Volume II, No 9 October 2017
Independent Analysis and Commentary on Maritime, Aero and Land-based Satellite Technologies
In This Issue...
"O3b mPower: SES' Flexible New Solution in the Sky": An Interview with Steve Collar SES Networks CEO
"ABS' CEO Tom Choi"s Vision: Unbridled Exuberance and the Satellite Industry's Uncertain Future"
"Newtec Dialog: A Powerful New Platform for HTS Mobility Networks." with CEO Thomas Van de Driessche
Satellite mobility World
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Welcome to the October 2017 issue of Gottlieb's Satellite Mobility World. Our magazine is now over 19 months old and in just 19 issues, we're now read in over 40 countries!
We're following an industry that is rapidly evolving. Satellite Operators are racing to build new HTS and LEO constellations. Hub and Modem manufacturers are introducing new ultra high speed infrastructure, and flat panel antennas will soon be coming to market.
At Satellite Mobility World, we're reviewing these new technologies and the strategies that are reshaping the industry. The big news this month is the launch of O3b's new mPower Network and the deployment of the Newtec Dialog platform. We also have a fascinating interview which Tom Choi addresses the potential for massive HTS overcapacity and price collapse in the HTS mobility segment.
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
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SATELLITE MOBILITY WORLD
In this Issue:
Industry Trends and Analysis: (pg. 3)
"An Interview with Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks: Introducing o3b mPower: SES' Flexible New Solution in the Sky" (pg. 4)
"ABS CEO Tom Choi's Vision: Unbridled Exuberance and the Satellite Industry's Uncertain Future"
"Newtec Dialog: A Powerful New Platform for HTS Mobility Networks"
"Recommended Upcoming Mobility Related Satellite Industry Events"
Industry Trends and Analysis
Gogo Business Aviation Goes Global with High-Speed Satellite Connectivity Service
Gogo Ku connectivity service expected to outperform other global connectivity solutions in business aviation
BROOMFIELD, Colo., Sept. 19, 2017 "Gogo Business Aviation (NASDAQ: GOGO), long recognized as the leading provider of broadband connectivity products and services for business aviation in North America, is expanding its reach to become a global provider with the announcement of a high throughput satellite service for business aviation.
The new service will utilize Gogo's existing Ku-band satellite network, the same trusted high capacity satellite network that is currently providing bandwidth for more than 550 commercial aviation aircraft across 10 airlines globally. Gogo is currently bringing additional HTS (high throughput satellite) capacity online as part of its global satellite network, which will boost the performance of both its new business aviation Ku solution and its commercial aviation network solutions. Service is expected to be available in the second half of 2018.
"Gogo's Ku satellite service will deliver a superior experience to anything else in the market today for anyone flying globally on business jets," said Sergio Aguirre, senior vice president and general manager for Gogo Business Aviation. "Our customers' hunger for data continues to increase and Gogo is ready to meet those needs on a global scale. While satellite networks used by competitors are designed and built for multiple markets including maritime, our network is designed for and fully dedicated to aviation, which will result in greater capacity and a better overall inflight Wi-Fi experience. And for those who fly internationally in and out of the U.S., Gogo Ku will be the perfect complement to the Gogo Biz 4G air-to-ground network – one comprehensive solution from one provider."
Unlike other providers who rely on only a handful of satellites, the Gogo network can leverage an open ecosystem of more than 100 satellites for built-in redundancy. As demand for bandwidth increases, Gogo can leverage the growing network of Ku satellites to ensure customers can access increased capacity. And Gogo can add capacity more economically than other providers who can only add capacity by launching new satellites.
Gogo Ku will deliver reliable, redundant coverage around the globe with streaming-class Internet, and service from takeoff to landing. It provides fast web browsing and other activities such as live streaming video and audio, on-demand movies, large file downloads, personal smart phone use, real-time data for cockpit apps, and remote diagnostics and support while in flight.
The primary components of the onboard system include a tail-mounted antenna, and hardware that is compatible with the Gogo AVANCE platform. With an open architecture that leverages current and future high throughput Ku satellites, Gogo Ku offers unrivaled adaptability to keep aircraft connected now and in the future."
SES Networks Initiates Two Vessel Trial Powering Carnival Corporation’s MedallionNet™ Connectivity Experience
Luxembourg, 29 September 2017 -- "Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest leisure travel company, today announced MedallionNet™, a game-changing connectivity service enabled by SES Networks. MedallionNet will provide guests with easy-to-access Wi-Fi that features exceptional speeds and bandwidth, pervasive stateroom signal strength and unprecedented service consistency.
The connectivity service -- to be delivered in connection with SES Networks, a business unit of SES -- will collectively leverage the leading global satellite operator’s geostationary earth orbit (GEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) constellations, managed services, antenna and shipboard technology to significantly enhance the guest experience by providing high performance and reliable broadband connectivity at sea. This innovative service is also enabled by hardware and software shipboard technology advances associated with Carnival Corporation’s proprietary O·C·E·A·N Experience Platform.
“Staying connected is inextricably linked to our daily life experiences and that now extends to the vacation experience, even when sailing in the middle of the sea,” said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Corporation. “MedallionNet will set the new standard for Wi-Fi service at sea and we look forward to rolling it out to our guests. Our top priority is doing everything we can to exceed guest expectations, and by listening closely to our guests, we know Wi-Fi connectivity is important to many of our guests. For guests who want to disconnect, they are free to do so. But for those who want to stay connected, MedallionNet will make it easy for them – and that includes being able to easily send photos, videos and messages letting everyone know they are having a fabulous vacation.”
MedallionNet is another development to emerge from Carnival Corporation’s Global Experience and Innovation Center located in Miami and is the first end-to-end Wi-Fi service development formulated with a focus on exceeding guest expectations through “GuestCentricityTM” – an initiative to enhance all aspects of the vacation experience by delivering guests what they want, when, where and how they want it.
“SES Networks is privileged to be associated with Carnival Corporation’s Global Experience and Innovation team and to be powering MedallionNet,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks. “We share Carnival Corporation’s passionate focus on connecting people, places and cultures around the world with amazing experiences. As the only company to offer a GEO and MEO constellation, unmatched in scale, performance and technological diversity, SES Networks is uniquely positioned to enable the highest performing Wi-Fi connectivity at sea, as well as immerse media and gaming content.”
MedallionNet leverages multi-band antennas uniquely configured in an innovative shipboard formation to minimize any potential impact to guest connectivity due to seasonal weather or ship positioning, and it fuses multi-orbit satellite bandwidth to deliver a truly immersible guest connectivity experience."
Speedcast Honored at 14th Annual Awards for Excellence in Satellite Communications
Euroconsult Awarded Speedcast "Strategic M&A Transaction of the Year" During 2017 World Satellite Business Week for Harris CapRock Acquisition
Paris, France, Sept. 13, 2017 – "Speedcast International Limited (ASX: SDA), the world’s most trusted provider of highly reliable, fully managed, remote communication and IT solutions, announced today that it has been honored as the winner of the “Strategic M&A Transaction of the Year” award for its acquisition of Harris CapRock at Euroconsult’s 14th Annual Awards for Excellence in Satellite Communications.
“We are thrilled to be honored by Euroconsult for our acquisition of Harris CapRock,” said Pierre-Jean Beylier, CEO, Speedcast. “The deal altered the landscape of communications solutions provided to the energy and cruise industries. Customers now have access to more coverage, a greater local presence, increased flexibility, a broader array of product and services options, as well as a clear pathway for them to upgrade their communications as the markets require.”
The awards recognize companies and their leaders who are transforming and driving the satellite industry, as well as contributing to growth and innovation. They are based on a performance analysis of the market players and assessed by a jury of experts from Satellite Finance and Space News, as well as Euroconsult’s analyst team. Quantitative and qualitative indicators are taken into account in the assessment.
The awards ceremony took place Sept. 13 in Paris, during the 21st World Summit for Satellite Financing."
Iridium Exploring Advanced NewSpace Satellite IoT Opportunities
Memorandum of Understanding Signed with Magnitude Space to Investigate Very Low Power, High Latency IoT Service Alternatives
MCLEAN, Va., Sept. 07, 2017: "Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Magnitude Space, an emerging small satellite company. The signing of this MoU signals Iridium's interest in exploring collaborative partnerships with complementary NewSpace players, particularly those in the SmallSat low-power arena. As part of this MoU, the companies will begin discussions on how to collaboratively expand opportunities for space-based Internet of Things (IoT) services with the development of reliable, Low Power Global Area Network (LPGAN) technologies.
"We envision a future where numerous diverse satellite architectures interwork to support the dramatically expanding IoT universe," said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. "From high bandwidth access points to highly mobile and low latency devices like Iridium supports today, to low power, higher latency networks like Magnitude Space envisions, Iridium has the experience and global platform to enable all of these capabilities to interwork."
Magnitude Space, headquartered in Amsterdam, is planning to build a network of 18-24 small satellites, that will deliver LPGAN connectivity to remote areas of the world. From monitoring plantation soil moisture levels to tracking livestock, Magnitude Space's technology will be a cost-effective, reliable option for companies in need of very low-power, low-cost, monitoring and tracking options that require longer life battery and infrequent non-real-time messaging solutions.
"We are excited to begin exploring how we can work with and benefit from a cooperation with Iridium. They are arguably the first successful NewSpace player, and have made LEO their successful home when others said it couldn't be done," said Ernst Peter Hovinga, CEO, Magnitude Space. "As we evolve as a company, we feel that Iridium is an ideal partner for us. They set the standard for low earth satellite network operations, and support a vast distribution and technology partner ecosystem for satellite IoT customers. Since Iridium primarily serves the requirements of customers with fully global, low latency needs, and we plan to meet the needs of companies requiring low-power monitoring services, we are truly complementary in our respective approaches. We intend to commercially launch in Q2 of 2018 and believe we will be the first to market with such a service offering. Our partnership has the potential to bring two networks together, addressing the total IoT connectivity proposition present in the market today. We look forward to continuing the conversation and learning from a leader in the mobile satellite space."
This partnership is one of several relationships Iridium has been cultivating within the IoT industry, specifically for low power opportunities. Developing additional lower power, high latency alternatives can diversify Iridium's IoT portfolio, and creates more cost-effective, complementary options for its IoT partners.
"Lower power initiatives are a key aspect of Iridium's IoT business strategy," said Tim Last, vice president and general manager, Iridium IoT line of business. "Magnitude Space has a solid business proposition with a collaborative approach, which is ideal for this exploratory phase of our relationship. The industry needs both medium-to-high power satellite-based IoT solutions, as well as LPGAN offerings, and we can now discuss ways to best leverage both our network, and their offerings to expand our portfolio of premium IoT solutions."
Iridium's IoT business is currently the Company's fastest growing line of business which saw commercial IoT data subscribers increase 20 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2017. Iridium is in the process of launching its next-generation constellation, Iridium NEXT, which will enable Iridium CertusSM, the Company's state-of-the-art communications platform supporting a portfolio of critical communications solutions. Specifically, for Iridium IoT services, Iridium Certus will support faster speeds and higher throughputs, delivering an enhanced version of the low latency satellite connectivity it provides today. All Iridium IoT services are compatible with Iridium NEXT."
Speedcast Introduces GO4SPEED™ to Provide a Near-Shore 4G/LTE Service for Maritime and Energy Customers
Sydney Australia September 7th: "Data-Only Solution Enables Cost-Effective, Reliable Connectivity to Complement Onboard Satellite Communications
Sydney, Australia – Speedcast International Limited (ASX: SDA), the world’s most trusted provider of highly reliable, fully managed, remote communication and IT solutions, today introduced GO4SPEED™, a new global near-shore, data-only 4G/Long Term Evolution (LTE) solution for Maritime and Energy. GO4SPEED provides flexible usage packages, cost control and overage protection, is easy to install and can be configured to compliment other communications services such as VSAT and MSS.
“GO4SPEED enables cost-effective mobile data for the Maritime industry, enhancing our global VSAT and MSS services,” said Dan Rooney, Product Director for Commercial Maritime, Speedcast. “The Maritime and Energy sectors demand affordable, yet manageable, high-speed near-shore communications, and GO4SPEED delivers this. GO4SPEED provides high-speed access to Internet and corporate VPN connections, creating a hybrid network with Speedcast’s VSAT and MSS services“.
GO4SPEED is ideal for any vessel or offshore rig and can enhance the onboard internet with download speeds up to 100Mbps (4G/LTE carrier dependent). GO4SPEED can receive a signal up to 15km offshore depending upon the vessel’s position, antenna and cellular tower location. If a 4G/LTE signal is not available, GO4SPEED automatically switches to 3G/HSPDA.
GO4SPEED payment plans are flexible, with a range of bundles to accommodate any requirement. Global 4G/LTE data plans can provide up to 2TB per month and can also be pooled amongst a fleet to maximize efficiency and cost savings. Flexible controls and overage protection is provided to ensure that a vessel or rig never exceeds its monthly allowance. GO4SPEED is supplied as a turnkey solution including antennas, and can be easily installed by crew members providing a simple yet reliable option for enhanced connectivity."
AirAsia Group signs contract to offer Inmarsat’s GX Aviation high-speed broadband on more than 120 aircraft
27 September 2017: "Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, announced today that AirAsia Group has selected its next-generation GX Aviation inflight broadband solution for more than 120 Airbus aircraft.
The landmark contract signed by Inmarsat and AirAsia Group, through its subsidiary ROKKI, covers all existing and future Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft operated across the AirAsia Group, including the long-haul operator AirAsia X. The agreement also has the scope to include any additional aircraft types due for delivery in the coming years, such as the Airbus A350. The first installations of GX Aviation onboard AirAsia Group aircraft, together with the launch of commercial service, are both scheduled to commence in the first half of 2018."
Panasonic Avionics and Tascent Partner to Enhance Air Traveler Experience With Biometrics
LONG BEACH, CA – September 26, 2017 – "Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in inflight entertainment and connectivity, and Tascent, Inc., a biometrics and identity innovation company, today announced their intent to enter into a strategic partnership to bring biometric passenger identification to every stage of the passenger journey – both on the ground and in the air.
The companies will combine Tascent’s biometric identity devices, software and services with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s in-flight entertainment and communications systems to provide streamlined, easy-to-use identity recognition before departure, during flight, and upon arrival. These combined capabilities coupled with enabling technologies from Panasonic Corporation will support industry trends toward smart airports and the connected passenger journey, while bringing innovations such as seatback immigration, streamlined personalization and in-flight biometric payment within reach.
Together, Panasonic and Tascent will bring additional value to Panasonic’s aviation customers through improved personalization and convenience for passengers, helping to reduce friction points for passengers and airlines from the journey’s start to finish.
Chris Lundquist, Vice President Corporate Strategic Initiatives at Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said, “Our partnership with Tascent is yet another example of our vision for the connected aircraft and its benefits becoming a reality for the commercial aviation community. With this agreement, Panasonic and Tascent will create unique offerings that use biometrics to personalize the in-flight experience and beyond. We look forward to working with Tascent on a host of capabilities that will take the traveler journey to new heights.”
Alastair Partington, founder and co-CEO of Tascent, said: “We are excited to combine our specialist knowledge of biometrics with Panasonic Avionics’ outstanding track-record of air travel innovation. Tomorrow’s air travelers will be best served by an aviation industry that adopts biometrics technologies in an intelligent, personal and thoughtful way. Tascent and Panasonic share a joint vision of an exciting future in which biometrics technologies improve the air traveler experience for all.”
Introducing O3b mPOWER: SES' Flexible, New Solution in the Sky
An Interview with Steve Collar, O3b CEO SES Networks...
If you have been wondering about SES strategy on the data business following the acquisition of O3b, SES' recent announcement of O3b mPOWER should put the question to rest. The introduction of this new service reflects a unique network integration strategy that marries SES HTS and wide beam satellite capability with a new ultra high throughput O3b Ka-Band capability.
According to Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks, the result is an all encompassing set of capabilities capable of delivering a wide variety of customized services to meet almost any customer requirement as well as serve developing areas previously unreachable due to technology cost.
Unlike O3b's Ku-Band LEO competitors, its Ka-Band capability makes it unique in the delivery of interference free coverage to equatorial regions, and its beam forming infrastructure offers a new measure of flexibility.
Steve was kind enough to offer his time to answer the many questions we have about O3b mPOWER. In particular, we wanted to know how SES diverse networks would be combined, what sort of antenna technology they planned to use and the advantages of their beam steering technology. Below Steve's commentary sheds considerable light on SES' unique, new initiative:
SMW: In Paris last month you announced the O3b mPOWER Network. Can you tell us a little but about it?
Steve Collar: With O3b mPOWER, SES Networks will connect and exponentially empower more people, communities and businesses with opportunities created by truly global cloud-scale connectivity. We will do that by leveraging a unique system of advanced communication satellites, together with innovative ground infrastructure and integrated system software intelligence to deliver a step change in performance, flexibility and experience for customers and their end-users. Importantly, O3b mPOWER is fully funded, well under way and building on the only proven and successful non-GEO broadband satellite constellation in O3b.
SMW: Does the SES Networks strategy for O3b mP0WER center on bringing high bandwidth to an unserved user base or is it designed to complement or overtake systems now in place?
We believe that we can collectively challenge the conventional wisdom where satellite fits, that we can seamlessly integrate O3b mPOWER with other network infrastructure, terrestrial and satellite and dramatically expand the use cases for satellite.
We have seen this to be the case with the existing O3b constellation and we think this can be dramatically scaled with O3b mPOWER. But O3b mPOWER is bigger than SES Networks. It's an open invitation for the industry to help develop an ecosystem of technology and value-add service partners to innovate, grow and create the most compelling, cost-effective, end-to-end experience for customers.
SMW: Should we presume that this is an expansion of the O3b concept, whereby the satellites communicate mostly with fixed sites which the re-direct data to the user via 5G or other terrestrial means? Your literature focuses on a new kind of “direct to user” terminal.
Steve Collar: We use O3b today in a number of different ways and to address the needs of a number of different verticals, including Telcos, MNOs, Cruise Operators, Energy Operators, Governments and NGOs. We see all of these applying to O3b mPOWER but at huge scale and to expanded market verticals, delivering a ubiquitous, low-latency “virtual fiber” network to 30,000+ endpoints regardless of customer size, location or application requirements. It will be the world’s first global multi-Terrabit satellite system.
SMW: Use of O3b satellites has traditionally required the use of two large mechanically steered antennas. Your literature describes significant innovation on the terminal side. What is a Customer Edge Terminal and does it replace the traditional dual antenna infrastructure?
Steve Collar: Central to the strategy behind O3b mPOWER is that it is truly a system and is much more than the satellites or the antennas on the ground. Our Customer Edge Terminals reflect that system approach in that they incorporate substantially more than just the antenna systems. Each will include edge compute, storage, remote management, analytics and intelligence to facilitate SDN.
The antennas systems will range from small electronically steered antennas, to small mechanically steered to larger systems reflecting the needs of the different vertical markets we intend to serve. Our maritime, aero and fixed antennas will all look different, but they will all incorporate the key features of an O3b mPOWER Customer Edge Terminal.
SMW: The new O3b satellites are using beam forming technology with the ability to form 4,000 beams per satellite. Please explain this concept further, how it works, and the benefits associated with its deployment.
Steve Collar: We haven’t revealed too much about the technology on board the satellites and don’t intend to, but you are right that we can dynamically form beams and reform them in fractions of seconds. Across the initial system, this means more than 30,000 beams can be dynamically formed to track fixed or moving targets on land, air or sea and deliver anywhere from a Megabit per second to several tens of Gigabits per second. These beams can be broad or narrow and can be tailored to meet any customers’ needs. With O3b mPOWER, when a customer asks whether we can provide service, the answer is always ‘yes’, it’s just a question of how much they need.
SMW: You continue to focus on connecting those not served by broadband at this time. How will they afford the Customer Edge Terminals? Will you have partners or governments who will participate?
Steve Collar: We are passionate about connecting people and positively impacting lives. We think everyone should have the opportunities that being connected to the world’s information brings. And we also believe passionately that satellite, and the right kind of satellite, will play an important part in connecting the unserved and the unserved.
Key to achieving this is to accelerate the convergence of satellite and terrestrial networks. O3b mPOWER closes the gap between satellite and terrestrial whether related to throughput, performance, scale or affordability. We have designed the system very much with the economics of delivering services to lower ARPU markets in mind. There is no question that the terminals will be cheaper than today but it is the overall economics that matter -- something that the industry often forgets.
SMW: Does the plan for O3b mPOWER involve combining O3b and SES’ new HTS satellite network in a seamless "roaming" arrangement or will the satellites and constellation remain independent of each other? What advantages would interoperability between the networks bring to the major satellite service markets i.e. broadcast, enterprise connectivity, cellular backhaul, mobility etc?
Steve Collar: At SES Networks, our strategy is to build a multi-band, multi-orbit, multi-system ecosystem. We absolutely believe in linking our networks and allowing our customers to ‘roam’ between them.
Moreover, we believe in building a seamless network of MEO, GEO and terrestrial services. A big focus for us is the intelligence within the network to route customer traffic, and the applications within that traffic, over the optimal path.
This might be for reasons of cost, performance (latency) or resilience (think of a fiber ring). Data services and the networks that support them are the growth engine for the industry as customers look to intelligent networks to facilitate the massive shift from local storage to a cloud-based world. We think O3b mPOWER will enable us to deliver the cloud-scale connectivity to meet that demand.
SMW: You mention that you are targeting the aero market. How can you target that market given the fact that Transatlantic and Pacific routes involve transit north of 50-degree latitude? Would aircraft roam from O3b onto SES GEO HTS satellites north of the latitude limitations and what type of aircraft terminal would you deploy?
Steve Collar: O3b mPOWER is designed to incorporate "pole to pole" coverage and while that capability will not be present at the launch of the system, it is certainly part of our road map and a feature of the overall architecture.
As you rightly point out, we also have a system of GEO satellites enabling the four major Aero IFC service providers to deliver broadband connectivity to 90% of the connected aircraft.
In addition, we are working with industry to develop aero terminals that will roam from GEO to MEO and from band to band. The encouraging thing is that a large part of the aero demand projected over the next 10 years is very much in the sweet spot for O3b mPOWER and we feel we can add significantly to the user experience in a vertical where satellite is, without question, the best option.
SMW: Thank you, Steve.
"We believe that we can collectively challenge the conventional wisdom of where satellite fits, that we can seamlessly integrate O3b mPOWER with other network infrastructure, terrestrial and satellite and dramatically expand the use cases for satellite."
"The antennas systems will range from small electronically steered antennas, to small mechanically steered to larger systems reflecting the needs of the different vertical markets we intend to serve. Our maritime, aero and fixed antennas will all look different, but they will all incorporate the key features of an O3b mPOWER Customer Edge Terminal."
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Steve Collar is CEO of SES Networks
SES Networks provides end-to-end network solutions to some of the world’s largest Telecommunications, Maritime, Aeronautical and Energy companies as well as to Governments around the world. Prior to SES Networks, Steve was CEO of O3b Networks and guided the company through the successful build and launch of its constellation of state-of-the-art satellites. In 2015 O3b Networks became the fastest growing satellite operator in history. In 2016, O3b was fully acquired by SES and now forms an integral part of SES Networks.
Mr. Collar is a satellite industry veteran, having previously worked in a variety of commercial, business development and technical roles at SES WORLD SKIES, New Skies Satellites, Astrium and Matra Marconi Space (now Airbus)
Driven by the dream of connecting billions of new third world consumers to the Internet and users on ships and planes, the satellite industry is saturating the skies with over capacity and facing risks as never before. In pursuit of ubiquitous coverage, operators are landing HTS beams on turf where licensing is uncertain and demand is unproven. As over exuberance drives this effort forward, the threat of price collapse looms.
In the midst this rising flood of available bandwidth, few have the courage to speak out and to question whether the vast capacity expansion unfolding before our eyes is justified by the size and growth of its intended markets - but not Thomas Choi, CEO of Asia Broadcast Satellite.
While many industry analysts tend to dismiss Choi's prognostications as pessimistic and tout projections of ever rising demand for capacity in under served consumer Internet and mobility markets as justification for the massive capacity additions, we know better.
We were there in the 80s when analysts saw unlimited demand for drilling rigs and oil services. As the oil price unexpectedly dropped, demand contracted, margins and volume declined simultaneously, and a vicious price war devastated overly expanded oil service companies. We were there again in the 90s as the promise of unlimited bandwidth growth ignited the fiber industry in a flurry of expansion, only to witness another market collapse that the analysts said would never happen.
Since then, experience has taught us to respect the voice of a single dissenter in the crowd, and to acknowledge the fact that one visionary with a differing view from the crowd just might be right, and that fellow in the satellite industry would be Thomas Choi.
Satellite Capacity Overbuild...
As Tom so aptly points out, most of the satellite industry's revenue comes from conventional wide beam satellites that serve media companies (Cable TV and DTH) and Telcos (VSAT, Cellular Backhaul and IP Transit) - markets for which HTS satellites are not well suited.
Unlike the conventional wide beam satellites, these new HTS satellites are designed to target consumer broadband and mobility markets applications where the speed and amount of adoption is highly speculative.
Tom further notes that most of the demand for connecting 3+ billion unserved users is in the equatorial regions where Ku-band LEO systems cannot serve due to interference to GEO.
To further reinforce his point, Tom points out that due to such concerns, Indonesia has already moved to block OneWeb. The Australian military has also voiced objections to OneWeb obtaining a license and other countries are likely to do the same.
In addition to market limitations due to interference, Tom argues that other countries will block Ku-Band LEOs because they plan to build their own constellations. "Russia, for example, has already blocked certain Ku-Band frequencies that OneWeb was planning to use due to plans to build their own NGSO constellation," cutting OneWeb out of a huge potential market.
He further suggests that when you are denied access to these markets, it becomes obvious that there is little market left to support the initial enormous cost of OneWeb like constellations and their enormous 5-7 year replenishment cost - a fact that proponents of these constellations seem to ignore. So, why build these constellations if you can't use them in so many prime under served markets?
Strangely, advocates of these new constellations continue to site unserved markets for consumer broadband and mobility as the justification for multi-constellation additions to world satellite capacity.
According to Choi, wireless technologies and expansion of fiber networks are an additional threat to the satellite expansions as they spread and continue to shrink the market for consumer satellite broadband. Choi warns that 5G is the biggest threat to consumer satellite broadband.
Tom further notes that the enormous CAPEX cost for the ground infrastructure associated with delivering Terabits of capacity via 1st generation HTS satellites is a restraint to market growth that has not been taken into account in the business plans for these new networks.
To service these markets he states, "Internet service providers would either have to invest massive amounts of capital to support the cost of large numbers of hubs and modems required to service the numerous HTS beams required to cover large areas of demand, or they would have to risk becoming mere re-sellers of operator managed services - a scenario in which they could loose ownership of the customer."
Of course, in either case, operators or service providers would still be faced with the massive CAPEX burden of fronting the cost of satellite modems on the consumer end.
Yet, we have already seen that in developed satellite broadband markets consumers want more bandwidth yet remain unwilling to pay for it.
Consider that your typical home subscriber is paying $70 per/month for consumer broadband services. If you double the speed at the cost of $500 Million for a satellite, the consumer isn't going to pay $70 per month more. - a point that ViaSat seems to have forgotten when planning for its 1 Terabit satellite.
Thus, the only way for such a satellite to pay its way is to acquire massive new numbers of consumer broadband subscribers - a phenomenon that seems unlikely given the fact the satellite broadband is popular only in areas where no terrestrial alternatives are available and that coverage by faster and cheaper fiber and 5G wireless resources is rapidly coming on-line. For example, five years ago there was little fiber in Africa. Now the continent is ringed by fiber.
Mobility is obviously a prime focus of HTS satellite providers since it is impractical to deploy fiber onto moving ships and aircraft can only be served by terrestrial wireless services (ATG) on overland routes. Yet, despite the perceived attractiveness of these mobility markets, the market may not be as large as perceived or grow as fast as predicted.
On the maritime side, what few people realize is that while there are a vast number of vessels, most of the market is served by minimal bandwidth requirements. Thousands of cargo vessels - Containerships, Tankers and general cargo are manned mostly with crews of less than 25 people and typically consume less that 1 Mbps.
Only the cruise, ferry and large yacht segments are large consumers of bandwidth yet they represent only a fraction of the total number of vessels.
The Coming Price Collapse
Given the vast amounts of capacity focused mostly on consumer broadband and mobility, Choi sees a massive price collapse ahead in Mobility. "Everyone is going into these markets, and we have already seen what happens when a market becomes vastly oversupplied.
Consider that in Africa, when C-Band was in tight supply, the cost was $3,000 per MHz. As the supply increased, the price dropped to $1000 and will head lower.
Likewise, Choi believes that the massive over capacity slated for mobility will create a spot market for bandwidth: "In aero, airplane manufacturers are discussing the option of offering multiple antennas operating in multiple frequency bands to allow customers to choose lowest capacity prices on a spot basis. With multiple suppliers providing over capacity of aero mobility, the spot pricing can approach zero."
In his concluding argument, Tom offers these thoughts: "If we are going to be competitive and be able to challenge the upcoming 5G and fiber, we should be not thinking about Gigabits per one Million Dollars but rather Terabits.
Because only 5% of the surface of the earth contains human beings, we need to dispel the myth and avoid the illusion (i.e. the Paradoxical Effect) that building more and more capacity in a form of smaller and smaller spot beams, further and further away from people lowers costs."
Obviously, it is the number of paying subscribers multiplied by the revenue they generate that determines the true cost per/Megabit of capacity, not the sheer megabit capacity of the satellite vs. its build and launch cost - a popular misconception promoted by ViaSat to justify its investment in 1 Terabit satellites.
"The obvious solution is for smart people in our industry is to realize that what we are doing is not good enough, and we need to figure out a way to create satellites that deliver substantially more throughput and cost substantially less.
One example can be an extremely high capacity satellite that can deliver over 10 of Terabits per second and not cost over $100 to $200 M and the capacity has to be placed over where the people are so that nothing is wasted over where there is no demand. Of course, hub and modem prices will have to fall as well along with satellite build and launch costs.
I predict consumer broadband terminals will decrease an order of magnitude because they will have RFIC phased array antennas and chip based baseband systems.
Ultimately, we will have to wait and see if such advancements in satellite technology and cost reduction are possible. In the meantime, the unbridled expansion of 1st Generation (Spot Beams Everywhere) HTS satellites continues to be a serious threat to the financial health of our industry."
Tom Choi's Vision...
Unbridled Exuberance and the Satellite Industry's Uncertain Future
"Tom further notes that much of the capacity expansion for new Internet connectivity is focused on the satisfying demand in underdeveloped equatorial regions, and is planned to be met by Ku-Band LEO constellations. Yet, what most fail to recognize is that due to interference with GEO satellites, Ku-Band LEO satellites cannot be used in these regions."
About Thomas Choi...
Thomas Choi is the CEO of ABS and has over 20 years’ experience in the Satellite and Aerospace industry. ABS is one of the fastest growing satellite operators in the world. Operating six satellites in orbit, ABS serves customers from the Americas to Asia Pacific. Two new satellites, ABS-2A and ABS-8 are scheduled for launch in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
Prior to ABS, Tom was the founder and CEO of Speedcast. He also worked at Hughes Communications International and at Rockwell International. He has a MBA and B.S. in Aerospace Engineering both from the University of Southern California.
Tom is a member of the Board of Directors of the Asia Pacific Communications Council (APSCC) and previously served on the Board of CASBAA.
Tom was the Satellite Executive of the year in 2012 and the Satellite Executive of the year in Asia Pacific Award 2012 (APSCC).
Management of mobility focused satellite networks has never been easy. With the coming of HTS spot beam technology, managing a network that serves thousands of ships and fast moving aircraft with wide beam satellites has become even more challenging.
Newtec has faced this challenge head on. Its new Newtec Dialog platform incorporates a host of powerful, new features designed to allow users to take control of the HTS network management process in powerful new ways.
We met up with Newtec's new CEO, Thomas Van den Driessche at Euroconsult's World Satellite Business Week in Paris to find out more about their advancements in mobility management and the other new features incorporated into their innovative, new Newtec Dialog platform.
Newtec Dialog features the industry's first deployment of the DVB-S2X platform, and promises new levels of performance, flexibility and customization that will be very appealing, especially to bandwidth intensive mobility customers. Deployment of Newtec Dialog is now in full swing. Panasonic Avionics Corporation has based their next-generation global aero network entirely on Newtec Dialog.
They are currently in the process of rolling out Newtec AMC 5001 DVB-S2X aero modems to their entire fleet of planes. We asked Thomas to describe some of the key features of the platform that have made it so attractive for Panasonic, especially those incorporated into it's new Mobility Manager:
SMW: I understand one of the key features of the platform is a unique Mobility Manager which essentially goes beyond the simple beam switching technology that has been used in the past to give enhanced flexibility and control of process itself. Can you describe functionality of the platform, and its advantages to the Maritime VSAT integrator?
Thomas: Yes, as you know management of mobility networks focuses on beam switching. With the growing complexity and scale of next-generation mobility networks, we have decided to take a new, centralized approach to the process.
Up to now, most beam switching systems relied on simple logic, built-in to the terminals themselves. This was adequate when networks were small, with only a few beams. However, with the advent of HTS, next-gen networks will have hundreds of beams, with varying costs, loads, elevation angles, and regulatory restrictions. So, it was inevitable that customers would demand more control of the beam switching process. They wanted to own the decision when to switch beams.
Newtec Dialog's centralized Mobility Manager has just such a unique feature that is designed to allow customization of the switching process and is, therefore, able to provide a more sophisticated, flexible and scalable solution for network operators to vastly enhance the efficiency of their networks.
SMW: In our Paris meeting, you mentioned that the customer can control basic functionality via a GUI, and actually go a step further using your developer's kit to further customize the beam switching process. What can you do with the GUI, and how might you employ the API?
Thomas: The Newtec Dialog Mobility Manager is a turn-key, centralized solution with a customizable rules-based engine. Service providers will be able to define a series of “if, then” rules that provide very granular control over beam switching.
For example, the Mobility Manager can be configured to provide comprehensive beam switching functionality based on satellite footprints, GPS coordinates, signal strength, and several other static and real-time variables.
While we expect most customers will be well served by simply customizing the Mobility Manager rules, we also offer additional flexibility via our Mobility API. This powerful interface will allow sophisticated service providers to essentially develop their own Mobility Managers, with an unlimited level of customization and control.
SMW: Another interesting feature you described was the platform's ability to switch between a dynamic SCPC, Mx-DMA mode and conventional SCPC mode? How might this capability benefit a cruise ship operator or inflight connectivity provider. What sort of savings and efficiencies might be achieved vs. a conventional TDMA or SCPC platform? Can you give any examples of potential costs savings vs. conventional TDMA and SCPC platform?
Thomas: One of the key differentiators of the Newtec Dialog platform is the fact that it supports three return technologies, including SCPC, TDMA and Newtec’s unique Mx-DMA. Our 3000 and 5000 series modems support all three technologies and can dynamically switch between them. This allows service providers to efficiently adapt to changing demand and traffic patterns.
For example, a cruise ship might switch from Mx-DMA to SCPC if needed to support a 4K video transmission or a scheduled database update, or it could also switch to TDMA while in port, if most of the traffic is offloaded to a terrestrial network connection. So, operating modes can be pre-programmed to switch automatically based on traffic patterns or set by schedule - all with the flexible API’s in the Newtec Dialog NMS (Network Management System).
At present, cruise lines don't use all of the information they have to do this sort of switching, but as they learn to use the capabilities built into the Newtec Dialog platform, they will be able to substantially increase their bandwidth management capabilities and reap the accompanying economic benefits.
SMW: You also mentioned that you have incorporated multiple receivers in the modem. Of course, this would enable you to do TV and IP off the same satellite. Could you handle TV and IP and also work in a LEO or MEO environment, assuming antennas are available that can track and access multiple satellites simultaneously?
Thomas: We developed the capability to simultaneously receive live TV and IP data on commercial planes from different beams on the same satellite – a wide beam for TV and a spot beam for data.
Panasonic designed their next-generation HTS network with powerful spot beams for data, overlaid with wide beams for TV. In this scenario, they can actually leverage all three receivers on the Newtec aero modem. One receiver for TV and two to handle the switchover between spot beams.
This same multiple reciever hardware architecture is also appropriate for handling LEOs when they become available, and we are currently working with LEO providers to develop the software required for their satellites. Since our modems are completely software defined, we can simply "flash" the upgrade eliminating the need to swap out hardware.
SMW: You explained that Newtec has a unique scheme to compensate for Doppler shift on the return channel, can you elaborate a bit on this feature and explain how it works and how much bandwidth it actually saves?
Thomas: The traditional method for dealing with Doppler has been to simply add an extra guard band to carriers to accommodate frequency shifts. This effectively provided a margin of error, at the expense of efficiency and network acquisition time. Since Newtec’s Mx-DMA technology inherently updates carrier plans every second, we have simply incorporated real-time Doppler tracking and compensation into the algorithm.
The way this works is we receive two sets of GPS positing data from the antenna, fractions of a seconds apart, and use it to calculate speed and direction of travel. From that, we calculate the precise Doppler frequency shift and compensate for it, a process that allows us to reduce the size of the guard band thereby using bandwidth more efficiently.
SMW: You also spoke about improved beam switching efficiency noting that the platform can switch beams in under two seconds. How does this compare with conventional TDMA based systems?
Thomas: In light of our focus on aviation and our partnership with Panasonic, we are aggressively tackling the beam switching problem in three phases. Our initial Newtec Dialog 1.3 software release will support approximately 12 second beam switch times. However, in the near future this will be reduced to 2-3 seconds and will eventually be seamless, leveraging the multiple demodulators in our modems.
SMW: What sort of Down-link and up-link speeds can the Dialog platform reach, and is the enhanced speed on the down-link common to DVB S2X or is your implementation enhanced in some way?
Thomas: We are currently shipping Newtec Dialog modems that support up to 500 MegaSymbols/second on the shared forward link and up to 40 MegaSymbols/sec on the dedicated returns. This can result in aggregate IP throughputs of over 200 Mbps per modem. Even higher throughputs can be achieved with external packet processing options which we will offer in the near future.
SMW: I understand the the modem is exclusive to aero for Panasonic. Have you made any progress introducing it in mobility segments such as maritime, rail, etc?
Thomas: Our AMC5001 aero modem is actually just a variant of our standard, rack-mountable MDM5000 modem. The MDM5000 does not have any commercial restrictions and is available for all markets, including mobility. The AMC5001 aero modem does have some temporary restrictions for commercial aviation, but is unrestricted for government and military markets.
SMW: You have a very interesting and innovative feature set. What other functionality enhancements are you considering and how might they further enhance the attractiveness of the platform?
Thomas: Our vision for Newtec Dialog is to provide a scalable, flexible and efficient platform that will continuously evolve to support new markets and satellite architectures. With this in mind, we are always adding new features and capabilities to the platform. In our recent 1.3 software release, we introduced a number of mobility and efficiency features like the Mobility Manager, 1300km/hr Doppler compensation, DVB-S2X, and Very Low SNR Modcods.
In our latest 2.1 release, we added several scalability and density features for HTS networks like: a XIF hub module, 500MHz modulators and a full suite of DVB-S2X modems, ranging from consumer broadband to high-speed trunking. Further out in the future, we are actively engaged with satellite operators and payload manufacturers on exciting next-generation architectures like beam-hopping, beam forming and LEO.
SMW: Thomas, you have spoken about the efficiency advantages of Mx-DMA vs. TDMA, your technique for minimizing the guard band for Doppler compensation. How much bandwidth can you really save?
Thomas: In an HTS environment, when you combine these efficiencies with our advanced coding techniques, you can save 30 to 50- per-cent on the up-link bandwidth which translates into a real reduction in bandwidth costs. In a conventional wide beam environment, with small aero antennas, the savings would be even greater. By leveraging our Very Low SNR MODCODs, instead of the legacy spread spectrum technology, service providers can boost efficiency over 100%.
SMW: Thomas, thank you for time and for telling us more about your new Newtec Dialog platform. I'm sure our readers will find your explanations very helpful.
Newtec Dialog, A Powerful, New Platform for HTS Mobility Networks
A Word with Thomas Van den Driessche, Newtec's New CEO
"...with the advent of HTS, next-gen networks will have hundreds of beams, with varying costs, loads, elevation angles, and regulatory restrictions. So, it was inevitable that customers would demand more control of the beam switching process. They wanted to own the decision when to switch beams."
Thomas Van den Driessche holds a Master’s degree in electronics and marketing from the University of Ghent. Thomas started out as a Product Manager in the broadcast and AV market and was awarded several times by leading organizations such as NAB, Infocomm and Vanguard.
Over the past 15 years he has been active in the broadcast and satellite markets.
Thomas Van den Driessche has been with Newtec for nine years and has held various positions. His latest roles include Sales and Business Development Director Europe, VP Market Strategy and Chief Commercial Officer. Since January 2017 Thomas is the CEO of Newtec.
Upcoming and Recommended Satellite Mobility Related Events
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 in the sector are Cruise, Aero and Yachts.
***NBAA: Las Vegas, 10-14 October 2017: For those interested in business jet connectivity and inflight entertainment this is as an excellent conference.
*****Seatrade Cruise Global, 5-8 March 2018, Fort Lauderdale, Florida: In terms of bandwidth demand, this mobility segment tops all but the commercial airline sector. In 2017, Gottlieb International Group presented a special seminar along with Global Eagle Entertainment, and we will be doing a repeat in 2018 - highly recommended and inexpensive.
*****Satellite 2018, Washington, D.C. March 12-15, 2018: This is the most widely attended satellite show in the world and includes an excellent conference. However, attendees need to plan their agendas very carefully to avoid conflicts between meetings, sessions you want to attend and visits to selected booths on the show floor. It's definitely a jam packed four days.
***Posidoina, Athens Greece, June 4-8th, 2018: This is a key show due to the Greek shipping industry's leading position in the Tanker industry - the leading cargo maritime sector in terms of VSAT purchases. We expect to do a VSAT applications event at this show.
*****Global Connected Aircraft Summit, Arlington, VA June 7-9, 2018: In our opinion, this is the best event dealing with aircraft connectivity. As the commercial airlines struggle to upgrade and install Wi-Fi aboard their aircraft, the demand for bandwidth and associated Internet applications for both passenger entertainment and monitoring of aircraft systems is the prime focus. As the industry is also a leader in the use of IoT and M2M applications, what can be learned at this conference has applicability in other mobility sectors as well.
***CommunicAsia: June 26-28 2018: This is probably the best Asian satellite industry event. While not heavily focused on mobility, we recommend it for the excellent industry networking opportunities - expensive but well worth it.
***** World Satellite Business Week : September 2018: Notably the best conference for networking among top industry executives. A "must attend" with an excellent program. the 2017 conference was excellent. We attended the "Smart Plane" session and found it especially interesting.
Other Conferences/Shows of Interest:
***Digital Ship CIO Forum/Cyber Resilience Forum: Held in numerous locations around the world, these events are notable for their focus mainly on IT related issues including cyber security, IoT and M2M. Sponsored globally by Marlink, they are held nearly everywhere.
The next events in 2017 are in Tokyo on 30 August, Rotterdam on September 26, Singapore on October 44th, Hamburg on October 10th, etc.
As the maritime cargo sector is in a major slump, the shipping people who attend these events are not in a buying mood. These events are probably worth attending at least once for their IOT, M2M and Cyber Security content - if you have the budget and the time. If you are interested in finding buyers, focus on the Tanker sector and attend Posidonia.
**PTC Honolulu January 21-24, 2018: This one's a favorite if you are selling to the South Pacific Islands or some Asian customers. Held in a nice casual atmosphere, it's a good networking opportunity. It's also noted for the best business expense "right off" around (a fact that few attendees want to admit) - glad it's held in Hawaii in January.