner added, “Satellite needs to be relevant. It needs to be on the menu [for smart city developers]. It has to be easy to integrate. If you are not on the menu, at least be partners with companies that are on the menu. Satellite is more difficult to understand, [so] we need to make it easier to integrate with other technologies. Satellite is both ahead of its time and seen as an old technology. There is room for satellite for a long time. Smart cities will need a lot of connectivity and we should share in that.”

Via Satellite 02-26-2015

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Swiss Space Systems Opens Croatia Subsidiary, Plans Spaceport

 

Swiss Space Systems (S3) has inaugurated a new subsidiary in Croatia, where the company hopes to build a spaceport as well as a facility for manufacturing the upper stage of the SOAR launch vehicle.

S3’s suborbital SOAR shuttle is a reusable small satellite launch vehicle currently in Research and Development (R&D). The system is designed to fly on the back of an Airbus aircraft, and at an altitude of 80 kilometers an expendable upper stage is released to carry satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This year S3 plans to begin zero gravity flights, wind tunnel testing and a mock-up flight test campaign that will conclude the R&D phase.


S3 is working with Russian partner RKK Energia to develop the upper stage propulsion system at its Swiss headquarters. The Croatia subsidiary will be responsible for work packages related to the development of the upper-stage and, in the future, could manufacture them at the planned Ubdina spaceport. The subsidiary will also collaborate with universities and research centers for small satellite aerospace technology testing.

Via Satellite 02-18-2015

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SpaceX Satellite Project Boosted by $1 Billion Google, Fidelity Investment

 

Google and Fidelity have confirmed an investment of approximately $1 billion in SpaceX, powering the second large-scale Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications constellation announced in a mere five days. Together the two new investors own slightly less than 10 percent of SpaceX — a company founded by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, CEO and chief engineer, who said he has no intention of making the company public until it is regularly launching to Mars.

In a statement, SpaceX said the funding will bolster space transport, reusability and satellite manufacturing, the latter of which remained largely a rumor until announced at a Jan. 16 presentation at the Seattle Center. The event was closed to media, but a video recording of Musk’s speech was uploaded to YouTube by an attendee.


Joking that the talent-laden city’s residents are too stubborn to move to Los Angeles, Musk announced the creation of “SpaceX Seattle,” which will become the nucleus of the company’s satellite development program. SpaceX plans to build and launch a constellation of approximately 4,000 satellites in LEO to provide worldwide access to broadband with a latency of 20 to 30 milliseconds. To meet the cost of building human-rated residencies on Mars, Musk anticipates the project will create a significant source of revenue for infrastructure on the Red Planet.

SpaceX hopes to launch version one of the satellite constellation in roughly five years. Musk acknowledged previously underestimating the timing for massive undertakings like this, and noted that the first version would not feature all of the capabilities of later iterations. The full constellation would handle about 10 percent of the world’s business and consumer direct traffic, and more than half of the long distance traffic. New, more advanced satellites would be launched about every five years.

Musk also said there are important differences between SpaceX’s project and the undertakings of Teledesic, a failed company that originally planned a constellation of 840 LEO satellites in the 1990s. He attributed the company’s undoing to not planning for terrestrial network improvement, and the challenge of getting a satellite signal through buildings and other infrastructure.

“In the case of Teledesic, they were trying to talk to phones and that gets back to that problem of a roof-penetrating situation. Particularly when stuff is coming from space, if you’re in a skyscraper, it’s got to go through 27 floors to reach you. It’s not going to happen,” Musk said at the conference. “In the case of Teledesic there were some environmental issues there.”

Tim Farrar, president of TMF Associates, cautioned that there were other bigger challenges to Teledesic that SpaceX is also likely to face.

“Teledesic didn’t proceed because the technology wasn’t there to meet the business plan. The biggest issue was really in terms of their terminals. You couldn’t make terminals at a cost effective price that were going to be suitable. Low-end users (small businesses or consumers) were the primary target for Teledesic, and having mechanically steered dishes that track satellites across the sky was an expensive business then and it’s still an expensive business now,” Farrar told Via Satellite.

Musk envisions the terminals would cost between $100 and $300 dollars each, depending on the version. The goal would be to make the broadband from SpaceX satellites accessible to people in both developed countries and those with limited resources. According to Farrar, this technology is still a ways off, especially at the proposed price point.

“That’s a challenging target, which is pretty difficult to achieve with a mechanically steered antenna, if not impossible. That’s an enormous challenge and I still don’t know that we have a comprehensive answer to that. Kymeta is heading in that direction, but we have not got a working two-way system up and running at this point in time in terms of end user terminals,” Farrar said.

SpaceX expects the mammoth satellite constellation to cost roughly $10 to $15 billion dollars overall. Musk described the project as being similar to “rebuilding the Internet in space,” adding that satellites constitute as much or more space-based activity as rockets. While the primary goal of the constellation will be satellite communications, Musk said there could be other applications in Earth science and space science that the company could potentially offer to others.

For Google, the SpaceX investment follows its earlier acquisitions of Skybox Imaging and Titan Aerospace. The company’s continued interest in aerospace technologies has fueled speculation about its own telecommunications ambitions, and how satellite fits into them.

“Google is looking to provide Internet access anywhere in the world, and they’ve tried out a large number of options, whether it’s balloons or drones,” said Farrar. “Satellite is clearly another one of those potential options and, if Musk can fulfill his ambition to be able to manufacture satellites at low cost, then that would be a good way forward.”

With more satellites announced this year than in any prior, these plans could stir up action among incumbent operators.

“The new competition could be a [Merger and Acquisition] M&A catalyst,” Andrew Spinola, senior analyst at Wells Fargo wrote in a Jan. 20 research note. “To the extent that SpaceX and OneWeb can improve cost per bit economics for satellite broadband, the existing players will need to respond.”

Via Satellite 01-21-2015

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GX Launches Getting Dicey after Proton Puts Telecom Satellite in Wrong Orbit

 

Failed Proton Launch - Opps - Wrong Orbit:

After last Tuesday's failed Proton launch Inmarsat's GX launches look riskier than ever.

It seems that Inmarsat's supposedly "bargain" launch deal with ILS wasn't a bargain at all. With a failure rate that approaches 50% since 2010, and the high probability of failed future launches, one wonders why Inmarsat had no back up plan? Why did not management contract for four i5s instead of holding off on the commitment for a spare?

The satellite business is risky and most experienced operators have a back up plan, especially given the revenue critical nature of a project like GX, but not Inmarsat. If one of the next two i5s fail to make it into proper orbits, the constellation is not likely to go live until late 2016, dealing a devastating blow to Inmarsat's GX revenue projections. Maybe its time the stock analysts that rate this baby a "buy" take another look.

Alan Gottlieb

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ViaSat Takes Exede In The Air to General Aviation

 

ViaSat is expanding its Exede satellite Internet service to the general aviation market. The new Exede In The Air for general aviation is faster than ViaSat Yonder, and employs the same broadband technology used for residential Exede Internet in the United States.

ViaSat conducted flight tests of the new service, which the company reports have proven the ability to switch between Ku and Ka-band satellites while conducting multi-site videoconferencing, live HDTV and movie streaming, and other high-bandwidth applications. The company will begin offering the service for flights over North America, Europe, the Mediterranean and Northern Africa in high-traffic areas.

Via Satellite 10-21-2014

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ViaSat Tests 1 Mbps L-band Terminal Throughput Over LightSquared Satellite

 

ViaSat has successfully demonstrated 1 Mbps throughput in L-band using a terminal measuring less than 8 by 5 by 2 inches. The test was facilitated over LightSquared’s SkyTerra 1 satellite in both fixed configurations and mobile applications at speeds up to 65mph.

The 1 Mbps data rate was reached by balancing power and bandwidth on SkyTerra 1. According to ViaSat, the improved service means more L-band applications due to faster downloads, enhanced broadcast and multicast services, and greater responsiveness. The company intends to continue working on the new waveform used with the high-performance L-band terminals.


“We’re designing our network waveform to adapt to the variable link conditions each terminal experiences as it operates in a mobile environment to maximize data reception,” said Phil Berry, VP of Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) at ViaSat.

Via Satellite 10-09-2014

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KVH Brings Dish ‘Pay As You Go’ Service to Maritime

 

KVH Industries has initiated a new Pay-As-You-Go program to deliver satellite television to maritime customers, providing month-to-month 30-day service packages. The service, which targets mainly seasonal boaters, allows clients with a TracVision satellite TV antenna system access to more than 200 high definition channels through Dish Network.

The service has no starting or stopping charge, providing the flexibility to pay for Dish Network service only when customers have their boat or yacht in the water.


KHV is offering a free Dish HD receiver along with purchases of the TracVision TV series marine satellite TV antenna system in order to promote the service. The company provides four compact systems from 12.5 to 24 inches in diameter to meet different vessel sizes. KVH is working with Dish national distributor Pace International to support the Pay-As-You-Go program.

Via Satellite 09-25-2014

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The Next Big Opportunity - Flat, Electronically-Steerable Antennas: It’s All About Phasor and Kymeta

 

As passengers and crews of ships at sea, aircraft in-flight, and land-vehicles en route, increasingly demand high-speed access to the Internet and mobile data networks, service providers are seeking alternatives to the commonly-used, bulky, and often failure-prone, mechanically-stabilized antennas used to connect these vehicles “on-the move” to broadband satellite services. For many, the ideal antenna advancement would be a flat, high-performance, economical, electronically steered antenna (ESA), with no moving parts.

Until now, these clever flat panel antennas (or phased arrays) have been prohibitively expensive and mostly limited to use by the military. However, two companies, Phasor, Inc. (www.phasorsolutions.com) and Kymeta Corp. (www.kymetacorp.com) are developing new technologies, and novel approaches to bring low-profile ESAs to market.

Phasor, a Washington DC-based company, is in the final stages of completing a five-year development effort to bring Ku-band phased array antennas to market, based on a unique innovation to conventional MMC technology. Kymeta, a Seattle-based company, has focused over the past several years on the Ka-band frequency and the use of meta-materials – a new and yet to be commercially proven technology for ESAs.

Phasor’s core-technology uses a patented microprocessor design (ASIC), in which each ASIC is linked to a radiating “element”, and these elements populate panels that harmonize function across an array, creating an electronically steerable, beam-forming antenna. Additionally, as this system immediately converts signals to digital, the architecture supports unlimited scalability, without traditional losses associated with analog systems. The result is a high-performance, economical, and highly scalable Ku-band flat panel ESA. Phasor has announced successful test results, off-satellite. It will launch in Ku-band, and has stated plans to expand to other frequencies, including Ka and X-band.

Kymeta’s meta-materials technology is a patented, novel implementation of a new field in materials science. Effectively, meta-materials “bend” radio waves to achieve electronically steered antenna (ESA) functionality. This, in conjunction with a polarizing “film” that covers the ESA, allows for SATCOM connectivity.

Kymeta currently has development contracts with Inmarsat and O3B, has several high-profile investors and has described plans to make satellite broadband relevant to the broader markets. They have also recently announced successful tests off-satellite. However, many experts express concerns that this technology is more difficult to implement in lower frequencies, could be limited in scalability, and may be affected by extreme variations in temperature (as often experienced on aircraft). Additionally, with Kymeta’s technical approach, linear-polarization (typically required in Ku-Band services) may be difficult to achieve. While Kymeta’s primary focus has been the development of a Ka-Band antenna, the company, at some point, may also attempt to develop and introduce a Ku-Band product.

As Ku-Band is well established in mobility markets and major satellite operators Intelsat, Telesat, SES and Eutelsat are planning to launch Ku-Band Spot Beam based services (a development that endorses the acceptability of Ku-band Spot Beam infrastructure as a potential standard), Phasor enjoys “first mover” opportunity in the most widely developed satellite technology sector, an advantage which could result in a significant growth opportunity for the company.

Alan Gottlieb

Managing Director, Gottlieb International Group, Inc

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Highlights of Via Satellite: July’s Top 10 Quotes

 

As the satellite industry continues to grow and evolve, the winds of change can be felt in nearly every sector. The July issue of Via Satellite touches on some of the prominent areas of change as new technological advances begin reshaping the landscape.

We talk to leaders from the world’s main launch companies about the business of rocket science, as well as top satellite manufacturing executives about pursuing disruptive technologies in a conservative industry. We also take a close look at the entrepreneurial success story of Mark Dankberg from the critical steps that inspired him to cofound ViaSat to challenges he never imagined.


To sample our latest issue, here are the top 10 quotes from Via Satellite’s July issue:

There seems to be a situation at the moment where people are much more keen to fund projects that are perhaps pushing the envelope as far as the technical issues are concerned. I think we’re in a cycle now where people are saying, ‘let’s push the boat out and take a chance.’” – Jeremy Rose, principal, Comsys

We are dealing with top technologies. As soon as you touch space, you are really at the edge of what mankind is able to produce.” – Eric Béranger, head of Airbus’s satellite manufacturing division

One of the things I like is for us not to get too comfortable with the business model. I would rather disrupt industries than be the disrupted.” – Mark Dankberg, chairman, CEO and cofounder, ViaSat

Most of our customers today have an incredible amount of technical expertise … we’re not shy, and we ask them what their opinion is. That way, at the end of the qualification process, when we are ready to deploy new technology and new products, it’s a lot easier. It’s a long process, and it has to be done in little steps.” – John Celli, president, Space Systems/Loral (SSL)

In the past the government told us, ‘we want that redundancy; we want you to maintain it.’ Now they’re saying ‘be competitive, be lower cost,’” – George Sowers, VP of strategic architecture, United Launch Alliance

A couple of years ago, as it became obvious that we were transitioning from large development efforts to more production satellites in our government market, and likewise the prospects that the government markets were likely to be flat and perhaps even declining, we really shifted our attention to reestablish a strong position in the commercial and international market,” – Mike Hamel, president of commercial ventures, Lockheed Martin Space Systems

When we started, it was a total bootstrap company. So, [we did] everything from buying parts, to soldering circuit boards, writing manuals, and writing technical proposals, etc. Doing everything together to grow the company in these early days really helped knit together a very close team.” – Mark Dankberg, chairman, CEO and cofounder, ViaSat

Electric propulsion is now seen as one additional tool for the manufacturers to propose … the most efficient solution, but it’s not expected to become dominant,” – Stéphane Gounari, senior analyst, Northern Sky Research

No company out there competing in the commercial launch market is truly a commercial company except probably SpaceX,” – Marco Caceres, senior analyst, Teal Group

The complexity today still demands additional costs for integration and testing … but that will come down eventually. There will still be a difference between the real flexible satellites and the non-flexible [spacecraft], but the difference will be shrinking.” – John Celli, president, Space Systems/Loral (SSL)

Via Satellite 07-23-2014

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NASA Issues RFI for Mars Communications Satellites

 

NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to build a set of communications satellites for Mars. The approach signals a major change in the way NASA procures services from the commercial sector, as the operator would continue to own the satellites while in orbit around the Red Planet. The space agency said it needs new communications satellites to prevent a gap from occurring in the 2020s.

NASA stays connected to the Curiosity rover, launched in 2011, and the Opportunity rover launched in 2003 through science orbiters Odyssey, launched in 2001, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), launched in 2005. New orbiters, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft expected to arrive on Sept. 21, and the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) ExoMars/Trace Gas Orbiter in the 2016. NASA said it currently has no future orbiters planned following MAVEN, necessitating other means of maintaining interplanetary telecommunications.


“We are looking to broaden participation in the exploration of Mars to include new models for government and commercial partnerships,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Depending on the outcome, the new model could be a vital component in future science missions and the path for humans to Mars.”

Via Satellite 07-24-2014

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Hughes and Thales Test Satellite-Based Deployable LTE Mobile Network

 

Hughes Network Systems and Thales Defense & Security have successfully tested a Long-Term Evolution (LTE) mobile satellite network designed for rapid deployment in emergency situations. The LTE network uses Hughes high throughput Jupiter and Spaceway 3 products, connecting them to the Thales B-14 system-on-wheels. Hughes said the private network solution is deployable in nearly any location.

In crisis or emergency scenarios, first responders can use smartphones and vehicular modems to communicate with Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) and other responders. The two companies tested the system using the 700 MHz public spectrum in order to meet public safety requirements.


“Cellular and broadband networks see the most congestion right after a catastrophe,” said Lewis Johnston, VP of advanced programs at Thales. “Our deployable 4G/LTE secured communications solution enables the security, availability and resilience of mission-critical applications to solve this problem, which is vital to the public safety mission.”

Via Satellite 07-24-2014

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Eutelsat Launches Demo Ultra-HD Channel at 50 Frames per Second

 

Eutelsat launched a demonstration channel for Europe’s first High Efficiency Video Encoding (HEVC) ultra-HD broadcasting channel with a frame rate of 50 frames per second and a 10-bit color depth.

The channel was launched via Eutelsat’s Hot Bird video neighborhood, which provides Direct-to-Home (DTH) services to customers in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. This channel will be the first that customers can receive directly using the newest 4K TV panels equipped with HEVC decoders and Second Generation Digital Video Broadcasting -Satellite (DVB S2) demodulators. Content for this ultra-HD channel includes portions of a performance of Monteverdi’s “Vespers” conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner in the Royal Chapel at Versailles.


“The launch of this new channel is another milestone taking us closer towards the commercial roll-out of 4K TV channels that will propel broadcasting into a new era,” said Michel Cabrol, director of marketing innovation and digital cinema at Eutelsat. “Immense progress has been made with partners in the broadcasting chain since the launch in January 2013 of the first demonstration ultra-HD channel on a Eutelsat satellite.”

Ateme was tasked with encoding the ultra-HD content.

Via Satellite 05-28-2014

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C-Com and ViaSat to Jointly Develop New Ka-band Antenna System

 

C-Com Satellite Systems has signed an agreement with ViaSat to develop a low profile, Ka-band mobile antenna system for the emerging communications-on-the-move market. C-Com will manufacture and sell this new product under the ViaSat license.

“We want to bring affordable high speed broadband connectivity over satellite to our land-based customers, much the same way commercial airlines are rolling it out for inflight broadband connection,” said Bilal Awada, CTO at C-Com.

The first pre-production in-motion antenna system units are expected to release in the fall of 2015.

Via Satellite 05-27-2014

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ITU Releases New Figures in Global Internet and Mobile Access Rates

 

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recently released figures that predict there will be almost 3 billion Internet users in the world by the end of 2014, and that two-thirds of these users will be from the developing world. The numbers also predict that mobile-broadband subscriptions will reach 2.3 billion globally, and that the developing world will account for 55 percent of these subscriptions.

In Africa, statistics show that almost 20 percent of the population will use the Internet by the end of 2014, a number that has increased by 10 percent since 2010. Regarding mobile subscriptions, the ITU reports that worldwide mobile-cellular subscriptions will reach almost 7 billion by the end of the year, and approximately 3.6 billion of these subscriptions will be in the Asia-Pacific region. Africa and the Asia-Pacific will have the highest mobile-cellular growth, with penetration rates reaching 69 percent and 89 percent, respectively, by the end of 2014.

Around 44 percent of the world’s households will have Internet access by the end of the year, with a 78 percent penetration rate in developed countries, and 31 percent in developing countries.

Via Satellite 05-05-2014

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iDirect has High Hopes for HTS, Announces New Product Line

 

Greg Quiggle, vice president of product management at iDirect said his company sees a lot of potential in High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and they will soon have more products to prove it.

“We’re going to introduce a new product line branded Velocity,” Quiggle told Mark Holmes, editorial director of Via Satellite, during a video interview at SATELLITE 2014. “And Velocity essentially works hand in hand with Evolution, but is very focused on a couple key new use cases that we see emerging within the HTS movement.”

Velocity is designed with adaptive Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) along with other improvements. The product line will be accompanied by the new X7 remote, which is capable of connecting to two satellites through the use of two receivers., Quiggle said the massive increase in capacity HTS brings, along with better beam performance, is something in which iDirect sees plenty of merit.

“What that means to iDirect is a lot of opportunities for us at ground segment, and frankly a lot of opportunities to work with new satellite operators as well that we haven’t been able to in the past,” he said.

Caleb Henry | April 14, 2014

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Gogo Offers 70 Mbps for In-Flight Connectivity With New 2Ku Service

 

In-flight connectivity provider Gogo has unveiled its new technology development: 2Ku. Designed to complement the company’s Air To Ground (ATG) solution, 2Ku uses two Ku-band antennas provided by ThinKom under an exclusive agreement. Gogo claims the new Ground To Orbit (GTO) technology will deliver more than 70 Mbps, with room to go higher.

The new antenna can be used with any Ku-band satellite, something Gogo expects to help eliminate the signal issues found in tropical latitudes and other areas with high skew angles. 2Ku uses a phased array antenna, but is also electromechanically steered. The height measures approximately 4.5 inches — 6.5 inches if you include the radome — and is expected to reduce drag on aircraft.

“When you go outside of the North American market, since you don’t have the air-to-ground link, we have to rely on satellite link, and we do both the receive and transmit using two antennas in the 2Ku solution,” said Anand Chari, CTO of Gogo.

“They are up to two times more spectrally efficient, meaning for a given bandwidth on a given spectrum, you can pump twice the data rate using this antenna compared to any other competing solutions in the marketplace today.”

Japan Airlines (JAL) is expected to trial 2Ku on its flights. In March the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau and the United States Federal Aviation Association certified the airline to install Gogo’s Ku-band equipment on its Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Gogo currently has around 4,000 aircraft using ATG, and 5,000 using satellite.

According to Chari, the service is able to support streaming, enabling broadcast TV and IPTV onboard planes. Newer satellites and more trials will also increase the downlink speeds, he said, because the increase in spectral efficiency using current satellites will translate to future spacecraft as well.

“It’s fast,” added Michael Small, president and CEO of Gogo. “[It is at] 70 Mbps today, and it will grow in speed as new satellites get launched [to] over 100 Mbps.”

In terms of the uplink speed of the service, however, Gogo was less apt to provide a concrete number.

“The return link speed will depend on how much bandwidth we set aside for the return link, and typically I would say it’s about, let’s say a fourth of the forward link speed,” said Chari.

The new antenna is also supposed to reduce the frequency of bird-strikes because of its low profile and oblique design. Birds are more likely to be deflected, which probably does not mean much to them at 500 mph, but it will protect the antenna itself from damage. Gogo expects the service to be commercially available in mid-2015, following further trials.

“When we launched our in-flight Internet service five years ago, we were able to deliver peak speeds to the aircraft of 3.1 Mbps through our ATG network,” said Small. “About a year ago, we began deployment of our next generation ATG-4 service, which took peak speeds to 9.8 Mbps. Our GTO solution takes the peak speed to 70 Mbps in the U.S. and 2Ku brings 70 Mbps to the rest of the world.”

Via Satellite 04-08-2014

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Boeing on Schedule for Delivery of All-Electric Satellites

 

Boeing has recently met key production milestones on its initial 702 Small Platform (SP) all-electric propulsion satellites, and is scheduled to deliver the satellites in late 2014 or early 2015. With the completion of the static qualification testing, verification and assembly of the primary structures for the 702SP inaugural customers ABS and Eutelsat, the spacecraft is scheduled to be launched as a pair in a stacked configuration. The original contract for Eutelsat was signed in 2012 by Satmex, which was acquired by Eutelsat in January.
“We will be first to launch a commercial all-electric satellite, providing customers new flexibility and next-generation technology for increased performance,” said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. “The all-electric propulsion design gives customers more affordable launch options and the ability to nearly double payload capacity.”

Via Satellite 03-25-2014

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Profen Announces Turkish Infrastructure Partnership with Avanti

 

Global telecoms operator Profen has established a Turkish Gateway Earth Station (GES) to manage Internet traffic in Turkey. The GES will manage traffic for Avanti Communications’ Hylas 2 satellite, which provides coverage to the country.
This infrastructure partnership guarantees data security within the country, providing secure data connectivity. Profen will own and operate the GES, and will also retain part ownership and operation of Hylas 2 capacity and services in Turkey.
“We are pleased to be taking a significant lead in the telecommunications market with this move. Ka-band services have enormous potential in Turkey,” said Onder Havuzlu, CEO, Profen. “Our operation of the GES will ensure provision of highly secure, quality data connectivity to government, enterprise and retail customers in Turkey.”

Via Satellite 03-25-2014

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Cellular Backhaul By Satellite a Few Years from Reaching Potential

 

Executives on the SATELLITE 2014 panel “Wireless Backhaul via Satellite: Making 3G/4G Available for Everyone” said that cellular backhaul solutions are simply not affordable for much of the world today. Most agreed that it will take close to the end of the decade before satellite can cost-effectively deliver backhaul solutions to unconnected areas. Many panelists expressed optimism, however, that this will turn into a thriving market for satellite in the near future.

“We are very bullish on the market,” said Vince Onuigbo, senior marketing director, international division, Hughes. “We see that as HTS take hold and that really, the will to reach rural areas like the effort by Google of flying balloons, and Facebook trying to reach people that otherwise wouldn’t have access, with that we think the satellite industry will continue to deliver solutions so that perhaps in the next three to four years we will see a lot more take up of satellite for backhaul solutions.”

Opinions were mixed on the magnitude of the role satellite will play, as geography remains a key influence on the type of services needed for backhaul. Voice services, though a primary reason for cellular services, drive very little of the total volume of mobile traffic. Data is the biggest driver, which makes satellite companies more inclined to focus on 3G and 4G services, but emerging markets often focus on less expensive options.

“In developed markets, [such as] Japan and the U.S., you have very large numbers of terminals, but they are femptocells feeding a single house or a single individual, and they make up a lot unit quantities here, but that relies on the high Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) we have in these regions,” explained David Burr, director of product development, O3b Networks. “That doesn’t translate to Indonesia or Pakistan. What you have going on in the emerging markets is you’ve got 2G voice services that have been deployed on macro cells, and they need to boost