Volume III, No. VI June 2018
Iridium Approved for GMDSS, NEXT Constellation Nearly Complete
Monopoly Shattered - as Inmarsat Shares Crash, Iridium's Soar
An Interview with Moe Abutaleb, UltiSat CEO
The Promise of Military Mobility Markets
Dave Helfgott, CEO, Phasor
Phased Array Antennas: The Challenge and the Future
With Lance Smith, Cyphre CEO
Cyphre's High Security Solution for Satellite Data Links
Kymeta & iDirect Offers Enticing Possibilities for Mobility Markets
Independent Analysis and Commentary on Maritime, Aero and Land-based Satellite Technologies
In This issue
Satellite mobility World
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Welcome to the June 2018 issue of Gottlieb's Satellite Mobility World. Topping the list of news this month is Iridium's GMDSS approval, and the sixth successful launch of its NEXT satellites - two achievements that have driven its stock way up, and crushed the shares of its arch rival, Inmarsat. In a probing editorial piece, we analyze the reasons behind Iridium's stunning success and Inmarsat's decline.
Also, this month, for the first time, in an exclusive interview with Moe Abutaleb, CEO of defense contractor Ultisat, we examine the expanding the role of satellite in military mobility applications. Turning to the issue of cyber security over satellite, we interview Lance Smith, CEO of Cyphre, to learn about their innovative hardware-based intrusion proof solution and lastly, we catch up on developments in flat panel ESA antennas with Phasor CEO David Helfgott, and a contribution from iDirect detailing their trials of the Kymeta antenna in South Africa.
Gottlieb's Satellite and Mobility World is published monthly (except August) by Gottlieb International Group., Inc. Suite 100, 1209 South Frederick Street, Arlington, VA USA 22204
© Copyright 2018
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Gottlieb's Satellite and Mobility World is published monthly (except August) by Gottlieb International Group., Inc. Suite 100, 1209 South Frederick Street, Arlington, VA USA 22204
© Copyright 2018
Interested in our unique Promotional Capabilities?
Contact us today!
SATELLITE MOBILITY WORLD
Table of Contents
Industry Trends and Analysis: (pg. 3)
Approved for GMDSS, NEXT Constellation Nearly Complete:
Monopoly Shattered as Inmarsat's Shares Crash, Iridium's Soar (pg. 4)
An Interview with Moe Abutaleb, Ultisat CEO
The Promise of Military Mobility Markets (pg. 10)
Dave Helfgott, CEO Phasor
Phased Array Antennas: The Challenge and the Future (pg. 25)
With Lance Smith, Cyphre CEO
Cyphre's High Security Solution for Satellite Data Links (pg. 31)
Kymeta & iDirect Offer Enticing Possibilities for Mobility Markets (pg. 40)
Upcoming and Recommended Satellite Mobility Events Pg. 47)
Industry Trends and Analysis
Iridium Makes Maritime Industry History
The Iridium® network has been approved to provide Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) services, signaling an end to a decades-long satellite industry monopoly
"MCLEAN, Va., May 21, 2018 Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM ) announced today that the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) agreed to recognize that the Iridium network meets all the criteria of the IMO needed to provide mobile satellite services in the GMDSS, and to adopt the “Statement of Recognition” proposed by the United States as a Committee Resolution. This is a significant achievement that ends a decades-long satellite industry monopoly in which only one company was authorized to provide satellite GMDSS service and for the first time will bring competition and truly global coverage, to mariners sailing any of the world’s oceans.
The MSC also agreed that Iridium and the United States, the delegation sponsoring Iridium’s application at the IMO, will work with the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), which will monitor progress in Iridium’s implementation of the service. The IMSO will report to the MSC once a Public Services Agreement has been entered into between Iridium and the IMSO, likely marking the start of this service.
“This is a historic moment for the maritime industry and an honor for Iridium to be the second ever recognized provider for GMDSS services,” said Bryan Hartin, executive vice president, Iridium. “This is the dawn of a new era for mariner safety.
We’ll bring a new choice and upgraded capabilities for mariners along with our truly global coverage that will for the first time extend the reach of satellite-based GMDSS to even the most remote waterways.”
Iridium formally began the process to become a recognized GMDSS mobile satellite service provider in April 2013. Iridium plans to begin providing GMDSS service in early 2020.
“This has been a long time coming, and we are ecstatic to gain this very important recognition from the IMO. We are equally proud to ensure mariners will have access to this critical system from anywhere in the world that they sail,” said Matt Desch, chief executive officer, Iridium. “Iridium has established itself as a trusted maritime safety provider for over a decade, and this recognition is a testament to both that trust and the capabilities offered by our satellite network.”
The announcement comes one day before Iridium is scheduled to launch its sixth Iridium NEXT mission with SpaceX, delivering five more Iridium NEXT satellites to low earth orbit as part of the continuing upgrade to its existing satellite network. The launch is scheduled for May 22nd at 12:47:58 pm PDT (19:47:58 UTC). The Iridium network is a constellation of 66 low-Earth orbit (LEO), cross-linked satellites that provide reliable, low-latency satellite communications to the entire world, including the poles."
Speedcast International Ltd (ASX:SDA) Delivers New Standard of Internet Guest Experience with Unparalleled Bandwidth to Carnival Horizon Cruise Ship
"New York, May 25, 2018 - Speedcast International Limited (ASX:SDA), the world's most trusted provider of remote communication and IT solutions, today announced that the company successfully delivered 3.174 Gbps of satellite bandwidth onboard the Carnival Horizon, Carnival's newest mega cruise ship. This transformative Internet experience follows on the successes first enabled onboard the Carnival Vista, which has been hosting the frictionless high-bandwidth Internet solution for over six months.
The unparalleled data rate was initially achieved at the Carnival Horizon naming ceremony on May 23, 2018 in the New York harbor, and sets the guest satisfaction standard that Speedcast will enable onboard the Carnival Horizon to guests and crew. The solution uses "best of breed" bandwidth from multiple satellite operators, in this case leveraging both Intelsat and Telesat. This approach consists of selecting the best satellites in terms of power, look angle and coverage, including the latest high-throughput satellites with beams specifically designed for maritime applications, in order to deliver a land-like connectivity experience. Intelsat and Telesat were key players in the achievement of this exceptional connectivity experience, securing the necessary capacity and working in close partnership with the Speedcast team for engineering.
"Carnival Cruise Line is proud to introduce Carnival Horizon, the company's newest and second of the Vista-class ships," says Reza Rasoulian, VP of Global Connectivity for Carnival. "The Horizon was delivered with our new industry-leading next generation connectivity solution leveraging an innovative satellite bandwidth and technology approach which we have developed over the past several years enabling our guests to enjoy fast, reliable, land-like connectivity to share their amazing vacation experiences on social media, keep up with news, and interact with friends and family even while at Sea."
"The Carnival Horizon is outfitted with best-in-class techno! logy for both guest enjoyment and operations, and Speedcast is thankful for the opportunity to continue this partnership with Carnival as its trusted provider for communications," says PJ Beylier, Speedcast CEO. "The delivery of this record-breaking solution leverages the latest innovations in end-to-end networking, high throughput satellites, next-generation modems and optimization technology in order to reach a new standard in guest experience; one which allows them to enjoy an internet experience similar to what they have at home. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with Carnival to push the envelope of innovation, not just in terms of the largest amount of satellite bandwidth provided, but also utilizing IT solutions that will help them to achieve top-notch guest satisfaction on all of their ships, from connectivity to data management, entertainment content and more."
Carnival and Speedcast have collaborated to create the industry's first ever fully-int! egrated solution that is unique to Carnival, combining blockage-free connectivity using the newest and most powerful Intellian antennas on the market today, leveraging frequency spectrums across C-, Ku- and Ka-Band. Utilizing multiple bands and frequencies based on ship location, weather conditions, bandwidth availability and satellite coverage provides enhanced resilience and optimization, and allows all guest, crew, voice and corporate traffic to have simultaneous access to all available links at all times. The traffic is then routed accordingly via Speedcast's global MPLS network, reaching its final destination with minimal latency to provide an industry-leading connectivity experience never achieved before.
The entire network is monitored by Speedcast 24/7 Network Operations Centers, which support connectivity to approximately 70% of all cruise passengers around the world."
O3b Satellites Now Ready to Provide More Fiber-like Connectivity
Luxembourg, 1 June 2018 – SES announced today that it is now ready to offer increased capacity across the globe through the expanded O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation.
The constellation of Ka-band satellites orbits at approximately 8,000 km from Earth – four times closer to the planet than geostationary (GEO) satellites, delivering connectivity with low latency and fibre-like performance for data services virtually anywhere on the planet. The O3b fleet is the only non-geostationary (NGSO) system delivering fibre-like broadband services today.
The expanded satellite constellation enables SES Networks to bring 38% more capacity, enhancing coverage and increasing performance to market, while continuing to drive digital equality to support digital transformation worldwide. The additional capacity will also cater to the growing consumption of bandwidth in the fixed data, mobility and government markets.
“Our customers have been waiting patiently for the new satellites to enter service. As the only company operating a successful non-geostationary broadband system, we are thrilled that these new satellites will be able to connect underserved communities and to transform lives through improved broadband access, as well as be part of the enhanced connectivity experience we deliver to ships, planes and government platforms,” said John-Paul Hemingway, Chief Executive Officer at SES Networks.
The four new O3b satellites were successfully launched by an Arianespace Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana on 9 March 2018, bringing the total number of MEO satellites in the O3b fleet to 16. Four more O3b satellites are scheduled for launch in H1 2019.
The next generation of O3b satellites, O3b mPOWER, are scheduled for launch in 2021 and will bring massive scale and flexibility to the proven O3b model. The seven super-powered MEO satellites will have more than 30,000 dynamic, electronically-generated fully-shapeable and steerable beams that can be shifted and switched in real time. It will provide coverage to an area of nearly 400 million square kilometres and will be scalable to multiple terabits of throughput globally.
Transformational Change on the Horizon for Intercity Bus Connectivity Market in Latin America
May 21, 2018: Like so many other places around the world, Latin America is in the grip of the mobile revolution. In 2016, the GSM Association published a report that forecast the number of people across the Latin American and Caribbean region using their mobile devices to access the Internet is set to grow by 50 percent by 2020. That’s coupled with 150 million new mobile Internet subscribers. These are truly impressive figures.
The fact is that people are now using their mobile devices everywhere. Our need for connectivity literally follows us wherever we go. Whether we are checking emails before we reach the office or simply catching up with friends on social media, our need for access and connectivity continues to skyrocket. As a vibrant and dynamic emerging market, Latin America’s rapid growth in mobile Internet subscribers is creating a demand for Internet everywhere, especially when traveling, and in this region travel often means via intercity buses and coaches.
In the report by Statistical, “Global Transit Bus Market – Forecast 2015-2022”, it is predicted that the number of heavy duty transit buses will increase by over 30,000 in South America by 2022. This is also backed up by Azoth Analytics, which forecasts a growth of 7.38% CAGR in their 2017 report, “Global Bus Fleet Market: Analysis By Type, By Region, By Country: Opportunities and Forecast (2012-2022)”. The 2017 Outlook for the Intercity Bus Industry in the U.S. recognised that this increasing demand for buses is being driven by a combination of urbanisation as well as growth in environmental concerns and a rise in the cost of fuel. However, the report also notes that the other key factor that is attracting passengers to intercity buses is the gradual transformation of the passenger experience on board through the inclusion of on-board Wi-Fi, enabling passengers to stay connected whilst on the move.
Bus passenger connectivity requires a great deal of bandwidth and highly reliable connectivity that will not cut out when the vehicle moves out in and out of range of terrestrial wireless networks. That’s why Phasor and Hispasat have come together to address this rising mobile connectivity demand for professional and passenger vehicles across Hispasat’s extensive coverage areas.
In March 2018, Phasor signed an agreement with the Spanish satellite operator to develop a Ku-band, electronically steerable antenna (ESA) that will be tailored specifically to meet the unique requirements of certain land mobility applications, including intercity buses. This terminal will use the same core technology that is found in Phasor’s commercial maritime and aeronautical ESA solutions. Phasor’s technology is completely unique and ideally suited to land mobile applications due to its very low profile, automated signal acquisition and tracking, and its reliable and robust delivery of the high-bandwidth services that are so in demand across Latin America. The ESA can be flat or conformal in design and can be fitted seamlessly to moving vehicles, easily enabling land-mobile applications. The same technology supports traditional fixed satellite networks, High Throughput Satellites, and Non-Geosynchronous satellite constellations. Phasor’s modular antenna architecture allows the system to be scaled to virtually any use-case requirement, fixed or mobile.
Iridium Completes Sixth Successful Iridium® NEXT Launch
MCLEAN, Va., May 22, 2018 - Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today that at 12:47:58pm PDT (19:47:58 UTC) SpaceX successfully launched five Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Iridium satellites were joined by the twin spacecraft for the NASA/German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, in a unique "rideshare" launch. Shortly after deployment, Iridium confirmed successful communication with all five new satellites, formally bringing the total number of Iridium NEXT satellites in orbit to 55. This leaves just two more launches of 10 satellites each to complete this ambitious launch program. The Iridium NEXT constellation, featuring 66 interconnected low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, will enable never before possible services like the AireonSM global aircraft tracking and surveillance system and its new broadband service, Iridium Certus.
Iridium Certus will be the world's first truly global broadband service, providing reliable connections for the aviation, maritime, land-mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) related industries, including essential safety services. And while Iridium is already relied upon by first responders, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and a variety of industries worldwide, Iridium Certus will bring users an upgraded infrastructure using Iridium's resilient L-band spectrum, but with higher throughputs and faster speeds. Iridium's safety services portfolio includes multiple capabilities including aircraft tracking and communications, emergency voice and data communications, personal tracking and remote monitoring applications. Specific to the maritime industry, Iridium has been recognized as the second-ever satellite communications provider for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and plans to begin providing service in early 2020. This is a critical, life-saving service for mariners, and the addition of Iridium will for the first time extend the reach of satellite-enabled GMDSS to even the most remote waterways.
"Our strong presence in the world of safety services is a testament to the unique benefits our network can enable," said Matt Desch, chief executive officer at Iridium. "With every successful launch, we are one step closer to Iridium NEXT being fully operational, which officially starts a new age of satellite connectivity. When it comes to safety communications, especially for those operating in the skies or out at sea, having built-in network redundancy and resiliency enabled by our satellite's crosslinks is paramount, especially during times of distress. We recognize this and feel that as the only network covering the entire planet, we have an inherent responsibility to constantly innovate for this critical arena."
Iridium NEXT is the Company's $3 billion, next-generation, mobile, global satellite network scheduled for completion this year. It will replace the existing network in one of the largest technology upgrades ever completed in space. Today's launch delivered all five Iridium NEXT satellites to orbital plane six where they will immediately begin preparations for the pre-operational testing and validation processes. The network is comprised of six polar orbiting planes, each hosting 11 satellites, blanketing the earth with reliable satellite connectivity.
To date, Iridium has completed six launches, all with SpaceX out of its west coast launch facility, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A total of eight Iridium NEXT launches are currently planned with SpaceX and will deliver 75 new satellites to orbit. In total, 81 satellites are being built, with 66 in the operational constellation, nine serving as on-orbit spares and six as ground spares.
Inmarsat to Roll-out European Aviation Network (EAN) Inflight WiFi in the Business Aviation Market
"29 May 2018: Inmarsat (LON: ISAT), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, announced today that its European Aviation Network (EAN) inflight wifi solution will be available for the business aviation market by January 2019.
EAN is the world’s first inflight wifi solution that integrates connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and an LTE-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom, covering all 28 member states of the European Union, as well as Switzerland and Norway.
The unique combination of a satellite and 4G LTE-based ground network offers super-fast, low latency performance over land and water. It can therefore meet highly demanding internet use, such as working with remote business desktops, streaming high-definition videos, enjoying online gaming and sharing images, with service levels that compare to mobile broadband on the ground.
Aircraft connect with the network using award-winning small, ultra-lightweight, low drag hardware that is cost-effective to install and operate, making EAN ideal for small to mid-sized business jets, in addition to larger sized jets.
The business aviation rollout follows EAN’s successful introduction in the commercial airline market, with a major launch customer already announced and installing the service on aircraft, plus ongoing discussions with other interested carriers across the continent.
Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “EAN is a game-changer for the business aviation market, offering gold standard inflight wifi to a broad spectrum of aircraft, from small turboprops to larger platforms such as the Citations, Learjets and Phenoms. It really is ideal for any business jet whose mission keeps them predominantly in Europe.
“Our projections show that the European business aviation fleet will grow beyond 5,000 aircraft in the coming years. We expect a strong uptake for EAN by offering a variety of data plans to meet every budget. Work has already commenced with a large business aviation launch customer for the service and planning for our first STC is underway.”
EAN’s integrated satellite and ground network is fully operational, with a number of flight trials successfully completed across Europe, demonstrating that the next-generation service meets its design performance in practice. The evaluations were conducted with partners Cobham, Thales and Nokia using a CESSNA 550 Citation II provided by Dutch company NLR.
Designed to meet the needs of European’s congested skies, EAN recently won the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) Award for ‘Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation."
Gogo and Iridium Partner to Deliver Best-in-Class Aircraft Connectivity
"MCLEAN, Va., May 29, 2018 – Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) today announced Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO) as the newest value-added manufacturer (VAM) for Iridium Certus aviation terminals. Gogo has also been selected as an Iridium Certus service provider, making it the first company to design and manufacture terminals, while also providing the new L-band broadband service for business aviation. Iridium Certus is the ideal solution for airline flightdeck communications, rotorcraft, and business jet flightdeck and cabin connectivity.
A recognized leader in the aviation industry and long-time Iridium partner, Gogo Business Aviation connectivity platforms and services are found on virtually every size and type of business aircraft flying globally. Today, thousands of business aircraft are flying with communications systems from Gogo Business Aviation that use the Iridium® network. In fact, Gogo first began selling Iridium products and services in 2002 and introduced its Axxess system – which operates on the Iridium network – in 2005 followed by the more recent product, ST 4300. With Iridium Certus service delivered through the Iridium NEXT low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, Gogo will now continue this tradition while creating small-form-factor, low-latency and cost-effective antennas able to provide broadband service from any airspace, including the poles.
“We’ve had a longstanding partnership with Iridium. Now, as a VAM and service provider for Iridium Certus, Gogo will be able to offer higher-speed data rates for business aircraft operating anywhere in the world,” said Scott Richter, vice president of business and product development for Gogo Business Aviation. “Iridium Certus is not only a great complement to our current platform of systems that utilize our air-to-ground network, but will offer more choices for our customers looking to add global satellite connectivity with greater capabilities.”
Iridium Certus will bring broadband functionality, with enterprise-grade quality of service, to the aviation industry. The service will deliver faster speeds and offer smaller form factor antennas featuring a range of throughput and service options. These options will enable a variety of capabilities for cockpit safety and electronic flight bag services as well as cabin business applications. Enabled by Iridium NEXT, Iridium Certus is poised to deliver the fastest L-band broadband speeds on the market, with eventual speeds of approximately 1.4Mbps. Initial flight trials for Iridium Certus aviation applications will take place later this year, with commercial service introduction specifically for aviation users targeted for mid-2019.
“We are thrilled to welcome Gogo to the Iridium Certus family as both a manufacturing partner and a service provider,” said Bryan Hartin, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Iridium. “Iridium Certus is going to change the way the aviation industry communicates by introducing faster speeds and smaller hardware, all at competitive price points. Iridium Certus can support the entire aircraft, from the flight deck to the cabin, creating a truly connected flying experience.”
Gogo joins an exclusive roster of best-in-class Iridium Certus VAMs and service providers for aviation. Current Iridium Certus VAMs for aviation include Thales, Rockwell Collins, L3 Communications and Cobham, in addition to the recently announced aviation service providers, including Honeywell Aerospace, SKYTRAC, Avitek and Navicom Aviation.
Iridium NEXT is the Company’s $3 billion, next-generation satellite network. To date, there have been six successful Iridium NEXT launches, deploying 55 new satellites. Two additional launches are planned for 2018, delivering 20 more satellites to orbit, completing the new constellation. In total, 81 Iridium NEXT satellites are being built with 66 in the operational constellation, nine serving as on-orbit spares and six as ground spares."
Globalsat Group Commercial Testing on SAS Network Successfully Completed
"Sky and Space Global Ltd. is pleased to announce it has successfully completed the commercial testing program of its Machine-to-Machine (M2M), Internet of Things (IoT) and Data Transfer testing under its Operational Evaluation Agreement with Globalsat Group LLC (Globalsat). With this final testing phase complete, management is in advanced commercial discussions with Globalsat, with the objective to work on a commercial agreement for Globalsat to use the SAS Equatorial Constellation narrowband communication network.
As announced on 15 March 2018, SAS entered into an Operational Evaluation Agreement with Globalsat to test the compatibility of SAS’ and Globalsat’s technology and business model to provide commercialised satellite communications services in Central and South America. The operational evaluation was executed in two stages – lab testing and commercial field testing – with both stages now complete, validating the compatibility of SAS’ technology and the Company’s business model. The SAS team conducted the operational testing in South America together with the Globalsat Group team, to the full satisfaction of both parties.
Discussions to agree commercial terms are now well advanced. The agreement will formalise the provision of SAS’ narrowband satellite communication services allowing Globalsat to provide its Central and South American customers with mobile connectivity and IoT services.
Today approximately 10% of the Latin American population has no access to mobile connectivity. Poor mobile connectivity is experienced across large parts of the region due to lack of cellular coverage outside of main city centres, negatively impacting economic development, businesses, and people. An agreement between Globalsat and SAS will enable the provision of M2M and IoT connectivity services to the region, providing a much-needed service to this underserviced region."
UK Air Traffic Service Provider, NATS Takes Equity Stake in Aireon to Help Accelerate Technology Revolution in Global Aviation Surveillance
"MCLEAN, Va. – May 16, 2018 – The UK air traffic management service provider, NATS, has announced it has invested in Aireon, the company pioneering a space-based air traffic surveillance service set to revolutionise the aviation industry.
Through a network of 66 low earth orbiting Iridium® NEXT satellites, AireonSM will monitor the location of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipped aircraft flying anywhere in the world, transforming the way air traffic control services are provided.
The service will offer global air traffic surveillance of aircraft. This means that oceans and remote regions like the poles, deserts and mountainous areas will have real-time aircraft surveillance for the first time.
The forecasted safety and airspace capacity benefits, together with the savings in fuel and carbon emissions, are being hailed as the greatest revolution in air traffic management since the introduction of radar 70 years ago.
News of the $69 million USD investment, worth around 10% equity, was announced at a press conference in Washington DC, near Aireon’s headquarters, at which NATS also confirmed it is currently consulting with its customers about introducing the satellite technology for use over the North Atlantic starting with operational trials from 2019 to deliver the capacity and safety benefits that the airspace requires to keep pace with demand."
VT iDirect Extends Partnership with Kymeta to Resell KyWayTM Satellite Terminals
Herndon, Va., May 8, 2018 – VT iDirect, Inc. (iDirect), a company of Vision Technologies Systems, Inc. (VT Systems), has extended its partnership with Kymeta in an agreement to become an official reseller of the KyWay™ Terminal (KyWay Terminal) to its global base of mobility-focused partners. The Kymeta™ KyWay Terminal integrates ground breaking mTenna™ flat-panel antenna technology and the industry’s leading iDirect X7 modem, to serve a broad range of mobility applications, uniting high throughput performance with a sleek form factor, electronic steering, and attractive price point.
VT iDirect holds the market share lead for VSAT ground infrastructure in key mobility markets. This agreement provides VT iDirect customers with a strong competitive advantage to expand their footprint into new emerging mobility markets for the land mobile, maritime, government and defence.
The KyWay Terminal is the only commercially available electronically-steered flat-panel antenna solution built to scale and support many different mobility applications. The unique design and form factor of the Kymeta antenna, combined with VT iDirect’s established Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) platform, enables a new connectivity solution for land mobile markets such as trains, buses, agriculture and construction. The ability to offer a viable solution in these new segments is creating new demand for satellite services. The KyWay Terminal has already gained traction in key markets like maritime, government and military.
“Kymeta’s mission is to enable seamless, always-connected mobile communications,” said Neville Meijers, Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Vice President, Kymeta. “We are excited to make KyWay Terminals available to iDirect’s ecosystem of leading connectivity solution providers. Together, our companies will enable a broad range of new mobility use cases that will make broadband available where it has never been before.”
“Kymeta is playing a major role in revolutionizing satellite communications with its KyWay electronically-steered, flat-panel terminals,” said Kevin Steen, VT iDirect’s Chief Executive Officer. “By combining the KyWay Terminal with our iDirect infrastructure, our channel of satellite service providers will gain a powerful competitive advantage to expand their mobility footprint and will be well-positioned to capture the emerging land mobility market.”
Monopoly Shattered - Inmarsat's Shares Crash as Iridium's Soar
May 21st, 2018 was a great day for Iridium and a watershed event in the evolution of the maritime satellite industry. On that day, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) granted Iridum unconditional approval to offer the GMDSS, the Global Maritime Distress Safety System, a distress alert communications terminal with instantaneous communications capability required by law on nearly every commercial vessel, and in doing so, the IMO smashed the last vestige of Inmarsat's multi-decade monopoly on maritime communications. For that reason alone, the GMDSS approval, engineered largely by Iridium Executive V.P. Sales and Marketing, Bryan Hartin, and his team, was a milestone achievement.
One day later, on May 22nd, that achievement was complemented by Iridium's sixth successful launch of its Iridium NEXT constellation. With Iridium NEXT nearing completion and GMDSS approved, Inmarsat will be faced with its stiffest competition yet.
In essence, the state-of-the-art Iridium NEXT satellites will enable Iridium to compete against Inmarsat's aging Fleet Broadband service with a powerful new and technically superior service called Iridium Certus.
With its monopoly on GMDSS gone and its L-Band Fleet Broadband service about to be challenged by Certus, a formidable competitor offering features not available from Inmarsat including global coverage, low latency and a low cost antenna with no moving parts, it's little wonder that immediately following the GMDSS and Iridium NEXT announcements, Inmarsat's stock cratered, plunging 30 points to 358, an additional 8%, drop from its 52 week high of 865 and a staggering decline of 58.6%.
Meanwhile, Iridium stock soared from 11.70 to 13.25 posting a 37% rise from its 52 week low of $9.68, reflecting its ascendancy as the likely new leader in L-Band communications services.
Matt Desch, Iridium CEO, commented: "Iridium has been involved in the maritime industry for the last twenty years, but we haven’t been able to address all the needs of fleets and ship owners until now.
With Iridium Certus and GMDSS, we believe we will have the best portfolio of products in L-band, with some significant advantages for ship owners in both cost and coverage.
Our service partners also are cheering our GMDSS approval - particularly those who compete with Inmarsat, as now they will be able to deliver a complete solution for their customers, and not rely on their competitor for the safety service.”
To facilitate introduction of the new service, Iridium has partnered with Lars Thrane who has developed a revolutionary, new GMDSS terminal that unlike the Inmarsat C terminal, includes both voice and data capabilities.
Of course, what has been a huge success for Iridium has been a devastating defeat for Inmarsat. How Inmarsat has gone from the maritime communications leader to a struggling competitor is a story in itself.
It's a tale of how a monopoly oriented and overly confident management team lost connection with its customers and its distributors and meandered through an inexcusable series of what many in the industry have considered as a series of strategic blunders - to name a few obvious ones:
Missing the turn in the market from pay by the byte L-Band services to fixed price Ku-Band. By the time they awoke to the trend, Ku-Band orbital slots were no longer available.
In lieu of partnering with an FSS provider to provide their own Ku-Band service, launching a rain fade sensitive Ka-Band constellation which many in the satellite industry have viewed as inappropriate for the rain intense maritime environment.
Choosing the Russian Proton rocket as their launch vehicle, a rocket with a checkered history, to launch their "flagship" Global Xpress service, rather than Arianespace, a provider with a sterling history of successful launches - an error resulting in a year's delay and a crushing impact on cash flow projections .
Instituting a series of crushing Fleet Broadband price increases on shipping customers caught in a huge shipping market downturn, ultimately resulting in a forced monthly price increases for most minimal users from $300 per/month to nearly $800 per/month - a step that angered and alienated a large segment of their customer base and a move that sacrificed customer loyalty for short-term profit.
Creating "channel conflict:" competing against their own distributors by selling direct to end users, a move that eroded their relationship with a key distribution channel.
At this point, considering these missteps and the position in which they have placed the company, we see no real way out for Inmarsat management except through the door.
While their relative success in the aero market is encouraging, it represents too small a portion of their revenue base to have a significant impact. The real challenge they are facing is inescapable, well financed competition in every segment in which they compete - L-Band, Maritime Broadband and Aviation.
Given the dramatic decline in Inmarsat market cap, we can only react with shock at the audacity displayed by Inmarsat's compensation committee in proposing a pay increase for management - a proposal that the suffering shareholders overwhelmingly rejected at the last annual general meeting on May 4 - a clear indication of their dissatisfaction with the company's performance and leadership. A.G.
Iridium Approved for GMDSS, NEXT Constellation Nearly Complete
Lars Thrane GMDSS Terminal
With Moe Abutaleb, CEO UltiSat - a Speedcast Company
With an ever increasing need to gather and distribute battlefield intelligence across the military communications infrastructure, satellite is expected to take on an increasing role.
In particular, the aero market for connectivity is expected to increase dramatically, driven by the frequent use of manned aircraft and drones to gather battlefield intelligence and the emergence of new flat panel antennas that will increase the number of endpoints to which intelligence can be delivered. To find out more about this rapidly evolving market, we met with UltiSat, CEO Moe Abutaleb, a well known defense contractor recently acquired by Speedcast.
SMW: Given Speedcast’s recent acquisition of UltiSat, I’m sure our readers would be interested in some background on the company, its strategic focus and, in particular, its role in provision of satellite services to military and government mobility markets, especially its support of airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and land mobility applications. Could you give us background on the company?
M.G. Abutaleb: UltiSat was founded in 2003 with core competencies consisting of complex system integration and, after winning a couple of Inter-Governmental Organizations contracts from the UN and other IGOs, later evolved the company into a managed network service provider.
This transformed the business into an attractive recurring revenue model and made us a player in the IGO space.
With military spending picking up in 2008-2010, UltiSat was able to enter the US government market and become a defense contractor. We were then positioned to pursue business in both IGO and US Government markets.
Ultimately, we expanded the company's capabilities in military and government markets to include delivery of a total satellite-based service package including bandwidth, design, buildout, installation, operation and management of small to large (10 to 300 node) networks, providing collection, distribution and delivery of payload data to our customers’ data centers around the world. We have our own 24/7 NOC here in Gaithersburg and a backup NOC at our teleport facility in Denmark, enabling us to support customers in 130 countries on seven continents including the polar regions.
In 2013, we decided we wanted that we needed to become more than just a managed network service provider for fixed land based applications. So, we started investing in “comms on the move” with focus on the airborne space and became a managed service provider to manned, and now also focusing on unmanned aircraft. The applications we are involved in thus far are mostly related to ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) but we are now looking at a number of other types of airborne applications.
A few years later around 2015 or 2016, we concluded there was a need to drill further down the value chain by not just transporting data from aircraft but also working with our customers on the post processing of data. So, we added a professional services capability where we bring in subject matter experts with proper clearances to work inside certain types of facilities operated by our customers.
Essentially, we call ourselves a solutions provider in this space: we design and deploy technology on the aircraft, we build the infrastructure on the ground (in theater, if required), we manage the connectivity from our own secure NOC or our customers’ NOCs, and also place people on the ground in our customers’ facilities to work on post processing of the data - intelligence analysis, information security, etc.
SMW: Could you explain the strategic rationale and benefits achieved via the Speedcast acquisition?
M.G. Abutaleb: The concept behind the acquisition was to transform and enable UltiSat to succeed as it is evolving from a small business into a large business in the US Government space, capable of securing major contracts through consolidation with Speedcast's much larger infrastructure and existing government business. So, the acquisition gives us the scale we need to be able to compete with the major players and it also provides a fourth vertical for Speedcast with vast global reach and capabilities. In addition to being a bigger player in US Government, we also aspire at the group level to develop a significant Global Government business.
Together, the companies operate infrastructure covering all commercial satellite orbits and bands, leveraging five NOCs and forty teleports around the world, a vast terrestrial core network that enables us to move traffic and do least cost routing, and we have access to advanced technologies that can be shared within the company, thereby creating a best value “network of networks” for our customers. So, the synergies are extraordinary, and we expect the transaction to result in a winning combination for our customers and stakeholders.
SMW: As tensions around the world increase, real time situational awareness has become a critical element in military infrastructure. Information gathered through the use of drones, military satellites and ground-based intelligence needs to be absorbed and analyzed and distributed to numerous points around the globe. What role does satellite play in supporting the acquisition and dissemination of critical military intelligence and offer some examples?
M.G. Abutaleb: Anywhere terrestrial or cellular wireless connectivity is not readily available for military purposes, satellite becomes the immediate play, especially when it comes to mobility. In the ISR space, we are an active player where we integrate satellite technology, including antennas, modems and application-specific equipment with sensors onboard manned and unmanned aircraft systems. In the case of unmanned, we are focusing on small UAS (unmanned aerial systems, typically class 3 drones), and not the larger class 4 and 5 systems.
Our ability to remain technology agnostic allows us to support any requirement and add a lot of value in that we understand the technology landscape that’s out there and work hand in glove with our customers to deploy the best-fit / best-value solutions that maximize benefit to our customers. This combination of capabilities enables us to help our customers efficiently collect data from any location fixed or mobile, and transport it via satellite into the data centers and end points where it needs to flow to support real-time tactical intelligence requirements.
SMW: Traditionally, the military has used its own network of satellites and supplemented it by leasing capacity on commercial satellites. Given the vast increase in commercial Ku and Ka-Band capacity and the associated fall in pricing, do you believe that the military will significantly increase its use of commercial satellite capacity vs. launching its own proprietary military satellites?
M.G. Abutaleb: That’s a tough call. Because, up to a couple of months ago, I would have said that the military would definitely be increasing its use of commercial satellites.
However, the military recently announced that the funding and launch of two new Wideband Global System (WGS) satellites, the military’s Ka and X-Band version of wideband satellites. This was a surprise to the satellite industry and will reduce to some extent the amount of commercial capacity the military will buy as a supplement to military satellite capacity. No doubt the announcement was a blow to some of the satellite operators who had projected military usage to fill a certain amount of their commercial capacity, both current and future including HTS (high throughput satellites).
Military satellites provide an enhanced level of security not available from the commercial satellite sector. And the security they provide goes beyond just cyber security. It’s physical as well as network level protection that is really purpose built into the military satellite constellation – the entire infrastructure including the payload on the spacecraft, TT&C, and the ground segment infrastructure. It’s a web of protection that’s very difficult to mirror on the commercial side. That said, there is a growing awareness and trend in the commercial satellite industry toward provision of advanced security solutions for military applications, and organizations such as UltiSat as part of Speedcast are layering in additional levels of protection in commercial satellite infrastructure. However, in a high threat environment, ultimate levels of protection are only currently achievable with military constellations, while leveraging commercial satellite infrastructure as an augmentation capability.
SMW: We are now seeing a huge shift in the satellite technologies available including the new HTS GEOs and soon to be available LEO satellites. What will be the impact of these new satellites on military and government markets?
M.G. Abutaleb: Let me start with GEO, and the GEO HTS phenomenon that we are in the midst of now. We have seen the surge in GEO capacity develop over the last five years or so, and we are seeing more of it happening in the future. Obviously, the advent of these satellites has had a huge impact on conventional Ku-Band and C-Band pricing resulting in significant pricing compression due to an oversupply of capacity.
With the coming of the LEOs over the next three to five years, there is going to be even greater pressure on commercial satellite bandwidth pricing. The question is whether the pricing will become low enough to compete with terrestrial alternatives such as fiber and 5G wireless. Getting down to those price points will be a big stretch for the satellite industry.
I would certainly expect that the fall in commercial bandwidth pricing will stimulate military usage of commercial satellite capacity in perhaps lower threat environments.
In terms of LEOs, the big use case opportunity is based on the promise of low latency. With LEOs there is the potential to reduce latency down to 25-50 milliseconds – essentially latency performance to what we see with fiber. So, I believe that LEOs, once in a stable state, have the potential to facilitate new applications that previously could not be supported by satellite.
For example, you see a lot of Cloud based applications that need very low latency to be able to function properly. While narrow band LEO constellations such as Iridium and Globalstar already exist, the coming crop of broadband LEOs with HTS capabilities can facilitate new applications never before possible. Yet, to achieve the potential benefits of these new LEO satellites, ground segment technology will need to advance – especially the development of low cost electronically steerable flat panel antennas (ESAs). It would simply be impractical from a cost and maintenance standpoint to employ two or more conventional, mechanical tracking antennas and achieve significant market penetration.
SMW: We understand that mini and nanosatellite LEO constellations are now becoming favored by the military over conventional GEOs. What are the capabilities of small satellites vs. the conventional GEOs, what applications can they support and why are they attractive to the military vs. GEOs?
M.G. Abutaleb: There is a lot of potential for nanosatellites. They are typically low cost, are deployed for a shorter orbital life than GEOs and are easily replaced making them less subject to obsolescence. They are especially attractive to the military since a matrix of nanos are less vulnerable to attack than a single, large GEO satellite. If a GEO satellite fails, that's catastrophic. If a nanosatellite fails, the military can move communications traffic to another nanosatellite.
Today, these satellites can provide the military with narrow band communications coverage to areas unreachable by either terrestrial or GEO satellite such as very high latitudes and in the polar regions, and they are also capable of low resolution optical imaging and radar imaging. In the near future, it may be possible to improve imaging resolution through the aggregation of data from multiple nanosatellite passes, the whole principle being that nanosatellites can visit sites more frequently thereby producing more useful data.
What is significantly different in the world of nanosatellites is that the builders are not the major satellite companies, but small entrepreneurial companies focusing on new applications. So, I expect and hope we will get a crop of young entrepreneurial scientists and engineers who will come up with new and innovative technologies in order to fulfill the true promise of nanos.
SMW: Lower cost, mass produced electronically steered, flat panel phased arrays are becoming available. How will the availability of these antennas effect the military information infrastructure? Will we see a significant increase in battlefield applications?
M.G. Abutaleb: We will definitely see significant usage of these new flat panel phased array antennas.
We have tried to put conventional parabolic antennas on vehicles for a long time. They work, but they also break because of the mechanics and the environment involved.
The biggest reason our military customers are interested in flat panels is to do away with the moving parts that tend to fail, especially in harsh environments. So, the flat panels would be used on a larger scale presumably because they are more reliable and can be produced at lower cost. I expect that they will be used both in “comms on the move” and “comms on the pause” applications as the mechanics required to stabilize and auto acquire a satellite with a conventional parabolic are points of potential failure.
In addition, conventional “fly away” antennas are heavy and difficult to transport often consisting of multiple components stored in several cases. Flat panels will be much easier to transport and deploy, and enable the use of smaller vehicles and vessels to move them around. Phasor and Kymeta are the most prominent players in this space today.
SMW: The gathering and processing of sensor data and IoT is a major trend in the commercial sector. In particular, the use of sensor data to support predictive maintenance of equipment. What applications do you see for IoT in the military and how will satellite support the gathering of this sort of data?
M.G. Abutaleb: There is certainly a lot of potential for IoT in the military. Predictive maintenance of equipment is just one application. Tactical reconnaissance is an application we keep hearing about from our customers. There are sensor-based IoT applications as well that allow access to information in a tactical environment in a more covert manner than through other means.
Other applications include enhanced security at bases, health and personnel monitoring in a forward deployed environment, and monitoring of critical electrical and communications infrastructure. That’s where IoT becomes an enabling capability not just for the military but for government use in general.
SMW: To summarize, how do you see the role of satellite evolving in airborne ISR and mobility markets? What are the most significant trends emerging?
M.G. Abutaleb: In ISR markets, year by year we see an increasing role for satellite communications. At UltiSat with Speedcast, we see airborne ISR as an attractive growth business. In particular, industry analysts project a huge increase in the use of smaller unmanned drones, Class Three (1000 pounds or so) and below – all of which will require specialized satellite communications hardware, based on low SWaP (size, weight and power).
So, we have positioned ourselves as a provider that is fully technology agnostic and able to provide end-to-end solutions, not just putting technology onboard but also going down the value chain to help our customers maximize the value of acquired data through provision of specialized personnel on the ground. With this approach, we hope to achieve a major market position in the airborne ISR market.
So, we have positioned ourselves as a provider that is fully technology agnostic that is able to provide end-to-end solutions, not just putting technology onboard but going down the value chain to help our customers maximize the value of acquired data through provision of specialized personnel on the ground. Relying on this approach, we hope to achieve a major market position in the airborne ISR market.
The Promise of Military Mobility Markets
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The launch of these new WGS military satellites was a surprise to the satellite industry and definitely brings into question just how much commercial capacity the military will buy.
About Moe Abutaleb
Moe Abutaleb is co-founder of UltiSat and a seasoned executive involved in various segments of the telecommunications industry since 1977.
Throughout his career, Moe has participated in and managed the definition, development, and implementation of numerous satellite and wireless communications networks and products.
In addition, he has held senior management positions with leaders in the satellite communications and aerospace industries.
Abutaleb co-founded Innovative Communications Technologies, Inc. (ICTI) in 1989. As president of ICTI, he managed the systematic and progressive growth of this self-financed start-up, including the sale of ICTI to a publicly traded corporation in 1999.
In 2011, Abutaleb was presented with the Tech Council of Maryland's prestigious Executive of the Year Award. Abutaleb is a coauthor on several patents and holds a MSEE degree, with emphasis in communications and microelectronics.
Broadband capable flat panel phased array antennas represent a huge advancement in technology. Driven by the need to eliminate the complex and failure prone mechanics associated with stabilized and auto pointing parabolic antennas and the coming of LEO constellations, the race is on at over a dozen companies to develop and bring to market cost efficient, flat panel, Ku and Ka-Band Electronically Steered Antennas.
We have already seen several approaches in phased array antenna design including active, passive and combination solutions. Needless to say, understanding, the variety of alternatives, advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches and the obstacles to successful development is challenging. To find out more, we spoke with Dave Helfgott, CEO of Phasor. With over four years of hands on experience with the development process for an advanced active, flat panel ESA, his insights are of special interest.
SMW: We are told that Phasor is beginning beta-tests later this year, and has been working on developing its ESA for the last four years. Many of your competitors have also faced similar or longer development cycles. What are the most difficult technical challenges to overcome?
David Helfgott: With regard to your more general question on next-gen ESA development timing, it really depends on how mature the underlying technology concept is. Phasor's ESA design is based on industry-standard ASIC and PCB technology and processes, uniquely combined to create something new and innovative.
Others have taken more exotic approaches to both the underlying technical concept and the manufacturing process needed, once that concept is proven. Additionally, it can be a long road from concept to validation to working system, then to prototype and to beta test and product launch, and the more exotic the technical concept, the longer it can take.
Phasor is already setting up for maritime and land-mobile field testing and trials, schedule subject to specific timing requirements and availability. These test-beds are meant to prove out performance parameters and, if needed, debug any final issues before the commercial launch of our Release One products.
The time frame for these and additional trials will depend on the goals and duration of each test, and we will release product following those successful tests. Phasor is on-schedule and moving forward with its Release One product plans, and additional product releases for the future.
SMW: There are around ten companies currently racing to build flat panel, phased array antennas for B to B and B to C mass markets. What are the most important features that a developer/manufacturer need to incorporate into its design to differentiate its antenna from competitors?
Today, there are many, many antennas that are being called “flat panel antennas,” or “electronically-steered antennas," and they are not alike.
Some are narrow band and have been around for years (Inmarsat BGAN, for example). Some are mechanically-steered, with active electronics, while others are solid-state with no moving parts at all. Some are “point and shoot”, (basically flat VSATs), while others are auto-acquisition, auto-tracking (truly electronically steered) antennas.
I suppose differentiation really depends on the market need, the use-case focus and the underlying capability of the technology under development. For example, in the B to B market space, are you focused on fixed-sites and GEO satellite networks, on emergent NGSO constellation networks, on basic-mobility, or on enterprise-grade mobility connectivity? What can your underlying technology support? If you are looking to the mass-market, lower performance markets, then cost, not capability, will drive decision-making – this is a low-cost terminal strategy and you had better have a very simple and low-cost technology, and a fairly elaborate distribution and support network.
Phasor is focused on enterprise-grade mobility for commercial networks, and therefore capability, functionality, form-factor, reliability, and agility are the critical success factors.
We work with leading service providers and in the three main commercial mobility segments – sea, air and land – to ensure our technology meets user need.
In terms of compatibility with existing hardware, our antenna is modem and hub agnostic, and we have been actively working in partnership with iDirect and other manufacturers to assure seamless integration with their products.
SMW: I understand Phasor is an “active” antenna. How is that different in terms of capability vs. the passive technology now deployed in meta-materials antennas? We are told that metamaterial antennas could ultimately be very inexpensive to produce in volume. Do you expect microprocessor costs to fall low enough to be competitive and if so, over what time frame?
David Helfgott: Yes, Phasor is an “active array” technology. Active antennas can have many advantages over passive array systems; speed, agility, and functions such as dynamic beam-forming, adjacent satellite interference mitigation, multiple beams per aperture, beam-width management and compliance, to name a few.
However, these advantages come at a cost, typically in terms of a high price and power required for the system, but a properly designed active array system can mitigate both issues. An innovative ASIC-based ESA can achieve great scale economics (read Moore’s Law), and the power and performance of ASICs in the 4G and 5G wireless world show us that this technology is also very efficient.
On the other hand, passive arrays are generally less efficient and technically capable than active phased arrays, can be less expensive to manufacture in volume and require less wattage to operate. So, at this point in time, they seem to be more adaptable to high volume, consumer-like applications than active antennas.
Phasor’s goal is to provide best-in-class enterprise-grade ESA technology to more demanding B to B markets, and to do so taking full advantage of the cost economics and power/performance attributes of the latest ASIC technologies. As in Moore's law, Microprocessor processor power will continue to increase and as production volumes rise, costs will continue to fall, allowing us to move to wider markets.
SMW: Phasor has just announced a major deal with Hispasat to equip a large number of buses, trucks and emergency vehicles. Can you give us a better idea of the magnitude of the deal i.e. the number of buses and emergency vehicles to be equipped and over what time period the installations will occur?
David Helfgott: We are very excited to be working with our partner Hispasat on this program. There are literally 10s of thousands of buses in the Latin America and 100s of thousands of bus passengers that can benefit from our partnership. The concept, to connect intercity bus passengers while in transit and out of reach of terrestrial network coverage, is in some ways similar to the aeronautical, in flight communications market.
We have not yet publicly disclosed the launch date, but the program will include modifying Phasor’s core ESA technology to create a land-mobility terminal suitable for buses in these markets.
SMW: In the Hispasat deal, will passenger entertainment and communication, be the primary application be or will there also be IoT (i.e. predictive maintenance and big data applications) and other business applications?
David Helfgott: The initial focus and driving force is passenger connectivity. I believe that IOT/operational Telematics opportunities will follow as a second act. In a similar way in-flight communication services have led to a more robust discussion on the connected aircraft.
SMW: I understand that you are building a special antenna for the Hispasat applications. Could you describe the antenna for us including its capabilities?
David Helfgott: I cannot disclose too much at this stage. The program is only just underway, and it is confidential - at least until we launch the product and service. I can say that Phasor has simplified its technology specifically for this market and the antenna will be a Ku-Band unit with small, flat form-factor.
SMW: How will this antenna differ from a maritime antenna? Will it be less expensive? If so, what modifications will you make to lower the costs? Will it operate on both GEOs and LEOs?
David Helfgott: The core technology and basic feature functionality are the same, including dual beam/aperture and GEO/LEO compatibility. Of course, the complexity, scale and of course terminal integration aspects are different.
SMW: Some of the target countries may operate vehicles are in high latitudes. For example, southern Chile and Argentina. How will you compensate for the loss of efficiency at higher latitudes? Will the antenna be conformal or over-sized?
David Helfgott: It is a valid question, since there is a limitation with all flat ESAs in respect of low elevation operation, including Phasor’s.
However, the vast majority of the target market for this program lies closer to the equator and so will operate at higher elevations. Buenos Aires, for example, operates at elevations of over 40° while at the very southernmost tip, Ushaia, the elevation is still over 25°. The Phasor antenna operates to elevation down to 20°.
Of course, the antenna is designed to operate seamlessly with LEO/MEO satellites as well, at which point the issue of low elevation becomes irrelevant.
SMW: While I expect Hispasat will provide the satellite capacity, will they also install and service or will they rely on an integrator?
We are working with Hispasat to ensure there is a comprehensive supply and support chain in place across the whole region, but we are not at liberty to discuss these commercial details.
SMW: Obviously, this deal could be a blueprint for other similar deals in other parts of the world. Do you have any data on the size of the global market for equipping buses, trucks and emergency vehicles with satellite broadband?
Phasor sees this as a global opportunity. The commercial land-mobility market, in coordination with terrestrial wireless services, is a compelling opportunity - perhaps, hundreds of thousands of vehicles….and even more so with the success of a few of the NGSO/LEO constellations.
Phased Array Antennas: Meeting the Technology Challenge
With David Helfgott, CEO, Phasor
About Dave Helfgott
As president and CEO of Phasor Inc., David Helfgott has the responsibility for the company’s strategic direction, to drive the development of its new & revolutionary Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) products and technology, and to implement its operational programs.
As a 20-year industry veteran, he has extensive experience in satellite broadband, mobile telecommunications and commercial & government SATCOM networking services.
Mr. Helfgott has held leadership positions at Inmarsat, Cobham, DataPath and SES. He holds a BA Degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Darden School.
Cyphre's High Security Solution for Satellite Data Links
In a world where hackers easily acquire new and powerful tools from the Dark Web, Cyber security is no longer an option but has become a critical element in network design. Destructive code and ransomware now pose huge and potentially catastrophic financial threats to business.
In practice, no industry is more dependent on the secure and uninterrupted transmission of data than the oil industry. In this increasingly challenging security environment, as in other similar industries, IT management is seeking new tools to confront new and ever more dangerous cyber threats.
In this article, we focus on one new and innovative hardware based solution from Cyphre Security Solutions, a RigNet company.
What Cyphre has developed is a hardware-based solution, CyphreLink, that sidesteps the recently revealed security vulnerability of the most popular microprocessors from Intel and ARM. By incorporating a specially modified microprocessor from NXP Semiconductor that "locks in" custom code into the hardware infrastructure of the chip, Cyphre is able to augment conventional TLS code using a code string that can only be read by an "appliance" in which a similarly modified NXP chip is installed.
In their model, Cyphre equipped "appliances" sit at each end of a link - terrestrial or satellite - creating an unyielding "tunnel" immune to "man in the middle" attacks and enabling the totally secure transmission of data over wireless and public Internet links.
To find out more about Cyphre and their unique approach to security, we met with Cyphre CEO, Lance Smith.
SMW: Can you give us some background on Cyphre i.e. the idea, key personnel, how you got where you are today?
Lance Smith: Cyphre began with a simple idea that existing security practices were unable to protect data in a world without network boundaries. What I mean by that is our data is no longer within the corporate Intranet or safely traversing a private network. It resides in the cloud and moves across any network, putting it at risk for cyber theft.
The work we’re embarking upon today is influenced by my belief that protection should move with the data.
By enabling transmission of data over any network - public or private - while ensuring its protection, corporations can accelerate collaboration and reduce operational cost – all while having the peace of mind that their information is safe. That is what we do.
SMW: If I understand the concept correctly, you essentially provide elevated security for data transmission through a combination of innovations. Can you describe them for us?
Lance Smith: Cyphre’s primary innovation is BlackTIE®, a patent pending technology that offers hardware-driven encryption to protect data in transit and at rest, as well as the exponentially growing key space.
The main difference between BlackTIE and other encryption technologies is that the keys are never readable or exposed in plain text to the host CPU, operating system, application software, or memory, completely isolating the generation and storage of all cryptographic materials and operations.
Cyphre transcends current security protocols and policies by blackening data, network and device access, as well as the cloud from the dynamic and evolving security threat landscape.
SMW: What specific markets are you targeting i.e. offshore, land, etc. and what are the synergies with RigNet?
Lance Smith: In the digital age all industries have data that is in need of protections when transferred and stored across the network. This is why Cyphre’s solutions are ideal for any industry, including: energy, retail, telecommunications, government, insurance, utilities, health care, transportation, manufacturing, financial, wholesale, construction, education, and professional services.
With RigNet specifically, we’re working with existing customers who are looking to improve the protection of their critical operational technology data. Also known as OT, this is the kind of information generated by systems and equipment within a SCADA network.
Additionally, there is other information generated at rigs, on vessels, and from other remote assets that needs to be protected as it traverses satellite, fixed, and wireless networks.
SMW: What is a good use case for protecting data transmission to/from an offshore rig?
Lance Smith: A good use case for an offshore asset is ship to shore communications, but any time data in transit needs to be protected, CyphreLink can help.
In one example, CyphreLink is deployed on the rig or a vessel and at final sites to encrypt and secure communications over the entire data path, irrespective of network-level policies.
Intra-rig/ship network traffic is also encrypted and secure. CyphreLink enhances standard TLS/SSL encryption sessions that protect data in transit by providing encryption for the data, network certificates, and encryption keys from any end-point and across any access network. This is achieved by establishing a highly-secure connection between trusted end points.
SMW: So, in terms of application in oilfield markets, can you create a closed enclave for an oil company in which several members of the enclave can exchange data between them? Is there any limit to the scalability of the network protected?
Lance Smith: Currently, CyphreLink protects data via secured site to site encryption tunnels that can be applied over-the-top (OTT) of almost all network types. CyphreLink encrypted sessions provide a more efficient, cost effective solution to securely connect two sites to each other. We can also deploy CyphreLink at many sites to create a mesh architecture, which extends the encrypted sessions across many networks. While we do not discuss our road-map publicly, we do envision how to scale CyphreLink more extensively.
SMW: Are there any limits on the size and type of files that can be encrypted? Can the files be transmitted over a VPN? What about video?
Lance Smith: Our products are KMIP and FIPS 140-2 Level 2 compliant. Furthermore, we assure customer regulatory compliance and security requirements can be met, such as PCI, HIPPA, GDPR, SOC, ISO, and others. We have been encrypting video for a long time. Our technology also functions on all sizes and types of files.
SMW: How are the external devices powered and what about backup? Given the critical nature of telemetry in drilling, this could be a critical consideration.
Lance Smith: Cyphre’s hardware is installed in a standard telco rack, which are typically found in data centers located on offshore rigs, vessels, and teleports.
For redundancy, we pair two devices per site, which ensures that our data encryption is always on and that we have fail over protection. It’s our understanding that it is standard procedure for these remote assets and locations to have back-up power from diesel generators, UPS, and other similar system.
SMW: Is there a widespread belief that current security is inadequate and warrants an upgrade and, if so, in what specific applications?
Lance Smith: Many networks employ protocols – even current ones – that are vulnerable to exploits. Depending upon the version of the SSL and/or TLS protocols being used, there are well-known vulnerabilities that the average hacker can exploit.
Antiquated variants of these protocols are still in use by network engineers, who assume they’re protected from attacks, which is not the case. Cyphre’s solutions reinforce SSL and TLS connections by protecting against “man in the middle” attacks and thwarting unauthorized eavesdropping, which are the typical attack vectors for satellite and terrestrial communications links.
SMW: How does this product reach the end user? Is it provided by the satellite operator, satellite integrator or does the end user buy it? Who is the customer?
Lance Smith: CyphreLink is a fully-managed service that operates as an over-the-top application that establishes a highly-secure connection between trusted end points. It can be deployed by any network operator or managed communications service provider, such as RigNet, to support the data security needs of their customers.
SMW: CyphreLink is designed to protect from intrusion across a data link. How can you protect from other threats such as malicious code introduced into the network through a thumb drive or unauthorized access obtain through Phishing?
Lance Smith: I'm glad you brought that up. We are currently in the final development stages of our CyphreCERT product line which is designed to protect against these types of threats. We intend to offer it as an extra cost add on option that fully integrates with our CyphreLink product. So, ultimately we will be offering a full suite of data protection products and services.
SMW: Finally, Lance, have you seen an elevated level of interest in cyber security among the senior and top IT executives in the industry, or is interest still concentrated at mid level management?
Lance Smith: Given the increase in the number of network intrusions, and the potential for massive financial losses, senior management is definitely becoming more involved in cyber security issues. In fact, we are beginning to see advanced intrusion protection solutions specified in the contracts between major oil company operators and their drilling contractors - a factor that makes our solution easier to sell.
SMW: Thank you, Lance for a very interesting presentation.
In the Oilfield and Beyond...
"By enabling transmission of data over any network - public or private - while ensuring its protection, corporations can accelerate collaboration and reduce operational cost – all while having the peace of mind that their information is safe."
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About Lance Smith:
Lance currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Cyphre Security Solutions, a RigNet Company.
As Cyphre’s Co-Founder and CEO, Lance leads a highly-innovative team developing solutions that transcend current security protocols and policies by blackening data, network and device access, as well as the cloud from the dynamic and evolving security threat landscape.
Lance is a seasoned entrepreneur with more than 20 years of executive leadership experience at ACS/Xerox and Atos as well as 10+ years of start-up experience having formed businesses focused on the payment card industry, security compliance, and cloud solutions. In the past, Lance was the CEO and co-founder of cloud company VAZATA; an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider serving Global 1000 businesses, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, and Mid-Market Enterprises. Lance has his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Austin College and a Master in Public Administration from the University of North Texas
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“No signal,” “roaming,” a single lonely bar - these are the signs of the dreaded “dead zone,” areas where wireless coverage sputters out and it becomes near impossible to send a text message or make a phone call. Dead zones have become especially vexing in a world that expects uninterrupted connectivity at all times and in all places.
To connect the world, fiber and cellular networks are not enough. Satellite connectivity is necessary to fill the gaps and expand the reach of fiber and cellular coverage.
One of the hungriest markets for better connectivity is the mobility market. Luxury coach and cross-country railway passengers, maritime cargo vessels, small fishing fleets, remote mining worksites and land vehicles: these are examples of consumers often stuck in remote areas underserved by wireless, and without the resources and infrastructure to install traditional VSAT services. The solution? Employ smaller, more versatile satellite terminals such as the new Kymeta™ KyWay™ terminal, which integrates ground-breaking mTenna™ flat-panel antenna technology with the iDirect X7 modem. Powered by an iDirect ground network, this solution has the potential to open sidelined markets and bring connectivity to places previously unreachable.
How the KyWay Terminal Works
Today, the KyWay terminal is the only commercially available, electronically steered, flat-panel antenna solution built to scale and able to support many different mobility applications. As the first step in commercial satellite technology, Kymeta made sure the KyWay terminal is easy to buy and operate.
The flat-panel Ku-band antenna itself is game-changing. It is small and lightweight, low-profile, has no moving parts and is extremely easy to install in several different settings, such as on the top of a bus or the side of a train. However, smaller size doesn’t mean less capability — even though the terminal itself has lower power consumption than traditional VSAT satellite antennas.
By replacing manual operation with electronically controlled pointing and polarization, a point-to-point connection is easily established. The flat-panel antenna also features wide-angle scanning and excellent beam performance, and it transmits and receives via a single aperture. The lack of moving parts also makes maintenance much easier.
Partnering with iDirect
iDirect holds the market share advantage in aero, maritime and military, with an established ecosystem of influential solution providers.
When users install the KyWay terminal with iDirect, they get a combination of a pioneering antenna and VSAT mobility technology that offers customers a number of distinct advantages.
The first is iDirect’s Global NMS and tracking, which monitors each on-board remote with a consistent IP address determining its status and ensuring a high-quality connection. iDirect’s OpenAMIP® also facilitates the exchange of information between antenna and satellite router, while Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM) and Adaptive TDMA provide optimized link capacity for variable conditions.
When it comes to connectivity, reliability is critical. iDirect Automatic Beam Switching maintains connectivity as a remote travels across multiple footprints without the need for manual intervention, while fast beam switching ensures constant connectivity. After a blockage, fast reacquisition allows users to quickly reconnect to the network. As the world becomes more connected, security as well as reliability is also a growing concern.
While satellite is innately more secure than most wireless networks, iDirect takes security a step further with 256-bit AES encryption and an embedded VLAN-ware 8-port switch to securely segregate user traffic.
By combining the KyWay terminal with iDirect infrastructure, service providers gain a powerful competitive advantage and will be well positioned to capture the emerging land mobility market.
Building the Solution for Land Mobility Markets:
The slim profile and versatility of Kymeta mTenna allows users to take satellite and connectivity to places it couldn’t go before and makes it possible to establish communications in a variety of disaster recovery and military scenarios.
For example, emergency response teams can affix a terminal to the roof of a designated truck and create mobile command centers equipped with WiFi hot spots - ideal in disaster scenarios such as hurricanes or earthquakes. This easily-deployable connectivity can also be used at major events, rallies and festivals to eliminate dead zones.
The KyWay terminal also has potential in military markets where broadband connectivity can simplify the lives of military personnel everywhere, whether they’re on a Coast Guard rescue operation or part of a border security team in a rural area. It's also useful for Communications on the Move (COTM) and Communications on the Pause (COTP).
Commercial markets can also benefit from a better mobile connectivity solution. Using a satellite enabled Wi-Fi terminal, workers at remote agricultural, construction or mining work sites can transmit geographical, seismic and tracking data to processing centers.
Consistent bandwidth also guarantees that passengers and train operators have Internet access, even as they wind through mountainous passes and other regions not normally serviced by traditional LTE or Wi-Fi solutions. Freight logistics companies handling freight on a train that must cross multiple borders will be able to more easily track each load’s progress in real time, bringing greater efficiencies to the supply chain.
The KyWay Terminal in Action
The KyWay terminal is not a future solution, but one that has been tried, tested and proven successful.
This spring iDirect worked with Kymeta to demonstrate the KyWay terminal to a number of our partners in South Africa. The Kymeta team fastened a KyWay terminal on the roof of a car and demonstrated real-time connectivity using multiple applications to show some of the capabilities of the KyWay terminal. The KyWay terminal demo was powered by iDirect’s X7 remote and iDirect Velocity® platform to enable KĀLO™ service. One of our partners Q-KON was able to demonstrate video streaming as they conducted a FaceTime chat with their CEO in real time as they drove around the streets of Johannesburg despite less-than-ideal rainy conditions.
Kymeta has also completed similar proof of concept demos, such as last year’s 7,000-mile “Trek Across America” that began in Washington, D.C., wound through the country, and eventually ended in Washington state.
Just the First Step
The KyWay terminal is a sophisticated new solution, providing connectivity in a customer-friendly product. In combination with iDirect’s mobility infrastructure, it offers a broad range of capabilities that will make broadband more available everywhere.
As technology further advances, Kymeta plans to continue to build more powerful terminals in smaller form factors to open even more markets, a strategy that is in lock step with iDirect’s vision to develop more powerful, smaller, cost-effective satellite remotes that can be integrated into market-specific terminal solutions.
As demand for connectivity around the world grows, the KyWay terminal enables unprecedented opportunity for growth in markets previously restricted by cost and size.
Kymeta & iDirect Offer Enticing Possibilities for Mobility Markets
On the Brink:
Kymeta Antenna - Photo Courtesy Kymeta Corp.
Kymeta Test Vehicle - Photo Courtesy Kymeta Corp.
Kymeta Antenna on Yacht - Photo Courtesy Kymeta Corp.
See Kymeta in Action - Video Courtesy iDirect
There are many mobility related satellite industry events and unless you have an unlimited budget, here are the "must attends" and others that may be of interest. Note that the "hot" sectors are Cruise, Aero and Yachts.
***Posidonia, Athens Greece, June 4-8th, 2018: This is a key show due to the Greek shipping industry's leading position in the Tanker industry - the leading cargo maritime sector in terms of VSAT purchases.
*****Global Connected Aircraft Summit, San Diego, CA June 4-6, 2018: In our opinion, this is the best event dealing with aircraft connectivity. As the commercial airlines struggle to upgrade and install Wi-Fi aboard their aircraft, the demand for bandwidth and associated Internet applications for both passenger entertainment and monitoring of aircraft systems is the prime focus. As the industry is also a leader in the use of IoT and M2M applications, what can be learned at this conference has applicability in other mobility sectors as well.
***CommunicAsia: June 26-28 2018: This is probably the best Asian satellite industry event. While not heavily focused on mobility, we recommend it for the excellent industry networking opportunities - expensive but well worth it.
***** World Satellite Business Week : September 2018: Notably the best conference for networking among top industry executives. A "must attend" with an excellent program. The 2017 conference was excellent. We attended the "Smart Plane" session and found it especially interesting.
***** 32nd Annual Small Satellite Conference August 4-9 2018, Logan Utah: This is the premier conference on small satellites and is highly recommended. Given the tremendous interest in this segment, the conference is a must attend: During the Conference, speakers will explore the new technologies, design methods, processes, operational constructs, and activities that inform and secure the success of small satellite missions.
Other Conferences/Shows of Interest:
***Digital Ship CIO Forum/Cyber Resilience Forum: Held in numerous locations around the world, these events are notable for their focus mainly on IT related issues including cyber security, IoT and M2M. Sponsored globally by Marlink, they are held nearly everywhere.
As the maritime cargo sector is in a major slump, the shipping people who attend these events are not in a buying mood. These events are probably worth attending at least once for their IOT, M2M and Cyber Security content - if you have the budget and the time. If you are interested in finding buyers, focus on the Tanker sector and attend Posidonia.
Upcoming and Recommended Satellite Mobility Events
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