Volume IV, No. VI June 2019 2019
Table of Contents
Industry Trends and Analysis: (pg. 3)
Patee Sarasin, former CEO of Nok Air:
"Unlocking the Riches of In-flight Wi-Fi" (pg. 4)
David Bruner, former V.P. Panasonic Avionics:
"Buckle Up! :Turbulence Ahead in Airline Connectivity Markets"
"The Promise of the New Iridium and Aireon Services: Big Advancements in Air Traffic Management on the Horizon" (pg. 26)
Ernst Peter Hovinga, CEO Hiber: "Disrupting the Satellite IoT Connectivity Market: The Promise of Hiber" (p.31)
"Upcoming and Recommended Satellite Mobility Events"
Highlighting Disruptive, New, Mobility-Focused Satellite Ventures and Technologies
In This Issue...
"The Myth of the "Other 3 Billion"- The Study the Satellite Industry Forgot"
"Speedcast's Race to an Information Analytics Future"
"Swissto12 and the Magic of 3D Printed Antennas"
"Real-Time AI-Based Analytics for Oil and Gas Drilling"
"Satellite 2019: A Search for Opportunities in Chaos"
Satellite mobility World
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Table of Contents...
"Hot News and Commentary" (pg.3)
Editorial : "The Myth of the "Other 3 Billion" - The Study the Satellite Industry Forgot" (pg. 5)
"Speedcast's Race to an Information Analytics Future" with CEO, P.J. Beylier (pg. 9)
"The Magic of 3D Printed Antennas" with Swissto12 CEO, Emil Rijk (pg. 20)
" Real-Time AI Based Analytics for Oil and Gas Drilling" with RigNet V.P. Ricardo Clemente
"Satellite 2019 - A Search for Opportunities in Chaos" by Lisa Dreher, CMO, GuideForce
Recommended Upcoming Industry Events
Welcome to the June 2019 issue of Satellite Mobility World. The satellite industry is changing at light speed, and this month we're addressing key trends in VSAT service delivery, and focusing on the products of two disruptive, "under the radar" technology companies.
In our June issue, you'll hear from Speedcast's well-known CEO, P.J. Beylier, and find out how he is reshaping Speedcast into a purveyor of high-margin, value-added services.
We follow with an interview with Swissto12 CEO, Emile Rijk, and learn how his company is disrupting traditional CNC based satellite antenna manufacturing.
Next, in a visit with RigNet V.P. of Business Development, Ricardo Clemente, we find out how RigNet's Intelie subsidary is using Artifical Intelligence to streamline the offshore drilling process and saving millions of dollars.
We also have a contribution from Lisa Dreher, CMO of marketing consulting firm GuideForce, in which she shares some insightful thoughts on the state of the industry acquired at Satellite 2019.
Lastly, don't miss our editorial, The Myth of the Other 3 Billion -The Study that the Satellite Industry Forgot , in which we challenge the capability of satelllite to provide affordable, high-speed Internet to the masses. Enjoy!
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 2019
SATELLITE MOBILITY WORLD
"Hot" News and Commentary
Inmarsat Partners with Airbus to Deliver Ground-breaking Transformation of Global Xpress Network
Partnership to transform GX network capacity, capabilities & operational agility to meet burgeoning market demand – GX to remain the gold standard for global mobile broadband connectivity for years to come
Unprecedented enhancement in overall GX network capacity and capabilities, to support the next generation of GX mobile broadband services with extraordinary ability to mobilise new capabilities for customers
New GX technology backwards compatible with existing GX terminals
Enhanced ability to roll into future technology innovation and disruption, to regularly upgrade GX network capabilities and features
Lead time from order to orbit significantly reduced via production line manufacturing and batch launches to deliver new broadband capacity, in step with rapidly-growing and highly-dynamic customer demand
30th May 2019: Inmarsat, the world leader in global mobile satellite communications, announces that Airbus Defence & Space (Airbus) has been selected as its satellite manufacturing partner as part of a ground-breaking development of its Global Xpress (GX) network. The partnership will provide a step-change in GX’s capabilities, capacity and agility for the benefit of existing and future Inmarsat customers, partners and investors.
Inmarsat’s GX network was first designed in 2010 and began global services in 2015. This created the world’s first and only seamless global mobile broadband network. Inmarsat has since grown GX revenues strongly and established leading positions in the emerging global Maritime, Aviation and Government mobile satellite broadband markets, with GX revenues increasing by 85% to $250.9m in 2018. GX is the most successful network for global mobility.
Today’s announcement marks the beginning of the next phase of GX’s evolution, enhancing global mobile broadband coverage with a transformation in network capacity and service capability. This transformation, together with the unparalleled agility of the next-generation satellites, will ensure GX remains at the forefront of innovation for the benefit of customers and partners.
This contract with Airbus is for the manufacture of three next-generation GX satellites (GX7, 8 & 9), with the first scheduled to launch in H1 2023. The level of capital expenditure under this programme is in line with that provided for in our long term planning. As such, there is no change to our overall capex guidance on the back of today’s announcement.
Transformed model delivering directly into customer demand
This new satellite programme will transform Inmarsat’s global network, providing unprecedented agility in space segment deployment, as well as an enhanced ability to adopt and integrate future technology innovation and disruption to the GX product line.
This network development encompasses a major enhancement to the GX ground network, which will deliver full integration of each generation of GX satellites to form a highly-secure, inter-operable, ultra-high performance network. Future GX satellites offering new capabilities can easily be added to this dynamic framework whenever and wherever demand dictates. The network will also be able to benefit from future technology innovation.
The network will be tailored automatically to the exceptionally fluid nature of customer demand in diverse global mobile broadband markets. This will maximise the efficient deployment of diverse capabilities and enable them to be mobilised instantaneously.
As such, Inmarsat will continue to offer the highest quality, best-value mobile broadband services and solutions to customers and partners globally.
Future-proofing customer investment and supporting Inmarsat’s growth and capex profile
The new GX technology will be compatible with existing terminals, allowing Inmarsat customers to benefit seamlessly from this and future service enhancements. Through regular upgrades by Inmarsat to the GX network capabilities and features, customers will be able to take advantage of future technology innovation.
Having established leading positions in the emerging global Maritime, Aviation and Government mobile satellite broadband markets, Inmarsat is on track to achieve its objective of delivering annual GX revenues at a run rate of $500m by the end of 2020. Today’s announcement reaffirms Inmarsat’s confidence to sustain this growth beyond 2020, whilst simultaneously driving a sustained and meaningful moderation in its infrastructure capex.
A clear advantage of the Airbus production line approach is the accelerated satellite deployment capability. This capability, together with Inmarsat’s well-established GX customer base, will ensure that new capacity can be quickly and accurately matched to demand, leading to a better outcome for customers and a lower risk infrastructure investment programme.
OneWeb and Intellian Announce User Terminal Partnership to Enable Remote Enterprise and Cellular Backhaul Connectivity Expansion
Washington, DC, May 6, 2019 – OneWeb, a global communications company with a vision to enable internet access everywhere for everyone, has announced a partnership with Intellian, to build user terminals designed specifically for remote enterprise networks, cellular backhaul expansion and remote connectivity needs. The user terminals will be the units provided to customers to enable the high-speed, low latency service that our global satellite constellation will deliver.
These user terminals will be perfect for a range of use cases including connecting businesses in rural areas, schools, hospitals, farms and community centers.
This partnership represents a significant step-forward in the development of OneWeb’s system following the launch of its first satellites and its first customer announcements in February 2019. With six satellites now in orbit and a range of antennas now in place, OneWeb is ready to advance the development of its portfolio of user terminals, ranging from compact flat panels to highly-efficient dual parabolics. All our user terminals will be designed to serve a range of customer needs, market verticals and use cases.
With many remote and unconnected areas around the world still lacking access to broadband, these user terminals will help to close to gaps and connect remote enterprises, as well as, expand cellular backhaul capacity which is essential for extending connectivity. The terminals will utilize dual-parabolic antennas to deliver cost-effective and efficient throughput making high-speed and low-latency services available in hard-to-reach areas and helping bridge the digital divide.
“This is an exciting moment for OneWeb as we expand and develop our user terminals with an extremely important partner”, said Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb. “Our user terminals will always be designed with customer needs in-mind, ensuring we deliver a service they can trust. We’re delighted to be partnering with Intellian and this agreement marks a major step forward in our efforts to bridge the global digital divide.”
“Intellian is excited to be chosen by OneWeb with its fascinating vision and innovative LEO constellation”, said Eric Sung, CEO of Intellian. “We’re thrilled our design and manufacturing capabilities will help connect people in remote locations to this new Satellite ecosystem.”
OneWeb expects these terminals to be avilable for Commercial use in 2020.
Marlink Extends Partnership With Newtec to Enhance Its Global Vsat Network And Meet Growing Customer Demand For Bandwidth
SINT-NIKLAAS, Belgium, and OSLO, Norway – 29 May 2019 – Newtec, a specialist in the design, development and manufacture of equipment for satellite communications, and Marlink, the world’s leading provider of end-to-end managed connectivity and IT solutions for enterprise and maritime industries, have extended their partnership to future-proof Marlink’s global VSAT network.
As the confirmed Number 1 maritime VSAT provider in the industry, Marlink will adopt the Newtec Dialog® platform to evolve and enhance its industry-leading VSAT services for its maritime customers. The agreement builds on the companies’ long-term cooperation in the Enterprise market. Driven by the rising demand from its extensive customer base for higher throughput services, Marlink decided to step-up its investments by adopting the Newtec Dialog platform to continue building the superior VSAT network of tomorrow for the maritime industry.
Marlink will expand the use of the Newtec platform for all maritime customers, including shipping and tanker companies, cruise ships, ferries, super yachts, fishing and offshore supply vessels (OSV). Leveraging the full potential of its global Sealink VSAT network, maritime customers will benefit from increased throughput, as well as IT and digital solutions to support their digital transformation.
Newtec Dialog is a single-service and multiservice VSAT platform that allows operators and service providers to build and adapt high-quality infrastructure and satellite networking according to their business or missions. It gives operators the power to offer a variety of mobile and fixed services on a single platform, all of which can be delivered to customers operating remotely.
Using the Newtec Dialog platform, Marlink will be able to take advantage of network virtualisation by offering flexible, future-proof VSAT services to meet the needs of its customers worldwide.
Intellian Launches World's First 1.5m Ku to Ka Convertible VSAT Terminal
6 May 2019 – Intellian, the global leader of mobile satellite communication antenna systems, is introducing the new 1.5m Ku to Ka convertible VSAT terminal.
The world’s first and only 1.5m Ku to Ka convertible VSAT, v150NX, is a future-proof system supporting 2.5GHz Wide Ka-band networks as well as GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit), MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) and LEO (Low Earth Orbit) constellations. Its highly efficient design delivers the best RF performance of any 1.5m system on the market today for ship owners, operators and network providers. It is easily converted to Ka-band by changing the RF Assembly and Feed, as the reflector and radome are optimized for operation across both frequency bands.
At this year’s Satellite Show, which is held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in DC this week, May 6-9, 2019 (booth #925), Intellian is displaying its new product’s Ka-band version, the v150NX Ka. This state-of-the-art terminal is also compatible with future 2.5GHz Wide Ka-band networks and has delivered speeds of 830Mbps in trials already. With GEO/MEO/LEO tracking capability, the v150NX Ka delivers unmatched performance today and is ready for operation with forthcoming new high-speed and low-latency networks.
Both the v150NX and v150NX Ka enable reliable, high-throughput broadband at sea and can be quickly installed to deliver precise, cost-effective satellite tracking as a land gateway antenna system. With its ability to track any satellites on mobile and fixed platforms, and includes smart satellite handover capability enabled by an embedded mediator. Operators can now provide a seamless network with high-speed bi-directional IP connectivity. Additionally, the antenna can be interconnected with no loss of signal even at longer distances, using the Intellian Fiber Link Solution.
Moreover, with the new NX platform, the Intellian’s 1.5m satellite communication systems use a single cable, which combines Tx, Rx, and DC power, to simplify installation. A cutting-edge modular design results in lower cost of ownership throughout the entire life cycle, while improving reliability and streamlining maintenance.
Eric Sung, CEO of Intellian, said, “The industry-leading performance, simplified installation and ensured compatibility with future constellations and networks positions our new 1.5m antennas as one of the most innovative, flexible and cost-effective connectivity platforms available for diverse users on land and at sea.”
Alongside the new v150NX Ka, Intellian will also highlight the expansion of its diverse portfolio with the launch of more new and innovative satellite communication technologies at Satellite 2019, including; the LP100, man-portable, military spec land terminal; the all new GX100NX for use on the Global Xpress network; and the OW70 for LEO constellations.
Gogo, Phasor Enter Productization Phase In Development Partnership
April 2 2019: Gogo and Phasor’s development partnership has achieved its initial core-technology performance objectives and will progress to the productization phase.
During the next phase, the technology will be packaged as an airborne terminal to address the commercial aviation market.
Phasor’s very low-profile Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) aims to enhance the delivery of high-bandwidth airborne connectivity services. The antenna is solid-state, with no moving parts, eliminates several components associated with traditional connectivity solutions, and allows dual satellite signals to be tracked electronically.
The ESA can be flat or conformal in form and is designed to be well-suited for traditional Geostationary Orbit (GSO) satellite networks, High Throughput Satellites (HTS), as well as Non-Geostationary (NGSO) satellite networks.
“We identified the promise of Phasor’s innovative solution due to a range of factors, including its multi-constellation capabilities and form factor,” said Gogo CEO Oakleigh Thorne. “We see a number of potential applications for this technology, with initial applicability targeted at smaller commercial aviation aircraft. We are pleased with the progress to-date and look forward to continuing our partnership during the next development phase.”
KVH Announces the Sale of Videotel for $90 Million to Focus on Core Strategic Initiatives
Plans to Increase Its Investment in Photonic Integrated Chip Technology, Agile Plans Acceleration, and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity
Middletown, RI – May 13, 2019 – KVH Industries, Inc., (Nasdaq: KVHI), today announced that it has sold its maritime training business, the Videotel group of companies, to an affiliate of Oakley Capital for a base purchase price of $90 million, on a cash-free, debt-free basis, subject to working capital adjustments. The sale was completed immediately upon execution of definitive agreements.
“As part of our long-term strategic roadmap, we are focusing on the large and growing markets of our core mobile connectivity and inertial navigation businesses,” says Martin Kits van Heyningen, chief executive officer of KVH. “We intend to use the net proceeds of the sale to invest in three key growth initiatives that we expect will drive significant value creation, as well as to reduce our debt. Specifically, we plan to invest in the development and commercialization of our photonic integrated chip technology for use in autonomous vehicles and other commercial and military platforms, to support the further acceleration of our AgilePlans (Connectivity as a Service) program, and also to finalize the development and launch of our IoT connectivity solution. Videotel helped us to penetrate the commercial maritime markets initially, but our strategic approach has evolved to focus on faster growing markets that we believe will produce greater long-term shareholder value.” To maintain continuity for KVH’s AgilePlans customers, KVH has retained certain rights to continue including the Videotel training content with the AgilePlans program.
Management expects to issue revised financial guidance for the second quarter and full fiscal year of 2019 reflecting the sale of Videotel, along with select pro forma disclosures, on or about May 15, followed by an investor conference call. In light of the anticipated financial impact of the transaction, investors should no longer rely on the guidance previously issued by KVH, which included anticipated revenues and expenses of the Videotel business.
The base purchase price was $90 million, subject to adjustment for Videotel’s cash, indebtedness, and working capital. KVH expects to receive payment of the purchase price within 30 business days, subject to subsequent adjustment for working capital. Payment of the purchase price is secured by a charge (a type of foreign security interest) over the shares of Super Dragon Limited and Videotel Marine Asia Limited, and is further backed by an equity commitment letter from Oakley Capital IV Master SCSp, Oakley Capital’s fourth and newest fund that has recently raised in excess of €1 billion of capital commitments.
KVH expects to use a portion of the net proceeds of the sale to repay the full balance of its outstanding term loans and a substantial portion of outstanding borrowings under its revolving credit facility.
The definitive share purchase agreement contains various warranties regarding the Videotel business given by KVH Media Group Limited (“KMG”), the direct seller of the Videotel companies, and KMG also agreed to provide the direct purchaser with a tax indemnity. The purchase agreement provides a cap on KMG’s liability for breach of commercial warranties equal to 20% of the purchase price and, for breach of the title and capacity warranties and the tax indemnity, a cap equal to the purchase price.
For the last 12 months ending March 31, 2019 Videotel’s revenue was $17.0 million and its operating income was $3.1 million. Depreciation and amortization for this period was $4.8 million, and equity compensation was $0.1 million. KVH is analyzing whether the Videotel business will be reported as a discontinued operation in its future financial statements.
Newtec's Excellence In Aviation Recognized With Prestigious MSUA Award At Satellite 2019
Newtec Dialog® VSAT Platform named as Top Infrastructure Solution in quest to provide future-proof in-flight connectivity
WASHINGTON, USA and SINT NIKLAAS, BELGIUM, May 07, 2019 - Newtec – a specialist in designing, developing and manufacturing equipment and technologies for satellite communications – was today awarded with the Mobile Satellite Users Association (MSUA)’s Top Infrastructure Award.
Presented at an exclusive ceremony taking place as part of SATELLITE 2019, the accolade was given to highlight the flexible merits of Newtec’s ability to deliver and enhance in-flight connectivity.
As revenues associated with global connectivity to aircraft continue to increase, the Newtec Dialog VSAT platform, introduced in 2016 in partnership with Panasonic Avionics, has now been installed in more than 800 aircraft.
“To win this award means so much to us,” said Thomas Van den Driessche, CEO at Newtec. “Not only are we fulfilling our commitment to our partners in the service we provide but we are also taking our mobility capabilities to the next level, by offering a scalable and highly efficient service. This award proves that our Newtec Dialog VSAT platform can effectively cater for the evolving needs of both airlines and passengers for years to come, even as numbers of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and Extreme Throughput Satellites (XTS™) continue to rise. In addition, our recent successful 5G test over Telesat LEO reaffirms our commitment to delivering seamless 5G integration whether on land, sea, or air.”
The Newtec Dialog VSAT platform has the capacity to offer users up to 20 times the original throughput available in-flight previously. As a tool compatible with a plethora of in-flight applications, Newtec Dialog can dramatically improve data rates and unlock numerous on-board services.
Alongside its ability to support in-flight services on a global scale, delivering applications ranging from fast Internet access to video streaming, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications and enhanced TV functions, Newtec Dialog also enables 3G phone services and dramatically enhanced bandwidth for crew applications.
“Newtec Dialog is now managing more than 100 beams and more than 25 gateways for this network and as we accept this award today, we will start the next chapter in taking our in-flight technology to a higher level of continued and accelerated expansion for applications in the air and on the move,” added Van den Driessche.
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The Myth of the "Other 3 Billion"
Internet is flourishing in the developed world. Yet, three billion people in the Third World have no access at all. Based upon this widely touted statistic, billions of dollars are now in play in an effort to provide satellite Internet to the unserved.
Unfortunately, however, very few can actually afford it. The Internet Organization's The State of Connectivity 2014 study cuts the market down to size, and those who have taken the time to read it will realize that the available market is much smaller the 3 billion. Although the Study is five years old, much of its conclusions are still relevant today.
The modern-day Internet experience combines text and video to create a rich combination of web surfing, entertainment and video. To facilitate service of this quality, high bandwidth is a basic requirement.
Given the limited capacity and high cost of providing Internet via satellite, it would be impossible to deliver First World quality service to billions of users at a cost equivalent to 5% of their monthly income or less than $5 per/month - the threshold dictated in the Internet Organization's Study.
The Challenge of Affordability:
Based on this threshold, the Study explains that "for the Internet to be affordable to over 50% of the entire world, data consumption would need to be limited to 250 MB per month. Reducing consumption to 100 MB makes the Internet affordable to 80% of the world."
At 100 MB per/month, that's just over 3 Megabytes per/day or enough to access one or two typical Web pages. That means no web surfing, no video, no Skype, no movies and little, if any, social media.
Compare that to the 500 Megabytes per day usage in the U.S., and it's easy to see that the quality of service delivered at $5 per/month would be not be the Internet that MBAs, accustomed to multi-megabit/sec Internet speeds, imagined when writing the LEO business plans.
According to the Study, affordability is even worse in parts of the Third World. "In Sub-Saharan African, where 69% of people live on less than $2 per day, even at 20 MB per month, only 53% of the population can afford the Internet."
It seems unlikely that a minimal amount of services delivered by satellite at $5 per/month will appeal to many, and even if new users are introduced to the Internet at such low capacities, they will inevitably demand higher and higher speeds, just as users have in the developed world, taxing the capacity of satellite and necessitating rationing by price.
In reality, wireless delivery of Internet at speeds to which we are accustomed can only be achieved via spectrum reuse, a capability made possible only by terrestrial wireless.
Tom Choi makes this point vividly in his recent article A Sobering Look at the Future Role of HTS Systems for 5G. In it, he states "The total surface area of the Earth is 510 million Km2. Let’s assume that OneWeb with 640 satellites and about 20 Gbps per satellite, has a total capacity of13 Terabits per second over the globe (this is generous because over the Arctic circles most of the satellites haves to switch off beams due to interference). Then, the broadband density of OneWeb is 0.025 Mbps, or 25 Kbps/ Km2.
ViaSat 3 satellite with 1 Terabit of capacity from three positions would provide a broadband density of 0.006 Mbps/ Km2, or 5. 9 Kbps/ Km2. When thinking about broadband to places where people live, this doesn’t sound much. In fact, all the HTS systems combined would deliver less than 100 Kbps/Km2 of broadband density.
So, how does this compare to terrestrial alternatives? An LTE eNode typically will have 45 to 300 Mbps and will have an effective range of several kilometers. Assuming a eNode is covering a 5 km radius and is serving 100 Mbps, its broadband density is 1.27 Mbps/ Km2.
It’s obvious nowhere on Earth where LTE exists can ViaSat 3, OneWeb nor any other HTS system out-compete terrestrial wireless technology."
Relevancy of Internet Content:
In addition to lack of affordability, The State of Connectivity 2014, notes that content available on the is relevant to only 53% of the global population and in some key markets for satellite Internet services, content relevancy drops to only 19.2% in South Asia and 5.2% in Sub Saharan Africa.
What this means is that most of the 3 billion that have been labeled unserved are unserved for reasons attributable to low income and lack of relevancy of Internet content to their daily lives.
These are not hordes of people clamoring for access to news, market research, stock trading, Internet banking, Facebook, Youtube, OTT video and e-mail. They don't have MBAs, BAs, and many are illiterate in the common languages used on the Internet.
So, however noble in their aspirations, those LEO executives that expect to profit from mass market connectivity to the "other 3 Billion" need to more aggressively define their real target market as those reachable at $50 per/month, not $5.
Inasmuch as the LEOs lack the capacity to deliver high speed Internet to the masses, pureyors of LEO based constellations need to determine how they can attract a sufficient number of subscribers at the high end of the market to compete with satellite services such as Wild Blue and HNS and ironically O3b.
In the end, lack of capacity and very high cost of satellite services will continue to limit their attractiveness to enterprise and the small percentage of well off private users in the Third World that have the need and the ability to pay.
- Alan Gottlieb
The Study the Satellite Industry Forgot
"Unless some miracle satellite technology comes into play, provision of a service that offers any more than basic e-mail is economically out of reach for all but premium users. In reality, wireless delivery of Mbps speed to billions of users at affordable pricing can only be achieved via spectrum reuse, a capability made possible by terrestrial wireless."
For more information
An Interview with Speedcast CEO, P.J. Beylier
Speedcast's Race to an Information Analytics Future
VSAT connectivity is now ubiquitous in the mobility world. High capacity satellites and falling bandwidth prices have enabled the transmission of massive amounts of data, and Big Data Analytics and Artifical Intelligence applications can now be deployed to enhance operational efficiencies on ships, aircraft and moving vehicles.
Those satellite integrators savvy enough to look beyond the provision of generic connectivity and adopt a mission of value-added data analytics will race ahead of commodity-focused competitors, enhance margins, and build unbreakable bonds with their customers. At Speedcast, we find this evolution is already underway.
To find out how the company is reshaping itself into a data analytics-based solution provider, we met with P.J. Beylier, Speedcast's CEO.
SMW: Initially, VSAT service providers were simply commodity providers. Differentiation was achieved primarily through enhanced quality of service and hardware integration. Integrators introduced Intelligent routers and compression software, and these innovations were soon copied. What can satellite integrators due to differentiate their services in the future, and what will these companies look like in five years? What services will they offer?
Pierre Jean Beylier: Differentiation has always been and will always be about the customers’ needs.
Speedcast has evolved with its customers from a managed connectivity provider to a managed information provider. We have always been striving to deliver forward looking solutions and that is why today Speedcast is positioning itself as a managed information service provider.
As the industries we are supporting embark on their digital transformation journey, we are supporting their needs.
CIOs are looking to companies like Speedcast for a partner that can enable their digital agenda from the edge to the Cloud.
Advanced analytics and workflow automation enabled through IoT, Edge computing, remote operations support, and secure data delivery will enable faster and better decision making and result in improved efficiency and reduced operational costs.
Remote satellite connectivity is core to these systems, but it is only one component of the overall information system: enabling and managing these systems end-to-end is the future of “satellite integrators,” and, more and more, that is where the differentiation will happen.
Speedcast is already there. With its truly global and highly resilient networks and operations as a foundation, Speedcast supports its suite of value-added services.
SMW: I understand that Speedcast has pursued a shift to a managed services model. Can you give us some specifics on that initiative?
P.J. Beylier: To start with, most of our customers require complex network solutions spanning satellites in various frequency bands (L, C, Ku, Ka, X…), fiber, and wireless technologies. They need large bandwidth to transport big data with a high level of resiliency, high levels of security, access to cloud services, and integration with their operational and business support systems, and most of them need to do it on the move.
Beyond that, last year we announced Speedcast Atlas™, a fully-managed end-to-end solution designed to support customers through the digitalization and automation of their remote worksites and processes.
Speedcast Atlas™ features a highly redundant global network of networks comprised of multiple satellite networks, and a non-satellite infrastructure consisting of fiber, wireless radio, and LTE technologies.
Atlas also offers a wide range of applications and value-added services delivered through a single service experience that extends across all of the markets we serve.
Of course, we realize that people are the key to a sucessful service business, and Speedcast Atlas is backed by global 24/7 technical support and local engineering presence all of the world.
All of these elements combined to create value for our customers in the form of managed information systems from the Edge to the Cloud.
SMW: As a next step, I understand that Speedcast is moving into the provision of value-added information services. Can you tell us more about this initiative? What will it look like, and what sort of information do you plan to connect? How will you analyze it, and how do you plan on delivering the actionable information to the customer? Will these services be optional, or will you bundle them into your service packages to justify higher pricing?
P.J. Beylier: In today’s market, service providers win by developing and deploying applications that meet the customer’s needs better, faster, and more cost-effectively than they can do themselves.
It may be engine performance monitoring for ships, security surveillance for remote facilities, operating remote sensors in the oil and gas industry, or information and entertainment delivery for the cruise market.
As I said earlier, we are moving beyond merely transporting that data but also helping our customers collect or create, aggregate, secure, store, and analyze the data.
Data will often come from the customer’s equipment, but also from Speedcast’s devices and products, and is aggregated, transferred to the cloud (private or public), analyzed and presented in a digital format that enables decision making or further automation.
We will more and more leverage partnerships to deliver the right end-to-end managed information service to our customer base.
For example, we have recently announced a partnership with Contiamo around data analytics. A growing number of our customers are looking to Speedcast to provide solutions that combine connectivity, applications, and services.
SMW: Artificial Intelligence could play an important role both in the delivery of bandwidth as well as in the analysis of customer-generated information. How can it be deployed to enhance network operations? What is Speedcast doing in terms of AI?
P.J. Beylier: As mentioned before, Speedcast Atlas™ is our fully managed end-to-end solution. One of the most important features we are developing is the ability to optimize the customer’s capacity usage on the fly by using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. Network traffic is always dynamic, and when users change location, move across satellite beams, between Ku and L-band, and into and out of terrestrial wireless coverage, it is much more so.
In this environment, the traditional way to ensure reliable service is to have excess bandwidth available. AI and predictive analytics create the opportunity to have the right bandwidth on hand when it’s needed, and to automatically select the combination of price/performance that the customer requires.
SMW: As you are aware, the adoption of VSAT is facilitating the implementation of IoT in two of your key markets, Energy and Maritime. In these markets, data from sensors is now being collected and being transmitted over VSAT into the cloud and is available for analysis.
Kongsberg’s Kognifai platform is an example. Early applications of data analysis include voyage optimization and predictive maintenance. Will Speedcast’s information focus go beyond network related analytics to deliver an analysis of customer- generated data i.e. using data from platforms like Kognifai?
P.J. Beylier: Our customers are increasingly investing in IoT technologies as a way to improve operational efficiency. In many cases, they are looking to Speedcast to support them in designing, deploying, and managing these IoT networks.
Pure connectivity is, of course, a key element of these solutions, but we are also developing the capability to help our customers manage and monitor these networks of sensors out in remote locations.
Today, we are helping customers manage networks of tens of thousands of connected devices.
Through partnerships, we are also bringing the ability to support customers in the aggregation, storage, and analysis of the data.
SMW: To date, maritime cargo markets have been very slow to undergo digital transformation. Do you see this as an attractive market for IoT based information services, or is the adoption of big data analysis and AI very far in the distant future? Will you enter this market?
P.J. Beylier: I wouldn’t say maritime cargo markets have been slow. Opportunity drives digital transformation.
Customers in the energy sector can justify heavy IT investment because the savings generated through data analytics can be substantial.
Commercial shipowners need help to prove that digital transformation will make their business better and generate incremental value. We are making progress on that journey.
We are already enabling an IoT network for one of the world’s biggest fleets that protects their refrigerated cargo against loss. As more shipping companies embark on their digital transformation, we will be there to support them with the right solutions.
SMW: I understand that Cruise operators have already developed AI based network management systems.
In particular, Carnival is highly advanced with the deployment of AI. Given that Cruise Operators are the most sophisticated users of AI and information services, is there still an opportunity to add value?
P.J. Beylier: Carnival is indeed at the forefront of innovation, and we are proud to count them as a very important customer.
Our market leadership in the cruise sector, which is pioneering a lot of information-based services, is indeed helping us better understand the way forward and how we can help our customers with their operational and business challenges and opportunities.
Leaders like Carnival often start their digital transformation journey by building and deploying new technologies themselves, but they also in certain cases, leverage partners. That gives a company like Speedcast opportunities to add value to what a customer may have already started or wants to scale out more broadly.
There are, of course smaller customers who do not have sufficient resources and want to significantly rely on Speedcast in terms of applications, thus looking for an end-to-end fully managed experience.
SMW: You mentioned that while value added service such as voyage optimization could generate high margins, they represent only a very small percentage of the revenue generated by connectivity services. So, wouldn’t you have to develop a very large information analytics business to impact EBITDA in a big way?
P.J. Beylier: It depends on how you define the impact of the analytics business. If it is just the sale of a particular information service, even at high margins, the impact of one customer is limited, it is a volume game.
However, data drives demand for more data. Meeting a customer's need for answers to their most pressing questions will provide that customer with a very attractive return. That will tend to create demand for answers to the next pressing question and require more data traffic to generate those answers. There is one thing we know from the history of communications and information technology: we always need more.
SMW: I understand you will be adding SD-WAN services. How will it benefit your customers?
P.J. Beylier: SD-WAN contributes on multiple levels. Firstly, it enables internal benefits for Speedcast in the form of agility, flexibility and efficiency in standard solutions we are deploying, and, for our customers, that translates into value and differentiation.
Secondly, SD-WAN is now key in the design of communication solutions to enable the next level of resiliency and seamlessness of services: for a customer wanting to reach the highest level of resiliency at a remote site - say 6 Sigma level, the tailored solution will have to mix diverse connectivity paths, and SD-WAN will help maximize the capacity usage while enabling agile resiliency across various paths available.
Lastly, Speedcast couples SD-WAN with other forms of technology such as Machine Learning; with that we create synergies and augment value and differentiation to our customers. Overall, we believe SD-WAN will ultimately become a core technology in our service offering and will create differentiation.
SMW: Satellite operators will soon be adding software defined radios and onboard processing capabilities to their next generation of satellites. Will these advancements change the service delivery Value Chain? What is the impact on satellite service integrators?
P.J. Beylier: We don’t see it changing the value chain. First it does change the economics: being a satellite operator remains an infrastructure play, a Capex play; being a service provider is a service play, an Opex play.
Also, as you can see from our discussion today, the value we create goes far beyond a satellite link. Greater flexibility in the space segment will preserve and even enhance the unique value of satellite in our solutions over time, and open new opportunities for service providers.
"In today’s market, service providers win by developing and deploying applications that meet the customer’s needs better, faster and more cost-effectively than they can do themselves."
Used in satellites in space and in mobility markets on sea, land and air, mechanically stabilized and electronically steerable antennas enable the critical links that make satellite broadband possible.
Quietly, a small Swiss Company, Swissto12, is changing the way these antennas are manufactured, replacing the age-old and complex machining and assembly processes with 3D printing. Using patented technology years in development, Swissto12 produces antennas that are less costly, significantly lighter and with performance superior to with machined components - all at a fraction of the cost of traditional processes.
To find out more about this innovative company, we met with the CEO, Dr. Emile Rijk. Here, in his own words, is his story.
SMW: I understand that you have been in business for 8 years. Could you give us a brief history of the company?
Swissto12 started as a spinoff of my PhD work at the Swiss Technology Institute which was initially focused on producing advanced radio frequency components for scientific instrumentation applications and radio astronomy.
At that time, I was also conducting some manufacturing R & D on the side to try and develop means by which we could manufacture good radio frequency components such as antennas and waveguides using 3D printing. That's how it all began.
The company itself was founded in 2011 and from 2011 to 2014, we were mostly in an R & D mode, developing the materials and processes that would allow us to 3D print antennas. By 2014, we had a technology breakthrough enabling us to successfully produce antennas with attractive RF performance and a weight and cost superior to other antennas available at that time – a step forward that allowed us to go after the satellite telecommunications market.
Early on, we were able to win our first significant customer contracts with the European Space Agency, Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defense and Space. That’s when the company really became commercial.
Today, we remain engaged with these customers in multiple space programs for low earth orbit and in GEO stationary orbit projects and have several missions going into space this year that use our products.
Based on successful execution of our early contracts, we were able to establish our reputation as leaders in the production of 3D printed antennas and sub systems, cutting edge flight hardware for communications satellites, waveguides and filters, thereby turning our years of research into a successful venture.
SMW: At our meeting you explained that you “print” the various parts out of a polymer and and metal and then metalize the polymer structures through a series of chemical baths. Can you tell us more about the process?
Dr. Emile de Rijk: Today, anyone can buy a 3D printer and print parts. What makes us unique is our RF design capability, a really comprehensive understanding of 3D printing technology and our ability to apply proprietary chemical coatings and copper or silver on polymer parts.
For antennas in some space applications, we actually print parts in metal, typically aluminum or specialty alloys.
After production, we put the parts through a chemical bath to smooth the surface and apply additional coatings, resulting in better RF performance.
We also do products for ground applications, an environment less harsh than in space and one that allows us to use metalized plastics.
Due to our weight advantage, our gimbled antennas can also be pointed with much smaller, less powerful motors. Take, for example, our aero antenna. A typical conventional gimbled aero antenna will weigh between 25 and 30 Kilograms. Our airborne gimbled assembly ways just 7.
Applications for our gimbled antennas extend to ground-based applications as well including “Communications on the Move” for military and use in high end enterprise markets such as trains and busses.
In terms of cost, the real savings are on antenna systems where we replace an entire system with a single, printed piece. We have had cases where costs were reduced by 50% to 70% vs. conventional manufacturing.
SMW: If I were a customer, can you explain how we would work together to generate the finished components? Please describe a typical engagement. How long does the process take from beginning to finished product?
Dr. Emile de Rijk: .
In each project, we begin by consulting with the customer to determine their product performance objectives and how 3D printing can be deployed to meet or exceed the specifications required. After the design phase, there is a productization phase followed by a manufacturing phase. The entire process is much faster than conventional design and manufacturing approaches for several reasons.
First, it’s much faster to 3D print a complex antenna than it is to machine one. The second is that you can print the entire system in one piece which removes the necessity to assemble a lot of small components which reduces labor cost. This means the entire cycle, from design to completion of a prototype, can be as short as 1-2 months. Of course, there are some very complex projects that can take longer.
Because we are 3D printing, we have a far greater flexibility in terms of design than with conventional machining technology, a fundamental manufacturing advantage that allows us to build what others can’t
SMW: What about high-volume manufacturing? For example, is your 3D printing process able to print hundreds or thousands of antennas?
Actually, 3D printing is really highly competitive in quantities up to thousands of parts. It’s not just for prototyping and because it’s a highly automated. Once you launch the process, you don’t need to “baby sit” the printer.
To meet demand, we have a manufacturing facility here in Lausanne, capable of producing significant product volumes, and we have additional capacity through other suppliers located nearby. Typically, our customers have shown up with orders for thousands of parts, and we have been able to meet their needs.
However, this is not a technology that’s suitable to produce millions of parts as in a mass consumer application. Usually, to produce such volumes, you would go to injection molding and other mass manufacturing techniques.
SMW: Is there a difference the material used to print ground-based antennas vs. those that are deployed in space?
Dr. Emile de Rijk: For ground based and aero systems, we use polymer and for space, we use metal. The metal production process uses a fine aluminum powder that is melted by a laser. In the process, the heat generated by the laser is sufficient to weld the bits of powder into the desired form. You actually print the part in a series of layers, and each layer is a slice of the part.
SMW: What about stability of the material in high and low temperatures? For example, an aircraft antenna might need to function in an environment of rapid and significant temperature changes.
Dr. Emile de Rijk: There are different scenarios for ground and airborne. Typical temperature ranges for aero applications are easily accommodated by both our polymer and metal materials. When you go to space applications, the temperature variations are even wilder. They can vary from + or – 200 degrees C.
For certain applications in space we use the metal alloy, Invar, which does not change in shape or size throughout temperature extremes.
SMW: How do you accomplish the phase shift in flat panel antennas?
Dr. Emile de Rijk: We actually are in the process of finalizing product development on a phased array antenna for a satellite payload. It’s a very important “block” of a satellite that uses an active antenna to electronically steer beams to the ground and follow users.
In such cases, we cannot print phase shifters. Instead, what we do is to print advanced antenna structures designed to accomodate the power amplifiers and phase shifters that are key components of an electronically steered array.
Ultimately, this very same technique can be used to build enterprise grade phased array antennas in both Ku and Ka-Bands for use in mobility applications, although, at this time, we are not pursuing that market.
Another market that I have not mentioned is the market for mobile telephony. It’s a market hungry for antenna solutions, especially in the 5G world where thousands of mini base stations will need to be connected. In that application, multi-beam phased array antennas and high throughput backhaul antennas would be potentially attractive solutions.
SMW: You are building many different types of antennas. Can you identify trends as to what types of antenna, patch, horn or microstrip, will be the most popular in the future and why?
Dr. Emile de Rijk: Antennas using patches and microstrips are typically found in lower cost antennas targeted at mass markets.
We focus on antennas that are mostly horn-based antennas, waveguide-based antennas, slotted arrays and electronically steered phased arrays that are used in satellite technology.
We see a big market for phased arrays on satellites to enable beam reconfiguration and change of a satellite mission during a satellite’s lifetime. It’s all about flexible payload which is a big topic in the industry today. Given the rapid evolution of the market, the adaptability offered by steerable phased arrays is rapidly becoming a critical requirement in spacecraft design.
SMW: What is your business model? How do you generate revenues? Do you work on a project basis or the number of parts produced? Please explain.
Dr. Emile de Rijk: We sell a product. In the satellite industry, you are in a program-based environment. In it, you go from one satellite program to another.
If you go to aero on "Comms-On-The-Move," you also work for programs and some may last for decades. You meet a client. You understand his requirements, and you develop the best tailored solution. Then, you sell that product in a repetitive fashion for years and years.
SMW: As you know, 3-D printing is used extensively in satellite manufacture. SpaceX, for example, has very large industrial grade 3-D printers in their manufacturing facilities. How can you compete with companies that have their own 3-D printing equipment and expertise?
Dr. Emile de Rijk: Someone who just has a 3D printer cannot just produce a high-performance RF product.
We have several advantages including proprietary surface treating and plating technology that is a real enabler of product performance. This patent-protected plating technology is a key element in the production of high-performance antenna products. Another advantage is our mastery of 3D printing technology which enables us to explore a lot of design avenues beyond the reach of many would be competitors who use conventional machining-based production techniques.
Finally, because we are a small company, we are fast and efficient, an advantage not shared by huge multi-departmental corporate bureaucracies. Often, speed alone enables us to stay ahead of larger players.
Swissto12 and The Magic of 3D Printed Antennas
An Interview with CEO, Dr. Emile de Rijk...
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"Because we are 3D printing, we have a far greater flexibility in terms of design than with conventional machining technology. This flexibility is a fundamental design and manufacturing advantage. It allows us to build what others can’t."
About Emile Rijk:
Emile is a passionate physicist and entrepreneur in the field of Telecommunications and Additive Manufacturing. He co-founded SWISSto12 and serves as its CEO.
Emile contributed to the technological inventions behind the company’s products and has helped the company in its growth from an early stage startup to a successfully growing business with international clients and partners.
Emile obtained a PhD in Physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), in Lausanne (Switzerland) after obtaining his MSc in Physics at the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and his his BSc in Physics at EPFL.
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"Intelie is a company focused exlcusively on lowering costs and enhancing efficiences in the oil and gas drilling industry. Its recent acquisiiton by RigNet is indicative of a strategy among VSAT providers to move beyond the provision of generic connectivity, differentiate its services and improve margins by offering high value-added information services."
Real-Time AI-Based Analytics for Oil and Gas Drilling
In offshore oil and gas drilling operations, huge amounts of capital are at risk. Offshore Rig contract rates run hundreds of thousands of dollars per/day, making delays or inefficiencies in the drilling process extremely costly, and creating demand for advanced real-time data acquisition and analysis capabilities that can support minute by minute decision making. That's what Intelie is all about.
It's a big data, and Artificial Intelligence-based company focused exclusively on lowering costs and enhancing efficiencies in the oil and gas drilling industry. Using its SQL-like database and AI-based platform, Intelie offers a unique combination of problem- solving tools.
Driven by machine learning and proprietary algorithms developed exclusively for the market, Intelie delivers real-time problem-solving and enhanced drilling efficiencies - all by processing massive amounts of incoming sensor data in real-time and applying machine learning techniques.
Its recent acquisition by RigNet is indicative of a strategy among VSAT providers to move beyond the provision of generic connectivity, differentiate services, and improve margins by offering value-added information services.
To find out more about what Intellie Live can do, we met with, Vice President and founder, Ricardo Clemente.,
SMW: What was the original mission of the company? How was the platform developed, and what were the first commercial applications?
Ricardo Clemente: Intelie is a highly sophisticated artificial intelligence platform designed to support decision making in oil and gas and other data-intensive industries. Through its ability to gather, consolidate and use Artificial Intelligence to analyze massive outputs of sensor-generated data in real-time, it’s able to provide actionable output to support decision making which, in capital intensive environments like oil and gas drilling, can potentially save millions of dollars. Essentially, that’s Intelie’s mission.
We started the company in 2009. The idea was borne out of my experiences while working in a very large data center equipped with thousands of servers. During the course of network operations, we experienced numerous alarms, many were multiple and simultaneous in nature and, therefore, difficult to interpret for all but the most experienced technicians.
At that time, I was working on my master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence and realized that machine learning could be used to “learn” over-time what combination of alarms was indicative of specific problems and what corrective actions were successfull in resolving the anomalies.
Based on the number of occurrences, we could then estimate the probability of cause, and future operators could use this information to take corrective actions. Leveraging this concept, we developed the Intelie Live platform and have since used it successfully in several data- intensive industries. At RigNet, we have applied the platform to oil and gas drilling operations.
SMW: Can you tell us more about how you have used the platform to improve efficiency and cut costs in oil drilling operations?
Ricardo Clemente: Our first experience with the use of the Intelie Live platform in the oil and gas industry was with Petrobras, the Brazilian Oil Company.
When drilling offshore in Brazil, operators need to penetrate a layer of salt. Due to high temperatures, the salt takes on the consistency of a paste, a phenomenon that clogs the bit, halts penetration and causes delays and millions of dollars in losses.
Using AI, we helped Petrobras predict the right mud weights to avoid being stuck. Since then, we have been able to define a whole series of other applications in the drilling and completion market.
For example, if you are drilling a well, and you want to maximize penetration rates, we create a model using historical data from the well and use it to predict the rates of penetration resulting from different combinations of mud weight, rpm of the drill and flow rate, thereby allowing the driller to optimize the drilling process.
Given the capabilities of our platform, we can also analyze data streaming from the drilling operation in real-time. For example, if we see an unusual combination of high pressure and extreme vibration, we can alert the driller.
Here’s what Petrobras said about our platform: Our motivation to use Intelie Live was cost reduction. The new tool will allow us to save about R$10 million in 2016. This estimate still does not include the potential drilling optimization (drilling time reduction and drilling cost reduction). The tool also helps the company to identify real-time data transmission problems, such as wrong unit conversions.
Besides, the software allows the integration of different specialist systems, such as Pronova and PWDa (Petrobras’ real-time drilling operational problem diagnostic software). The system is being successfully implemented in Petrobras and helps the Decision Support Centers personnel to make right and fast decisions. The Intelie software is very user- friendly, flexible and is a unique tool in the Oil and Gas industry. Roni Abensur Gandelman, Petrobras/ CENPES.
SMW: It's challenging to manage and analyze massive flows of data. How is it done?
Ricardo Clemente: That’s why we developed Intelie Pipes. It’s a query language and distributed in-memory analytics engine capable of analyzing hundreds of thousands of events per-second using lesser computational resources. Essentially, it’s an SQL-like platform. Allow me to explain.
In traditional analysis of time-series data, you send a query through a historical relational database and generating a response. However, when there is a need to query massive amounts of incoming data in real-time, this approach is unworkable. An SQL database incorporates an “upside down” approach. Instead of moving a query through static data, the data flows through the queries and is continuously processed.
Using an SQL solution like Intelie Pipes, queries are placed in the data stream, and the data is evaluated as it flows, facilitating real-time big data analysis.
For oil and gas operations, Intelie Pipes provides a compendium of pre-structured and drilling focused queries. It also embodies a programming language that allows engineers to build their own customized queries. So, the platform combines both AI and real-time data analysis capabilities.
SMW: In a satellite transmission environment, does your platform offer any special capabilities related to managing or optimizing the link?
Ricardo Clemente: We currently measure the satellite latency to each rig and use compression algorithms to maximize the efficiency of data flowing through the links. We also detect interruptions in the data flow and automatically re-order the data. When connectivity is resumed, we placed the most recent data at the front of the data stream to assure that it is analyzed first. This is critical, especially in when outages last for extended periods.
We also employ a specialized algorithm to time-stamp and, therefore, assure synchronization of data across the network.
To summarize, what we do in terms of connectivity is focused on four areas: 1) data and time synchronization; 2) data compression between the server on the rig and the Cloud; 3) the handling of real-time data; 4) ability to deal with missing data, and cybersecurity – an issue well managed by Cyphre, another RigNet company.
SMW: Can you tell us more about how you integrate Intelie Live into the IT infrastructure? Is it a Cloud-based platform?
Ricardo Clemente: Basically, there are two components to the platform, one that resides on the rig and collects data from the sensors – up to 10,000 per second per/rig - and one that is hosted on the public or the operator's own Cloud.
If located on the customer's network, security is maximized and, if required, they can grant us access to the platform. In this way, the operator can maintain full ownership of the data and control of the environment. Of course, they also have the option of us maintaining the data.
SMW: Can you describe the business model? For example, is this software as a service, running in the Cloud, and sold under an annual license fee? How do you price the service and generate revenue?
Ricardo Clemente: It’s a software as a service model. You monthly basis per/rig under an annual or multi-year contract.
SMW: There are quite a few companies involved in Big Data, including Big Panda, Cloudera, and others. How is Intelie Live different?
Ricardo Clemente: In this space, you can either deploy platforms from the companies you mentioned and invest the time and money to develop your own oil and gas related algorithms, or work with existing data analytics companies that lack the comprehensive analytics and user- programmable capabilities that we can provide.
In sum, we achieve our differentiation through our specialization in Oil and Gas, the number of unique “plug and play” algorithms we have developed, and the ability of our platform to allow the user to create their own custom solutions to solve new problems – all in an AI-based platform with analytical capabilities.
An Interview with Intelie Vice President of Business Development, Ricardo Clemente
Ricardo Clemente is Vice President of Business Development, RigNet and co-founded Intelie.
In that role , he supports new opportunities that incorporate Intelie’s suite of machine learning based applications.
Prior to the RigNet acquisition, at Intelie, he was responsible for product development and global expansion. There, he secured a series of industry awards for Intelie's itechnical capabilities drove the company's exponential growth.
When Intelie was acquired by RigNet in 2018, he was named Vice President of Business Development for Intelie’s services.
He received a Master of Science, Computer Science from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and completed the Entrepreneurship Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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By Lisa Dreher, Founder & CMO, GuideForce
The satellite industry is in the midst of a lot of change and uncertainty. Attendees to this year’s Satellite 2019 found an industry struggling to find its footing in a rapidly evolving telecommunications industry.
Satellite operators are rushing to accommodate disruption on several fronts. Historically, the satellite industry has been focused primarily on space-based communication with little regard or interest in terrestrial communication - wired or wireless. In the new world of digital commmunication, isolation is no longer an option. Companies like iDirect are leading the re-designing their modems to emulate 5G base stations, opening a data pathway direct from satellite into 5G networks.
As the emergence of OTT video threatens the broadcast side of the industry, satellite operators are moving to integrate into the digital world. Satellites with software defined radios and onboard processing will soon displace existing constellations as the network goes digital end to end. Miniaturization has enabled the emergence of CubeSats with capabilities that stretch beyond imaging into IoT data transmission and ultimately to delivery of broadband. Slowly, satellite operators are opening their eyes. The industry is no longer just a playground of multi-billion-dollar giants, and there are new opportunities for those willing to take big risks.
Investments in new space startups continue to accelerate. The most exciting aspect of the Satellite show this year was focused around new investment opportunities and fresh perspectives. Space is cool again, and it showed during Satellite 2019.
You need to look no further than the sessions with VCs and financing experts and two days of startup space pitches. From new innovative launch vehicles like Rocket Labs and Blue Origin to tagging of space assets, on-orbit servicing, in-space manufacturing, 3D printed components, space offers endless untapped possibilities.
Downward Price Pressures, Capacity Glut, and LEOs:
Some argue that when all the planned satellite constellations are online, there will be a huge glut of capacity driving prices down. Of course, demand will continue to increase, yet the big question is if it will keep pace with the supply that ultimately becomes available. What this comes down to is the market size and, in particular, what could be flawed estimates of consumer demand in what are now unserved markets.
While Mike Pence’s speech on the opening day of Satellite 2019 was full of references to LEOs, the real question that remains is how many of the estimated unserved billions can afford decent quality Internet services.
Should the number be much smaller than anticipated, LEO’s will be battling with HTS satellites in mobility and consumer markets already saturated by GEOs and shrinking with the encroachment of 4G and 5G and fiber.
Should this scenario come to pass, bandwidth prices could crash to rock bottom resulting in a major industry restructuring among satellite operators.
A Booming Market for Hardware and Software Providers:
As satellite operators struggle, the falling price of bandwidth will continue to open new markets for those companies that provide antennas, modems, and other hardware infrastructure. In LEO and MEO markets, the need for low-cost flat-panel antennas to connect millions is acute. The expected demand in this segment has created a “horse race” with well over a dozen participants with such notable participants as Kymeta, Phasor, Satixfy, Wafer, Ball Aerospace, Isotropic Systems, Alcan, ThinKom and many others.
While flat panel ESAs will focus on low cost, mass market connectivity, advancements in the mechanically stabilized market should not be discounted. Antenna manufacturer Intellian has recently introduced a highly innovative line of real-time, auto-switching and stabilized parabolic antennas. Their “flagship” auto-switching 2.4 Meter Tri-Band antenna has become a standard in the bandwidth-hungry cruise industry.
Prospects are also favorable for hub and modem infrastructure providers like iDirect, Newtec and Comtech EF Data, as well, since every new user of satellite services will require a modem. Also notable in this segment is the introduction of dynamically allocated SCPC links as well as the ability to switch between dynamic SCPC, dedicated SCPC, and TDMA on demand. Software providers will also find a significant opportunity as the market evolves.
The need to maximize the efficiency of satellite links is also important, and companies with innovative applications in this area, and companies like Xiplink, which can also be expected to do well. The end-to-end digitalization of networks will require a whole new generation of programs to software-defined radios, onboard processing, and SD-WAN. Innovation is also occuring in the manufacture of larger satellites.
Falling Barriers to Entry:
The cost and speed equation will continue to play a significant role in the satellite market. The opportunity to shrink the timelines associated with space investments could be the most disruptive opportunity yet. Players doing this could make an excellent investment.
A prime example is the revolutionary mass manufacturing of CubeSats. Built in droves instead of dribbles, unlike like traditional satellites, some CubeSat companies are building 40 or more satellites in a day using commercial off the shelf (COTS) components.
Because assembly line techniques also decrease the time of manufacturing, they lower the risk of obsolescence - a drawback characteristic of the extended development-to-launch time cycles associated with traditional GEOs. In addition, CubeSats can be launched by the tens or even hundreds.
A Disruptive New Player:
Amazon’s recent announcement of Project Kuiper, its ambitious plan to launch thousands of satellites, brings an added layer of risk for incumbent satellite providers and those well into the LEO projects, in particular, OneWeb and Starlink, who have chosen to target mass consumer markets.
Not only will Amazon have satellites, but it already has its ground stations and launch capabilities as well, not to mention enormous reserves of cash far beyond any satellite operator.
Perhaps what is even more significant is the fact that unlike other satellite operators, Project Kuiper is a logical extension of Amazon’s business, allowing it to connect more potential customers to its e-commerce site as well as further extend the availability of AWS to a larger corporate community.
For all the uncertainty in the satellite market, one thing is certain, where there is chaos, there is opportunity.
SATELLITE 2019 – A Search for Opportunities in the Chaos
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About Lisa Dreher:
Lisa has over 25 years business development, product management, and marketing leadership experience in the new space, satellite and information technology and communications (ICT) industries.
She brings a unique perspective that is at the intersection of enterprise IT, communications and satellite industries. Her work has helped new space and technology startups and established enterprises grow faster and define clear paths to profitable revenue.
She partners with CEOs and executives to navigate the startup through enterprise evolution and the development of partner ecosystems to scale their businesses faster.
Lisa serves as a Board Member for the Mobile Satellite Users Association (MSUA) and is the Chair of the Mobility Marketing Committee for MSUA.
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. Satellite Mobility World attends those events highlighted in blue.
* ***** AVIA at the Satellite Industry Forum 2019: 17-19 June at the Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore. Find out what trends the satellite industry will see play out this year. Expect to meet more than 230 attendees and hear from 45 thought leaders this June. Click the logo below for more information.
****Cellular Backhaul 2019: June 13: London.
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*****Global Connected Aircraft Summit: June 10-13: San Diego, CA . This is the premier conference for those interested in broadband connectivity on commercial aircraft.
****CommunicAsia: Singapore June 18-20: This is the premier satellite industry event in Asia. Not to be missed.
*******Small Satellite Conference: Logan, Utah, August 8th-12th 2019. While Logan is a bit out of the way, this is the primer conference in the industry. With most of the innovation in satellite coming from this segment, it's a must to attend. Last year, over 3,000 attendees from all over the globe attended - far more than any other conference focused on the topic.
***Nor Shipping: Oslo: June 4-7: Important exhibition for those following the Scandinavian shipping industry and the maritime VSAT Market.
******World Satellite Business Week: Paris, France: Typically, the 2nd week of September (dates to be announced) For those seeking the opportunity to meet and easily network with top executives of the satellite industry, this is the premier conference of the year.
***Monaco Yacht Show: 25-28 September: Monaco: For those interested in the use of VSAT on yachts, this is a key event.
Upcoming and Recommended Satellite Mobility Events
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