Volume IV, No. V May 2019
Table of Contents
Industry Trends and Analysis: (pg. 3)
Patee Sarasin, former CEO of Nok Air:
"Unlocking the Riches of In-flight Wi-Fi" (pg. 4)
David Bruner, former V.P. Panasonic Avionics:
"Buckle Up! :Turbulence Ahead in Airline Connectivity Markets"
"The Promise of the New Iridium and Aireon Services: Big Advancements in Air Traffic Management on the Horizon" (pg. 26)
Ernst Peter Hovinga, CEO Hiber: "Disrupting the Satellite IoT Connectivity Market: The Promise of Hiber" (p.31)
"Upcoming and Recommended Satellite Mobility Events"
Highlighting Disruptive, New, Mobility-Focused Satellite Ventures and Technologies
In This Issue...
"LEO Competitors Beware: Could Amazon Offer Free Internet From Space?"
"Nautilus Lab's Remarkable AI Based, Voyage Optimization Solution"
"ThinKom's Surprising Mechanically-Steered Phased Array Antennas"
"Thales' Feature-Rich Solutions for Iridium Certus"
"A Sub $350 Phased Array? Can Wafer LLC. Build it?"
Satellite mobility World
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Table of Contents...
"Hot News and Commentary" (pg.3)
Editorial : "LEO Competitors Beware: Could Amazon Offer Free Internet From Space?" (pg. 5)
"Nautilus Lab's Remarkable AI Based, Voyage Optimization Solution" (pg. 8)
"ThinKom's Surprising Mechanically-Steered Phased Array Antennas" (pg. 19)
" Thales' Feature-Rich Solutions for Iridium Certus"
"A Sub $350 Phased Array ? Can Wafer LLC. Build It"
Recommended Upcoming Industry Events
Welcome to the May 2019 issue of Satellite Mobility World. This month's big story is about Amazon. The e-commerce giant's announced entry into the satellite Internet space is a real shocker, especially to the already crowded field of satellite folk hoping to dominate the market. We've assessed the impact in May's editorial, Will Amazon Offer Free Internet from Space.
This month's issue also focuses on several new technologies. First and foremost is Nautilus Labs', application of Artificial Intelligence to voyage optimization and shipping logistics, made possible by VSAT connectivity. We're also taking an in-depth look at advancements in phased array antennas and reviewing the Thales' new, feature-rich L-Band Antennas for Iridium Certus.
Given the focus on electronically steered phased arrays, we've wondered why Thinkom's 2Ku, mechanically driven phased array antenna is so popular with airlines. To find out, we interviewed Thinkom's CTO, Bill Milroy and we were really surprised by the unique features of this clever technology.
Another phased array developer, Wafer, has also grabbed our attention, mostly for Greg Wyler's controversial claim that it can build a mass market phased array for $300. To find if that's possible, read our exclusive interview with CEO and founder, David Haziza.
Gottlieb's Satellite and Mobility World is published monthly (except August) by Gottlieb International Group., Inc. Suite 100, 1209 South Frederick Street, Arlington, VA USA 22204
© Copyright 2019
SATELLITE MOBILITY WORLD
"Hot" News and Commentary
Amazon Confirms Project Kuiper. Plans to Launch 3236 LEO Satellites to Provide Global Internet
Project has Unique Competitive Advantages vs. Other LEO, GEO and Wireless Providers
Jeff Bezos is joining the race to provide global Internet, and that's bad news for the other players. Unlike his competitors, OneWeb and Starlink, who are relying on selling low cost Internet services to billions, Amazon's space-based Internet delivery network would be an extension of Amazon's existing e-commerce and AWS services. With it, he could generate billions in revenue from by targeting the top 5% of Internet users and corporations by leveraging the income from his e-commerce and AWS. For details, read our editorial in this issue "Could Amazon Offer Free Internet From Space?"
Intelsat Revenue Slammed by Epic29e Failure - Satellite Not Insured
The impact of Intelsat's Epic29e failure is finally being felt. The loss of the satellite will result in a loss in revenue of as much as $45 Million this year and result in a $400 Million impairment charge. Unfortunately, 29e was not insured. As of now, the cause of the 29e failure remains unknown and is currently under investigation, and a finding not expected for several months. Given the increased amount of space junk, the probability of collisions will only increase, suggesting the need for increased use of insurance.
In addition to the revenue shortfall from the satellite loss, government and media services were projected to loose another 10 to $15 Million, essentially relegating Intelsat's low end revenue projections for the year to the most optimistic ones.
We also believe that the FCC will result to a traditional auction rather than accept the C-Band Coalition's proposal that would allow Intelsat and other operators to re-sell the C-Band spectrum themselves and pocket windfall profits. We believe the most that the coalition can expect is some degree of compensation for the expense related to vacating a portion of the demand.
O3b Satellites Roar into Space, Scaling SES’s MEO Constellation
Four additional satellites will seamlessly scale SES’s MEO constellation which has positively impacted millions of people with low-latency, high-performance data connectivity services, and mark transition into next-gen MEO system
GUIANA SPACE CENTER, KOUROU, 4 April 2019 -- Four O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites were successfully launched by Arianespace at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana on 4 April, 14:03 PM local time, SES announced today.
The Soyuz launch marks a significant milestone in SES’s O3b MEO journey, bringing the number of O3b satellites to 20, and making the transition into its next-generation MEO system. The seamless scalability of the constellation means that the additional satellites will enhance coverage across the globe and enable SES Networks to provide greater service availability and reliability to cater to the increasing demand for networked applications in the government, telecom, cloud, maritime and energy markets. The satellites were built by Thales Alenia Space.
As the only operationally- and commercially-proven non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) broadband constellation, the O3b MEO system has been successful since its first launch in 2013. It is the only satellite-based system currently delivering fibre-like high-performance data connectivity services, MEF Carrier Ethernet certified services and certified Cloud connectivity services. The unique high-throughput O3b constellation has been key in helping SES achieve its bold vision of changing lives by connecting people. Its positive impact can be felt by customers operating in nearly 50 countries today:
Benefitting mobile networks with more than 15 million end users
Serving 4 out of the 6 oil & gas super majors in key offshore markets
Empowering an exceptional connectivity experience to 4 out of the 5 leading global cruise lines
Working with government and humanitarian agencies to restore connectivity for millions affected by natural disasters in Peru and Puerto Rico
“This launch marks a very important part in the O3b journey. We started O3b with this bold vision of changing lives by connecting people. We wanted to create a meaningful impact, and we have. We have connected under-served communities with high-performance internet. We have restored connectivity across disaster zones. We have changed the notion that you can’t be as connected at sea as on land. And we have made the cloud available to businesses where it was never possible before,” said John-Paul Hemingway, Chief Executive Officer of SES Networks. “As this launch completes our first-gen O3b system of 20 satellites, it also marks the transition into our next-generation MEO system, O3b mPOWER, the only fully-funded NGSO broadband system in development today. When O3b mPOWER launches in 2021, SES will bring massive scale to our proven O3b model – driving digital transformation and cloud adoption virtually everywhere on the planet.”
Speedcast Brings Seamless Connectivity to Indian Waters with Nelco Partnership
SYDNEY, April 25, 2019 – Speedcast International Limited (ASX: SDA), the world’s most trusted provider of remote communication and IT solutions, has signed a partnership agreement with India’s fastest growing VSAT service provider Nelco Limited, a Tata Enterprise, to offer seamless global communications while at sea in Indian waters. This is the first partnership of its kind where vessels of either company will be able to connect to the Ku-band networks of both companies seamlessly in and out of Indian waters. In this partnership, Nelco will also extend to its customers Speedcast’s industry-leading products and services, which include cybersecurity, crew welfare, content solutions, and data and voice applications.
Until today, when vessels entered Indian territory, they were required to shut down their VSAT connection. Under the new partnership agreement, customers of either company can roam into each other’s respective territories of coverage and maintain uninterrupted communications while at sea.
“In this partnership with Nelco we are able to open up the Indian market to drive new growth for both Speedcast and Nelco, as well as deliver the best possible customer experience,” said Speedcast CEO Pierre-Jean Beylier. “We are proud to be offering a unique proposition to thousands of vessels sailing in and out of Indian waters every year and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship between Speedcast and Nelco.”
“In this day and age, ship managers and owners want a broadband maritime service on board their ships that is truly global and reliable,” said Nelco MD & CEO P J Nath. “In our endeavor to offer a seamless global service to our customers, we have partnered with Speedcast, the world’s largest and most robust network service provider. This partnership provides us the opportunity to increase our presence in the maritime industry and paves the way to provide even greater value to our customers with a complete communications service portfolio that includes hardware, applications and services.”
Under this agreement, Speedcast will integrate with the Nelco network to allow either parties’ customers to maintain connection while roaming between the different satellite coverage beams and teleports. With an integrated network, the service achieves global IP access for remote terminals and optimizes the global connectivity experience for our customers.
Telenor Satellite Selects Newtec Technology To Meet Growing Bandwidth Demand
Telenor Satellite to triple vessel VSAT throughput with Newtec Dialog® platform enabling more scalable services for cruise liners, ferries and offshore support vessels (OSVs)
OSLO, Norway, 02 May 2019 – Telenor Satellite aims to satisfy rising demand from its customers for higher throughput maritime services on its THOR 7 Ka-band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) with a new collaboration with Newtec on its Newtec Dialog® platform. Newtec is a leader in the design, development and manufacture of equipment for satellite communications.
Telenor Satellite will use the platform for high end users such as Ferry, Cruise and OSVs where it will be able to fully exploit the potential of THOR 7 and deliver a service that far exceeds what it is possible to deliver today using existing hub-based technology. Newtec Dialog also opens up the possibility of using THOR 7 in new verticals not presently using hub-based technology for service delivery.
Launched in 2015, THOR 7 targets the North Sea, North Atlantic/Norwegian Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. Its HTS payload uses high power spot beams making it ideally suited for the mobility VSAT market. Telenor Satellite’s new Anker suite of services was also recently developed to meet growing demand for unique VSAT profiles capable of meeting any requirement.
“Today’s maritime users wish to remain constantly connected via their mobile devices and ferry and cruise operators are utilizing maritime connectivity more and more to enhance operational efficiency,” said Jan Hetland, Director, Data Services, at Telenor Satellite. “Consequently, demand for throughput on vessels is increasing exponentially. As a leading Ku- and Ka-Band satellite operator and managed services provider, we are committed to meeting that demand and ensuring our service delivers the highest possible throughput. This Newtec Dialog platform will enable us to achieve that goal.”
Newtec Dialog is a single-service and multiservice VSAT platform which brings scalability and flexibility to operators and service providers, allowing them to build and adapt infrastructures and satellite networking as and when required by their customers.
Castor Marine Upgrades Global Maritime Network with iDirect iQ Series of Remotes
Herndon, VA, April 3, 2019 –– VT iDirect, a company of VT Systems, today announced that Castor Marine, a satellite service provider based in the Netherlands, has become one of the first in its region to deploy the latest iDirect iQ 200 remote with an upgrade to its maritime network to VT iDirect’s Evolution® 4.1.2 software. With this upgrade, Castor Marine will be able to support DVB-S2 and DVB-S2X on a global scale, enabling greater network efficiencies and cost savings.
Castor Marine updated its global maritime Ku-band network with the intention of supporting all its vessels with iDirect iQ 200 remotes. The iQ 200 and corresponding Evolution 4.1.2 software upgrade will bring higher throughput capabilities to Castor’s customers, especially in the superyacht and cruise market. Castor Marine plans to upgrade all 19 of its networks to DVB-S2X to leverage the advances of high throughput satellite capacity, to significantly increase the overall efficiency of its networks, and to deliver high-speed connectivity to its growing customer base.
The iDirect iQ 200 Series brings the ultimate balance of speed and efficiency to growing fixed and mobility markets that need a high-performance and economical solution. With Evolution 4.1.2, iQ Series remotes now have DVB-S2 support, allowing operators the flexibility to switch between DVB-S2 and DVB-S2X without an upgrade to their hub infrastructure. Evolution 4.1.2 with iQ Series remotes also makes it easy for operators to scale their network in the future and manage multiple networks from a single platform.
“We pride ourselves on offering customers state-of-the-art technology, which is why we chose to upgrade to iDirect iQ 200 and Evolution 4.1.2,” said Edwin Cras, Managing Director, Castor Marine. “The iDirect iQ Series of remotes and corresponding innovative software offer superior performance for the price point, and we look forward to working with VT iDirect in the future.”
“With the iQ 200 and Evolution 4.1.2, Castor Marine can future-proof its networks and minimize investments in infrastructure upgrades,” said Jerome Clapisson, Regional Vice President, Europe, VT iDirect. “We look forward to working with Castor to improve their network and provide the best possible service experience for their customers.”
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"What should really scare Amazon's competitors is that by relying on the revenue generated through e-commerce and AWS, they may be able to offer satellite connectivity for free or at extraordinarily low prices, driving both other LEO competitors and GEO Internet providers like ViaSat, Hughes, and Ka-Sat, out of the market entirely."
The race to build and profitably operate massive, global LEO constellations has entered a new phase. Amazon has joined, and it is the likely winner.
Unlike its competitors, who plan on selling generic connectivity, Amazon is a value-added player with huge strategic advantages. By launching its own LEO constellation, the company can create a global communications network, linking hundreds of millions of new users, individuals and corporate customers, to its e-commerce website and AWS services.
Meanwhile, OneWeb and Starlink and other competitors would be selling a commodity, and that has proven to be a failed strategy, especially in markets with multiple vendors and an overabundance of capacity.
For example, competing satellite operators recently launched a flood of new HTS capacity into the market and drove bandwidth pricing to new lows. Now, OneWeb, Starlink, Telesat, and Boeing, are lining up to do the very same thing, only with LEOs.
While OneWeb and Starlink and others are competing against each other for the billions of low or no income users they need to make a profit or break-even, Amazon could target the wealthiest five per-cent of the market. Through a combination of e-commerce and AWS revenue, it could generate an ARPU high enough that it doesn't need to capture billions of users.
Employing a niche approach, it could focus on the 200 million users around the globe who live in or near major economic hubs, have long waits for broadband installation or have poor or high-cost Internet connectivity.
Targeting this demographic would be an opportunity to exploit the same sort of trend that developed in Brazil when the lack of availability of conventional telephone service opened up the market for cellular telephony. In theory, Amazon could ride the same trend to achieve success in the satellite Internet market.
Prospects would not only have the purchasing power to purchase goods on the Amazon website, they would also have the financial resources to buy the $300 - $500 antennas required to use the service, as well as computers or tablets that would maximize its usefulness - sold by Amazon, of course.
Ironically, the same kind of niche focus saved O3b. Recall that the company's salvation was its relatively low cost and its ultimate focus on selected niche markets where users could pay. Today, O3b serves Pacific Islands economically unreachable by undersea cable, cruise ships and remote centers of commerce, not the "other three billion" living on the fringes.
What should really scare Amazon's competitors is that by relying on the revenue generated through e-commerce and AWS, the company may be able to offer satellite connectivity for free or at extraordinarily low prices, driving both the other LEO competitors and GEO Internet providers like ViaSat, Hughes and Ka-Sat out of the market.
Of course, this argument is based on the assumption that Bezos' satellite network will have sufficient capacity to service 200 million users. If not, he would have either have to limit demand by offering the service in specific geographical markets or go after a wider market and price to limit demand. Based on current projections, in the future, no satellite network may have the capacity to rival service that fiber connectivity offers.
However, there is little doubt that Bezos could be competitive. He already has a ground-based teleport infrastructure and will soon have launch capability. Blue Origin is far along in the development of a rocket capable of carrying the company's satellites aloft.
Ultimately, the significance of Amazon's entry into the market extends beyond its ability to provide Internet access from space. Satellite industry leaders need to take note that based on its value-added position, it has the potential to disrupt the delivery of satellite Internet.
- Alan Gottlieb
LEO Competitors Beware: Could Amazon Offer Free Internet? from Space?
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The shipping industry continues to suffer through lean times. World trade is down, and the industry suffers from over-capacity. Shipping owners and operators are being forced to switch from low-cost bunker fuel to higher cost low sulfur fuels. In this environment, it's critical to operate at peak efficiency and low cost.
Nautilus Labs, a start-up based in New York City, is tackling this problem. It's the first company to apply artificial intelligence in a voyage optimization platform, one capable of not only saving fuel but ultimately streamlining the whole fleet management process. To understand the magic of AI and its potential for the world's freight hauling fleets, we met with Matt Heider, Nautilus Lab's young CEO.
SMW: Can you give us some background on Nautilus Labs? What is the mission of the company?
Matt Heider: We want to try to help ship owners and operators save on fuel costs, and thereby help assure the sustainability of ocean shipping and the preservation of the environment. Everyone here believes that reducing the industry’s annual $100 billion expenditure on fuel by 20% to 30% would not only be a substantial economic benefit but a huge step forward toward reducing carbon emissions.
We based our entry into the shipping industry on our observation that unlike many industries, in shipping, digital technology was not widely deployed. Incredibly, the industry still relied on the “noon report,” a data sheet prepared daily by the ship’s chief engineer that provides the vessel’s position and other relevant vessel performance and weather information.
So, the potential for AI-based applications capable of lowering fuel consumption and improving voyage efficiency was huge. The idea that in this day and age, decision making relied on a single report that was manually prepared each day and sent back to shore seemed archaic.
If you are a technologist and you are trying to build a large, successful start-up, you can’t ask for much more fertile market than an industry that is still using operational procedures dating from the pre-industrial era.
SMW: Nautilus is one of the first shipping related software companies to apply AI to voyage optimization. As you know, there are others who have developed voyage optimization software. How does the use of AI improve upon these capabilities?
MH: When you think about Artificial Intelligence, we are talking about the same software technology that defeated Garry Kasparov at Chess in 1997 or Watson winning Jeopardy in 2011 against two- lifetime champions.
These victories of machine over man were made possible by integrating a “learning data set,” with software that can “learn” from a massive trove of historical data.
Over time, such software can become quite “smart” and can answer questions better than any person relying on conventional analytic tools such as spreadsheets and models. That’s the benefit we can deliver with Nautilus platform.
Today, the most illustrative use case for our technology is our time charter equivalent earnings (TCE), algorithm. For companies that are in the dry bulk trades, TCE is a key metric that is relied upon by the industry to determine if they are getting a good shipping rate.
Current shipping contracts, provide an upfront lump sum payment to transit goods from point “A” to point “B.” The key to achieving the maximum profitability per/day is the ability to perform timely analysis of a multitude of complex factors that influence TCE and to make operational adjustments, where possible, to improve profitability.
For example, such elements of analysis would include taking into account port costs, bunkering costs, cargo rates, forward-looking market rates, and a machine learning generated performance profile combined with predictive information such as the expected route of the voyage, wind, weather, currents and so forth.
So, what we have built is an algorithm able to take in all those inputs and output a speed or RPM instruction that says that if you run at a certain speed or RPM or if you travel at 14.3 knots, you’re able to achieve the maximum TCE on this voyage.
As the system learns, in four to eight weeks after installation, you can ask it more complex questions such as when to bunker, where to bunker, when to buy spare parts and ship them to the vessel, which crew is performing better than another, and which ports should I use to pick up cargo. AI is really good at answering these types of strategic questions that are really difficult for a human to solve on their own.
So, the primary differentiator between what companies like Sperry, NAPA, and Eniram are doing with their voyage optimization software is that our solution can take into account a more extensive historical dataset and combine it with current information to create a much more comprehensive and accurate decision support capability. The more the software understands what happened in the past, the better predictions it can make about the future.
SMW: Are you focused exclusively on dry bulkers or are there other shipping segments that are attractive markets?
Initially, we have had particular success in the dry bulk market and gas. There is much opportunity in voyage optimization in the bulk trades because historically they not invested in new information technologies. Typically, our greatest opportunities lie in shipping segments that have not been major adopters of information technology.
Now that the platform is becoming more advanced, we also see opportunities in the containership segment. These are huge, expensive ships on routes that consume enormous amounts of fuel.
SMW: It appears that there is constant data exchange between ship and shore. How do you extract data from the vessel and transmit it to shore?
MH: In the majority of cases, we can interface with a shore-based system that has already collected high-frequency sensor data from the vessel. If it’s a Kongsberg ship or other IoT service provider, we access data directly. Mostly, we are hardware agnostic. If the data is not available through an existing provider, we gather the data using a server located on the vessel and then transmit it, via VSAT, to the Cloud and on to the customer. There it is accessed through a Web portal that we have customized to the shipping company’s specifications.
We’re also able to get the engine data from the automation system onboard the vessel and the vessel speed through the water wind from the ECDIS on the bridge.
Once the data is collected and displayed on the web portal, it is reviewed by an individual at the shipping company who is responsible for sharing their insights and recommendations over e-mail or phone with the crew onboard the vessel.
We also send e-mails directly to the crew from the platform, and in the future, we will be building a web portal specifically for use on the ship. However, shipping is a humanistic business, and to date, direct, rather than machine-based, communication is usually preferred.
SMW: What exactly is the role of VSAT connectivity in your solution? What are the bandwidth requirements?
MH: First of all, VSAT connectivity to the ship is essential. We would not be able to function without it. Right now, our data requirement is roughly a megabyte per/day. We use data compression, and we try to minimize our dedicated VSAT usage by relying first on obtaining data previously transmitted from the vessel to the customer. Vessel owners are still sensitive to satellite costs, especially when they add up fleet-wide costs.
However, as collaboration between teams on the vessels with their counterparts on shore becomes more pervasive, everyone needs to have access to the data and be involved in the decision-making process.
SMW: Is there a role for your platform in autonomous shipping?
MH: As we look out into the future, the type of application we want to build is one that closely connects the ship and the shore. We don’t have a vision for unmanned ships or autonomous self-driving ships. We believe that teams that are on the ship and on shore need to have access to the same data.
SMW: How many customers do you have at the moment and can you elaborate on the results achieved with your platform and how many vessels does that represent?
MH: We currently have around ten major customers. All of our customers widely dispersed and are either ship owners or operators.
The first ships came on in the fall of 2017, and all have retained our platform.
We are on several types of vessels including dry and liquid bulk carriers, containerships, and gas carriers. So far, by specifying proper vessel speed and engine RPM, we have demonstrated fuel saving of several hundred dollars per-day which results in a saving of 3-5% over the voyage. We gain additional savings of 3-5% by detecting maintenance issues early, i.e., getting the hull cleaned, the propeller polished or monitoring the engines to be sure they are operating at maximum efficiency.
In the future, when we will be able to provide other types of decision support to support fleet management, we’re expecting to be able to generate additional value. So, we’re on a journey that can ultimately result in as much as 30% per/year in operating costs.
SMW: Does your AI platform also perform predictive analytics, i.e. recognizing engine anomalies and alerting the crew that maintenance is required?
MH: With the platform as it is today, we’re able to provide better insight into the current performance of the ship, and the performance we can expect to see in the near future. However, while predictive maintenance is not within our capability today, it is definitely on our road map for the future. Predictive maintenance capability will require manipulation of a complex set of data, and we are currently developing that capability.
SMW: You claim to be able to monitor sensor health by comparing readings to historical data that you have gathered over time. Can you tell us more about how you do this?
MH: Because we have numerous different data streams coming from the vessel, we’re able to develop a history of how they relate to each other. For example, if the engine power is “x” and the speed is “z,” then the RPM must be “a.” If the RPM is not the expected value, then we send an alarm indicating either a bad sensor or a condition that needs attention. Of course, if we get no reading from the sensor, we know it is out of order.
SMW: How do you generate revenue? What is the business model?
MH: We license it per/ship. We provide software as a service under an annual contract. We usually start with a "pilot” that is 5 -10% of a fleet and as we prove value derived from the platform is real, then we enter in more of a full fleet contract. The ultimate price for a fleet installation is determined by how well the initial installations performed vs. the expectation.
Nautilus Labs' Remarkable, AI-Based Voyage Optimization Solution
"Over time, as the system learns, in four to eight weeks after installation, you can ask it more complex questions such as when to bunker, where to bunker, when to buy spare parts and ship them to the vessel, which crew is performing better than another, and which ports should I use to pick up cargo. AI is really good at answering these types of strategy questions that are really difficult for a human to answer on their own. "
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About Matt Heider:
At Nautilus Labs, Matt services as the captain,
leading efforts to expand operations as a business as well as acquire, maintain, and grow relationships with all potential clients
He previously built the sales and account management team at Andela, a global software engineering firm, as the company scaled from 50 to over 500 people. Prior
to that, he worked as an Account Executive
Matt graduated from George Washington University
with a B.A. in Political Science, and he
received his MBA from The Foster School of
Business at the University of Washington.
An Interview with Thinkom CTO, Bill Milroy...
ThinKom's Surprising Mechanically-Steered Phased Array
Electronically-steered Phased Array Antennas are generating considerable excitement in the satellite industry press, but an innovative, mechanically-steered alternative, Thinkom's ThinAir® Ku3030 (aka Gogo 2Ku) aero Antenna, has generated only minimal coverage, yet with over 1,000 installations and 4000 flights per/day on commercial aircraft, the 2Ku antenna has become a widely accepted standard.
Given that level of success, we wanted to know what is driving its adoption - just what are the unique features of this antenna that make it a natural choice for delivery of onboard Wi-Fi? To find out, we assembled a list of questions and met with Bill Milroy, Thinkom's CTO and Board Chairman. We think the answers will surprise you.
SMW: ThinKom has led its competitors in actually bringing an aero flat panel antenna to market. Can you describe the history of the antenna, highlighting the development of the concept and the advantages inherent in its design?
Bill Milroy: Our steerable Ku3030 VICTS antenna, like others in our product line, was developed from our original, fixed beam CTS antenna, a design that uses a set of long parallel stubs (grooves) on top of a radiating surface to selectively couple and direct the RF energy.
The VICTS antenna (Variable Inclination Continuous Transverse Stub) antenna is based on technology that we originated while at Hughes and Raytheon in the late '90s and have continuously developed and further refined since then, with research support from MIT Lincoln Labs, the US Army, the Air Force Electronic Systems Center, and of course some very substantial ThinKom IR&D investments.
The VICTS antenna is mechanically steered, unlike a conventional phased array, a design that has unique advantages over both electronically steered phased arrays, and conventional mechanically steered dish and planar array antennas. The 2Ku VICTS antenna uses two 30” disks, one for transmit and one for receive, offering two very large surface areas and for a given area, our design produces a much higher gain than that of our competitors.
In combination with the rotating plate design which effectively directs the beam to the GEO equatorial belt (or LEO/MEO satellite position), the antenna performs well even at the high latitudes (low elevation angles) associated with trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific air travel.
In addition, the use of the rotating “plates” results in a largely true-time-delay refraction-based scan architecture, which eliminates the need for electronic phase-shifting elements, a highly desirable feature that maximizes overall efficiency, and allows for very wide channel bandwidths (as associated with newer HTS and LEO/MEO satellites).
With electronically steered antennas this can only be achieved through the use of expensive and power hungry, chip-based “variable time-delays” or direct element-by-element digital conversion.
We judge the antenna to be two to five times more efficient than competing phased array designs largely because the RF signal does not experience the losses associated with having to pass through all of the layers of feed, phase-shifters, and RF electronics that our competitors require.
We’re also more efficient than a comparably sized dish antenna due to the obstruction associated with the feed horn and “spillover” from around the edges of the dish or the passive feed losses of a gimbaled planar array.
So, there’s a huge saving in terms of operational cost associated with our design. Surprisingly, the antenna offers another unique advantage.
It’s relatively inexpensive to manufacture. The structure of the antenna is very simple and is not subject to high tolerance manufacturing demands of typical, electronically steered phased arrays.
Generally, planar arrays are a lot more complicated requiring the mounting and interconnection of 1000’s of semiconductors on circuit boards. In contrast, for large-scale markets (such as fixed LEO/MEO User Terminals,) we can build our antenna using low-cost processes like injection molding and extrusion which are not high precision. So, the manufacturing process (and materials) can be very cost efficient.
SMW: What are the advantages of this approach in the GEO vs. LEO market? I understand that “make or break” requirements for switching between satellites is in the range of 5 milliseconds. However, you are claiming that a time just under 1 second is permissible. Please clarify.
BM: In terms of beam agility, we can move our beam from any point in the sky to any other point in the sky very quickly.
Our antennas support “re-steer” times of between 100 and 800 milliseconds depending on satellite-to-satellite geometries, which is on the same order (or even shorter) than the typical “ping” times associated with applications running on all GSO-based systems today.
More importantly, we have the endorsement of all of the mainstream LEO (and MEO) constellation providers and have demonstrated successful satellite-to-satellite hand-offs on both types of constellations.
SMW: What about reliability?
BM: We are indeed a mechanical phased-array, but it would be a mistake to necessarily equate “mechanical” with “low reliability” "or “slow beam agility.” Quite to the contrary, with a unique mechanical design in which we rotate the "plates" using magnetic induction thereby eliminating the need for gears, belts, or even discrete motors. With over 8 M hours of accrued flight-time to date, our ThinAir® Ku3030 VICTS Array (aka “2KU,”) is achieving extremely high-reliability metrics (i.e. 100,000+ hour MTBF.)
SMW: I understand that ThinKom has successfully developed a Ka-Band aircraft antenna on U.S. government aircraft. Do you see significant commercial demand for the product? How are you progressing with STCs, and have you secured any advance orders from commercial airlines?
BM: We have completed DO-160 certification, the approval you need for your equipment to allow you to go forward and get specific aircraft type approvals (STC’s), for our systems, which are already installed and fully operational on a fleet of very “high-reliability” operational U.S. Government aircraft.
We also aspire to gain adoption on several other manned (and unmanned) aircraft in the near future. On the commercial side, we have multiple STC’s underway and expect to soon have formal permission to announce some “impressive” commercial adoptions.
In terms of “clues,” I can tell you that our Ka2517 system (following closely in the footsteps of our Ku3030 system) has already been flight- and link-tested over much of North America and on a number of constellations including Hughes Jupiter, SES, and Inmarsat.
SMW: In the mid and small-sized business jet, ATG appears to be the leading technology. Both Gogo and Smartsky are developing services that can deliver speeds of around 100 Mbps. If a flat panel phased array can be developed for this market, do you believe satellite can successfully compete with ATG, or we are likely to see ATG backed up by L-Band services like Certus as the dominant these markets?
BM: That’s a tough question. I’m sure that ATG, whether it be through Gogo or Smartsky (or EAN) will play a continuing role in some subset of IFC services, particularly those skewed towards “smaller tube” aircraft confined to the North American and European regional markets.
Using smaller variants of our own existing antennas, we believe that based on our two to five times advantage in terms of efficiency (3 dB/K to 7 dB/K higher G/T for the SAME active area,) that we are uniquely positioned amongst all of the available antenna technologies, to support high-efficiency worldwide business jet and regional jet) IFC services.
SMW: There is an ongoing competition between Ku-Band and Ka-Band based systems. Do you believe that Ka-Band will ultimately become the frequency of choice in the commercial aircraft market, or will Ku-Band continue to dominate? Will airlines with existing Ku-Band based systems switch to Ka-Band or will Ka be primarily for new installations?
BM: Having mature, proven antenna products for both Ku and Ka, we do our best at ThinKom to remain frequency (and modem) agnostic. I would point out that the frequency reuse and per-satellite throughput benefits of HTS and even XTS satellites are not unique to Ka.
Until recently, you would have to say “advantage Ku” for “abundant” global coverage, but Ka is quickly closing that coverage gap, just as Ku is working hard to close the HTS/XTS gap.
Of course, it’s important to note that currently, in the case of a Ka-Band satellite failure, there is no backup.
The recent failure of Intelsat IS29e, in which customers were easily re-routed to other Ku-Band satellites, demonstrated the importance of this advantage. While Ka is certainly catching up in this regard, I’d have to say that once an IFC customer has made a Ku versus Ka choice, due to the cost associated of a re-fit and the lack of significant advantage, I wouldn’t foresee them switching bands in the future.
SMW: I note that you also have antennas for maritime and land markets. Are these the same type of mechanically steered arrays that you are deploying on aircraft or are they electronically or mechanically steered? Can you give us an idea of the kind and number of deployments you have in maritime and land markets?
SMW: Our ground mobile ThinSat®300 product and our maritime solutions share common VICTS technologies, but each employs different system architectures, materials, and manufacturing processes to meet their own system requirements and market needs.
Our ThinSat®300 is particularly well-suited for SNG, First-Responder, and Government users) and has been adopted and employed world-wide in hundreds of installations. It’s equivalent to almost a 35 inch diameter parabolic and can deliver three to eight Mbps.
We’ve also fielded a few of our antennas for the Super Yacht market, but we have not focused, as of yet, on wider opportunities in maritime.
SMW: What is your future product development path? How will you improve the existing antennas, and do you have any new products close to introduction that you can discuss?
BM: To give you a little bit of an idea of what we’re up to, I can tell you that we are actively addressing three important trends/themes in our markets.
The first is the emergence of the LEO and MEO constellations which continue to drive us to more flexible “future-proof” designs in which acquisition, tracking, inter- and intra-satellite handoff, and polarization diversity requirements are of key importance.
Another trend is in terms of frequency coverage, as we can see a trend/push (based on available base bandwidth) to higher frequencies. The USG is already operational at Q-band (44 GHz) which we (by the way) already support, and both the USG and Commercial users are pushing to even higher SATCOM frequencies including E-band (71-86 GHz) and even W-band (94 GHz). We’ve already flight-tested W-band VICTS antennas!
Finally, the third important trend is in the area of production scalability and price-point.
Our antennas are uniquely well-suited to commoditized production materials. It is on this basis that we’ll soon be announcing some significant “breakthroughs” in terms of size, performance, (and price-point) for Full-Duplex (truly simultaneous transmit and receive) Consumer and Enterprise terminals for LEO, MEO, GSO, and IoT applications. These are truly “exciting times” in the Connectivity Markets.
VICTS Antenna - Exploded View
2 Ku Antenna Exploded View
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About Bill Milroy:
William (Bill) Milroy currently serves as Chairman and CTO of ThinKom Solutions, Inc., located in Hawthorne, CA and focused on the design, development, and manufacture of innovative antenna access solutions for the Fixed and Mobile Broadband Wireless Communication markets.
Prior to co-founding ThinKom, Mr. Milroy held the position of Senior Engineering Fellow within the Electromagnetic Systems Department of Raytheon’s Electronic Systems (ES) Segment.
During his tenure at Raytheon (Hughes Aircraft), Mr. Milroy managed and led the RF antenna design, development, and manufacture of a wide range of antenna array implementations and products for radar and communication applications in both the commercial and military marketplaces including 1-D and 2-D Electronically-Scanned Arrays (ESA’s).
Mr. Milroy is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, earning BSEE, MSEE, degrees.
With any satellite constellation, no matter how advanced, innovation needs to be matched by antenna technology on the ground. Antenna development is complicated and the issues involved in creating a successful product are substantial. Maximization of a satellite constellation's capabilities is about the antennas as much as it is about the constellation itself - how they are designed and built and the features they offer.
So it is with Certus. To maximize the capabilities of Certus, Iridium relied on the expertise of two experienced third party, antenna manufacturers, Thales and Cobham.
To find out what was involved in the development of the antenna infrastructure, we met with Brian Aziz, Director of Satcom Solutions, with Thales Defense and Security, one of the two prime contractors.
SMW: Development of your antennas must have required a lot of collaboration with Iridium. Can you describe the product development process? How long did it take to go from concept to manufacture. Was the fact that Thales Alenia Space manufactured the satellites a significant advantage in creation of the antennas?
Brian Aziz: As you recall, Thales Alenia Space built the Iridium satellites, and that kied off the collaboration between Thales and Iridium, ultimately resulting in the opportunity to develop the Iridium ground terminals for land and maritime.
While our relationship with Iridium spun off from the relationship between Iridium and Thales Alenia Space, Thales Defense and Security Inc. is a totally independent company, and there is essentially a “Chinese wall” between us – necessary to maintain fairness when we are in competition with other antenna manufacturers.
So, Thales Defense and Security had no unfair advantage due to the fact that another company in our group was manufacturing the Iridium satellites.
In 2014, Thales Defense and Security, based in Clarksburg, MD responded to the Iridium RFP for the maritime and land products, and our aviation group, based in Melbourne, Florida, addressed the RFP for the aviation product.
At that point in time, we gathered information and put together a strategy to respond to the RFP. and in late 2014 – early 2015, Thales Defense and Security was selected as a value-added antenna manufacturer.
This development process involved an extensive market research effort to determine key product features and consisted of numerous interviews with third party re-sellers and end users.
We asked them that if we were going to develop a new L-Band product, what features would they want included and features that would make their lives easier. We spent nearly ten months in that phase just gathering information for our engineering and design staff. We simply wanted to build the best product possible.
Essentially, on the land side, we did the same kind of market research with the military as well as in other land segments – rail, mining, etc.
Thales has a very close relationship with the military and the DOD which was a great help in determining optimal product features.
In both efforts, we came back with notebooks full of suggestions, and from that data, we picked the most frequently requested product features and those that offered the most value, and we presented them to our engineers in October of 2015.
During the entire development phase of the antennas, we worked with Iridium. It took nearly two years for the engineers to design, manufacture and test the product. We had to make very sure the antenna was perfect before we delivered it to customers, and in October of 2018, we released the first commercial product.
SMW: . I understand that there are major differentiators between the Thales products vs. the Cobham offerings. Could you highlight them?
The first major differentiator between us and our competitors is in our upload and download speeds.
In addition, both terminals are upgradeable to 700 Kbps on the downlink, but VesseLink will have the fastest upload speed at 352 Kbps, where Cobham's unit remains at 176 Kbps. Because we employ a more sophisticated antenna design, we/re able to achieve higher upload speeds.
In addition, and unlike the Cobham offering our unit will be upgradeable, via a simple firmware update, to 352 X 704 Kbps while Cobham’s upload capability will remain at 176 Kbps on the upload. In addition to higher speeds, we’ve integrated some unique features into our antenna designs.
We’ve incorporated a Least Cost Routing capability with Ethernet interface that avoids the need for the customer to purchase a separate routing device.
If connected to Ku-Band VSAT, it will automatically route traffic over the VSAT if available, thereby minimizing the need to use higher cost L-Band. It is also configurable via a web-portal to specific requirements.
We have also integrated a PBX. This provides the same sort of features that would be available in an office setting.
For example, if a ship captain wants to call a crew member at the other end of the ship, he simply needs to dial an extension number.
It’s an internal call on the ship and does not go over satellite. Today, it works with wired phones, and we will soon introduce an application for cell phones that will integrate with the PBX and allow wireless use.
Another unique feature of our solution is our incorporation of a radio gateway, This allows the user to plug in a UHF or VHF radio into our terminal and extend their radio network.
Plugging a radio into our box that acts as what we call a “donor radio.” It’s basically taking whatever radio traffic that comes in via satellite and distributing it to all radios in the range of the donor radio.
For example, an administrator at FEMA in Washington could dial into the Iridium network, access the donor radio, and reach any users within range of that radio. It’s a feature that is especially useful in disaster management.
SMW: How does your pricing compare with Cobham?
BA: From an MSRP, we are at par with Cobham. Our unit is definitely more feature-rich and more capable, especially with the upload speeds.
SMW: You are focusing on maritime, aero and land mobility. Is there any difference in the hardware provided for each of these markets?
BA: From a terminal perspective, the units are exactly the same for both maritime and land, They have the same features and share the same management portal. The only difference is the antenna design. The antenna on the land product is basically lower profile and slightly smaller than the maritime product.
SMW: Iridium has several major advantages over the Inmarsat FB product including global coverage, low latency, a much smaller, low cost antenna with no moving parts and more favorable pricing on both the antenna and service. How would you rank these advantages in terms of the maritime customer?
BA: In the maritime market, the product is definitely less costly to buy and operate than Fleet broadband. Given the extreme price sensitivity in this market, pricing is definitely a huge advantage. I think the additional value-added features, the global coverage, given the increased interest in the polar regions, and the low latency characteristic of a LEO vs. a GEO constellation are also significant differentiators. The very compact antenna is also easier to ship and install, and it’s solid state. So, it’s much more reliable than the FB, mechanical antenna.
Now the customer has a choice, and I think that will be a factor definitely in Iridium’s favor.
SMW: In the maritime market, Iridium has received approval to offer GMDSS. How will you integrate it into your antenna?
BA: Initially, we will supply a separate, external console, but ultimately, we plan to integrate GMDSS capability into the antenna unit itself.
SMW: What about the “MissionLINK” application? Have any of these units been tested or sold commercially to the military and, if so, can you tell us more about their specific use cases?
MissionLINK is just the land variant of the maritime package. Our military and land -based commercial partners have been putting into back packs and Pelican cases, and they have been mounting it on buildings for business continuity and using it in disaster recovery applications.
We’ve delivered MissionLINK units to the market since last October – the same exact time as VesseLINK. It’s especially popular with the military, and we have already delivered significant quantities.
They like the security, the redundancy and the low latency and characteristics of the Iridium network. In particular, the low latency allows them to run programs that they could not run over high latency GEO networks.
SMW: Are you other land markets i.e. rail, truck, etc.?
BA: There have been some early trials in rail and trucking markets. Iridium recently announced a deployment on the Rocky Mountaineer in an IoT application. There have also been trials in the trucking sector, as well.
SMW: Will you be adding any additional features to your antennas in the near future?
BA: We’re dedicated to the Certus portfolio, and we want to expand our offerings, and we want to add new products that address different market segments. In particular, we are interested in antenna development for the coming 1.4 Mbps service, and in specialized product variants that may address low-end markets. With the current products, we will be providing quarterly updates, and we expect to announce a significant new product by year-end.
The following questions were directed to ED Prado, V.P. FlightLink...
SMW: As we both know, entry into the aero segment is difficult. STCs are required for each different type of aircraft. How are you coming with this process and when do you expect a commercial product will be available?
Ed Prado: Thales is supporting multiple, concurrent aircraft certification projects with our customers, both forward fit and retrofit. Thales FlytLINK will be certified on specific commercial air transport, business aviation, special missions, and rotorcraft airframes in the coming months. The commercial launch of Thales FlytLINK will occur in November 2019, with first flight test in May 2019.
SMW: In reading your literature, it appears that the primary focus of the aero applications is Safety Services. Of course, on small and mid-sized business jets, ATG is still the only method for true, high-speed connectivity.
However, while many of these smaller aircraft operate primarily over land, they do, at times, stray beyond the range of ATG. Do you see a major ATG back up market in the small business jet segment?
EP: Thales FlytLINK, powered by the newly deployed Iridium NEXT L-band satellites, will support multiple connectivity services in all aviation market segments.
Safety services are a key requirement for commercial air transport and large business jets. With that said, Thales FlytLINK is a product family, with specific solutions for delivering enterprise grade broadband IP connectivity, voice, and value-added services to commercial air transport, business aviation, military aviation, UAV, special missions, and rotorcraft market segments.
Thales FlytLINK supports cockpit safety services, aircraft operations, and passenger connectivity requirements all within one compact shipset with best in class SWaP (Size Weight and Power).
Contrary to ATG, which is a regional ground-based solution, Thales FlytLINK leverages the Iridium LEO constellation, the only network that provides 100% worldwide coverage, pole to pole.
Our FlytLINK solution empowers customers to achieve their big ambitions. By being the first to leverage next generation Iridium Certus services, Thales FlytLINK will deliver fast broadband connectivity to the aircraft, anywhere in the world, and make it possible for operators to optimize their cost of operations and enhance the crew and passengers experience. We know these are big priorities for the airlines, and we pleased to help the airlines achieve them.
Thales' New, Feature-Rich Solutions for Iridium Certus
With Thales Executives Brian Aziz and Ed Prado...
About Ed Prado:
Ed is the Vice President of the Satcom business for Thales Avionics.
His career spans over 35 years of professional experience in Commercial, Defense and Space development Programs with leadership positions in Engineering & Program Management at Thales Avionics, Honeywell Aerospace, Raytheon, and Texas Instruments.
Over the last 10 years, Ed has lead cutting-edge connectivity & value-added technology solutions in the avionics & satellite community, and most recently with the introduction of the Thales Iridium SATCOM FlytLINK system.
About Brian Aziz:
Brian is Director of Satcom Solutions and Thales Defense and Security.
The majority of Brian’s career has been focused on the satcom mobility market, specializing in the commercial distribution strategy of both hardware, services, and value added applications.
Over the last 12 years Brian has been fortunate enough to work in several different facets of the industry and most recently in the evolution of the L-band market with the launch of Iridium Certus and ThalesLINK family of products.
A Sub $350 Phased Array? Can Wafer Build It?
An Interview with Wafer LLC. CEO and Founder, David Haziza
"Where we are even more unique is that we can do send and receive simultaneously on the same antenna by employing “left and right polarization,” resulting in a significant cost saving vs. the need to employ separate send and receive modules. It’s a very significant achievement."
While billions of dollars will spent on the development of massive, new LEO constellations, the realization of connecting billions of marginal users cannot be realized without the availability of low cost, electronically steerable antennas.
To date, while many lower cost phased array terminals are in development, most target the enterprise market and are priced to sell for thousands of dollars. To date, only one has claimed to have broken below the $350 level. That's Wafer LLC.
Since its inception, Wafer has operated in a "stealth mode." So it's little wonder that its claim was greeted with a great deal of skepticism.
Unveiled in the January 25th issue of Space News, OneWeb Chairman Greg Wyler, announced the existence of the company and that it could sell a complete phased array terminal, for around $350.
To find out more about Wafer and the features of its terminal, we contacted Wafer CEO and founder David Haziza (Dedi), a well-known and well-respected satellite antenna entrepreneur.
In terms of advantages, the terminal he described goes far beyond low cost. He tells us it incorporates true time delay, transmit and receive on a single aperture and low power consumption - all highly desirable features in a flat panel phased array.
Despite his desire to maintain a degree of secrecy prior to product release, Dedi agreed to grant us an interview and even invited us to tour his facilities in Boston and Israel. So, we're pleased to bring you this exclusive interview.
SMW: Can you describe your phased array solution? As you know, there are many variations to the approach – some using hardware, some using LCD?
Dedi Haziza: It’s essentially a hardware-based approach. We do the phase shifting in the “front end,” RF, high frequency domain and in Ku-Band. We don’t do a base band or digital solution, and we are not using LCD. Of all the approached out there, we’re closest to Phasor. However, our solution offers the advantage of true time delay. I would tell you more, but we are a bit sensitive about competition until we do our final deployment.
SMW: 2. In our previous call, you noted that you can deliver a complete 2-foot square antenna (including L & B, BUC, HPA and Modem) to market in quantities of 1 Million or more for $350 to $500 and yesterday you mentioned a $250 delivery cost. Please explain.
DH: Since we talked a month ago, we built four more antennas specifically to explore cost reduction. We now believe we could sell for $250 and still make a profit. To reduce cost, we invested a lot of R and D into material science. We went down to the physical level to produce a hardware phase shifting device from “scratch.” It’s a new material and a new design. Additional cost savings were achieved by developing all of the terminal components in-house, Radio, BUC, L & B and controller.
Where we are even more unique is that we can do send and receive simultaneously on the same antenna by employing “left and right polarization,” resulting in a significant cost saving vs. the need to employ separate send and receive modules. It’s a very significant achievement.
SMW: Can you explain the principle behind true time delay?
DH: True time delay is all about bandwidth. In a conventional phased array, you shift a single, very specific frequency, and that results in a bandwidth limitation.
With true time delay you shift the entire range of frequencies received or transmitted by the antenna. So, true time delay has a much wider bandwidth capability than conventional phase shifting. It’s even advantageous at lower data rates because you want to be sure your beam is fixed.
SMW: How does your antenna function in a LEO environment? Is it capable of addressing two satellites simultaneously?
DH: Yes, we can address two satellite simultaneously and to thereby do “make before break.”
We already have response times of 1 Millisecond and believe our response times will continue to improve. For example, when I tell the antenna to move 90 degrees to the right, to the left or up and down, it takes about 1 Millisecond.
SMW: You mentioned that your 2’ X 2’ antenna is equivalent to a 60 cm dish “bore site on.” So, it would seem that your initial product would be specifically for LEOs since it would be highly inefficient in a GEO application at latitudes of 30 degrees or greater. If also intended for GEO, how will you achieve broadband speeds at higher latitudes?
DH: We can work with LEO or GEO. Physics is physics. We don’t fix scan loss. It’s a characteristic of all flat antennas. 60 degrees from bore site isn’t a problem but 85 degrees is. You have to tilt your antenna at higher latitudes or increase the size of the antenna panels to compensate.
SMW: Can you do transmit and receive on the same panel, or do you expect to accomplish this in the near future? I understand that due to interference between send and receive, this is technically very difficult to do, but, if possible, can produce a much lower cost antenna.
DH: As I mentioned previously, we have already achieved simultaneous transmit and receive on a single panel.
Since we are not generating power at the antenna level, we are able transmit and receive are using orthogonal polarized beams, meaning each is a separate polarization, and we are mixing them into a single “animal.”
The transmit in “left hand” circular polarization and the receive in right hand circular polarization. So, they are isolated. There not talking to each other. That’s for LEO. For GEO we have a linear polarization terminal. We can program the antenna “on the fly” for either circular polarization for LEO or linear for GEO. That’s basically how we do it.
This is very difficult, and we invested our entire second year of development to achieve it. So, recall that by doing this, we save half the area thereby substantially reducing cost.
SMW: What about scalability? Will you build a modular solution that will facilitate larger and more efficient antennas? Will you be able to combine the transmit and or receive signals from separate antennas?
DH: Yes, our systems are highly scalable to create many shapes and sizes of antennas, the 2 ft size you mention is representative of one example antenna.
SMW: Can you tell us more about the advantages of low-power consumption?
If your antenna requires high power, you will have to add various heat dissipation technologies which add weight, cost and complexity to your design. What you end up with is a heavy, bulky and costly solution. Since we don’t generate a significant amount of heat, we can minimize cost.
SMW: According to my notes, to reach your targeted price point, you need to produce at least one million antennas. Wouldn’t that mean that you would need an initial customer to place an order for at least that number or commit $300 million? Given the need to supply large quantities of the antenna once a major LEO constellation goes into service, how long would it take for you to produce 1 million antennas? How could you meet that production level with an in-house manufacturing facility?
DH: You would be surprised. That’s part of our secret. The production facility is fully automated. There is minimal human interaction. Of course, we’re not producing the PCBs. All that is done externally. The assembly and integration are done in-house. We also will have a very large facility in the U.S. we’re building that now.
SMW: What is the timing for actual commercial deployment.
DH: Some of our customers are planning to deploy the antenna late this year and we expect further deployment in 2020.
Telesat LEO Constellation
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About David Haziza:
David is an entrepreneur with deep experience in all aspects of Antennas, RF and Wireless communication technologies and Modem development.
He has built numerous radio systems and radio system components with a focus on microwave circuitry and antennas for terrestrial and aerospace communications systems and led it to Volume production.
He led Technology Innovation Centers for leading companies in few continents, during which time he developed space, air, and ground platforms.
During his more than 20 years of experience, he has worked in the Israeli defense and space industry, as well as for U.S. commercial enterprises such as Wavebender, CalAmp, DirectV and Many others.
Graduated With Bachelor of Science Summa Cum Laude from the Technion, Haifa and Msc Physical Electronics and Joint MBA from Tel-Aviv University, Hold s more than 20 granted patents and have numerous more pending in his name.
There are many mobility related satellite industry events and unless you have an unlimited budget, here are the "must attends" and others that may be of interest. Note that the "hot" sectors are Cruise, Aero and Yachts. Satellite Mobility World attends those events highlighted in blue.
*****Satellite 2019: May 6-9: Washington D.C. We consider this one of the two most important Satellite shows and conferences in the industry, the other being the World Satellite Business Week in Paris, held the second week of September.
***** AVIA at the Satellite Industry Forum 2019: 17-19 June at the Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore. Find out what trends the satellite industry will see play out this year. Expect to meet more than 230 attendees and hear from 45 thought leaders this June. Click the logo below for more information.
****Cellular Backhaul 2019: June 13: London.
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*****Global Connected Aircraft Summit: June 10-13: San Diego, CA . This is the premier conference for those interested in broadband connectivity on commercial aircraft.
****CommunicAsia: Singapore June 18-20: This is the premier satellite industry event in Asia. Not to be missed.
*******Small Satellite Conference: Logan, Utah, August 8th-12th 2019. While Logan is a bit out of the way, this is the primer conference in the industry. With most of the innovation in satellite coming from this segment, it's a must to attend. Last year, over 3,000 attendees from all over the globe attended - far more than any other conference focused on the topic.
***Nor Shipping: Oslo: June 4-7: Important exhibition for those following the Scandinavian shipping industry and the maritime VSAT Market.
******World Satellite Business Week: Paris, France: Typically, the 2nd week of September (dates to be announced) For those seeking the opportunity to meet and easily network with top executives of the satellite industry, this is the premier conference of the year.
***Monaco Yacht Show: 25-28 September: Monaco: For those interested in the use of VSAT on yachts, this is a key event.
Upcoming and Recommended Satellite Mobility Events
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