In This Issue...
"Internet on Trains: Riding the Rails with Icomera" An Interview with Matt Hardison, President Icomera America;
"Mobility in 2017: Disruption by Design;"
"When the Sky is NOT the Limit: Inflight Connectivity's Next Step Forward" by Kevin McCarthy, V.P. Business Development Newtec
Independent Analysis and Commentary on Maritime, Aero and Land-based Satellite Technologies
Volume I, No. 11 December 2016
Satellite mobility World
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Welcome to the December 2016 issue of Gottlieb's Satellite Mobility World. Our magazine is now one year old and in just 11 issues, we're now read in 39 countries! If you're tired of the same old boring satellite magazines, join us for a fresh look at this exciting industry. We offer the same kind of insightful - and sometimes controversial - independent commentary that we've published in industry journals and in our 6,000 member LinkedIn maritime and aero Groups.
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Volume 1 No. 11 December 2016
SATELLITE MOBILITY WORLD
In this Issue:
Industry Trends and Analysis (pg. 3)
Internet on Trains: Riding the Rails with Icomera - an interview with Matt Hardison, President, Icomera America (pg.4)
Mobility in 2017: Disruption by Design (pg. 12)
The Sky is Not the Limit: Inflight Connectivity's Next Leap Forward by Kevin McCarthy, Vice President Business Development, Newtec (pg. 23)
2016 and 2017 Events Update
Industry Trends and Analysis
NEXT is Back on Track, Iridium Hoping for December 16th Launch
Breaking News - December 2: With the cause of the recent Falcon 9 launch anomaly apparently resolved, Falcon 9s return to flight appears imminent. Optimism at Iridium remains high and the company is hopeful that the F.A.A. will approve the December launch, allowing it to go ahead as scheduled. If all goes as planned, the Falcon 9 will lift off as scheduled with the first 10 satellites of the planned 70 satellite constellation.
The new constellation, referred to as NEXT, will be significantly more powerful than the original Iridium constellation and will significantly eclipse the Inmarsat's Fleet Broadband services both in terms of bandwidth, up to 1.5 Mbps, and coverage, as it includes the Poles as well as the rest of the globe. In addition, unlike the FB terminals, the service will use relatively inexpensive solid state antennas further enhancing reliability. NEXT is also expected to ultimately offer the GMDSS service.
Of further special interest is Iridium's new Aireon service that will provide real time aircraft position information to controllers on both sides of the Atlantic, significantly shortening the spacing between aircraft flying trans Atlantic and allowing more planes to fly higher and save up to 2% annually on fuel.
Finally and strategically, Iridium's new service will finally put an end to Inmarsat's last bastion of monopoly in the satellite communications market. While competitive VSAT providers have managed to stake a significant competitive position in the high speed broadband market against Fleet Xpress, Inmarsat's Fleet Broadband Service has continued to hold a dominant position in the L-Band market, an especially irksome situation for VSAT competitors needing an L-Band back-up service for Ku-Band VSAT. Not only will Iridium be in a position to gain market share in the back-up market if it prices aggressively, it will have the opportunity to seriously challenge Inmarsat among those vessels who use L-Band as a primary service - thousands of Bulk Carriers, Containerships and small vessels. Many of these users are simply ready to switch providers given the stratospheric price increases imposed in the last three years by Inmarsat resulting in price hikes from around $300 per month to close to $1,000 for users in the low volume niche (75-150 Megabits per/month). In the end, the biggest winner in this new L-Band world will be the consumer as competition will finally emerge and bring the stratospheric pricing of high reliability L-Band services down to earth.
SpaceX Announces Aggressive Plans for a 4,425 Satellites Constellation
November 16th: In yet another another stunning move, SpaceX's Elon Musk has filed an application with the FCC to launch an incredible 4,425 Ku and Ka -Band satellite constellation. Initiating service in 2019 with 800 satellites, the constellation would eventually cover the entire globe when all the planned satellites are fully deployed. According to the filing, his satellites will provide a formidable 1Gbps per/beam from altitudes 7114 and 823 miles with each beam covering a spot around 1,300 miles and offering coverage from 15 degrees north to 60 degrees north and from 15 degrees south to 60 degrees south. Each individual satellite would weight 386 kilograms and measure 13 X 6 X 4 feet with lifetime anticipated of seven years per/satellite. Musk now joins OneWeb, Boeing, Telesat in a race to provide Internet access to yet unserved areas of the world.
SpeedCast Introduces SIGMA Net
A new standard in cloud-based vessel management with security by design
"Sydney, Australia, November 30, 2016 - SpeedCast International Limited (ASX: SDA), a leading global satellite communications and network service provider, today announced the official release of SIGMA Net, the new standard for shipping and remote site network management designed specifically for VSAT and MSS.
SIGMA Net is a small but powerful industrial-grade VSAT and MSS network management device designed for ships and remote sites, providing automated and efficient management of multiple WAN links. Cyber security is at the heart of SIGMA Net, which incorporates a firewall and Virtual Private Networking between the vessel and the Internet plus unique methods to regulate Internet access, including rejection of update services to Windows or mobile devices. Voice calling across multiple satellite equipment is simplified via SIGMA Net’s integrated VOIP server, allowing a caller to choose the outbound call route via a prefix. National numbers can also be allocated, allowing for cost-effective calling from shore to a vessel. Feature and performance enhancements are automatically applied, ensuring that the SIGMA Net’s software is always kept up to date.
SIGMA Net offers flexible crew services, including innovative pre-paid PIN-based BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Internet and voice calling services, allowing for simplified voucher generation and management from shore. SIGMA Net provides managed network segmentation between business critical, crew or M2M networks at the remote location.
The cloud-based SIGMA Net Portal brings a vessel or remote site closer to IT management through its innovative and secured portal. The browser-based SIGMA Net Portal provides remote management and configuration of SIGMA Net from shore. Any configuration changes made from the portal are instantly replicated to one or more SIGMA Net terminals, with full auditing of amendments recorded. Reliability and redundancy is a primary feature of SIGMA Net, with its configuration securely synchronized and stored to the portal. The portal also presents fully-featured and interactive reporting of all data transferred via the SIGMA Net WAN links onboard.
“SIGMA Net has introduced a new degree of connection and network management to the Danaos fleet,” said Mr V. Fotinias, Vessel IT Manager at Danaos Shipping, Greece. “The SIGMA Net Portal provides a web interface that enables remote configuration of SIGMA Net terminals across our fleet. The reporting provided by the SIGMA Net Portal gives us full visibility on traffic sent and received via the WAN links. Our vessel IT support team is able to easily and quickly resolve problems on board via SIGMA Net. The Danaos crew are extremely happy with the SIGMA Net prepaid vouchers for Internet access or crew calling.” Danaos Shipping is one of the world’s largest containership owners, with a modern fleet of 59 container ships operating globally.
“SIGMA Net is a robust and secure cloud-based management platform that will both revolutionize and simplify vessel IT administration, both for shore-based support staff and a vessel’s crew,” said Dan Rooney, Maritime Product Director for SpeedCast. “The highly-configurable and flexible prepaid voucher services allow for time-consuming administrative tasks such as voucher generation to be managed centrally, rather than relying upon the Captain.”
iDirect Unveils Powerful DVB-S2X Technology
Revolutionary new ASIC chipset redefines performance and efficiency levels for satellite networks
"Herndon, VA, November 30, 2016 – VT iDirect, Inc. (iDirect), a world leader in satellite-based IP communications technology and a company of Vision Technologies Systems, Inc. (VT Systems), today announced transformational DVB-S2X technology based on a powerful, customized ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) chipset that will deliver revolutionary gains in data throughput and will power a new line of DVB-S2/DVB-S2X remotes called the iQ Series. iDirect is also introducing exponentially higher hub processing capabilities and virtualization of core gateway components to offer further gains in performance and efficiency and lower business costs.
iDirect’s DVB-S2X solution is the result of a significant investment to co-develop a state-of-the-art ASIC chipset that is customized to exploit the full capabilities of the DVB-S2X standard and optimized for the iDirect enhanced waveform. This next generation of technology will allow iDirect to leverage the benefits of today’s High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and the capabilities of next-generation HTS to unlock additional features of the DVB-S2X standard.
The iQ Series establishes a new model for satellite remote performance providing a future-proof strategy to deliver successive gains in performance and efficiency as network operators strive to keep pace with the launch of increasingly higher throughput satellites. Remotes can be continually reprogrammed over the air to increase network capabilities and throughput levels, driving a massive expansion of applications and setting new service level standards.
“We are incredibly excited to deliver DVB-S2X capabilities to our partners,” stated Wayne Haubner, Senior Vice President, Engineering & Emerging Technologies. “DVB-S2X represents a major opportunity for network operators to gain greater performance and efficiency to meet escalating user demands and realize lower business costs. We are currently performing over-the-air testing of our new DVB-S2X chipset, and results are demonstrating 500 Mbps of aggregate throughput. This technology will allow us to exceed 1 Gbps of throughput as we keep pace with future satellite developments.”
iDirect’s iQ family of remotes is targeted for broadband, enterprise, and mobility applications and packaged in desktop, rack-mount, and embedded compute form factors that will become available over the course of the next 12 months. The first iQ remote available in early 2017 will be a desktop version that features dual GigE VLAN-aware networking ports.
With the introduction of DVB-S2X, iDirect is also releasing the Intelligent Gateway, which leverages blade-based compute and virtualization techniques to support the very high throughput and processing required for DVB-S2X operations in a high-density virtualized appliance. The Intelligent Gateway appliance results in massive footprint reduction while exponentially increasing our processing capabilities, enabling iDirect’s clients’ gateway infrastructure to scale for growth.
The iQ Series remote portfolio and Intelligent Gateway will operate over iDirect’s recently released Universal Line Card, which supports both DVB-S2 and DVB-S2X networks and operates in iDirect’s existing Universal Hub chassis."
SpeedCast and Axxess Marine Making Waves
SpeedCast and Axxess Marine offer super yacht customers revolutionary self-service portal giving them total control over their data usage
"Sydney, Australia, November 18, 2016 - SpeedCast International Limited (ASX: SDA), a leading global satellite communications and network service provider, and Axxess Marine, an innovative full-service global communications company, are joining forces to revolutionize the way super yacht customers manage their data usage through SpeedCast’s reliable VSAT communications solution.
Axxess Marine’s industry-changing contract-free on-line portal gives customers complete control over their spending, enabling customers to tailor their data tariff to suit their needs - wherever they are in the world. Customers can also pause and remotely restart their VSAT service via Dynamic Suspension®. Piers Cunningham, Vice President, Maritime Services, SpeedCast commented: “This kind of flexibility enables our customers to have complete control over their service – something that is unprecedented in the maritime industry. Working with Axxess Marine is a perfect fit because they’re as focused as we are on providing their customers with the best possible service.
When our services are combined, we make a real difference to the global yacht industry.” “We believe SpeedCast is as progressive and forward-thinking as we are at Axxess Marine and that’s why we enjoy working with them,” said Kym Petrie, Axxess Marine Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer. “Historically, Axxess Marine has revolutionized the manner with which super yachts are able to control their own data communication needs. As partners, SpeedCast and Axxess Marine have listened to what customers in the maritime sector desire and have created a VSAT program to reflect those needs. This full service communication solution allows our customers to create their own communication program based on their budget, geographical journey and anticipated data need.
Further, the program is nimble and flexible enough to upgrade, change and suspend their VSAT and data commitment- in less than 24 hours, with a click of a button and without penalty. The fact that a number of clients signed up for the service on our launch day is a great indication of the value of this solution, and given the number of customers who have signed on this month alone, this is a trend we expect to continue. With the Caribbean season just around the corner, the timing couldn’t be better for our super yacht customers.” “Being able to offer this customer-led, innovative and unique service capability will only strengthen our position within the global yacht sector - a sector where we are continuing to aggressively extend our presence as we see significant growth potential ahead,” added Piers Cunningham."
Inmarsat and Deutsche Telecom Successfully Test European Aviation Network!
"28 November 2016: The European Aviation Network (EAN) has taken to the skies. Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, together with their technology partners Nokia and Thales have successfully conducted a program of test flights in the UK.
This is a major milestone in the development of EAN, the world’s first integrated satellite and air-to-ground network dedicated to providing a true in-flight broadband experience for the European aviation industry and for millions of passengers traveling across Europe.
EAN is planned for introduction in mid-2017. The flights serve to test the performance of the EAN system including the onboard equipment being provided by Thales and the ground network provided by Deutsche Telekom and Nokia.
As a precursor to the test flight series, Deutsche Telekom and Nokia jointly achieved the first EAN live over-the-air connection, in Nokia’s Stuttgart laboratory. There, all components of the LTE ground network were thoroughly tested and validated. The first live connection in the field was accomplished in a broadband video conference with both parties connected via the dedicated EAN LTE mobile network.
“We are happy that we achieved a major milestone in building the European Aviation Network. With these successful tests we once more underline our goal to be the leading European telecommunications operator,” says Claudia Nemat, Board Member Europe and Technology at Deutsche Telekom. “The EAN allows us to offer our customers outstanding connectivity services not only on the ground but also in the sky. The new technology based on LTE standard makes sure that EAN is flexible for any further technology developments in the future. Deutsche Telekom’s aim is to drive technology leadership to bring best network experience to our customers.”
To achieve EAN’s live connection of the LTE ground network, Deutsche Telekom and Nokia have adapted Nokia´s LTE base stations and Remote Radio Heads (RRH) to the frequency used for EAN, provided by Inmarsat, and build a specific base station antenna to cover the sky. The LTE ground network for EAN differs from “normal” LTE networks as it needs to work at speeds of up to 1,200 km/h, at cruising altitudes requiring cells of up to 150 km. Nokia will manage the operations for this advanced network from its global delivery centre in Romania. In addition to the live network, Nokia and Deutsche Telekom set up a full end-to-end ground network reference system in Stuttgart, Germany, including all components and integrated on-board equipment from partner Thales, to prepare for technical challenges, for example compensation of the Doppler effect due to high aircraft speeds.
The flight trial tested the performance of the onboard equipment being provided by Thales and the ground network provided by Deutsche Telekom and Nokia. Tests were performed to see if the network could successfully attach to the ground system, which it did at all four test sites located in the south west of the UK.
The systems performed multiple successful handovers between sectors and cell towers, and maintained a stable connection. The transfer of data to and from the aircraft was also tested. The outcomes have exceeded expectations for this early flight trial and provided valuable data for the development teams."
Marlink and Telemar to Create the Major Maritime Communications, Digital Solutions and Servicing Group
"Oslo/Paris, 22 November 2016 – Apax Partners has completed the acquisition of Telemar Group. Through its ownership of both Marlink and Telemar, Apax Partners will create a new Maritime Group dedicated to providing the maritime industry with an integrated offering of broadband communications, digital solutions, bridge electronics and on-board maintenance.
The acquisition follows the August 2016 announcement of Apax Partners’ intention to purchase 100% of the shares in Telemar Group, and subsequent completion of all regulatory approvals. The new Apax Partners Maritime Group will be led by Erik Ceuppens as CEO of both Marlink and Telemar. Bruno Musella, Telemar CEO, will take up the position of Telemar Chairman in the new configuration.
“By combining the strengths of Marlink and Telemar we are creating a world leading maritime communications and digital solutions group that will be the partner of choice of both the global maritime customer community and satellite network operators serving the global mobility markets,” says Bertrand Pivin, Partner at Apax Partners.
“With Marlink and Telemar coming together we will create the truly first managed services company in the maritime industry for on-board communication and information systems, bridge electronics and digital solutions. Our combined capabilities will provide an unrivaled global support and servicing network for all maritime market segments and will drive innovation to enable digital vessel operations,” said Erik Ceuppens.
“Considering Telemar’s longstanding partnership with Marlink, I am confident that we will quickly become a unified force, providing access to new solutions, applications and services that help to make for a safer, smarter and more efficient maritime industry,” said Bruno Musella.
Telemar and Marlink will become the world’s leading maritime communications, digital solutions and servicing specialist for all customer segments at sea including: Shipping, Offshore, Cruise & Ferry, Yachting and Fishing. The newly combined group will generate US $450 Million in revenues with more than 800 employees worldwide serving at least 1 in 3 vessels operating globally.
Apax Partners’ new Maritime Group will deliver maritime customers with unrivaled service and support through an enhanced global footprint and worldwide sales and service locations. A global 24/7 helpdesk, specialized competence centers, local presence on all continents and a network of 1000 service points staffed by highly qualified, certified service engineers, will support the global maritime industry to operate smarter and safer.
Earlier this year, Apax Partners completed the acquisition of Marlink, transforming it into a provider of tailored communications solutions that enable both maritime and enterprise customers to digitize their operations at sea and on land. The expertise of Marlink and Telemar, combined with its strong satellite network operators' and bridge electronics manufacturers' partnerships, enables the new group to bring the power of broadband communications, maritime bridge technology and service excellence to its customers globally to further optimize vessel operations and enable the digital vessel of tomorrow."
An Interview with Matt Hardison, President of Icomera America
Internet on Trains: Riding the Rails with Icomera
hile we have seen major initiatives to provide broadband satellite services at sea and in the air, little attention has been paid to the potential for satellite broadband on trains. While vehicles traveling major highways usually have access to cellular technology, passenger and freight rail operate through remote areas seldom served by mobile networks and must rely on satellite - an opportunity yet largely untapped by the satellite industry. This is especially true in both U.S. passenger and freight markets.
In the the U.S., Amtrak operates over 200 passenger trains daily outside of the NE corridor carrying an average of 300 passengers each. In essence, generating demand equivalent to 200 commercial aircraft or around 50 Mbps per train. In the freight rail market over 35,000 trains move daily across North America - many of which are candidates for Telematics and video surveillance applications. With the advent of HTS satellites and flat panel, phased array antennas, this is a potentially dynamic market.
To get a more detailed look at the potential for cellular and satellite railway broadband in the U.S., we met with Matt Hardison, President of Icomera America.
Icomera is a fascinating European company known for its pioneering efforts in the provision of broadband services to the rail market who recently opened an office in the Washington, D.C. area.
Hardison draws on a wealth of experience derived from his career at Amtrak and was kind enough to share his thoughts on the potential for Internet on rail in the U.S. market.
SM: Could you explain a bit about Icomera, its technology and its strategic direction in the U.S. market?
Matt Hardison: Thanks, Alan. Yes, Icomera is globally recognized for our mobile communications platform.
Our customers’ primary application to date has been to capitalize on cellular network connectivity to deliver Wi-Fi communications either for customers or to support private applications. Of course, the flexibility of our platform means we can do much more.
Regarding markets, Icomera has a strong position in Europe today, including as the preferred supplier for several major rail and bus operators, including Deutsche Bahn in Germany and Arriva Trains in the UK. Given the success of this proven platform, we are now moving to grow our U.S. presence.
Today, we are already supplying systems to Amtrak, a major U.S. bus operator, and regional transit systems, among others. We plan to continue to support these customers and extend our service offerings to other transport and security operations in the U.S. and North America.
SM: I understand that the core Icomera technology employs a modem/router that accepts multiple SIM cards and combines the bandwidth to achieve high speed throughput. Could you explain a bit more about how this technology works?
Your summary is a good one. Our system can integrate inputs from multiple cellular channels – and can also integrate bandwidth from other sources, such as satellite and private radio networks (the latter being primarily pursued in the rail market), selecting and aggregating these resources to deliver the highest bandwidth to the end user. The end user is often a passenger connecting via Wi-Fi, but can also include private and other applications.
SM: In the past, Icomera has relied primarily on cellular technology. With the advent of HTS satellites, will Icomera shift to the use of satellite and, if so, in what markets?
Matt Hardison: We see satellite as a natural and compatible part of our service offerings. HTS satellites will simply make this offering even more attractive as either the single source or one source of bandwidth and information/entertainment.
SM: What role will the advent of flat panel, phased array technologies play in Icomera’s choice of connectivity technology – satellite vs. cellular?
Matt Hardison: Flat panel, phased array technology represents an important, breakthrough opportunity for the transportation and security markets, and we are eagerly awaiting its implementation. Icomera plans to work with suppliers to add this to our suite of offerings as soon as this technology is approaching commercialization.
SM: How will Icomera deploy the Internet of Things in each target market? Will the company provide value added applications that provide for the gathering, transmission and analysis of sensor data?
Matt Hardison: As an open platform, our system is ideally suited to capitalize on IoT, and in fact we are doing so already with many customers today, running onboard systems as “virtual applications” on our powerful Icomera platform. The ability to run virtual applications reduces the need for additional hardware on board the vehicle, increasing reliability, reducing weight and costs, and increasing available space.
Today we support a full ecosystem of third-party applications and solutions that deliver all aspects of the Connected Journey. This includes, for example, connectivity for CCTV and the associated applications that improve passenger safety, remote condition monitoring tools that improve operating efficiency and reduce maintenance costs, and eco-driving applications which save on fuel. All of these are supported through a single system that can simultaneously support passenger communications and mission critical applications.
Clearly, improved remote real-time monitoring of security and integrated Telematic systems will eventually become not simply desirable, but mandatory for public transport operators in the next few years, and we're working with our customers to ensure they have the right technology infrastructure in place.
SM: What about entertainment? Does Icomera have plans to offer content into any of its target markets and, if so, what sort of content? Does you plan to deploy satellite multi-cast technology in any of its markets?
Matt Hardison: Yes, Icomera has already deployed integrated information and entertainment solutions – what we call “Infotainment” – in Europe, and we are working with U.S. operators as we speak to do the same.
We allow passengers to stream locally-stored infotainment content from the router’s onboard storage; content like TV, films, games, audio-books and journey information (interesting facts about the route, expected arrival time etc.). Infotainment content can be presented to passengers through our Wi-Fi portal so it’s viewed on the passenger's own device (smartphones, tablets, etc.), which means that there’s no need for operators to buy any additional hardware, like seat-back video.
Of course, the growing demand for media content anywhere and everywhere has the potential to slow even the most technically competent passenger Wi-Fi solution by choking the data pipeline, simultaneously increasing transport operators’ mobile data costs. Fortunately, we can offer locally-stored infotainment content that diverts use of wireless backhaul and improves the overall passenger experience for all applications.
Our infotainment solutions can be managed by the operator and the media supplier using our cloud-based content management system, meaning that the content offered to passengers can easily be updated regularly and remotely; that is, with no need to touch the device directly for updates. Content updates can be sent to all vehicles in the fleet with the single click of a button, updating content over time via cellular networks, or as the vehicle comes into contact with wayside Wi-Fi networks at the maintenance facility.
SM: In addition to rail, there are several potential market niches for Icomera in the U.S. market – buses, maritime and trucking. Which of these markets do you see as offering the company the greatest potential and why?
At Icomera we view our product as a mobile connectivity platform. Each of these markets and others are important to us, with the specifics determined by the growing opportunity presented by IoT.
Up to this point, we have focused on the bus and rail markets, but know there is more market opportunity. We also have begun working with automotive fleet operators that have high-bandwidth needs to discuss implementation of our platform to support their mobile communications needs.
SM: Thank you Matt for the excellent overview of Icomera. We look forward to following your progress.
About Matt Hardison:
Matt Hardison, President of Icomera U.S., Inc., is responsible for Icomera’s business and operations in the Americas.
Prior to joining Icomera, he served as Amtrak’s Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, reporting directly to the President and Chief Executive Officer where he was responsible for sales, sales systems, advertising, loyalty programs, on-board systems, and pricing and revenue management.
Prior to that he served as Chief, Sales Distribution and Customer Service where he introduced on-board Wi-Fi and eTicketing, and expanded and enhanced revenue management.
Prior to joining Amtrak, Matt served as Vice President of Hagler Bailly, Inc. overseeing their transportation and technology business, and as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Apogee Research, Inc., a transportation planning and consulting firm.
Matt holds a Master of Business Administration from the Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Science from North Carolina State University.
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Mobility in 2017: Disruption by Design
n 2016, change and turmoil invaded the once staid world of satellite communication. New satellite constellations, delivery technologies and business models emerged upsetting the traditional mobility Value Chain and bringing change to the industry. Driven by the emergence of HTS GEO and LEO satellites, the world of mobile satellite communications will never be the same. Here is our view of the what has transpired in 2016 and what's to come in 2017.
We will be awash in Satellite Capacity....
The race to satisfy what has been perceived to be a potentially sky rocketing need for capacity has set the stage for what we believe to be a short term bandwidth glut. Like the fiber crises of the 90's, satellite operators are building capacity at a frantic rate, a phenomenon that is resulting in rapidly collapsing MHz pricing.
Almost each day, new initiatives and more HTS GEOS and LEO projects are announced - so many, in fact, it's getting hard to keep track of them all. Intelsat, SES and Telesat are already committed to HTS GEOS and in the LEO world, just this week, SpaceX announced plans to launch 4,424 LEOs, each capable of delivering 1 Gbps. That's on top of efforts recently announced by OneWeb, Boeing and Telesat.
Even before the finalization of SpaceX's plans, Industry forecaster Euroconsult was already predicting HTS capacity pricing could fall to $500 per/MHz, straining the finances of the major Operator players.
While we believe that this flood of capacity will ultimately be met by demand, it is the slope of the demand curve that is ominously in dispute. While lower prices will undoubtedly speed adoption of mobility services, how fast that will happen remains unresolved.
The uncertainty has been reflected in the stock price of major operators. For example, consider that the stock of financially robust SES has fallen in one year from a high of 27 to 21, with other operators experiencing similar devaluations. While the net effect of oversupply will be drastically lower per/MHz pricing, HTS satellites will enable to operators to move "down" the value chain and support falling margins through offerings of Managed Services.
Managed Services will Proliferate:
In the new world of HTS, most global mobility satellite integrators will be forced to abandon their old practice of buying MHz. Unlike wide-beam infrastructure, where they could purchase MHz on as few as 25 wide Ku-Band beams and cover the globe, MHz capacity on nearly100 HTS beams would be required to cover the same area, resulting in the need to vastly expand hardware infrastructure, teleport resources and BW purchases.
The remedy for this dilemma is Operator Managed Services, an offering in which the Operators own the teleports and hardware infrastructure and sell Mbps capacity to the integrators. The benefit to the operators lies in their ability to squeeze more Mbps out of each MHz and thereby enhance margins.
New Modem and Hub Infrastructure Products:
To date, TDMA systems developed by iDirect have been the dominant hub and modem infrastructure in mobility markets.
However, in 2016, a new technology known as Dynamically Allocated SCPC is fast encroaching on TDMA. Unlike TDMA or dedicated SCPC, Dynamically Allocated SCPC offers the advantage of high efficiency SCPC without the waste associated with fixed SCPC links or the high packet overhead associated with TDMA, because it adjusts, in real time, to the precise amount of bandwidth required at any given moment.
Pioneered by hub and modem manufacturers Newtec and Comtech EF Data in their Dialog and Heights platforms respectively, the solution is especially appropriate for high bandwidth applications such as cruise, ferry, commercial aviation and rail. As these new modems and hubs also support TDMA and standard SCPC, they are expected to make a big impact on mobility markets.
Additionally, all of the manufacturers are racing to implement internetwork roaming, a solution offering seamless network integration of Operator managed networks and integrator managed networks as well as GEO and LEO networks.
For example, some integrators may wish to continue purchasing MHz in areas where they have a very high concentration of customers and and buy Mbps capacity in areas where there is limited traffic. With a roaming function, as long as the two networks run on the same hub and modem infrastructure, end users could seamlessly move from one network to another.
Another trend would be combining GEO and LEO coverage into a single network as with Intelsat and OneWeb's or SES with O3b's MEOs. Such combinations would could add polar route coverage (Intelsat and OneWeb) and more significantly, lower network latencies thereby improving the performance of latency sensitive programs. Another advancement is in the field of antennas.
Multi-Band and Flat Panel Antennas:
New multi-band mechanically stabilized dish antennas now come in two types - upgradeable and real-time switchable. For example, there are Ku-Ka Band antennas that allow the user to change out the RF module and feed horn and upgrade from a Ku-Band service to a Ka-Band i.e. such as upgrading from Xpress Link to Fleet Xpress, and there are antennas that can switch in real-time between frequencies.
For example C-Band services offer cruise ships extensive global coverage and high rain resistance but at higher cost. While Ku-Band offers significantly greater speed at much lower cost, it may not be available everywhere the cruise ships sails. So, a dual band, C-Ku antenna makes good sense. While multi-band dish antennas are currently restricted to conventional dish format, the coming of single frequency flat panel, Electronically Steered Antennas (ESAs) has generated a lot of excitement as well.
Unlike mechanically steered antennas, these antennas are solid state and have no moving parts, and they have the ability to lock onto and track two satellites simultaneously - advantages that mean low maintenance, high reliability and, in the LEO world, avoiding the need for costly and real estate hogging dual antenna installations. These new ESA technologies developed by Phasor Solutions and Kymeta promise to make ESAs significantly less expensive than in the past, opening up potential for widespread market penetration.
Competition, Consolidation and the Future:
In maritime markets, small integrators who sell bandwidth combined with off-the-shelf hardware, few or limited value added services and poor economies of scale will continue to be driven out of the market or consolidated into larger players. One example of consolidation: SpeedCast Ltd., a major consolidator "rolling up" over a dozen small companies and just recently, energy giant, Harris Caprock, into a single, massive $600 Million entity
Other examples of consolidation include expansions from aero to maritime markets by Global Eagle Entertainment, an aero entertainment and connectivity provider, who recently swallowed Emerging Market Communications and who in turn, acquired cruise and yacht integrator MTN, and a second major "play" involving Panasonic Avionics who acquired ITC Global, an energy and mining VSAT provider.
The entry of these two giants into maritime markets is a significant event in that both companies has enormous economies of scale in terms of bandwidth availability and exceptional entertainment value added services including vast libraries of content and the capability to broadcast news and sports in real time.
Given these advantages over conventional providers of simple connectivity solutions, one can only expect significant, well funded efforts by both companies to penetrate, cruise, yachts and general maritime markets. The ultimate result is that mobility satellite providers will serve multiple niches leveraging vast economies of scale further compressing the industry into a small number of very large providers.
On to 2017:
At the same time all markets are consolidating, maritime, in particular is facing significant challenges.
Demand for high-speed broadband services remains weak in Bulk Carrier, Containership segments representing around 12,000 of the roughly 40,000 vessels. Energy integrators are suffering as well although a slight increase in crude prices has boosted the stock prices of companies like RigNet.
In 2017 the strongest demand sectors will be cruise and ferries where in the cruise segment 50 Mbps and greater links are becoming the norm. Tankers including oil, product and LPG will also do well.
Based on our analysis, we expect the sector to add between seven and nine thousand new 1.0 Meter VSAT installation in 2017 bringing the total installed base to around 20,000 to 22,000 of a potential market of 40,000 vessels.
In aero commercial and business jet markets, we see a very bright picture in terms of demand but very heavy competition, especially in the international commercial jet market and global business jet markets. According to Euroconsult, of the estimated 26,000 commercial aircraft, only 5,600 are equipped with broadband connectivity, and 4,000 are in the U.S.
On the business jet side, Euroconsult notes there are around 19,000 business jets globally and around 12,000 operating in the U.S.
Despite the advent of broadband, the market is largely served by L-Band services with Iridium and Inmarsat who control over 80 per-cent. Consequently, we expect Panasonic, Global Eagle and Gogo to mount significant efforts to enter and/or enhance their positions in the business jet market.
We also see significant potential in passenger and freight rail, a market yet to draw the interest of major maritime and aero integrators.
2017 will be a year of disruption.
Bandwidth prices will fall and hardware manufacturers will be in the best position to capitalize on the increasing numbers of new subscribers;
Hubs and Modems featuring Dynamically Allocated SCPC will become increasingly popular enabling increased speeds and enhanced efficiencies;
Flat Panel Electronically Steered antennas will debut into commercial service;
Major consolidations can be expected in both the satellite operator and integrator segments;
Major integrators such as SpeedCast, Panasonic, Global Eagle and Marlink and Inmarsat will capitalize on their enhanced economies of scale and expand across all mobility markets;
In maritime, cruise vessels, ferries, large yachts, tanker and aero will be the major mobility growth segments while bulk carriers and containerships will see only limited adoption.
Overall, expect a much more complex and dynamically changing market than we have seen in the past. Technology change and economic pressures can be expected to be the principle forces that shape the 2017 mobility world. A.G.
Phasor Flat Panel Antenna Module
When the Sky is Not the Limit...
by Kevin McCarthy V.P. of Market Development Newtec
Inflight Connectivity's Next Leap Forward
or many years, airplanes have been the last frontier of the satellite industry. While demand for In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) has never been higher, finding a sustainable business model has been challenging. The numerous technical, regulatory and financial hurdles are daunting, particularly as the gap between user expectations and today’s reality continues to widen. Fortunately, there are some disruptive new technologies on the horizon that promise to change the game.
First-generation IFC systems were largely based on legacy technologies, adapted to the airborne environment. While these early solutions proved that IFC was technically possible, their low efficiency and poor performance often resulted in an unsatisfactory user experience and high bandwidth costs.
Panasonic Avionics Corporation is an industry pioneer, with a long-term vision. Based on its decades of experience with In-flight entertainment, Panasonic understands that delivering a great user experience requires purpose-built technologies, optimized for the unique aero environment.
New Satellites Need New Modems:
In many ways, the evolution of the VSAT industry is a parallel of the cellular industry. The insatiable need for connectivity, coupled with limited Radio Frequency (RF) spectrum, has resulted in constant pent-up demand and high costs.
In the cellular industry, operators aggressively deployed faster 4G and LTE networks to help meet this demand. However, in order to take full advantage of these new networks, customers also had to upgrade their handsets. There was no benefit to running an old 2G phone on a state-of-the-art LTE network.
The same is true in the satellite world. Panasonic is investing millions of dollars to develop and launch next-generation High Throughput Satellite (HTS) and Extreme Throughput Satellite (XTS™️) networks to deliver unprecedented capacity to its customers. However, in order to realize the benefits of these new networks, a new satellite modem was needed.
The modem is a small, often overlooked, device, but it plays a critical role in the IFC ecosystem. Its primary function is to convert raw satellite capacity (measured in MHz), into usable bandwidth (measured in Mbps). However, the modem also performs several other critical functions, like beam switching, Doppler correction and TV reception.
Leveraging Panasonic’s deep aeronautical expertise and our advanced Newtec Dialog® multi-service platform, we jointly set off to design a next-generation aero modem that would maximize the performance of Panasonic’s new HTS/XTS™️ networks while dramatically improving the experience for their customers.
A waveform is essentially a sophisticated algorithm used to convert data into radio waves. The relative yield of this conversion process is known as spectral efficiency.
The resulting ratio of Mbps per MHz is the single most important factor in most satellite business models because it directly impacts the cost and quality of the service.
Spectral efficiency depends primarily on two factors – the strength of the satellite signal and the characteristics of the waveform used. While more efficient antennas and high-powered spot beams increase the signal strength, the waveforms ultimately determine spectral efficiency.
Panasonic’s next-generation modem will support the most efficient waveforms available on the market today. The forward channel (towards the plane) will use the latest Satcom standard, DVB-S2X, which is optimized for HTSs and wide-band transponders. The return channel (from the plane) will leverage Newtec’s advanced Mx-DMA® technology, with Very Low Signal to Noise (SNR) ratio MODCODs. Together, these technologies will deliver more than 50% more data using the same satellite capacity, greatly improving the speed of the service.
The Doppler Effect:
The most common manifestation of the Doppler effect is the change in pitch of a passing ambulance siren. As the vehicle moves towards an observer, the frequency of the sound waves increases. As a vehicle moves away, the frequency decreases.
The Doppler effect can impact all types of waves, including radio waves used in satellite communications. As an airplane moves relative to the satellite, these frequency shifts can corrupt transmissions and annoy customers.
Early aero modems took a brute force approach to mitigate the Doppler effect by simply incorporating a margin of error or “guard band” on their transmissions. As long as the frequency shift did not exceed the margin of error, the signal would survive. The downside of this method is that it required extra satellite capacity, resulting in higher costs and less available bandwidth for customers.
In Panasonic’s next-generation modem, the Doppler effect will be tracked and corrected in real-time. Advanced algorithms will continuously predict frequency shifts and Newtec’s Mx-DMA return technology will compensate every second, resulting in more reliable and efficient transmissions, with less overheads.
Seamless Beam Switching
Satellite coverage areas are known as “footprints” or “beams”. As airplanes fly around the world, they often need to switch beams to maintain continuous connectivity. In the past, these beam switches required modems to essentially reboot as they changed settings, interrupting service for several minutes. With the advent of HTSs, the problem will only get worse. Since HTSs use an array of powerful spot beams to provide coverage for long-haul flights, the number of required beam switches (and service interruptions) will increase dramatically.
To mitigate this issue, Panasonic’s next generation modem has three receivers to enable “make-before-break” beam switches. As a plane approaches the edge of a beam, the modem tunes its second receiver to the frequency of the new beam, before losing the first one. Once stable connectivity is established with the new beam, traffic is seamlessly switched and the first receiver is freed-up for the next transition. The third receiver provides even more flexibility, by allowing the plane to simultaneously receive data from two overlapping beams. As an example, this allows Panasonic customers to receive video and data concurrently, using wide beams for video and spot beams for data.
Software Defined Modem
Installing equipment on airplanes is extremely difficult and expensive due to the strict regulations and tight schedules. As a result, Panasonic and Newtec have designed a modem that is fully software defined, using a powerful Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). Unlike the more common Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips, an FPGA ensures that waveforms can be upgraded in the future, without having to replace hardware. In addition to extending the life of the modem, this architecture will also reduce downtime and risk.
While the focus of this article has been on aviation, one of the most important features of Panasonic’s next-generation aero modem is that it is fully compatible with the Newtec Dialog multi-service VSAT platform. With a diverse modem portfolio and three return technologies, Newtec Dialog will give Panasonic the flexibility to expand into new markets in the future. By combining the most appropriate modems and return technologies,
Panasonic can competitively address a wide range of applications on the same network, including: maritime, mining and oil & gas. In addition to maximizing economies of scale, this approach also reduces business risks by diversifying revenue streams.
So, What Does It All Mean?
At the end of the day, airline passengers just want reliable broadband connectivity at an affordable price. On the other hand, airlines and IFC providers want to keep passengers happy while making a reasonable profit. Up to now, satisfying all requirements has been nearly impossible. However, as Panasonic enters into the second and third generations of its IFC technology, it is quickly approaching the tipping point. Soon airplanes will simply be another place where people expect to be connected, without a second thought.
Newtec Multi-service Platform
About Kevin McCarthy...
Kevin McCarthy serves as Newtec’s VP of Market Development, specializing in mobile satellite communications. McCarthy has been in the satellite industry for over 15 years. He holds a Bachelors degree from the Johns Hopkins University, a Master’s degree in Computer Information Systems from the University of Miami, and a Master’s degree in Finance from the Florida International University.
Before joining Newtec, McCarthy worked for MTN Satellite Communications, where he served in various roles, including SVP of Network Engineering and most recently COO. McCarthy started his career at Norwegian Cruise Line, as a network engineer.
Posidonia June 8th....
This year's SpeedCast/Gottlieb International Group Event, "Maritime Satellite: Buy Now or Wait for Tomorrow," drew an enthusiastic crowd at Posidonia this year, highlighting the Greek shipping industry's intense interest in the new VSAT technology featuring HTS satellites.
Panelists from the satellite industry's leading companies focused on the advantages of "open" Ku-Band VSAT technology solutions affording the customer maximum flexibility in terms of supplier choice and technology upgradability.
Highlights included an update on SES HTS satellite capabilities from Giovanni Aurcelo, Steve Good's informative explanation of Comtech EF data dynamic sized, dedicated links and an update from Kyle Hurst on the long awaited launch of Iridium Certus, the industry's next generation L-Band service. We also heard from Dave Garrood, Senior Satellite Officer at Phasor who offered an update on Phasor's innovative, new flat panel Phased Array maritime antenna - an advancement expected to greatly enhance reliability of VSAT service at sea. Finally P.J. Beylier, SpeedCast's well known CEO and Piers Cunningham, V.P. of Maritime, focused on the integrators' role in assuring low cost upgradability of VSAT Services. All and all, attendees had an exciting look at the coming technology evolution in VSAT services and an understanding of the best way to maximize the benefits of the new technology.
SMM Hamburg - September 7th
We were back at SMM Hamburg this year with an even more exciting program and close to 100 guests. In addition to Speedcast, SES, iDirect and Phasor, Newtec, an innovative developer of dynamic SCPC technology joined us. We're also extended the program and focused on a unique IoT application developed by iJet Technologies with special guest speaker, CEO John Schramm. iJet has developed a unique "big data" analysis application that translates the output of thousands of sensors, generating actionable alerts when sensors indicate equipment performance outside of operating norms.
We'll be doing several events in 2017 including major events in Asia and Europe with a whole new focus. For the first time, we'll be going beyond connectivity to focus on the Internet of Things, Maritime Cloud Computing and new, highly specialized applications developed specifically to improve efficiency and lower the cost of vessel operation. Stay tuned - details coming in our January 2017 edition.
2016 Gottlieb International Group Events Update....