Volume V, No. IX October 2020
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 Connectiviy 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
Satellite mobility World
In This Issue...
Editorial: "Starlink: Mars or Bust?"
"The Evolution of Military Satellite Markets" with UltiSat's Moe Abutaleb and David Myers
"Business Jets - Poised to Return to the Skies with Steve Moses, Sr. Director at iDirect
"SmartSky Beats Gogo's Patent Challenge"
"For Former OneWeb CEO, Brian Holz, The Future is 5G"
"Isotropic Networks: Prospering in the Era of Consolidation" with CEO, Hank Zbierski
Welcome to the October 2020 Issue of Satellite Mobility World. As we move into the final quarter, the satellite industry is being re-shaped.
In the Military satellite market, the new U.S. Space Force is changing long-standing procurement practices. The new Agency now handles both military and commercial satellite procurement. In our interview, The Evolution of Military Satellite Markets, UltiSat CEO Moe Abutaleb, and incoming CEO and President, David Myers, share their latest insights into the Agency's new procurement practices, including its evolving preference for external contractor vs. in-house network integration.
Our next big stories are in aviaton. While the commercial airline business struggles under a cloud of COVID, there's new life in the business jet markets. Steve Moses of iDirect updates on what's driving the rebound in Biz Jets: Poised to Return to the Skies. In other aero news, SmartSky has defeated Gogo's Patent Challenge. In SmartSky Beats Gogo's Patent Challenge, find out what this means in the race to deploy the new, high-speed ATG networks.
Next, Former OneWeb CEO Brian Holz's tells us about his latest venture, Mangata Networks. Learn how he's using the power of satellite backhaul to multi-cast directly to the edge of 5G Networks. Lastly, in Prospering in the Era of Consolidation Isotropic Networks CEO, Hank Zbierski shares how he successfully competes against the mega-integrators.
Join us for another entertaining issue of Satellite Mobility World!
Satellite Mobility World
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Table of Contents...
"Hot News and Commentary" (pg.3)
"SmallSat News and Ventures" (pg. 4)
Editorially Speaking: "Starlink - Mars or Bust?" (pg. 5)
"The Evolution of Military Satellite Markets" with UltiSat CEO Moe Aubtaleb and incoming CEO and President, David Myers (pg. 8)
"Biz Jets: Poised to Return to the Skies" with iDirect Sr. Director, Steve Moses (pg. 20)
"SmartSky Beats Gogo's Patent Challenge" (pg. 26)
"For Former OneWeb CEO Brian Holz, The Future is 5G" Pg.29
" Isotropic Networks: Prospering in an Era of Consolidation" with CEO, Hank Zbierski (pg. 38)
Upcoming Satellite Industry Events (Pg.48)
SATELLITE MOBILITY WORLD
Comtech Telecommunications Corp. and Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. Terminate Merger Agreement and Settle Litigation
MELVILLE, N.Y., and PETAH TIKVA, ISRAEL; OCTOBER 5, 2020 5:30AM EST -- Comtech Telecommunications Corp. (Nasdaq: CMTL) (“Comtech”) and Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (Nasdaq: GILT; TASE: GILT) (“Gilat”) announced today that the companies have agreed to terminate the merger agreement first announced on January 29, 2020 and have settled all pending litigation in the Delaware Court of Chancery. In connection with the termination and settlement agreement, Comtech has agreed to make a payment of $70.0 million to Gilat.
The merger termination and the settlement agreement have been approved by each company’s board of directors and are effective immediately. The settlement calls for dismissal of the litigation, with prejudice. The trial of the litigation which was scheduled to begin today in Delaware Court of Chancery was accordingly cancelled.
OneWeb and Arianespace to Restart Launches in December 2020
LONDON: September 21, 2020 – OneWeb, the London-based communications company, has amended its existing launch contract with Arianespace. Launches for OneWeb are scheduled to resume in December 2020, putting the company on track to complete the deployment of its full global constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites by the end of 2022.
Arianespace's amended agreement provides for 16 launches placing another 34-36 satellites per launch into OneWeb’s growing constellation. OneWeb’s return-to-flight launch in December will increase OneWeb’s in-orbit fleet to 110 satellites.
OneWeb plans to commence commercial services by the end of 2021. Initial regions will include: The United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic seas and Canada.
This amended agreement, which remains subject to confirmation and consummation of OneWeb’s restructuring plan, is an important milestone for OneWeb as it plans to emerge from the Chapter 11, with HM Government and Bharti Global as the prevailing bidders in OneWeb’s bankruptcy sale process. It confirms that the company will be well-placed to offer enterprise-grade connectivity services for communities, businesses, and governments in a short timeframe.
OneWeb Satellites, OneWeb’s joint venture with Airbus, is responsible for manufacturing the satellites and is ramping up the pace of production and execution to meet the upcoming launch schedule.
OneWeb anticipates the closing of the planned sale of the company in Q4 2020, subject to confirmation and consummation of OneWeb’s restructuring plan, court approval and regulatory consents.
Isotropic Systems Signs Contract with SES GS to Initiate Multi-Orbit Trials of Next-Gen Multi-beam Antenna Technologies for U.S. Military
Isotropic Systems’ prototype multi-beam terminals to be trialed at SES teleport and U.S. Army base
Reading / Reston, September 24, 2020 – SES Government Solutions (SES GS), a fully-owned affiliate of SES, and Isotropic Systems, a leading developer of transformational broadband terminal technologies, today announced a two-phased antenna evaluation contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, working in close collaboration with the U.S. Army Research Engineering Team, for tests of Isotropic Systems’ multi-beam terminal over SES’s O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation to ultimately unleash next-gen connectivity across the battlefield.
It is the first customer contract between Isotropic Systems and SES Government Solutions and follows on from the significant developmental partnership currently ongoing between the two companies to produce scalable, cost-effective terminals capable of providing government, military, and commercial access to the existing O3b constellation and the groundbreaking O3b mPOWER system set to launch late next year.
The U.S. Air Force and Army, through the innovative Defense Experimentation Using Commercial Space Internet (DEUCSI) program, will review a prototype of Isotropic Systems’ optical beamforming antenna and its ability to connect simultaneously with two satellite constellations at GEO and MEO. The unique multi-beam capability will enable the armed forces to deliver data at the tactical edge by leveraging capacity from multiple commercial satellites and a military satellite over a single antenna platform.
First phase over-the-air (OTA) tests are scheduled to be completed by early fall, followed by the phase two trials in early 2021 where the Isotropic Systems optical lens technology will be utilized to demonstrate a two full performance beam connection. One beam will link with an SES geostationary (GEO) satellite, while another full performance optical beam will establish a simultaneous connection with SES’s O3b MEO satellite constellation.
Intellian Announces New Brand Identity
Seoul, Korea, October 1, 2020 - Intellian is proud to announce the launch of its new corporate brand identity. This marks another significant milestone in the company’s evolution from an innovative antenna manufacturer to today's position as a leading technology and solutions provider.
Intellian empowers connectivity for its customers across multiple industry sectors, bringing high-speed data to remote locations and mission-critical environments, connecting people and the world. The company’s rapid growth is testament to its success in being first to market with innovative and reliable products whilst building enduring partnerships based on trust.
The launch of its new brand is yet another example of how Intellian continues to lead the way. Far from being simply a visual change, it underlines a commitment to continue to evolving and exploring fresh initiatives to improve both partner and customer experiences. The revitalized look includes a new logo and visual identity, with a strapline of ‘Empowering Connectivity’ encapsulating Intellian’s declared mission objectives. In addition, the company will launch a new website as a central resource for engaging with partners and customers, providing new support tools and more efficient ways of sharing information.
Fundamental to maintaining the great reputation and trust Intellian has built within the industry, an increased focus on the purpose and culture of the global team is a core tenet of Intellian’s clearly defined vision for the future. Culture has been key to the success of Intellian, with agility and creative thinking vital to its customer-centric approach. The new vision and branding paves the way to build on those strengths, as the team expands and engages with customers in new markets.
Iridium Partner Collins Aerospace Passes Development Milestone for Iridium Certus®
Collins Aerospace low-gain Iridium Certus antenna successfully connects to operational Iridium® satellites, keeping it on track for its 2022 product launch
MCLEAN, Va., September 30, 2020 - Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: IRDM) partner Collins Aerospace continues to make progress in bringing its new Iridium Certus aviation terminal to market. The company passed a major development milestone and is the first among Iridium Certus aviation partners to connect an aviation-grade antenna, in this case an Active Low-Gain Antenna (ALGA), to the Iridium constellation.
Collins Aerospace’s Iridium Certus solution is designed to meet the connectivity needs of commercial, business and government aircraft. The service will enable a variety of capabilities for cockpit safety, graphical weather, electronic flight bags, enhanced aircraft reporting, and other operational aircraft services for airline and government customers. It will offer this through small form factor antennas currently in testing, and terminals that are ideal for operators of smaller aircraft requiring internet connectivity.
Collins Aerospace was announced as an Iridium service provider for the aviation industry in 2018, and continues to make progress in its solution to enable a faster, more reliable SATCOM experience. Enabled by Iridium’s upgraded constellation, Iridium Certus is a multi-service communications platform that offers the highest speed L-band connectivity and only truly global mobile satellite service on the market.
The Certus solution is designed to meet the connectivity needs of commercial, business and government aircraft. The service will enable a variety of capabilities for cockpit safety, graphical weather, electronic flight bags, enhanced aircraft reporting, and other operational aircraft services for airline and government customers. It will offer this through small form factor antennas currently in testing, and terminals that are ideal for operators of smaller aircraft requiring internet connectivity.
Collins Aerospace was announced as an Iridium service provider for the aviation industry in 2018, and continues to make progress in its solution to enable a faster, more reliable SATCOM experience. Enabled by Iridium’s upgraded constellation, Iridium Certus is a multi-service communications platform that offers the highest speed L-band connectivity and only truly global mobile satellite service on the market. “Collins Aerospace continues to play a critical role in bringing the next-generation L-band broadband solution to customers around the world,” says Iridium Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Bryan Hartin. “The progress of its Iridium Certus SATCOM solution is paving the way for safer and more connected skies.”
Kymeta™u8 Terminal Receives Commercial Authorization from FCC for Q4 2020 Launch
REDMOND, Wash, September 29, 2020 --Kymeta (www.kymetacorp.com)—the communications company making mobile global—announced today that the FCC has granted blanket authorization for the operation of its next-generation electronically steered, flat-panel ESIM (earth station in motion) platform, the Kymeta™ u8 terminal. The authorization is a major milestone toward the release of the u8. In addition, Kymeta has received type approvals from several leading satellite service operators (SSO’s) that include Intelsat, Echostar, Hellasat, KTSat, and Telesat for use with Kymeta u8 terminal.
“Receiving the FCC authorization, puts us one step closer to releasing our next-generation solutions into the market and at scale,” said Walter Berger, President, and COO, Kymeta. “We have the only hybrid technology that is part of a global land mobile ecosystem. The market needs a connectivity solution they can rely on and we are positioned well to be a driving force of what lies ahead for mobile communications.”
The u8 is the world’s only commercially available electronically steered, flat-panel ESIM platform with no moving parts, built specifically for mobility and designed for the needs of DoD, government, first responder, and commercial customers. Combining the u8 with Kymeta’s hybrid satellite-cellular connectivity services, Kymeta Connect™, transforms the purchase and consumption of mobile data with all-inclusive hardware, hybrid connectivity, global support, and network services in a monthly subscription starting at $999. The u8 is available as an antenna, a terminal, or in flyaway configurations and is available for pre-order today.
The u8 covers the full Ku-band with improved efficiency and will be LEO upgradeable at a later time. The u8 offers a low-profile form factor with native DC power input for easy integration into mobile platforms, always-on connectivity, and cloud-enabled solutions. With a multi-WAN satellite and cellular configuration, the u8 terminal provides communications anywhere.
To date, Kymeta has deployed 25 beta units globally to facilitate real-world testing of the u8 terminal and Kymeta Connect connectivity services. The beta trial program kicked off last month with select partners and customers across the globe in preparation for the fourth-quarter launch. Additionally, Kymeta recently announced securing an approximate $85 million financing round, led by Bill Gates, to aggressively accelerate new product development and commercialization of their next-generation solutions, the Kymeta u8, and Kymeta Connect.
Speedcast Deploys Nokia Industrial Private LTE/4.9G Solutions Globally
Houston — September 29, 2020 — Speedcast International Limited (ASX: SDA), the world’s most trusted communications and IT services provider, announced today a long-term agreement with Nokia to deploy its industrial-grade private wireless solutions globally via the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud. Through this new collaboration, Speedcast is providing remote backhaul, data and voice connectivity to enterprise customers, covering areas up to a radius of 30 km and supporting hundreds of users from a single cell. The network will also support critical, high-bandwidth applications with low latency requirements.
“Nokia Digital Automation Cloud meets stringent requirements across multiple industries to deliver network coverage, capacity, mobility, reliability, quality of service and security, while connecting a wide variety of devices,” said Stephan Litjens, GM Digital Automation at Nokia. “By integrating with Speedcast we can significantly improve local connectivity in remote locations.”
Nokia’s 5G-ready Digital Automation Platform provides industrial-grade high-bandwidth private wireless networks – both outdoors and deep indoors – to increase efficiency and productivity for industry verticals, including manufacturing, supply chain, mining, utilities, oil and gas, as well as large enterprise compounds outside of standard cellular connectivity.
Acting as a private wireless network that brings IoT to enterprises, the Nokia private LTE/ 4.9G solution opens up new opportunities such as smart manufacturing, predictive maintenance, remote operations, and machine-to-machine communication, in addition to critical-voice and data solutions. Nokia’s cloud solution provides high reliability and security in any challenging conditions. Leveraging the future-proof solution, users can scale up and down according to changing needs. The solution additionally provides for flexible business models to suit the enterprise requirements.
Combining the power of the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud with Speedcast core connectivity options — including C-band, Ku-band, Ka-band, MEO and LEO backhaul — will increase the reach of several Speedcast products:
Speedcast IoT Solutions: with LTE-enabled devices solutions from the Speedcast IoT portfolio, customers can seamlessly connect to headquarter locations and the Internet. The cloud-based Speedcast IoT Center provides lifecycle support of LTE as well as satellite devices and offers customers full deployment and management capabilities of IoT devices on Nokia private LTE networks at scale.
Speedcast Speedtalk: the Speedtalk voice app allows users to capture live footage from remote sites and provides instant communications with remote teams. Private LTE/ 4.9G will extend the coverage of remote camp areas further compared with standard WiFi, allowing for better access to Speedtalk via smartphone apps. In addition, private wireless networks will enable superior QoS and high-speed mobility.
IPTV: the Nokia Private LTE solution will also provide higher bandwidth capacity for Speedcast’s IPTV solutions to handheld devices.
“Nokia Digital Automation Cloud is a plug-and-play platform optimized for low latency and ultra-reliability, which are critical factors for remote communications,” said Chris Hill, Chief Technology Officer at Speedcast. “Bringing this technology to our customers’ remote sites will enable the use of bandwidth-intensive and low-latency solutions such as CCTV video analytics, drone surveillance, and personnel push to video applications. This is a game-changer for customers who need to keep personnel safe and operations running efficiently in hard-to-reach locations such as the Energy and Mining sectors.”
Xiplink Joins Envistacom's Transport Virtualization Initiative
XipLink brings SCPS TCP Acceleration, WAN optimization, Link Balancing/Bonding and other related network enhancement technologies to Envistacom’s Transport Virtualization Ecosystem
ATLANTA – September 23, 2020 – Envistacom, LLC, a leading technology enterprise which delivers advanced communications, cyber and related services to customers in the aerospace, defense, and intelligence communities, announced today that XipLink, Inc. has teamed up with Envistacom to deliver Space Communications Protocols Specification (SCPS) Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) Acceleration, WAN optimization and related networking technologies to customers through Envistacom’s Transport Virtualization Ecosystem (TVE).
Delivering adjacent applications through Envistacom’s TVE enables users to enhance their deployed networks without adding additional hardware appliances that can present technical and logistical challenges.
“Several years ago, we started moving XipOS software from dedicated appliances to virtualized solutions in order to provide ultimate flexibility for our customers,” said Jack Waters, CEO of XipLink. “Envistacom has parlayed this virtual capability into a powerful COTS hardware offering while also leveraging solutions like XipLink Virtual (XV) into the Transport Virtualization Ecosystem for a convenient marketplace for Federal and Commercial customers. We are excited to be one of the initial partners with Envistacom to ensure modern day delivery methods to the marketplace.”
WAN optimization is one of many adjacent networking applications that can be incorporated onto non- proprietary, virtualization-enabled, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to enhance network infrastructures without the need for additional space, power, or cooling. Other complementary networking applications range from cyber sensors to intrusion detection and protection solutions, firewalls, encryption, and many more. The ability to download and utilize network enhancements on the fly will provide for more flexible and resilient networks.
“We are pleased that XipLink will bring their technologies to our Transport Virtualization Ecosystem,” said Michael Geist, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Technology at Envistacom. “XipLink is world- renowned for their offerings in the optimization of dynamic wireless links that face challenges in network latency, high bit error rates, or infeasible asymmetric connection conditions. We look forward to working together to help our customers enhance their future networks,” Geist added.
SmartSky Beats Gogo’s Patent Challenge
Research Triangle, NC – Sept. 17, 2020 – SmartSky Networks announces that it has summarily defeated industry incumbent Gogo’s challenge brought before the US Patent & Trademark Office (‘USPTO’) nearly six months ago, proving SmartSky’s longstanding position that its ‘947 patent, which covers some of the most essential features of a 5G air-to-ground (‘ATG’) network, like beamforming and seamless cell tower handoffs, was and shall remain valid.
“Gogo has been proven unequivocally wrong in its challenge. We continue to believe they will have great difficulty commercializing their future 5G network without infringing on SmartSky’s expansive intellectual property portfolio,” said SmartSky Chairman and CEO Haynes Griffin. “Gogo has said many times in the past that our IP didn’t matter and wasn’t valid. The fact that Gogo bothered to challenge this patent clearly indicates that our IP does in fact matter. Moreover, the fact that the USPTO ruled in SmartSky’s favor based only on a subset of SmartSky’s opening arguments reinforces the strength of this patent since it was likely targeted due to a combination of its relevance and Gogo’s perception of their own likelihood of success. Furthermore, this ruling reaffirms the strength of SmartSky’s entire portfolio. Now everyone can know that Gogo’s assertions have been thoroughly debunked.”
In dismissing Gogo’s challenge, the USPTO ruled that Gogo “has not demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of prevailing in demonstrating that at least one challenged claim” among the 20 claims of the patent, is unpatentable.
“This win comes in a forum that statistically favored Gogo, and was made in connection with an asset Gogo likely handpicked for attack with the best shot that they could take. The failure of their effort this early in the process is both a repudiation of the baseless claims Gogo has made regarding our patent portfolio in the past, and an important validation of our claims to the contrary. That said, we understand that the importance of our portfolio may dictate further challenges, and we remain poised to defend both the portfolio and the intellectual property it protects,” said SmartSky President Ryan Stone.
In April 2020, Gogo challenged one (No. 9,312,947) of SmartSky’s now more than 180 patents supporting its in-deployment, next generation ATG network with 5G technologies. SmartSky had three months to respond, which it did, and the USPTO then had three months to determine whether Gogo’s challenge was worth further review. It was not.
With this decisive win behind it, SmartSky is focused on finishing its network deployment and launching commercially in 2021. “The market leader tried to undercut SmartSky, but justice has been served and the little guy has won this battle,” Stone said. “We are an innovation driven company and have developed key enabling technologies to transform connectivity in aviation. The USPTO ruling rightfully affirms the intellectual property protection SmartSky has earned on just one of the many patents we’ve developed critical to advancing inflight connectivity.”
SKYTRAC Becomes the Newest Aviation Terminal Manufacturer Using the Iridium CertusTM 9810 Transceiver
MCLEAN, VA., September 23, 2020 – Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) today announced SKYTRAC as the newest aviation Value Added Manufacturer (VAM) for the Iridium Certus 9810 transceiver. Already an Iridium Certus service provider, SKYTRAC will now be able to both manufacture equipment and provide service to customers across the aviation industry.
Designed for optimal size, weight and power (SWaP), SKYTRAC’s new SDL-350 terminal will be a 2-MCU satellite communications system, planned for market introduction in 2021. The new terminal will offer broadband speeds of up to 352 kbps both to and from the aircraft. Built for the only L-band broadband platform providing truly global connectivity, the SDL-350 also takes advantage of the Iridium Certus platform’s flexibility to scale device speeds, sizes, and power requirements based on the needs of the end-user.
SKYTRAC is also producing the ISAT-200A-08 terminal utilizing Iridium Certus 9770 with 22/88 kbps midband speeds that will bring a 10x bandwidth improvement as compared to Iridium’s narrowband services, to operators looking to streamline their efficiencies with VoIP communications, FDR streaming capability, real-time alerts, advanced situational awareness and more.
“Iridium Certus ushers in a new era of globally available connectivity for operators looking for higher bandwidth satellite communication solutions,” mentioned Jan van der Heul, SKYTRAC’s Vice President of Sales. “We’re excited to introduce the two new terminals to the market and look forward to working with operators around the world to enhance their operations through the capabilities we provide.”
The SDL-350 terminal will combine SKYTRAC’s historical strengths in flight data acquisition and satellite communications with processing power and Iridium Certus bandwidth. This makes it an ideal solution for applications like flight data monitoring, onboard electronic flight bag (EFB) capabilities, real-time health and usage monitoring (HUMS), medical data transfer, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications, Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) compliance functions, situational awareness, connected aircraft solutions, large file transfers, and more, depending on the terminal’s bandwidth level.
“As a new VAM for the Iridium Certus 9810 and a valued long-time Iridium partner, SKYTRAC continues to produce full-service data-driven solutions to the aviation industry,” says Bryan Hartin, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Iridium. “We’re excited to see SKYTRAC expand their product offerings by designing, developing and manufacturing new products utilizing the Iridium Certus 9810 and Iridium Certus 9770 transceivers.”
The wide-array of capabilities both the new terminals will offer provides solutions for operators in all segments of aviation for both rotary and fixed-wing markets. The new terminals will provide truly global capabilities for operators in aerial firefighting, business aviation, Emergency Medical Services/Search and Rescue, air transport, oil and gas, law enforcement, and more.
Hot News and Commentary
USD 87M in Series C for ICEYE to Continue Conquering Boundaries in Radar Satellite Imaging
ICEYE Continues to Set the Pace for the Market for Synthetic-Aperture Radar (SAR), with Four Additional Satellites Planned for 2020, and Eight in 2021
Helsinki, FINLAND – September 22, 2020 – ICEYE, a World-leading SAR data provider, today announced the closing of a larger than planned $87M Series C funding, led by return investor True Ventures, with a significant additional investment by OTB Ventures. ICEYE has so far successfully launched 5 satellite missions, starting with the first ever small SAR satellite launched in January 2018. The company is launching 4 additional SAR satellites this year and is on course to launch at least an additional 8 in 2021. This will grow the existing operational constellation into a capability that is unique in the World. To date, ICEYE has raised a total of $152M in financing.
“ICEYE is enabling others to solve immeasurably difficult problems that affect the lives of millions of people around the world. Our team has built a reputation of delivering results to our customers with unmatched timelines and quality of service. We are proud of that reputation, and we intend to maintain it,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE. “This round of investment ensures our SAR satellite constellation will reach a size of at least 12 satellites in 2021, guaranteeing 4 times a day revisit rate globally.”
ICEYE designs, manufactures and operates its SAR satellites in-house, with manufacturing timelines brought down to months for its spacecraft. Since the successful January 2018 launch of the first ICEYE SAR satellite, the company has delivered SAR imaging services and new capabilities to global customers. These years of operation have included many world-first achievements for small SAR satellites, such as 0.25 meter resolution data and SAR video. Recently, ICEYE has demonstrated record time data deliveries of 5 minutes from the start of data downlink to having processed images available on customer systems.
ICEYE intends to use this financing round to continue accelerating the growth of its SAR satellite constellation with more spacecraft, increasing data availability for all continents through 24/7 customer operations, continuing the development of ground-breaking radar imaging capabilities, and for establishing spacecraft manufacturing in the US. The financing round is significantly larger than originally planned, which is especially noteworthy during the economically turbulent year of 2020. It is a powerful sign of trust from the financial community that ICEYE’s business and operational model works, and that the organization is accelerating towards further global impact.
Given the unprecedented frequency and scale of climate driven changes in the weather, crop patterns, fires, urban living and human activities, there is a critical immediate need for real-time information and data access on a global scale. This access can be used for saving lives during humanitarian and disaster response situations, and for economic decision making during moments of crisis.
ICEYE has provided commercial radar satellite imaging worldwide for several years, enabling ICEYE’s customers to respond to oil spills, hurricanes, deforestation and many more use cases. Along with these active customer imaging operations, the ICEYE SAR satellite constellation has seen an unprecedented development cycle of new imaging capabilities and new spacecraft generations.
Astranis Announces Former NASA Administrator Dan Goldin as Key Advisor, Clears Critical Design Review for Alaska Satellite
September 17, 2020 (San Francisco, CA) — Microsatellite developer Astranis announced today that former NASA Administrator Dan Goldin will be joining as a senior advisor to the company and chairing its new Technical Advisory Board. In addition, the company is announcing the completion of the Critical Design Review (CDR) for their first commercial program, a satellite for Pacific Dataport Inc. in Alaska. The CDR was completed under the supervision of Goldin with the participation of some of the space industry’s most experienced technical minds.
Administrator Goldin was the longest-serving NASA Administrator in NASA’s storied history, serving under Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. During his tenure he oversaw the Mars Pathfinder and the use of a “contact lens” to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. He personally developed the conceptual design of the James Webb Space Telescope, and oversaw the design, development, and initial deployment of the International Space Station. “I am joining Astranis because this is a transformational approach to satellite telecommunications,” said Goldin.
Administrator Goldin is the inaugural chair of Astranis’s Technical Advisory Board, a group that includes a dozen hand-selected experts with decades of experience designing, manufacturing, and operating many of the world’s most complex and powerful space systems in addition to some of the noteworthy smaller and more agile breakthrough systems. The team has more than 200 years of collective experience between them. Advisory board members include Dr. fred harris, known as one of the early fathers of the software-defined radio, Dr. Roger Myers, the former General Manager of Aerojet Redmond and a world-renowned expert in space propulsion, Karl Clausing, former Vice President at Space Systems Loral and Executive Director of the SSL antennas organization, Dr. Darren Garber, mission analysis and operations expert from TRW/Northrop Grumman, Millennium Space Systems and NXTRAC, Bob Kaemmerer, NRO Pioneer and former Chief Engineer for TRW Defense Systems Group, and Dr. John Neer, founder and former CEO of Space Imaging, the first commercial space imaging company and executive lead at Lockheed for the innovative Iridium satellite program.
“I have participated in many design reviews and have seen many innovations in space over the years,” said Goldin, “but what Astranis is doing is truly unique. They have managed to pack what seems like an impossible quantity of communications capacity into a spacecraft with small form factor. To see such a young company present such a mature Critical Design Review was impressive. Our Technical Advisory Board is enthusiastic about supporting Astranis through this inaugural mission and looks forward to many more planned to come.”
This Critical Design Review was a three-day technical deep dive into the details of the satellite system to assess its expected performance against its mission objectives. The Astranis team presented the status of all designs and hardware test results to Astranis’s Alaska customer, Pacific Dataport Inc., and the Technical Advisory Board.
Pacific Dataport Inc. CEO Chuck Schumann said, “I am incredibly pleased with the Astranis team and their continued progress on our first satellite. Completion of the CDR milestone at this time is a momentous achievement. Pacific Dataport is looking forward to the launch of this satellite, the first of its kind both for Alaska and for the world, in order to provide much needed broadband service for Alaska.”
Astranis CEO John Gedmark said, “The caliber and experience of the technical experts who have joined the Astranis family speak volumes to the promise of our technical program. We are committed to make GEO satellites more efficient and to produce them more rapidly than anyone else in the industry. We don’t think we have to sacrifice reliability to make that happen. This new group of advisors brings the experience of building many hundreds of satellites and managing spacecraft programs worth many tens of billions of dollars. We are honored to have them contribute to the success of our first commercial satellite program and beyond.”
The Technical Advisory Board will be contributing not only to program oversight, but also to new, cutting-edge technology development efforts Astranis will be undertaking to dramatically lower the costs of deploying affordable new bandwidth around the world.
Eutelsat Awarded Service Contract by Ovzon for Operation of Ovzon-3 Satellite
Paris, 24 September 2020: Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) and Ovzon AB have entered into a long-term agreement for the provision of satellite control services following a competitive bidding process involving all major satellite operators.
Under the agreement, Eutelsat will ensure the control of Ovzon-3, the first satellite procured by Ovzon, over its full operational life. The agreement reinforces a long-standing cooperation between Ovzon and Eutelsat, where Ovzon has operated capacity on a number of Eutelsat satellites since 2012.
Ovzon-3 is a powerful geostationary satellite with multiple high-performance steerable beams and a revolutionary newly developed On Board Processor. To be launched in the fourth quarter of 2021, it will address the mobile connectivity segment.
Commenting on the deal, Magnus René, Chief executive Officer of Ovzon AB said: “Ovzon’s current service offering, through leased capacity, will be significantly expanded with the launch of our new satellite, Ovzon-3, in 2021. Ovzon-3 will provide dramatically enhanced performance and functionality and is an important step to further revolutionize mobile broadband by satellite, offering the highest bandwidth with the smallest terminals. We are delighted to rely on the expertise of Eutelsat to assure the operation of Ovzon-3. Eutelsat shares our vision to bring high performance mobile broadband to users unserved by terrestrial infrastructure”.
The Largest Drone Tech Investment in Denmark of €2 million
Odense, Denmark, September 10, 2020: QuadSAT, a Danish company that is revolutionising test and measurement of satellite antennas, announced today that it has closed a €2 million Pre-Series A Investment, the largest venture investment in a Danish drone tech company in history. The round was led by Seraphim Capital, the world’s first venture fund dedicated to SpaceTech, Vaekstfonden, the Danish state’s investment fund, and Angel Investor, Helge Munk.
The use of space is key to solving significant challenges faced in the world – from ensuring worldwide connectivity to providing data to solve environmental issues. As a multitude of sectors start looking toward space, the number of satellites in orbit will increase significantly in the next few years.
With the amounts of communication satellites in use today, levels of radiofrequency (RF) interference are increasing year for year. If not managed properly the accelerating growth of the satcom industry will drown the radio spectrum in RF-interference, reducing bandwidth and causing connection breakouts. Poorly performing and inaccurate ground antennas are the main source of RF-interference. For antenna research and development, and for approval to bring new antennas to market, access to testing is essential.
For the antenna ground segment to keep up with the rapid development of satellites in orbit there is a great need for a cost-effective, flexible, and efficient testing solution. QuadSAT revolutionises antenna testing by combining state of the art drone- and RF-technology with custom-developed software making automated antenna test and measurement available anytime and anywhere.
Andrian Buchi, CTO and co-founder, says: “We see a high level of interest for our technology, not only in antenna measurements but also in other test solutions aimed specifically at higher frequencies and at the future mass deployment of mega-constellations. This investment allows us to develop the product line to match the industry needs, and to build a strong team able to tackle future challenges”. Joakim Espeland, CEO and co-founder adds “Our solution is the only one that can provide the scalability of test and measurements required for a robust satcom infrastructure to minimize challenges such as dropped calls and internet buffering”.
To ensure the best fit between QuadSAT’s solution and the industry requirements, the team is working closely with SOMAP, a consortium of the world’s biggest Satellite Operators. Further, QuadSAT has recently completed contracts with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) program for supporting the development of advanced satcom products and services.
The investment round follows a seed round at the start of 2019. This pre-series A investment is a catalyst for exploiting the potential of QuadSAT’s unique position as the only company that can provide mobile testing at scale. This will accelerate product testing allowing QuadSAT to transition its current product, currently offered as a service, to be sold as a product for third party users. This will also allow QuadSAT to expand its UK research and development activities.
QuadSAT plans to raise a Series A round within a year further expanding the revolution of antenna testing in the SATCOM industry.HawkEye 360’s on-orbit satellite constellation is able to collect, store and transmit shared RF GEOINT to the US Air Force and its mission partners. This proven and cost effective ISR platform can augment and collaborate with existing overhead, airborne and terrestrial systems to provide a sharable stream of actionable data to the warfighter. HawkEye 360 plans to extend its existing signals library with new waveforms identified by the US Air Force that exploit systems of interest.
Hawkeye360 Among Top Teams to Participate in AFWERX DOD Commercial Space Partnerships Challenge and Engagespace
Herndon, Virginia (September 23, 2020) — AFWERX, the catalyst for fostering innovation within the U.S. Air Force, announced HawkEye 360 as one of the 178 top participating teams selected from The AFWERX Space Challenge initiative to exhibit at EngageSpace, a two-day virtual event on September 29-30.
The AFWERX Space Challenge initiative is made up of four challenges targeted at creating integrated space operations leveraging the best in technology while maintaining security, being resilient and increasing agility. Four challenges were run concurrently focused on separate topics – Persistent ISR, DoD Commercial Space Partnerships, Global Space Transport and Delivery and Space Asset Resiliency.
Located in Herndon, Virginia, HawkEye 360 is competing in the DoD Commercial Space Partnerships Challenge alongside a diverse group of teams that represent entrepreneurial startups, small businesses, large enterprises, academic institutions and research labs.
“The solutions submitted for these space challenges represent the bleeding edge of space innovation,” stated Brennan Townley, AFWERX Challenge Collaboration Lead. “We’re excited to highlight these innovators and connect them with opportunities across the Space ecosystem.”
The DoD Commercial Space Partnerships Challenge strives to identify cutting-edge commercial satellite technology and uncover new payload ideas, designs, and prototypes to expand the DoD’s capabilities.
“HawkEye 360 is honored to have been selected by AFWERX to compete in the DoD Commercial Space Partnerships Challenge. We are ready to expand on our current work with the U.S. Air Force to provide a revolutionary commercial ISR platform in support of operations globally. The American commercial space industry has become a valued mission partner that is cost effective, innovative and agile, and HawkEye360 is at the forefront of exploiting the opportunities that space offers,” said Rob Rainhart, COO, HawkEye 360.
The EngageSpace event will feature highly engaging opportunities to connect, educate and innovate with other like-minded attendees, industry leaders, individual innovators, academia, investors, as well as military and government leaders. The entire event is designed to transform and accelerate the industry and enable government buyers to pursue the most promising innovative solutions to the most pressing and threatening Space scenarios.
Smallsat News and Ventures
Red Ink Unlikely to Fund a Voyage to the Red Planet
While satellite and technical professionals have published reams of data on Starlink’s unique satellites and orbital infrastructure, little has been written about the business itself. Instead, engineers love to pontificate about orbits, beamforming antennas, and reusable rocket boosters, as if that’s all that’s needed to make a profit.
Never mind the enormous cost of building and launching Starlink's satellites or their five-year replenishment costs. Before Musk can don a space suit and head for Mars, Starlink will have to make a profit, and that's a formidable challenge.
It's going to cost billions to target the global consumer. Musk will have to subsidize antennas if he's going to reach very far into that un-served market. At a $500 antenna cost and a $500 installation cost, it will cost $1 Billion to subsidize one million customers.
In addition, there is the question of how many of the currently un-served customers in the U.S. and Developing World can afford to pay the ongoing monthly subscription fees characteristic of satellite Internet. Even existing Hughes and ViaSat customers may want cash incentives to switch providers.
As Starlink enters a consumer market already dominated by HNS and ViaSat, the competition will be fierce. Subscription prices will fall, and margins will be compressed, making profitability difficult to achieve. To recoup the install subsidies, Musk will have to lock in subscribers for years, or target enterprise.
In enterprise, Starlink will face Telesat, SES mPower, ViaSat, and Amazon Kuiper. These competitors have a lot of cash, and they will fight hard to keep existing customers and acquire new ones.
Yet, armed with the mesmerizing vision of universal connectivity and capitalizing on his successes with SpaceX and Tesla, Musk will spin out Starlink and do an IPO. A naive public that doesn’t understand the enormity of Starlink’s technical and economic challenges, will pump in billions of dollars.
Early on, Starlink will attract a substantial number of adopters, who, driven by curiosity, media hype, and subsidized antenna and install costs, will buy. Never mind that there will be massive losses as the business ramps up.
In the end, we think Starlink is going to be a lot like Uber. It's going to burn cash, lots of it. The burn will be enormous, and lured by promise after promise of imminent profitability; the cash will keep coming.
Ultimately, investors will lose patience, cut their losses, and Starlink will go bankrupt. Maybe it will be acquired for a fraction of its original cost. Maybe there just won't be enough customers to finance new satellites.
By then, Musk, like Uber’s Travis Kalanick, will have sold his shares and be living comfortably on Mars. Those Silicon Valley investors who believe losing money to gain market share is a good strategy will love this venture.
- Alan Gottlieb
Starlink - Mars or Bust?
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The Evolution of Military Satellite Markets
With UltiSat CEO, Moe Abutaleb and Incoming CEO, David Myers
Like commercial Satcom, the military satellite market is rapidly evolving. It's no longer enough to provide hardware and bandwidth. Today, the military is now looking for partners to provide end-to-end project integration and other value-added services.
In the race to meet their customers changing requirements, military satellite integrators have become managed service providers and data analysts. Military procurement practices are also changing rapidly under the new U.S. Space Force.
Under the Space Force, all commercial and satellite procurement activities are now consolidated. The Agency's vision is to combine military and commercial satellite resources into a unified communications infrastructure.
To find out more about how the use and procurement of commercial satellite services are changing in this new environment, we met with two of the best-known experts in the field, Moe Abutaleb, the founder and CEO of UltiSat and incoming President and CEO, David Myers.
SMW: With the coming of the Space Force, how are military satellite procurement practices changing?
David: For 20 + years, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) used to buy commercial satellite capacity and associated hardware and support. Today, the way the government buys satellite services is changing dramatically.
The U.S. Space Force has taken control of all space-related acquisitions and assets from DISA, whether for military or commercial satellites.
In the “Enterprise Space Vision,” articulated by U.S. Space Force command, the DoD wants to use commercial and military satellite assets as part of a collective ecosystem that enables inter-network roaming and greater resiliency.
Driving the change is a desire to buy end-to-end managed solutions while benefiting from commercial technologies' faster development cycles. The challenge for the government will be adapting traditional separate procurement vehicles. To achieve the Enterprise Space Vision, the government will need to rethink its approach.
Technology agnostic systems integrators, like UltiSat, are well-positioned to help leverage government and commercial systems to help the Agency achieve its Vision.
SMW: How is the military using satellite? Where do you see the most growth, and can you give examples of applications?
David: Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and general tactical communications are two of the largest growth drivers for government satellite services.
High definition data collection and analysis, enabled by persistent field communications, have revolutionized defense and national security missions. Whether the battlefield's assets are a traditional aircraft, a Predator-class UAV, a handheld drone, or an inconspicuous remote sensor, beyond-line-of-sight communications are crucial.
Once acquired, data from the field must be transmitted to tactical centers to support real-time decision making. The high volume of data drives significant demand for SATCOM capacity and network solutions.
In the commercial world, we call it IoT. In the military, they call it the “Internet of the Battlefield.” Airborne ISR, in particular, is a segment in which UltiSat has made a significant investment.
Over the past couple of years, we have been a partner in several high visibility programs. These include support for aircraft such as the Navy’s P-8s and C-130s. In these programs, we provide technology on the aircraft, build ground segment infrastructure as necessary, and support network and connectivity services.
SMW: According to my research, there are around 300,000 military vehicles, and around 260,000 of those are Humvees. Can you tell me about the potential market for broadband comms on the move on Humvees and other military vehicles? What effect will the emergence of flat Panel ESAs have on the market?
David: If you look at the land mobile military market, you can generally divide vehicles into two categories. The first one is the “mass motor pool," including all of those Humvees you mentioned, and many other vehicles.
The second group comprises “dedicated communications vehicles," designed exclusively to support tactical in-field connectivity, logistics, and even command and control for UAVs.
Today the military uses a mix of different communications capabilities for the motor pool vehicles, including HF field radios, UHF military satellite systems, Inmarsat BGAN or Iridium, to name a few. Rather than integrating these communications into the vehicle, servicemen and women carry their own communications systems. Generally, these provide lower data rate connections and not true broadband.
To facilitate the extension of wireless cloud-like services into active areas of operation,"hardened" 3G/4G cellular and Wi-Fi are currently preferred.
However, the virtue of installing a SATCOM system on every vehicle is still a big question. At some point, as phased array panels become smaller, it may make sense to outfit the vehicles. As an interim step, to serve the mass motor pool, the military is more likely to rely on in-theater wireless networks, backed by regional satellite gateways.
For the dedicated communications vehicle segment, there are a variety of specialized systems, including Satellite Terminal Trailers (STTs), Deployable Earth Terminals (DKETSs), and Transportable Ground Terminals (TSGTs).
These systems offer a more immediate opportunity for expanded satellite services due to much higher bandwidth consumption. STTs are typically trailers that include a 2.0 or 2.4-Meter satellite antenna, an on-board generator, multiple satellite modems, and are designed to extend WiFi and small-cellular networks from the vehicle.
You can essentially drive the trailer into a location and set up a complete wireless network in a matter of minutes, that can support hundreds of end-users.
Built on a 40-foot container or specialized skid, DKETs incorporate a collapsible 4-Meter or 7-Meter antenna, a generator, a radio shack and an office for two or more personnel. The DKET becomes a temporary communications hub for a forward operating base or a long-term airbase and can offer tens of megabits, or even tens of gigabits of connectivity. They provide communications for a base, but many are also used to fly UAVs.
So, instead of landing the signal from a drone in a far-away teleport, you can land it directly in theater on a DKET. In our business, we have a large program with NATO managing high-performance networks and building the vehicle-mounted satellite ground terminals (TSGTs) that support them.
SMW: Several new LEO constellations are in the planning stage, including Telesat and Amazon Project Kuiper. OneWeb and Starlink have already launched satellites. What is the military’s attitude toward LEOs? In which segments in aero and land markets, will there be a significant effort to transition to LEOs? What is the main attraction of these technologies for the military?
David: The intended appeal of LEOs is high bandwidth, low latency, and small terminals to support mobility. However, the real question is, how many of these services will offer an industrial or military-grade solution, and how long will it take for them to get there?
Many of the emerging services, including the leading StarLink constellation, are designed with mass consumer requirements in mind. Others are tailored to more robust applications, like Telesat’s LEO concept, which is planned to include inter-satellite optical links.
While LEOs will have a place in some military markets, such as Special Forces and the Intelligence community, a wholesale migration from GEO to LEO is pretty unlikely.
For large scale battlefield communications and flying UAVs, GEO is still a better overall technology. The military likes things that are field-proven.
Most of the LEO ground terminals are still on the drawing board and not ready for practical deployment. There is a whole new technology tier that has to mature before there can be wide-scale adoption of LEOs in the military. All that said, the emergence of new LEO satellite services is one of the most intriguing areas of development in the commercial space industry.
SMW: SES is expanding its O3b satellite fleet with four MEO satellites with beamforming capability. As you know, they are combining their MEO and GEO capabilities under mPower. Do you expect mPower will be competitive with the new LEOs and, if so, in which segments of the aero or military mobility markets?
David: O3b is a satellite service that has had to reinvent its business and operational model a couple of times. While SES negotiated a special agreement to sell O3b capacity to the U.S. military, the take rate has been very slow for several reasons.
Perhaps the biggest issue goes back to the supply chain and not having enough viable remote terminals in the market. To access the network, you still need at least two large tracking parabolic antennas, which are in constant motion, handing off signals from satellite to satellite. They are heavy and comprise a lot of gear to maintain.
While acceptable for a large Navy vessel, they are simply impractical for land mobile or most other applications. Until electronically-steerable phased array antennas become economical and readily available, the adoption of LEOs and MEOs is going to be limited. SES is doing some smart things combining GEO and MEO into a coordinated “mPower” service offering, to shore up the limitations. However, MEO, as a stand-alone offering, remains viable only for niche applications.
SMW: There appears to be a trend toward the use of small GEO satellites. Both Astranis and Saturn are in this market. What is the potential for these satellites in military markets?
David: There is a place for these innovative satellites in the military and national security market.
A company to watch in this space is OvZon. Based in Sweden, OvZon has developed a vertically integrated network based on its own small beamforming GEO satellite and its optimized man-packable terminal. The target customers include Special Forces and other rapidly deployed field teams. These specialized small GEO satellites can be tailored to unique requirements for specific markets and offer a much more economical approach than larger payload spacecraft.
SMW: Since our last interview, Speedcast has acquired Globecomm. What government-related business did you gain in the transaction, and how has it expanded your penetration of that segment?
Moe: In Speedcast’s late 2018 acquisition of Globecomm, the company acquired both government and commercial segments. The commercial business was absorbed and integrated within Speedcast’s energy, maritime, and enterprise sectors.
The government work consisted of a variety of programs within DOD, the intelligence community, the Department of State, and global government.
UltiSat benefited from three main complementary capabilities from the Globecomm acquisition.
The first was systems integration, where we can now execute larger and more complex construction and field integration projects on a global scale.
The second is a professional services capability, in which contract personnel with network engineering, security, terrestrial, wireless, and satellite expertise work side-by-side within government agencies around the world.
Finally, the acquisition included a specialized global wireless service capability to deploy and operate truly unique solutions for our clients. Combining these new and existing capabilities has enabled synergies, some already realized and some yet to be achieved, and significantly broadens the combined businesses reach and value-add portfolio into government markets.
SMW: I understand that while a wholly-owned subsidiary of Speedcast, UltiSat is completely independent. Can you tell us more about the relationship?
Moe: Although a subsidiary of Speedcast, UltiSat is legally and operationally an independent company. We have our own proxy board and governance, banks, IT, and human resources. We have our own audited financial statements and do not utilize any financing from Speedcast. We are also not a party to the current Speedcast financial reorganization.
After Speedcast acquired UltiSat in 2017 and then asked us to integrate the government business from the Globecomm acquisition the following year, there was a desire to streamline market messaging. For that reason, we created Speedcast Government as a “doing business as” (DBA) brand.
However, UltiSat has always remained our legal identity. Because the Utilisat brand is well known in military markets and the Speedcast brand is a relative newcomer to the market, we are transitioning away from the Speedcast Government moniker. Instead, we will be doing business once again as UltiSat.
SMW: Both you and David have years of experience in military and government markets. How have these markets changed in the last five years? How do you expect them to change in the next five years, and what effect will the changes have on UltiSat's strategic approach to the markets?
Moe: The entire Satcom market, not just the government market, has evolved over the last ten years. Ten years ago, we started seeing the beginning of GEO HTS, and that’s nearly in the past. To be relevant to our customers, we have had to evolve our business.
Our first evolutionary step was from a re-seller to an end-to-end service provider. By 2015, we found it wasn’t enough. We became an information provider. In addition to collecting data and transmitting it, we added ISR capabilities and put people on the ground to analyze data and create actionable output.
We have evolved the business at least two or three times since 2003, and I think we are on the cusp of doing that moving forward.
David: Moe’s description of the need to evolve with the market is exactly right. Government customers no longer think about satellite communications as an isolated requirement. They are increasingly looking for multi-modal communications across the theater of operation. This includes cellular, satellite, and big pipe terrestrial capabilities interconnected into a seamless solution. But at UltiSat, we are looking beyond just providing managed networks and communications.
Customers need to ensure the integrity of the data collected and disseminated across the network, so we are expanding our cyber security and information assurance capabilities. Once securely transmitted, customers need to transform raw data into real-time action-able insights. So, we are adding specialized data analytics services to our portfolio as well.
To be more than just a systems integrator, you have to understand how the customer uses all of the elements of an end-to-end mission support system. As UltiSat continues the next phase of our evolution, we will always maintain focus on being that trusted mission partner for our customers.
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"While LEOs will have a place in some military markets, such as Special Forces and the Intelligence community, a wholesale migration from GEO to LEO is pretty unlikely."
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Moe Abutaleb is co-founder of UltiSat and a seasoned executive involved in various segments of the telecommunications industry since 1977.
Throughout his career, Moe has participated in and managed the definition, development, and implementation of numerous satellite and wireless communications networks and products.
In addition, he has held senior management positions with leaders in the satellite communications and aerospace industries.
Abutaleb co-founded Innovative Communications Technologies, Inc. (ICTI) in 1989. As president of ICTI, he managed the systematic and progressive growth of this self-financed start-up, including the sale of ICTI to a publicly traded corporation in 1999.
In 2011, Abutaleb was presented with the Tech Council of Maryland's prestigious Executive of the Year Award. Abutaleb is a coauthor on several patents and holds a MSEE degree, with emphasis in communications and microelectronics.
David Myers is the incoming President and CEO of UltiSAT.
His 20+ year career spans the aerospace, satellite, telecommunications, and information technology industries in commercial and government markets.
David joined Speedcast Government from Peraton, a Defense Top 100 national security company,
Prior to Peraton, David was President and CEO of Datapath, where he led the public to private spin-out of a former Rockwell Collins division into an independent company.
He has held senior executive roles in a number of organizations across the industry including ITC Global, Harris, CapRock Communications, and Spacenet.
David holds an MBA in technology marketing from Rice University, an MS in computer information systems for Madison University, and dual bachelor degrees in business and international relations from Southern Methodist University.
By Steve Moses, Senior Director, Vertical Market Solutions, ST Engineering iDirect
2020 continues to be the most challenging of years for the aviation sector. With global air traffic left at a near standstill due to the impact of COVID-19, the aviation industry is in crisis. Grounded aircraft are parked across once busy taxiways as the industry struggles to remain solvent. 2020 is a year that airlines will want to forget.
Even though many commercial aircraft are grounded, and passengers levels are at a fraction of previous years, the business jet segment of the industry is recovering more quickly, and displays promise even against the backdrop of the global pandemic.
While COVID has had a hugely negative impact on the industry's commercial side, the business aviation segment has characteristics that make it more resilient and much more likely to return to its pre-pandemic potential. As the global pandemic wears on, travelers with an urgency to return to the skies regard business jet travel as a much safer option.
Corporations view the private jets as a controlled environment, enabling them to safely send their senior executives on important business missions. While business jet travel has always been associated with A-list celebrities and the super-rich, private jet users critical mass is actually successful business owners, families and groups happy to pay a premium for a better travel experience.
As the segments recovers, the market is becoming more competitive, and the ability to demonstrate differentiating factors is critical for operators who want to retain and gain market share. High-quality connectivity is vital to achieving that goal.
A Golden Opportunity to Increase Market Share
In the COVID environment, business jet operators have the opportunity to capture an increased share of the aviation market. According to Research and Markets, the market grew at a CAGR of 4% between 2014 and 2019. In a recent report from Fortune Business Insights, by 2027, the market size is projected to reach USD 35.56 billion at a CAGR of 5.37%.
In the Middle East and Africa, a Market Insight report on the business jet market forecasts an expected growth at a CAGR of over 3% from 2020-2025, opening new opportunities in the region. Given these favorable trends, recovery will happen fairly quickly.
Among factors driving the trend, new, membership-based private jet platforms, such as TailHail, XO, and Uber Jets, are stimulating demand by lowering charter costs and making it easier than ever to book safety-checked, private flights. It's almost as simple as booking a train ticket. Also, the cost of business class seats on commercial airlines is likely to increase as profits are squeezed by the need to provide social distancing.
The single most important transformation for the business jet market is the digitization of the cabin. The business jet passenger is a discerning one and demands a premium connectivity experience. Passengers are paying big money to utilize private jet transport. Therefore, expectations are incredibly high, making the Quality of Experience one of the most important drivers of customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Passengers demand a fast, reliable, no-compromise system that enables them to run all of their chosen applications from streaming video to email and Internet access, to VoIP calls. In the business jet market, Inflight Connectivity (IFC), Entertainment (IFE), and Cabin Management Services (CMS) are critical to success.
Supporting Business Aviation
As the leading provider of satellite ground infrastructure for aero connectivity, ST Engineering iDirect is at the forefront of innovation.
The satellite industry has come a long way over more than ten years of providing satellite connectivity solutions for aircraft. High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and now Very High Throughput Satellites (VHTS) enable services from basic email access to video streaming, fulfilling a raft of applications that ten years ago we would have thought impossible over satellite.
Today, in addition to connectivity for traditional email and basic internet access, ST Engineering iDirect enables real-time data analytics applications, real-time weather routing and fuel management for the cockpit, live video, video streaming, gaming and voice and video conferencing for passengers.
To deliver a white-glove connectivity experience, we offer service providers configurable QoS to assure maximum bandwidth availability along with load balancing, protection from inadvertent interruptions and fast beam switching along an aircraft's extended route - features required by the business operators. As soon as new technologies become available, we're integrating them our into satellite network infrastructure.
For example, we're aligning our systems with complementary technologies like 5G, Cloud computing, network virtualization, and orchestration. Together these capabilities increase capacity, efficiency, and reliability of the services that connect the user to networks on the ground.
Spearheading Innovation to Drive Costs Down
The cost of aero connectivity service, equipment, and installation has always been a hurdle for users.
However, there is a shift occurring in the economics of satcom as new capacity and constellations come online. HTS and VHTS have already been lowering the price-per-bit delivered. These, coupled with ST Engineering iDirect’s waveform technologies such as adaptive coding and modulation, adaptive TDMA, MxDMA, and DVB-S2X, offer unrivaled efficiency and automated capacity management for the aero service provider. These advancements enable more cost efficient and faster services than ever before.
As faster and low latency new MEO and LEO satellite constellation solutions are integrated with cutting edge Flat Panel Antenna (FPA) technology, satellite broadband Internet will become available to smaller business jets.
The big challenge for the antenna manufacturers is making the ESAs efficient and affordable, yet robust enough for the aviation environment. Ultimately, we believe it will be possible to create antenna solutions at or below current equipment pricing. If FPAs are adopted in other higher volume applications, that creates more opportunity to innovate, further driving costs down and performance and efficiency up.
Our parent company, ST Engineering is engaged in a joint venture called Jet-Talk, which is developing a multi-orbit, multi-beam true time delay antenna technology that can revolutionize connectivity for NGSO satellites as well as function with existing GEOs.
We are working to ensure multi-orbit, converged connectivity, as well. Our modems are built to be compatible across different technologies and constellations to enable the most reliable enterprise-class connectivity possible.
The aviation sector has had a rough ride over the last six months, and though business aviation may have been hit less hard by the impact of COVID-19, there’s still a long road to travel to return to growth.
Today, we are proud to be the aero satellite technology supporting more than 600 VSAT connected business jets and thousands of commercial aircraft. As the technology supplier to Inmarsat Jet ConneX, Intelsat FlexExec and SES Luxstream, we understand that service quality and reliability are the keys to customer experience, loyalty and success.
At ST Engineering, it is more important than ever that we support the business aviation sector, enable it to achieve a full recovery and a dynamic and profitable future.
Biz Jets: Poised to Return to the Skies
By Steve Moses, Senior Director, Vertical Market Solutions, ST Engineering iDirect
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Steve Moses is senior director of vertical market solutions at ST Engineering iDirect and is responsible for guiding the strategic direction of iDirect aero solutions in this role.
Moses joined iDirect in 2010 and has held several product management roles guiding iDirect’s Evolution®, iDirect Velocity®, and remote portfolio.
Prior to joining ST Engineering iDirect, Steve held product management and technical roles in companies such as Mobileaccess, Lucent and UUNet, and has worked in the communications industry for over 20 years.
He holds a degree in Computer Engineering from Virginia .
SmartSky's Beats Gogo's Patent Challenge
SmartSky and Gogo are both planning to launch next-generation Air to Ground (ATG) networks. Leveraging the use of unlicensed spectrum, these networks are a significant advancement in providing in-flight connectivity in excess of 100 Mbps.
The SmartSky network built 5G technology into their network, and protected their IP with numerous patents. Recently Gogo challenged their patents, and in an appeal, the USPTO denied Gogo's challenge. In order to better understand the implication of the USPTO ruling, we asked SmartSky President, Ryan Stone to comment.
SMW: Does GoGo have any recourse after denial of the patent? Can they appeal?
Ryan Stone: This decision by the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) cannot be appealed. Our IP is strong enough and unique enough that we believe this will not be the last time it is challenged, nor the last time we will prevail.
SMW: is there a “workaround,” or they out of luck?
RS: The single patent that was at issue covers key 5G technologies built into the SmartSky network.
Other companies can choose to avoid what our patented claims cover regarding software- defined radios, beamforming, and seamless handoffs, but doing so would significantly reduce the viability of an air-to-ground (ATG) system.
Worldwide, we have another 185 patents with more than 125 additional patents pending.
SMW: In your opinion, does this preclude Gogo from launching their competitive unlicensed band network?
RS: Our innovation has resulted in creating what amounts to a patent thicket, making it exceptionally difficult for others to navigate and still deploy a competitive ATG system in both an economic or realistic way.
Specifically, Gogo seems to have focused their talking points on the word ‘valid’ as it applies to our patent portfolio, which is all but an outright admission that they fully intend to use the claims covered by our patents.
Gogo can try and deny on ‘validity,’ but in this case, the USPTO has spoken and it was, in fact, Gogo who was denied.
Our deep patent portfolio covers everything from seamless handoffs, position information assisted beamforming and network control, horizon facing antenna systems, the wedge network architecture, simultaneous spectrum usage by ATG and Terrestrial Networks, and much more. We see our patented technology being the single biggest differentiator between us and others.
We have a unique and desirable connectivity system that many in the market have already experienced on our test aircraft and are looking forward to installing. Given the significant unmet market demand, we will compete vigorously by using our patented innovations to deliver this unique, highly compelling inflight user experience at a reasonable price.
SMW: If they can’t launch their advanced network, can they still compete?
RS: Even AOL still has a business. Aviation services tend to have long tails. So everyone will still compete, but we also will continue to innovate and further expand upon our patent portfolio. Right now, SmartSky has over 100 more patent applications in development. We think our approach serves to enhance competition in the market, raising everyone’s game and ultimately benefitting passengers, crew, and industry.
"Our innovation has resulted in creating what amounts to a patent thicket, making it exceptionally difficult for others to navigate and still deploy a competitive ATG system in both an economic or realistic way."
Former OneWeb CEO and O3b CTO, Brian Holz is on the move. Armed with an innovative plan to fully integrate satellite into 5G networks, he plans to bring the computing and data storage capabilities of the Cloud to the Edge. While satellite hub and modem infrastructure providers incorporate 5G protocols into their modems, full integration of satellite into a 5G network has yet to be achieved. If successful, it would open up new opportunities for the satellite and cellular industry.
Brian’s company, which he founded along with Juliette Neu, is called Mangata Networks. Its product, dubbed MangataEdge, combines a low-cost network of inclined orbit satellites with a local Gateway connecting into a 5G network through more than just a satellite terminal. MangataEdge houses cloud computing, data storage, and mmWave communication capabilities into a single unit at the network's edge.
The plan is not without merit. Once in place, Holz’s infrastructure would bring the power of satellite and its multi-casting capabilities into 5G networks. In doing so, it would significantly lower the cost of backhaul to the network core. Unsurprisingly, his plan has drawn thesignificant interest of mobile operator T-Mobile. They have just invited Mangata to join their “5G Open Innovations Lab,” which includes Intel and Microsoft.
To find out more about Mangata Networks and MangataEdge, we met with CEO Brain Holz.
SMW: Your network plan is quite extensive and includes both a satellite network and cloud computing meshed over a 5G network. Can you tell us more about the problems you are trying to solve?
For mobile operators, 5G installation is a massively costly endeavor. These new 5G networks will operate and very high speeds. Using mmWave, they will have the ability to transmit massive amounts of video and data at extremely high speeds while pushing more content closer and closer to the end user.
The problem is how to move the video and data from the core network to the edge and integrate it into the network without costly additions to fiber backhaul infrastructure. So, what’s needed is a two-part solution: the first part is an efficient high utilization satellite network infrastructure. The second is to move beyond the satellite terminal and provide a solution that meshes edge computing connected over satellite directly into the terrestrial network itself. That’s what we’re doing at Mangata Networks.
SMW: Let’s talk about your solution. Tell us about your satellite network. How are you able to improve the economics of satellite backhaul?
BH: Our network consists initially of eight small beamforming satellites, each weighing around 600 Kg operating from high elliptical orbits (HEOs). These satellites will cover the northern hemisphere and provide sufficient capacity for us to commence commercial operations.
As demand increases, we will grow the network’s capacity by adding additional HEOs or expanding into our MEO orbits. Each satellite has 3.5 Kilowatts of power, and ultimately, we could scale up to over 700 satellites providing greater than 50 Tbps of global capacity.. Of course, the satellite network is only one component of the solution. The real magic is how we integrate into a carrier’s 5G network.
SMW: Can you tell us about MangataEdge, its components, and how they interface into the network?
BH: MangataEdge will combine a satellite terminal with a meshed network between terminals and an open mmWave radio access network to integrate with 5G or LTE cells. Each device is also equipped with edge computing and data storage allowing us to push content closer to the user and minimize traffic moving back to the core network.
The mesh network facilitates efficient resource management, improves network resilience and overall availability. Not only does this infrastructure enable universal data access within the network, but it also facilitates load balancing across the entire network, resulting in the flexibility to handle peak loads.
To further enhance network efficiency, machine learning manages the network, identifying applications and data most frequently requested, reducing the amount of routine traffic passed over the core network. Our initial deployment envisions approximately 2000 connected micro cloud data centers around the globe. After this, we will expand as our customers require.
I note that your planned orbit is at 6,400 Km. Isn’t that the heart of the Van Allen Belt? How can you achieve a ten-year life given the satellite’s sensitive electronics?
We are using elliptical orbits in the HEO and circular orbits in the MEO. The orbits were selected to optimize round trip latency as well as long term exposure to radiation. We expect an environment that is less than that we designed for O3b which is located right on the belt's tail.
As you increase inclination, you are moving out of the belt at lower altitudes. Because we have history having already designed for a harsher environment, we don’t see radiation exposure as an issue and expect a ten-year life in these orbits.
SMW: What is the business model? How do you generate revenue?
BH: We own the satellite network and provide the MangataEdge access points to our customers, charging the mobile operator according to the volume of data we move across our network.
We can start service with just a few spacecraft, meaning lower cost of capital upfront, quicker timeline to profitability, and scale the network as we grow. We don’t have to launch hundreds or thousands of satellites and spend billions of dollars before seeing a penny of ROI. We only need eight satellites to start, and we estimate that the initial spacecraft could support >$200 million in revenues.
We can build and launch the initial crop of satellites and begin service for hundreds of millions, not billions of dollars. This means we can start service in a few markets, manage the ramp to ensure high quality of service, and lower the overall capital risk for our investors.
SMW: How large is the market for your carrier solution, and how will you reach it?
In addition to the U.S., China, South Korea, the U.K., Switzerland, and Germany are well into 5G network deployment. In 2018 Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden signed Letters of Intent for an interconnected 5G network throughout the region. So, the potential is quite large.
We plan to leverage our relationship with T-Mobile and market initially to their partners. Ultimately, we believe we can initially deploy around 2,000 MangataEdge products globally and become overtime a leading supplier of satellite capacity into the 5G community.
SMW: NGSO Ka-band, under ITU rules, belongs to O3B at the equator, and they also filed for non-equatorial rights. Telesat and Kuiper also have rights. Won’t you have to coordinate with all of these other constellations and don't they have priority?
BH: All players claim they have rights, but the Regulators want the spectrum to be shared and will force that sharing through coordination. The FCC has said that if the operators can’t coordinate, they will force frequency segmentation. Yes, there are other constellations with higher priority, but we have many tools that enable us to coordinate with them.
We have picked unique orbits that give adequate separation from other operators. Our beamforming infrastructure, combined with frequency separation, the use of both polarizations, and narrow Ka-Band beams, gives us all the tools we need to mitigate interference.
Because we have more than one satellite in view at any one time, we can select the satellite to be used with the lowest potential for interference. So, our interference risk is minimal. There is no reason we won’t be able to coordinate with any other operator.
SMW: Have you received FCC approval for the satellite constellation?
The FCC has accepted our application, and it’s currently in the approval process. The application is in the Public Comment stage, and we have had an interchange with them. We’re optimistic that the project will be approved sometime in the next 3-6 months.
SMW: SES is launching four new O3b satellites with beamforming payloads. Won’t they be a major competitor?
BH: We believe our orbits provide unique aspects that will benefit our customers, including operating at higher elevation angles, improving performance. There is plenty of market, capacity demands including over satellite will continue to grow. There is room for everyone. I think that we can work quite well with SES. We will see more operators working together, leading to more performance at better value for all customers.
SMW: In addition to the cellular backhaul model, are there other target markets for your satellite network?
BH: Yes. Unrelated to our core mobile operator initiative, our low-cost beamforming satellites are a good fit for the commercial aero connectivity market. In addition, our HEO orbital configuration makes the Ka capacity especially attractive to in-flight connectivity as it provides high throughput coverage over northern high revenue routes.
We will have increased performance at a much lower cost per bit than anyone today, allowing higher provisioning rates per passenger and enabling the connectivity to be used for other applications than just in-flight passenger entertainment. Also, we will be able to concentrate large capacity at the airline hubs allowing services and the passengers to be captured from end-to-end on one network.
SMW: What is your time-time table? When do you anticipate your first satellite launch?
BH: We’re targeting the last quarter of 2023, and we are currently raising capital.
For Former OneWeb CEO, Brian Holz, The Future Is 5G
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Brian is the soul of the company and holds the vision for Mangata Networks’ growth and success.
Brian has over 35 years of experience in progressive space system engineering and program management. He has led large multi-disciplinary teams that have developed complex commercial and government space systems with state-of-the-art technology.
Previously, he was CTO of O3b and CEO of OneWeb - both start-up companies, which he built from the ground-up. As CTO of O3b, he was instrumental in delivering all of its technical systems through the start of service.
Brian also headed OneWeb Satellites as its CEO for the first two years and helped raise the initial capital. At OneWeb, he was directly responsible for setting up the joint venture with Airbus Defense and Space, with operations both in the US and France.
Brian holds a B.S in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering from Virginia Tech, where he currently serves on the department’s advisory board. He also has an M.S in Space Systems Engineering from George Washington University.
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Isotropic Networks: Prospering in an Era of Consolidation
Satellite service integrators are being challenged as never before. Competition is rampant. Mobility markets are under pressure as cruise vessels and aircraft cut back on bandwidth demand. Even the large integrators are struggling, and one of the largest, Speedcast, is going through the bankruptcy process.
Yet, amid the carnage, Isotropic Networks, a family-owned, independent business based in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, has managed to buck the business's restrictive economics and prosper. To find how out the company has fared so well, we met with the CEO and Founder, Hank Zbierski.
SMW: The satellite integration business is hugely competitive. Companies like Speedcast, Marlink, Inmarsat, RigNet, and others buy substantial amounts of satellite capacity, resulting in economies of scale. In this environment, many small integrators have been unable to compete and have been acquired. Despite the consolidation and its economic advantages, Isotropic has managed to remain independent. What’s your secret?
When I look at the market and how many players are faring, I am not sure there are advantages; I don’t know that any consolidating companies are better off.
Take Speedcast for example, they acquired small companies, but the companies' integration proved immensely challenging, and ultimately lead to bankruptcy.
Marlink, while it’s not struggling, is going back to its investors to raise more money. Inmarsat had to purchase Globe Wireless because they didn’t want to write off the debt, and RigNet is still struggling as they try to re-invent themselves after acquiring Intelie and Cyphre.
At Isotropic, our approach is completely different. We have a deep understanding of the technology and an in-depth familiarity with our clients’ businesses; this pairing allows us to see the solutions and services we provide in a unique light.
Every day, we ask: Is this client better off because they are doing business with us? Taking this honest and sincere approach to doing our business is critical to the success we achieve, and has enabled us to grow and prosper. We do not have the pressure to raise money or answer to investors or bankers.
SMW: I understand that you have recently purchased three new hubs from ST Engineering and are expanding globally. Can you tell us about your expansion plans, including geographical areas to be covered and target markets, i.e., broadcast, mobility, NGOs, military? Given your company’s size, how do you plan to expand your sales and service capabilities to service a global market and compete against the majors?
We are fortunate in that we have many multi-national Fortune 500 clients in the US and are expanding our business by serving these clients wherever they’re operating in the world, including Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
This organic expansion has a knock-on effect. Because as we serve these clients in international locations, our quality and reliability standards are recognized globally, which generates new business.
Our clients' portfolio extends from maritime to pharmaceutical companies, cellular backhaul, oil and gas and mining, retail, among others.
We are intentionally very diversified, identifying the market needs and responding with solutions that we can best provide. This keeps us growing.
We don’t take on projects unless we are certain that we can execute them to our exacting standards, that is behind our success. We are ready and able to compete against the majors, and, in terms of service, we challenge them.
SMW: Isotropic Networks deals extensively with customers in the mega-yacht and oil and gas industries. Can you update us on the impact of COVID-19 on these segments and the near-term outlook?
COVID-19 has certainly added to the pressures mounting on the energy markets. With the oil price hovering around $40, and with reduced demand in the transportation segment, it’s hard to see shortages that will drive the price back to previous levels. We expect this downward pricing trend to continue for a while.
We have financially strong customers that have been in the business for a long time and have manageable debt. In contrast, there are many small, heavily leveraged independent operators that are being driven out of business.
In the mega-yacht market, most vessels are still operating. The smaller yacht owners have just parked their vessels, and I think it will be at least 24 months for this segment to bounce back.
The impact COVID-19 has had required swift action. When subsequent demand for communications services declined, we immediately began to discount services.
As a fiscally responsible, independent company, Isotropic offers an unparalleled level of flexibility, and we leveraged this to meet our client’s needs and changing circumstances. In oil and gas, our prompt response helped keep companies operating.
SMW: Can you give us some examples of some of your more notable projects?
In oil and gas, one of our clients, a major contract drilling company, needed more bandwidth to accommodate hundreds of drilling sites throughout the US and South America.
In addition to voice, email, and standard operations, the drilling company needed bandwidth to enable the Internet of Things (IOT), and the collection and transmission of critical data back to the main office.
We engineered a proprietary solution that ensured our client would receive both quantity and quality. Isotropic increased individual site throughput speeds from 4M x 2M to 25M x 5M. We then enabled multiple Quality of Service (QoS) rules, giving the drilling company meticulous control over traffic prioritization.
Finally, we deployed Datadragon to allow full visibility of network parameters, including bidirectional signal strength, modem health, and up-time.
Using our network infrastructure, the drilling company integrated nearly 300 sites in less than a month. Each site received more bandwidth, and nuanced QoS rules ensured that critical applications take priority, so business operations run smoothly and efficiently. Another example is in the first responder segment.
Squire Tech is a VNO whose primary business is providing mobile satellite internet trailers (called pComs) for public safety and enterprise clients. When Squire Tech’s customers deploy a pCom, they need bandwidth to begin work immediately and to focus on more critical operations.
By deploying Datadragon, Squire Tech helped clients across 200 sites to see, understand, and manage their bandwidth in real-time, allowing for more critical operations to be prioritized.
Internationally, we have equipped emergency response vehicles for Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, with satellite communications infrastructure, among other projects.
SMW: A major factor behind your success is a very high level of customer service. How do you grow the business and maintain that advantage?
At Isotropic, we talk about “unrivaled certainty” all the time. It is our commitment, and it drives everyone in the company to continually meet our exacting standards, and push harder to raise the benchmark once again.
Unrivaled certainty means that when it comes to service, our communications work the first time, every time, all the time, no matter what.
Delivering that level of reliability demands the best technicians and the best training. We grow our own technicians; we go to the high schools, the junior colleges, and the technical colleges to recruit. We put them through a rigorous training program, simulating the problems that may be experienced by our clients in the field.
Our technicians are some of the best in the world, and they comprise half of our staff.
SMW: RigNet is moving aggressively to differentiate itself from being a commodity bandwidth provider. They have moved up the value chain through the acquisition of Cyphre, a cybersecurity company, and Intelie, an AI company. What is Isotropic doing in these areas?
Isotropic has a history of pioneering innovation and we are still doing this today.
In 2010, we adopted firewalling before it became the industry standard – and we were the first company to do it over satellite.
In artificial intelligence (AI), we have Datadragon, it’s an AI-based Network Management Solutions (NMS) that works on multiple platforms and automatically generates actionable output.
We have incorporated SD-WAN technology into our network, and it fits in concert with our AI-based NMS. Using Datadragon, we can either manage the routing in-house, or the client can adjust the routing based on their own parameters.
Datadragon has had a real impact on our business. It’s improved the quality of services we offer and enabled us to attract new customers.
SMW: The movement toward software as a service and the need to upload IoT sensor data to the Cloud suggests the need for a Cloud service partner. Do you currently have one?
We’re an AWS and Google partner, and we are shortly going to partner with Microsoft’s Azure platform. We’re becoming heavily involved with IoT, and are currently doing testing, including for an IoT-related ADS-B aviation opportunity that just came our way.
SMW: Several major satellite operators are now offering managed services, eliminating the need for integrators to own and operate teleports. Essentially, it’s now much easier for new integrators to enter the market. Do you see managed services as a major trend, or will integrators will continue to buy MHz and run teleports?
What the satellite operators are trying to do is make the integrator’s customer their own. They want the margin on the conversion of MHz to Megabits, yet they have rarely been successful going directly to the end-user. I don’t expect to see a major shift to operator managed services. In remote geographic areas, Isotropic mostly has high-demand customers. So we don’t need megabit fill in capacity. Isotropic has an expansive global network. We lease capacity of one spacecraft, on around 40 transponders and 11 satellites.
SMW: As you are aware, satellite technology is changing very rapidly. Ten years ago, HTS satellites revolutionized satellite capabilities. Now, GEO and MEO satellites with beamforming and onboard processing capabilities are at the center of the next technology evolution. Several LEO constellations are also in the planning process, and OneWeb and Starlink have already launched satellites. How will these new technologies affect the satellite integrator business?
The emergence of these new constellations does nothing but create new opportunities for the integrator. Have you ever heard satellites mentioned in the press as frequently as you do now?
In the last two years, satellite investment has become sexy. A lot of investors like Apax Partners are throwing money at satellite.
One of the advancements on the horizon that will result in new opportunities for the integrator is the total integration of networks, regardless of the hub and modem infrastructure platform.
This has to happen, there has to be a interoperability. All technology and platforms need to work in harmony. The availability of multiple constellations will enable SD-WAN in space, resulting in lower bandwidth costs, higher efficiency, and huge benefits to the end-user. This is the future.
An Interview with CEO Hank Zbierski...
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Hank Zbierski founded Isotropic Networks, Inc. (Isotropic) in 1992, and has been a driving force behind the company ever since.
Today, with Hank at the helm as the company’s Chief Catalyst, Isotropic has grown to become a leading global provider of converged connectivity services and network management solutions.
Hank has dramatically expanded the company from a nascent player in broadcast, its entry-point market, to serve many industries including oil and gas, maritime, telco, disaster recovery, and enterprise.
In pursuit of growth, Hank built a world-class teleport. Today, the company owns and operates teleports on three continents and provides global coverage.
In addition to spearheading the company’s international expansion, he introduced quadruple redundancy into its communications offering, incorporated SD-WAN technology, and developed an Artificial Intelligence-based (AI) Network Management Solution (NMS), Datadragon. The innovative AI-based program intelligently monitors, analyzes, and manages how bandwidth flows across the WAN in real-time.
Above all, Isotropic is committed to delivering satellite-based communications of “unrivaled certainty” to its customers. These solutions surpass the most rigorous standards for reliability, even in the most remote and challenging conditions.
There are many mobility related satellite industry events and unless you have an unlimited budget, here are the "must attends" (in blue) and others that may be of interest.
****RESCHEDULED: Asia Pacific Maritime: Singapore: Live Show 16-18 March 2022: Virtual Conference September 2020
Biggest maritime show in Asia.
****CABSAT: RESCHEDULED: October 28-Nov l: Dubai, Emirates: The major satellite show in the Middle East. Global VSAT Forum is presenting a special program at the show. For further information contact Martin Jerrold of GVF.
*****SeaTrade Cruise Global, Miami: RESCHEDULED: 12-15 April 2021: The Cruise Industry is a huge user of VSAT services. making this show an important venue. It should not be missed - an important event for satellite service suppliers.
****Posidonia: RESCHEDULED 28-30 October Athens, Greece: Another important show maritime VSAT, especially for those targeting the tanker and container segment.
****CommunicAsia: VIRTUAL - Sept 29-Oct 1
****Global Connected Aircraft: RESCHEDULED
June 2-3, 2021 Denver: A popular conference address in commercial aircraft connectivity.
****SMM: Hamburg, Germany' RESCHEDULED February 2-5 2021: A must attend for those interested in VSAT use in the cargo segments.
******World Satellite Business Week: Paris, France: NOW VIRTUAL 9-11 November. Unquestionably, the best satellite conference of the year. WSBW bring together all of the top executives in the industry in an intimate, networking atmosphere at the Westin.
*** PTC 2021: Honolulu, Hawaii: January 17-20, 2021
Notable gathering of Pacific and Asian companies with limited satellite segment.
**** Satellite 2021: Washington D.C.: March 15 to 18th. The year's most important Trade show/Conference Event. Great for an industry overview. Many good break away sessions on specific topics.
Upcoming and Recommended Satellite Mobility Events
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