ISSUE 3 | MARCH 2012
MENA Frontrunner Arabsat’s CEO KhalEd Balkheyour on forging partnerships and knowing your audience DUBAISAT-1: EYE ON THE WORLD
PATH TO LONDON 2012
Young researchers at EIAST declare Dubai’s famed islands stable
Meeting the challenge of mitigating satellite interference
Role of the commercial satellite industry
March 2012 | SatellitePro | 1 A SUPPLEMENT OF BROADCASTPRO ME PUBLICATION LICENSED BY IMPZ
Welcome The satellite industry has been working with admirable tenacity for years to mitigate interference. The drive to adopt carrier ID has taken on a new sense of urgency with the upcoming London 2012 Olympics. An estimated global audience of four billion will tune in to watch the games. Compelling content is the pivot around which companies participating in CABSAT, jockey for position. It is lack of content, says Khaled Balkheyour, president and CEO of Arabsat, that is hindering the growth of HD in the region. He adds that satellite operators need to keep entry costs down for HD broadcasters so they can focus on developing content. Perhaps the most compelling content produced globally in 2011 and unfortunately in 2012, is the unfolding of the political upheaval across the MENA region. With due respect to grainy shots and shaky videos taken by intrepid citizen journalists, the stories filed by professional journalists in Tahrir Square and Libya and now Syria, continue to grip audiences. I had a mini-tutorial of sorts last week in the equipment that modern-day journalists, working in conflict zones, carry. Within an innocuous backpack is ultra-portable equipment that allows the reporter to send live streams to the studio. As an aside, I was told that while there are sophisticated satellite-based tracking systems to ensure the safety of the journalist, veterans will advise you to carry a coathanger to help you sift though top-soil to detect landmines, if any. As a (mundane) trade journalist, I can only admire the courage of the likes of Anthony Shadid who died in Syria recently, and who reported for two decades from some of the Middle Eastâ€™s deadliest flashpoints. To the men and women who believe that the story must be told at all costs, I pay this small tribute. In our new monthly, A4-sized Avatar, we look forward to meeting you at CABSAT, where we are media partners for the GVF Satellite MENA Summit.
Supriya Srinivas Deputy Editor SatellitePro Middle East
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SATELLITE INDUSTRY WALKTHROUGH
Issue 3 | March 2012
SatCaseStudy: ‘The World’ under scrutiny
News updates from Yahsat, Thuraya, EIAST, Vizada, World Teleport Association, AsiaSat, Thaicom and more
EIAST researchers prove through satellite imagery that Dubai’s famed development ‘The World’ is stable
Innovating from the front
Eng. Khaled Balkheyour, Arabsat’s president and CEO, on partnering with broadcasters, diversifying operations, satellite interference and future trends
SatVertical: Governments Experts from SES, Astrium, Thuraya and Yahsat analyse the growing role of the commercial satellite industry in Milsatcom operations
SatVertical: Oil & Gas
The next generation in broadcast distribution
Keith Johnson, president of global energy solutions, Harris Caprock, analyses the drivers of bandwidth in the energy sector
World Teleport Association’s Robert Bell analyses the evolving relationship between teleports and broadcasters
SatTechnology: Working with inclined orbits
The state of interference
Service providers and customers view inclined orbits as an opportunity to acquire better priced bandwidth, writes Koen Williams of Newtec
Martin Coleman of SiRG evaluates the readiness of the industry for London 2012
All in the backpack Satellite-based innovations make news-gathering cost effective
Drew Klein of C-Com Satellite Systems explains the impact of the Ka-band revolution
ON THE COVER: Khaled bin Ahmed Balkheyour, president and CEO of Arabsat
March 2012 | SatellitePro | 5
Vizada’s antenna system operational in Afghanistan Vizada Networks, a satellite communications provider and systems integrator, recently acquired by Astrium, has completed the installation of a custom designed VSAT Camp Antenna System (VCAS) for FMV, the Swedish Defence Material Administration. The antenna system will be used by the Swedish Armed Forces (SwAF) within their role as members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Afghanistan. In addition to reportedly providing the best balanced value/technical proposal, the Request for Proposal (RFP) required the supplier to have the logistical and technical presence in theatre to guarantee Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) of less than four hours for any electrical part of the VCAS, when applicable spare parts are available. The scope of supply included design, implementation and integration of the VCAS, on-site installation, testing and training. The VCAS is based on a 3.8m antenna that may be operated in the X-band, Ku-band, C-band frequencies by changing the antenna feed and RF-equipment. In addition to the antenna itself,
Thomas Åstrom, business development director
Samer Halawi, CEO, Thuraya
Vizada Networks’ engineers also installed the RF Ku-band kit and spectrum analysers before carrying out in-depth operator and technical training on the system. “FMV has a focus on high technology and as a full capability satellite communications provider, we have been able to meet both its technical and logistical requirements with this, the first installation we have performed for the administration,” commented Thomas Åstrom, business development director, Vizada Networks Defence Division.
To strengthen its distribution network in Africa, Thuraya, the international mobile satellite operator has signed a service partner agreement with Africell Holding (a subsidiary of Lintel Holding). Through this partnership, Africell, one of Africa’s GSM operators, will be providing Thuraya’s data and voice services in Gambia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. ”Africa offers significant business opportunities due to its size, geographical composition, population and economical potential. The new partnership with Africell is part of our strategy to enhance our distribution network and reach out to our vertical industry consumers wherever they choose to operate,” said Thuraya’s CEO, Samer Halawi.
YahLive and Etisalat collaborate on satellite uplink TV services YahLive, the UAE-based satellite broadcasting company, signed a partnership agreement with Etisalat to collaborate on satellite broadcasting services. Under the agreement, Etisalat will establish uplink services to YahLive’s Y1A satellite which broadcasts at 52.5ºE. The agreement will enable the broadcast of national channels in HD format for the first time, and on the HD hot-spot in the region, through YahLive’s HD satellite offering. Following the signing ceremony with Etisalat, Mohamed Youssif, CEO of YahLive, said: “This partnership with Etisalat comes within our mandate to enhance our offerings and our TV broadcasting services. YahLive will 6 | SatellitePro | March 2012
Thuraya partners with Africell Holding to serve African markets
Mohamed Youssif, CEO of YahLive
also have a dedicated service team to respond to changing requirements.”
Iraq deploys ASBU’s MENOS virtual TV network Iraq has deployed several Multimedia Exchange Network over Satellite (MENOS) TV interactive terminals from satellite communications company Newtec. The terminals will operate within the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) exchange network. By deploying the technology, broadcasters within Iraq will now have access to their own IP-based and fully automated secure Virtual Network (VN) for contribution and exchange of TV content.
Arabs slated to be online by 2015
DubaiSat-2 project passes key tests Engineers from the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science & Technology (EIAST) have completed a crucial stage in the design phase of the DubaiSat-2 project, with the qualification model (QM) passing a series of rigorous tests. The Qualification Model is the third and final design model, and represents the last test of all components on DubaiSat-2, the UAEâ€™s second remote sensing satellite which is due to be launched into orbit by the end of 2012. Tests included vibration testing, acoustic testing, thermal testing, thermal vacuum testing, a shock test and mass measurement. â€œThese tests are designed to put
the satellite through the same or similar conditions that it will face on its journey to space. From lift off to separation of the satellite from the launcher, it takes 15 minutes, but the amount of pressure, shock and vibration is very high and we need to put the model through those same conditions to make sure our satellite will eventually survive this event,â€? said Salem Al Marri, head of projects and space missions at EIAST. The DubaiSat-2 project is a joint development programme between EIAST and Satrec Initiative of South Korea, in which 16 UAE engineers have been working on the design, development, testing and manufacturing of the satellite.
Consolidation at Inmarsat, says CEO Rupert Pearce Inmarsat is reaching out to partners and customers following a reorganisation within the company. Adressing the press in Dubai during the Volvo Ocean Race that Inmarsat supports as official satellite communications provider, newly appointed CEO Rupert Pearce spoke of bringing the expertise of the subsidiary companies into a new organisational structure. And, as part of the process, all companies in the Inmarsat group – including Stratos Global, Segovia and Ship Equip – will now use the brand name “Inmarsat”. “We have led the mobile satellite services market as a wholesale organisation. This restructure will build on that by bringing us closer to our customers, making us more responsive to their needs and more efficient in the delivery of our services,” said Inmarsat chief executive Rupert Pearce. Inmarsat Solutions, led by Jim Parm, will operate through four new marketfacing business units that include maritime, government US, government global and Inmarsat Enterprise. Despite the new organisational structure, Inmarsat says it does not intend to change its
William Wade, president and CEO of AsiaSat
Rupert Pearce, CEO, Inmarsat
policy of distributing its services primarily through independent channel partners, consisting of its network of distribution partners and service providers. The company’s services are delivered through a global network of more than 400 distribution partners and service providers operating in 100 countries.
Thaicom to expand into the MENA with new satellites Thaicom Plc, Thailand’s sole satellite service provider, has set an aggressive three-year expansion plan with the planned launch of two new commercial satellites, Thaicom 8 and Thaicom 9. ‘We‘re positioning Thaicom as a wholesale satellite operator and no longer as a retail provider,” said Suphajee Suthumpun, CEO, Thaicom Plc. Thaicom 9 will be positioned at 50.5 degrees East to reserve the country’s orbital slot, due to expire in November 2011. It will 8 | SatellitePro | March 2012
AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8 to serve MENA
be a broadcast satellite and the company aims to expand its footprint in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Suthumpun said the Thaicom 8 broadband satellite, to be positioned in the orbital slot at 119.5 degrees, will cost no more than US$200 million. Thaicom underwent a reorganisation and business restructuring under Suphajee’s leadership. It switched its focus on bandwidth rental from iPSTAR to corporate users, big telecom operators and disaster recovery service instead of the retail segment.
AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8 are scheduled to launch in the first half of 2014 from the launch complex of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA. The two SS/L 1300 satellites will serve Asia, the Middle East and Australasia. “We look forward to the timely and successful launches of AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8, thereby expanding our fleet from four to six satellites in 2014 to provide more high quality and comprehensive satellite services in the Asia-Pacific region,” said William Wade, president and CEO of AsiaSat.
InSat to deliver Ka-band over Afghanistan Satellite specialist Newtec has signed a deal with satellite-based internet provider InSat to supply and install Sat3Play hub and terminal technology delivering next generation Kaband communications over Afghanistan. InSat plans to provide three distinct services for Afghan telecom providers based on Newtec’s Sat3Play technology: IP Trunking service for large companies and government agencies, VSAT services for small and medium companies and broadband IP access services for consumers under its brand name hi-stream.
Technology use on airlines jumps in 2010 - 2011
The MENA helps Eutelsat break Panasonic Avionics expands KU network the barrier of 4,000 TV channels with Yamal Eutelsat Communications announced that the number of channels broadcasting through its satellites hit the milestone of 4,000 at the end of 2011. The threshold was crossed with the launch at Eutelsat’s 7° West video neighbourhood of Rotana Cinema, devoted to classic and contemporary films in Arabic, part of the Rotana entertainment group. The fastest impetus is at positions serving TV markets in the Middle East,
Africa, Russia and Central Europe where Eutelsat continues to expand resources, most recently with the launches in 2011 of Atlantic Bird 7 (7° West) to serve viewers in North Africa and the Middle East, and W3C (16° East) for viewers in Central Europe and French-speaking Indian Ocean islands. Pay-TV and free-to-air broadcasting continue to expand. 40% are free-to-air (FTA), with the highest concentration of FTA at Eutelsat’s flagship Hot Bird neighbourhood and at 7° West.
Why satellite professionals need to care about the local loop The World Teleport Association (WTA) has released the next of its Four Nines reports, which share the best practices of teleport operators in technology, operations and management. It is titled How to Reduce the Cost of the Local Loop and explores how teleport operators use local loops and commercial ‘meet me’ points to connect facilities, how the local loop has evolved (or failed to evolve) and how operators optimise its use to reduce costs while maintaining the quality that customers demand. How to Reduce the Cost of the Local Loop is available free to WTA members and for sale to non-members from the WTA website. Robert Bell, executive director of the World Teleport Association, says: “Rare is the television programme that has not spent at least part of its life on a satellite. While contribution has diversified into broadband file-transfer and live streaming, satellite remains the most costeffective means to delivering content to millions of viewers. “Yet no programming reaches the viewer without also spending time on a local loop,” the last-mile connection between
the production site and the broadcast centre, or the broadcast centre and the uplink. And in most markets, the cost of the local loop remains stubbornly high. While long-haul optical fibre transport is highly competitive and cost-effective, the local loop has typically remained in the hands of a monopoly or incumbent carrier that can dictate standards and prices.”
Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite system provides two-way broadband connectivity to an aircraft
Panasonic Avionics Corporation, a provider of in-flight entertainment and communications (IFEC), has commissioned and tested its new service on the Yamal 201 Russian satellite via its partner RuSat’s teleport in Moscow, Russia. The Russian satellite is a strategic addition to the company’s global aeronautical broadband network because it provides essential service for aircraft routes from Europe to Asia. With the Yamal 201 satellite, the more than 1,200 aircraft that have been committed to Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite will, the company claims, be able to fly around the globe, above the equator, with uninterrupted broadband coverage from the company’s Ku-band network. Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite system provides two-way broadband connectivity to an aircraft. It supports a wide range of passenger and crew applications including in-flight broadband internet access over Wi-Fi to passengers, and mobile phone service offered in collaboration with UK-based Aeromobile, wholly owned by the Telenor Group. A small mobile base station (pico cell) installed on-board, connects calls, SMS and data via satellite to networks on the ground. March 2012 | SatellitePro | 9
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Innovating from the front Khaled bin Ahmed Balkheyour, president and CEO of Arabsat, in conversation with SatellitePro ME, describes Arabsatâ€™s market-leading position for three decades as a fascinating combination of innovation, partnership with broadcasters through tough times, and knowing and reacting to the myriad preferences of audiences in more than 100 countries across the MENA region and Europe 12 | SatellitePro | March 2012
12 Congratulations on launching the Mauritania bouquet where Arabsat will be constructing the digital broadcasting platform in Nouakchott. Is this a typical initiative on the part of Arabsat? The Mauritania bouquet is part of a strategic initiative established by Arabsat in its marketing plan in 2009 – the MAPs strategy ‘Media Access Points’ strategy that emphasises the establishment of direct uplink facilities in Arabic countries with a large number of TV channels. This initiative that is increasingly relevant given the liberation of media and [easing up on] regulation in some countries. The objective is to cut the additional costs associated with satellite transmission and direct broadcasters’ budgets towards content development. The MAPs strategy resulted in the launch of new bouquets and channels across Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Morocco and Sudan. The Mauritania bouquet will be ready hopefully by the middle of this year. You offered the Saudi Premier League to Arab expatriates in Europe. What has the response been and how challenging has your campaign been to expand your footprint? In September 2011, Arabsat, in cooperation with Saudi TV, launched 12 channels to support the broadcasting of Saudi sporting events and especially the Saudi football league that is being broadcast exclusively on Arabsat across the MENA region. A total of six HD and six SD channels were launched. Arabsat Badr-4 has always been the Arabsat video distribution hotspot for Arab communities in Europe. We have received incredible feedback for our initiative. Some Arab broadcasters are considering dropping their channels from European providers to migrate to Badr-4. It provides a safe environment for Arabic broadcasters in comparison to the current polluted neighborhood on European satellite operators, in terms of proliferation of porn and gambling channels that do not conform with our culture. How significant is the challenge from the growing terrestrial/fibre networks across the MENA region? Also now that other
Number of sports channels that Arabsat launched in 2011 with Saudi TV
and satellite continues to play a significant role in those countries. Arabsat started its HD initiative back in 2007. Currently, we have over 35 HD channels and we are expecting another five to 10 channels this year. Around 90% of FTA HD channels are available only on Arabsat at its Hot Spot at 26deg E, a Hot Spot that has grown to hold over 450 TV channels, 200 programmes and three pay TV networks. In addition, Arabsat has established two HD platforms, one in Amman and one in Madrid. The problem in the MENA with HD remains at the production side. Broadcasters are still hesitant to engage in the upgrade of production infrastructure, thus limiting the number of genuine HD content hours . The satellite operator’s
“The satellite operator’s role is to make the entry cost for HD broadcasters as minimum as possible so that they can focus on content” HD satellite operators are coming into play, how does that affect Arabsat? Indeed across the MENA region, connectivity through fibre, especially backbone connectivity for voice and data through transatlantic cables is growing rapidly and many international termination stations have been established. This carries a significant part of the telecom traffic. However, the delivery of such traffic to the termination station remains a problem. Besides the Gulf countries, the rest of the MENA still suffers from under development in terms of fibre connectivity
role is to make the entry cost for HD broadcasters as minimum as possible so that they can focus on content. Most of the HD content is still sportscentric, particularly with pay TV channels. This is why the Arabsat initiative for free-toair HD channels becomes very important. With its 5th generation satellite, Arabsat has become the largest provider of HD capacity in the region and will continue to be able to support broadcasters with the right incentives for them to invest in HD. Last year during CABSAT-MENASAT in Dubai, Arabsat launched the first 3D
Mauritanian bouquet on Arabsat’s Badr-5 Hamdi Ould Mahgoub, the Mauritanian Minister of Communication and Relations, visited the headquarters of the Arab Satellite Communications Organisation (Arabsat) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to sign a transponder lease contract on Arabsat’s Badr-5 satellite. The agreement will enable the broadcast of the new Mauritanian television bouquet from a digital
broadcasting platform, that will be built by Arabsat in Nouakchott. Eng. Khaled bin Ahmed Balkheyour, president and CEO of Arabsat, emphasised the MENA-based satellite operator’s commitment to provide the best available satellite services to their customers and find the best solutions for their requirements through Arabsat’s integrated satellite fleet.
March 2012 | SatellitePro | 13
live channel and visitors enjoyed the 3D experience at the Arabsat stand. Arabsat prides itself on ensuring backup capacities that guarantee service continuation in emergency situations. Could you shed light on these backup capacities? The current circumstances in our region amply justify the high degree of attention Arabsat pays to maintaining backup capabilities. As you know, broadcasters like Jazeera and Arabiya are now suffering and have been suffering since early 2011 from intentional jamming associated with the current political situation in the Middle East. Arabsat has deployed many satellite transponders, bouquets and channels for the broadcasters to survive the jamming and still be able to deliver content to their viewers. Arabsat Badr-5 constitutes hot backup for both Badr-4 and Badr-6. In case a failure takes place on any of the bouquets on either one of them, Badr-5 will take up the bouquet with the same frequency and viewers will never notice the transition. Of course, interference is still there. The political situation is still unsettled. We have interacted with regulatory bodies including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in terms of documenting and identifying the intentional jamming incidents. Arabsat has its own geo-location facilities managed by its operation centre in Riyadh and that helps Arabsat to identify and document sources of interference to the closest proximity possible. Other than deliberate interference, how challenging is the general satellite interference problem for your operations and what measures are you taking to tackle the issue? Indeed, interference continues to be a challenge for all satellite operators, especially with the proliferation of many VSAT networks and a space that is growing in congestion. To resolve the issue, our initiatives at Arabsat are based on: 1. Educating our VSAT partners , SNGs and telecom network users with satellite 14 | SatellitePro | March 2012
L to R: Khaled bin Ahmed Balkheyour, president and CEO, Arabsat, and Hamdi Ould Mahgoub, the Mauritanian Minister of Communication and Relations, sign a transponder lease contract on Arabsatâ€™s Badr-5 satellite
â€œBroadcasters, especially national and large private broadcasters, appreciate a partnership relationship rather than a customerprovider equation. They expect you to be there for them in the hard times and to support them when they have large projects that may require re-location of considerable resourcesâ€? access about our strict access policies. 2. Conducting professional training programmes for our customers and partners. 3. Establishing a certificate programme in association with the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), to deliver this certificate to all of our users. 4. Participating as an active member of relevant industry bodies such as the Satellite Interference Reduction Group (sIRG). At CABSAT-MENASAT this year, Arabsat will host the carrier ID convention as part of our commitment to address and solve the issue of interference. As an operator in the region for the past 30 years, you have had a lot of experience dealing with broadcasters in the region. What do you believe drives a successful partnership between a satellite operator and a broadcaster?
Broadcasters, especially national and large private broadcasters, appreciate a partnership relationship rather than a customer-provider equation. They expect you to be there for them in the hard times and to support them when they have large projects that may require re-location of considerable resources. Arabsat has excelled in nurturing such relationships due to an internal structure that allows for dynamic decision making and flexibility. One success story that is a testimony to our approach is the launch of the 12 Saudi sports channels. Arabsat mobilised all its satellites, platforms and network resources to support the launch of the channels by the start date of the Saudi league. We launched a media campaign that was unprecedented in scale for a satellite operator in the region. The media campaign included advertisements in 12 news papers,
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eight TV channels, seven radio channels, 80 online venues and more, to announce the launch of the channels. The business model for broadcasters is getting increasingly fragile in a region that has a plethora of channels. For broadcasters, satellite capacity accounts for a significant chunk of their expenditure. What are your views on this issue? This could be the case for small and medium-sized broadcasters. To cater to them, we established the MAPs strategy that I mentioned earlier, to support broadcasters and cut costs associated with satellite. Also, in addition, we have a wide network of media cities that have access to Arabsat satellites and this offers more options to the broadcaster. Do you have any strategic plans to enhance your appeal or to retain customers through incentives and other services? What, in your view, makes you unique from other competitors in the market? Our brand values are reliability, flexibility and availability. Reliability relates to 16 | SatellitePro | March 2012
“At CABSAT-MENASAT this year, Arabsat will host the carrier ID convention as part of our commitment to address and solve the issue of interference” Arabsat’s quest to secure optimal performance from its satellites and associated platforms and infrastructure, and introducing new satellites and enhancing our backup capacities and platforms. Flexibility relates to the dynamic decision making process where we try to stay as far as possible from a large corporate, bureaucratic way of conducting business. And availability refers to both the physical availability of our satellites, as we have established long-term plans for satellite expansion, and to our account management activities where the customer and partner can reach any Arabsat official any time. Our partners and customers would say that the Arabsat attitude towards doing business is more like a family business – once you come on board – you become part of this family. Our slogan – Our World, Your World
While the broadcast sector reportedly accounts for 60 to 65% of your revenues, what plans do you have to grow revenues in other areas of communication including the internet and catering to other vertical markets including government/military, oil and gas and so on? Arabsat has established a good reputation across Africa in the telecom services. The 5th generation satellites’ programme which concluded in September last year incorporated the design and implementation of a pan Africa coverage associated with wide distribution and partners’ network. The applications were concentrated in backbone connectivity, GSM backhauling and business and government networks. This has created a new market for Arabsat that never existed before. A similar approach was followed with coverage over Central Asia. In our home market, the MENA, teleport services and backbone connectivity are available, given our distribution network and gateways in Europe, through crossstrapped coverage between Europe and the Middle East. Last year, Arabsat started addressing vertical markets with the deployment of its first Ka-band payload on-board its 5C satellite; an 8Gb payload that was contracted directly to the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology to accommodate the needs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for broadband, commercial, educational, government and military applications. Arabsat’s 6th generation satellite will incorporate more vertical business models based on the Ka-band payloads. You now have an integrated fleet of 4th and 5th generation satellites that you financed mostly through internal resources. You continue to expand your fleet and area of operations. What is the current status and challenges going forward? Arabsat is currently in the phase of designing its 6th generation satellite programme. The 6th generation programme will feature more coverage footprints, new technologies and services. Securing
Arabsat currently broadcasts more than 450 TV channels at this Hot Spot
“In 2004, although an inter governmental organisation (IGO), Arabsat initiated operations on a commercial basis. This was an essential step to sustain and grow our operations” also have an extensive network of agents, partners and teleport services. Arabsat at CABSAT 2011. Arabsat has commercial operations through its regional offices in Dubai, Cairo and Paris, in addition to a wide network of media cities around the Arab world that sell Arabsat services directly
frequency bands and orbital slots continue to be the most challenging aspects of launching a satellite. Our financial status is in excellent shape which gives us access to financing options available, in addition to our earnings coming from our growing operations. In 2004, although an inter governmental
organisation (IGO), Arabsat initiated operations on a commercial basis. This was an essential step to sustain and grow our operations. Arabsat now has commercial operations through its regional offices in Dubai, Cairo and Paris, in addition to a wide network of media cities around the Arab world that sell Arabsat services directly. We
Where do you foresee growth for satellite operators in the region and where, do you think you will invest further? The 6th generation satellite will have a hosted payload on it and a very specific plan is being put into place now to accomplish this. Generally, satellite operators’ investments will focus on new technologies like Ka and HD and associated business models because this is the key for sustainability. PRO
Global Arabic Bouquet on Arabsat-5C GlobeCast and Arabsat announced that the Global Arabic Bouquet (GAB), a grouping of premium Arabic channels from the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) available anywhere in the world, is now located on the 5C satellite over Africa. This satellite was launched in September 2011. GlobeCast – partner to Arabsat and ASBU for the worldwide distribution of the GAB – is providing all the technical services required for end-to-end delivery. The terrestrial delivery is done from Amman by Jordan Media City. This service via Arabsat replaces the bouquet’s previous distribution.
Since the launch of their partnership in 2004, GlobeCast, Arabsat and ASBU have expanded the Global Arabic Bouquet’s potential viewership and footprint, offering a single global coverage to ASBU members. Philippe Fort, COO of GlobeCast says, “We are pleased to work with our long-time partners Arabsat and ASBU on optimising the delivery of this bouquet of premium Arab content to households across Africa. We’re looking forward to the bouquet’s success in this growing market.” Khaled Balkheyour, Arabsat president and CEO, said “Our partnership with GlobeCast
has been strengthened with the successful launch of Arabsat 5C as our fleet is becoming part of the global distribution network of free-to-air Arabic channels managed by GlobeCast, specifically the Arabsat/ASBU Global Bouquet.” Commenting on the new development, Salaheddine Maaoui, ASBU director general, said, “Arabsat 5C will give the Arab broadcasters an opportunity to reach the Arab viewers in the African continent, where C-band still plays an important role. This means that Arab broadcasters can now reach African viewers more easily.”
March 2012 | SatellitePro | 17
The next generation in broadcast distribution The distribution service providers, whether on the ground or in the sky, see the explosion of content as an undiluted positive, writes Robert Bell, executive director, World Teleport Association, as teleports and internal networks deliver content in any format, through any path, to any device Since the first wild-eyed entrepreneur uplinked a signal to a satellite, broadcasting has been a primary market for commercial teleport operators. And no wonder. Long before the word “broadband” existed, television was the world’s first broadband application, requiring largescale bandwidth and high reliability, because billions of dollars or euros, pounds or dirhams were riding on it. The relationship between teleport operators and broadcasters has had its ups and downs. One long-time TV distribution executive told me that his company never really wanted to go into the satellite business once television moved off longdistance telephone lines and into the sky. But the poor performance of inexperienced teleport vendors forced his company to build its own teleports. That was a long time ago. Market pressures have forced operators to improve – or forced them out of business – until today’s broadcast-centric operators provide a quality of service that easily meets the needs of the most demanding of media companies. What do broadcasters want? Those needs, however, are undergoing the most dramatic change in decades. For a research report titled What Customers Want: Media & Entertainment, WTA interviewed broadcast distribution executives in the Middle East, Europe and USA. The biggest challenges for a broadcaster are staying on top of technology change with ageing infrastructure and expanding distribution with stable or declining budgets. Both are the result of the many new distribution 18 | SatellitePro | March 2012
Broadcast business models built on distribution to a carefully controlled network of satellite dishes, cable set-top boxes or terrestrial transmission towers will have to change in major ways
channels for video content, from catch-up viewing on the Web to connected TV and second-screen viewing, and even TV to the handheld. All are in their infancy right now. One broadcast executive in the Middle East told us that satellite TV is booming but internet access lags far behind. “In this
market,” he said, “everybody is glued to TV. We are an emerging market and people are watching 2-3 hours of TV a day. People are preparing for the new platforms but the content will be introduced first on television before moving to the smaller screens.” One hundred per cent of broadcasters
15 we interviewed, however, expect to be distributing more content over broadband in the next two years. Viewers will have a growing range of options for consuming video content. Broadcast business models built on distribution to a carefully controlled network of satellite dishes, cable set-top boxes or terrestrial transmission towers will have to change in major ways. Some broadcast companies still prefer to own and operate every conceivable part of the distribution chain. As one wellknown distribution executive said to me, “If I could afford to own it all, even the satellites, I would.” But the outsourcing of programme origination, play-out and turnaround has become commonplace, and teleport operators are delivering the SLAs needed to make their broadcast customers comfortable. The most successful teleport operators have a powerful argument to offer: by providing a distribution centre for multiple channels and networks, teleports can justify making investments in stateof-the-art facilities, automation and route diversity that individual broadcasters frequently cannot. Back to the future So what does the future of distribution look like? To find out, WTA researched and published a study called Future TV and the Teleport. We set out to answer the specific question: will the changes being forecast for the broadcast business be good or bad for teleport operators and satellite operators? Press coverage of today’s video revolution leans toward the alarmist, to say the least. Satellites will be blown from the sky by fibre-based content distribution networks. Broadcast networks will crash and burn as everyone buys programming a la carte on their computer or tablet. What we found when we interviewed knowledgeable people around the world, however, was quite a different story. Content owners and their service providers both believe that the value of content will only increase in a world of multi-path distribution. If content is king today, it will be emperor tomorrow. Media companies could still miss the opportunity by insisting on doing business as they have always
Robert Bell, executive director, World Teleport Association
World satellite communications revenue produced by the teleport sector
executive in charge of contribution and distribution for a major news channel said, “Data transmission is becoming the best way to move content around. It’s a great opportunity for a satellite service provider. Instead of selling me a 36 MHz transponder, they can now carve it up into as many pieces as they want and charge people to run IP-based data over it. But it’s going to require a different mindset. I still run into people, younger than me, who think that we’re going to send a satellite truck and buy 9 MHz on a satellite. That kind of thinking has to disappear. People have to realise that I no longer have to plan things in a linear way. When I call my vendors and say I need 500 Kb, that’s what they need to sell me.” A service provider told a different but
“The most successful teleport operators have a powerful argument to offer: by providing a distribution centre for multiple channels and networks, teleports can justify making investments in state-of-the-art facilities, automation and route diversity that individual broadcasters frequently cannot” done it. But every broadcast executive we interviewed was fully alert to both the opportunities and dangers. The distribution service providers, whether on the ground or in the sky, see the explosion of content as an undiluted positive. More customised feeds, more camera angles, more video formats – all translate into more business. And the increasing complexity of distribution plays in particular to the strengths of the teleport operator. We spoke with several in the Middle East, Europe and US who were in the midst of building out entirely new teleports and internal networks to deliver what their customers need: the ability to ingest content once and deliver it in any format, through any path, to any device. The core value of the teleport has always been the ability to connect the incompatible. Like broadcasters with their content, teleport operators believe that this particular ability can only become more valuable in coming years. Two stories make the point. An
equally compelling story. His company was handling broadcast contribution and distribution for a major golf tournament. The tournament ran long, however, and the final round had still not been played when the broadcast window ended. The broadcaster elected not to pre-empt its regularly scheduled programme – but millions of viewers still wanted to see the final. So the teleport operator began feverish work with the content owner and the internet distribution company. They created enough temporary capacity overnight to support hundreds of thousands of simultaneous live Web streams. The broadcast went live on the Web on a Monday morning – and the site did not crash. “It took all of us working together,” said the teleport executive, “to make it happen.” We can expect to see more of that kind of close cooperation in the future. PRO Robert Bell is executive director of the World Teleport Association (www.worldteleport.org), which represents the teleport operators, carriers and technology providers in 20 nations.
March 2012 | SatellitePro | 19
The state of interference With the London 2012 games just around the corner, Martin Coleman, executive director of Satellite Interference Reduction Group (sIRG), looks at the progress the industry has made in adopting carrier ID, an embedded code to track the cause of interference We have for a long time been talking about the ever-present problem of satellite interference. It is the bugbear of the entire industry, with feeds continually being interrupted and service lost due to this issue. At the Satellite Interference Reduction Group (sIRG), we have been focusing our effort on carrier ID (CID) and, specifically, getting it adopted across the industry in time for London 2012. Of course, 2012 is now upon us and with the Olympics just around the corner, how close are we to achieving that goal? What has been done? Carrier ID is essentially an embedded code that means operators can simply and quickly track the cause of interference. However, for carrier ID to work, we need the support of the entire industry, and that means modem and encoder manufacturers, satellite operators, and broadcasters, and crucially all uplinkers across the globe. With this in mind, sIRG has been campaigning hard on a global scale to bring all of these companies on board with our initiatives. We attended a number of key events throughout 2011, with conferences and speaking slots at many of these, enabling us to talk to the industry about the problem, and crucially, the solutions. In the short term, we have been focused on carrier ID, but we are also working on a number of other initiatives, all aimed at significantly reducing interference. But for now, we are focusing the majority of our efforts on carrier ID and getting the industry on board in time for the Olympics. So, where are we up to? We have achieved a great deal over the last year, with a number of crucial announcements getting us that bit closer to our goal. After many months of campaigning and talking to the industry, IBC was the 20 | SatellitePro | March 2012
Interference Types 6-Month Average 7%
3% 2% 8% Adjacent Satellite Interference Unauthorised Carrier
Cross-Pol/Copol Sweeper Retransmit/FM Broadcast Transporter Compression
47% data supplied by Intelsat
turning point. Firstly, Eutelsat announced that from 30 June 2012, carrier ID will be integrated into transmission parameters for SNG transmissions and new DVB broadcasts for all Eutelsat customers. Secondly, a number of leading modem manufacturers agreed to work together to formalise a standard for the insertion of new carrier ID technology within the DVB specification. That is currently with the DVB and will make a huge difference to carrier ID as and when approved, as this new technology contains the carrier ID information within a separate carrier. This means that it is visible to operators, without the need to interrupt the main feed, saving valuable airtime for broadcasters. This is something particularly beneficial for live broadcasts, where any interruption to the feed will of course have an immediate effect for the consumer watching at home. However, it will unfortunately not
be formalised in time for the Olympics, so although we aim to get the industry to move that way in the long-term, in the short-term we will be focusing on establishing the existing network information table (NIT) carrier ID technology for London 2012. Even the existing NIT technology can make a considerable difference, as it enables interference to be stopped quickly and efficiently, and significantly reduces interruptions. Manufacturers We have been talking to many of the leading modem and encoder manufacturers and as mentioned above, a number of modem manufacturers worked together to back the new carrier ID technology, which was developed by Comtech EF Data, and is currently being reviewed by the DVB. Both Comtech EF Data and Newtec have in the interim added NIT CID to all their modulators and both companies are strongly supporting
Monthly interference events that large satellite fleets experience on an average
Carrier ID & the QA Process
Inserted Carrier ID ...the Key that unlocks the Process!
Type Approval & other QA Data ID is the Key
Check & Resolve + Updates
There are many more broadcasters however who are not yet employing carrier ID, although all they need to do really is “flick a switch” to make it happen the new technology. As for encoders, we know that a number of leading manufacturers have included carrier ID in all products, either as standard or as a free firmware upgrade. The ones we are aware of include Ericsson, NTT, IDC, and Vislink, but I am certain other manufacturers may have also included it and I’m working to determine others so we can mention them on our new website later this year. Satellite operators The satellite operators are on the whole very much on board with carrier ID. They are of course at the sharp end, dealing with interference as and when it happens and
striving to keep their customers happy, and as interference-free as possible. The announcement from Eutelsat was a turning point, but we are working closely with many of the leading operators, including Intelsat, SES, Inmarsat, and Arabsat, all of whom are striving to have carrier ID across their networks in time for the Olympics. Broadcasters For broadcasters, the landscape is much more complicated, as there are so many of them across the world. For a relatively small broadcaster, the task of ensuring carrier ID across their operations can seem insurmountable. However, as we have
discussed, many of the modem and encoder manufacturers already include carrier ID, so the chances are, that most are capable of carrier ID already. The current state of play is that some broadcasters are already using a version of carrier ID, such as Turner Broadcasting. We have been working with the other organisations to combat the problem of interference. One such group is the Radio Frequency Interference – End Users Initiative (RFI-EUI), which has a strong focus on the broadcaster community. Its members have agreed to work towards the use of carrier ID for the Olympics. There are many more broadcasters who are not yet employing carrier ID, although all they need to do really is “flick a switch” to make it happen. sIRG and other like-minded and passionate organisations, such as WBU-ISOG, GVF, and RFI-EUI are working to better educate the industry about the March 2012 | SatellitePro | 21
advantages of carrier ID in mitigating interference as they get on board. Global reach Another key to getting carrier ID to work throughout the industry is ensuring it is established throughout the world. We are having a great deal of success in Europe and USA, as well as in the Middle East, where we have good support from both Arabsat and Yahsat, as well as Eutelsat and SES, who both operate in the region. However, we have not reached out to our industry colleagues in Russia, China, and India. That said, we are starting to work with the Ukraine and are hoping to host a sIRG conference there later this year, to get out the message about what we are trying to achieve and what is possible. The next [few] steps We have laid a lot of ground-work over the years and the technology is out there to embed carrier ID. The Space Data Association (SDA) is working towards establishing exactly what is needed in a carrier ID database, where the carrier ID code recovered from a carrier can be used to identify the satellite operator(s) upon whose satellites the carrier is authorised to operate. Thus, the responsible
Martin Coleman, director, Colem and executive director, Satellite Interference Reduction Group (sIRG)
“The Olympics will provide us with a perfect test bed, enabling us to demonstrate proof of concept, and at the same time iron out any operational bugs, to get the initial systems in place to make global carrier ID possible in the near future” satellite operator can quickly identify and contact the responsible uplinker and address any interference quickly and efficiently while
the same time iron out any operational bugs, to get the initial systems in place to make global CID possible in the near future! PRO
Why is Interference Increasing?
Why issupplied Interference Analysis by GVF… Increasing?
22 | SatellitePro | March 2012
maintaining the integrity of proprietary data such as name and location. The SDA is discussing requirements for the database with its member industry experts and its technical partners. The final SDA database is expected to be ready later in 2012, and in order to support the London Olympics, the SDA is working with its industry partners to host an initial version as a proof of concept. Now it is up to us all as an industry to make NIT CID happen in time for the Olympics for a number of reasons. Firstly, such a high profile event deserves our attention to ensure viewers at home are not affected by interference during those pivotal moments. Secondly, the Olympics will provide us with a perfect test bed, enabling us to demonstrate proof of concept, and at
analysis supplied by GVF
STOP Interference Now! (it’s a SIN!)
BACKPACK JOURNALISM As journalists perfect the perilous task of working in conflict zones, satellite-based technology helps them connect with studios back home with equipment that literally fits into a backpack
When reporting from conflict zones, anonymity is critical. Portable communications equipment that fit in a backpack has become an essential accessory. Quicklink is one of those solutions providers. Underscoring the dangers they face at times, journalists have occasionally requested managing director, Nabil Ben Soussia’s team at Abu Dhabibased Safa Telecom, to remove the logo of Quicklink, a well-known video broadcast solution developer and a subsidiary of Safa Telecom, from the backpack. “In conflict zones, the brand could reveal their identity as journalists, and that could, in some cases, be life-threatening,” says Nabil indicating the backpack that essentially equips a journalist on the move with the necessary hardware and software to file reports straight to his studio in Doha, London or New York. Speaking to SatellitePro Middle East, Nabil was understandably circumspect 24 | SatellitePro | March 2012
about mentioning names as journalists using their equipment were probably in conflict zones across the Middle East. In addition to the absence of clear front lines and the basic threat to life, journalists are faced with tenuous cellphone and internet connections. Nabil explains, “Journalists in conflict zones cannot use 3G without the risk of the link being disconnected or worse, being detected. The Thuraya IP or BGan used with the Quicklink solution, for instance, offers guaranteed data rates of up to 384 kbps for live video and audio broadcast, store and forward audio and video streaming, plus an instant broadband mobile office for email, internet and so on. Used alongside the portable Thuraya IP terminal or the Inmarsat BGan terminal, this solution includes a Quicklink software or hardware encoder with a Quicklink play-out server in the broadcasting studio.”
Affordable, user-friendly satellite equipment Sending journalists out to report in conflict zones is not a new concept. But what has changed is the availability of user-friendly satellite equipment that is also affordable. When reporting from Iraq in 2009, UK-based journalist Keith Harrison reportedly rented an Iridium satellite phone to use alongside his RBGAN satellite modem and Apple G3 laptop computer in the Gulf as part of his standard equipment. With the Iridium network of 66 satellites, the journalist was free to connect with his UK-based office without having to rely on the Iraqi telephone networks that could become a military target. For journalists on the move, advancements in the areas of consumer video and IP products combined with mobile satellite technology, are groundbreaking. Leading television networks such as CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera, among others, equip their journalists with portable kits
384 that let them report, edit and produce news packages or go live from nearly anywhere. With a Mac laptop and an internet connection (BGAN, Thuraya IP and so on) journalists can go live and file reports from almost anywhere in the world. The equipment is extremely small, lightweight and can run off car, truck or camera batteries as well as AC. Indicating the innocuous backpack by his side, Nabil says, “With a BGAN mobile terminal, for instance, reporters can deliver streaming news and as you can see, packaged in this small backpack is a video encoder equipment and battery power.” Portable encoders from companies such as Quicklink and others, encode video footage and broadcast it to the studio in real time, providing high video quality at low data rates. Training and trouble-shooting Giving an indication of the growing demand for these services among the media fraternity, Nabil reveals that the team developing Quicklink in the UK that numbered 10 last year has doubled to 20 this year. However it is easy to get excited about the size and portability of the current satellite-based equipment and overlook the effort Nabil’s team puts into getting journalists up to speed with the equipment, and trouble-shooting when they are reporting from the field. Nabil says, “I always insist on meeting with the end-user. With TV channels, it is the cameraman who would be in charge of the backpack.” An unusual induction process helped Nabil understand the stress a journalist on the field would face. During the beta tests of the product, Nabil decided to take the backpack and go offshore to a remote site in a bid to understand the mindset of a field reporter. Security for journalists “Never travel without a wire coathanger,” was the advice journalists got in the past. Apparently the coathanger would come in handy to brush away top soil and expose landmines. As more journalists die in conflict zones, security has become a prime concern for news agencies and television broadcasters. Nabil says, “While the GPS on a typical MSS-based equipment is a one-way method of tracking, the Iridium Shout Nano, for instance, is a handheld, global, two-way
Nabil Ben Soussia, managing director, Safa Telecom
Kbps on-demand streaming data rates in the mobile satellite communications world
head of news gathering and their finance department. We can present bills missionwise, based on geography and so on. Moreover, there is complete transparency, so that the media house can see usage at the end of a mission.” Nabil’s optimism about the growth of new digital news gathering systems despite budget cuts and overall recession, is shared by broadcasters. Arnie Christianson, operations manager for CNN’s satellites and transmissions, speaking on this issue has reportedly said: “As belts tighten, news companies will look for less expensive techniques to do their job. This highly mobile gear fits the bill.”
“Given the situation in conflict zones across the globe, it is much easier to get a laptop and small satellite IP device into remote areas than it is to drive a truck or fly in a dish” satellite messaging and personal tracking device. The Nano is designed with low power consumption electronics and with an internal 1.95 A-Hr rechargeable Li-Ion battery. It can send a position report every hour for up to two months (about 1,500 reports). What is more, the device can periodically wake up from sleep to send its position report to a command centre. Also if the reporter is in trouble, he just has to use a guarded 911 button that will immediately send alert notifications to the head office.” Having forged partnerships with companies such as Inmarsat, Iridium and Thuraya, among others, Nabil’s team is now intent on working on unique solutions in partnership with Abu Dhabi-based Yahsat once their second satellite Y1B is launched. Elaborating on the customised solutions the company has devised for journalists, Nabil says, “What journalists need is uploading capabilities. Satellite operators and GSM operators design their network towards downloading capabilities. For this reason, we have included in this backpack, no less than six SIM cards and not more than two from the same network , so that the journalist is guaranteed the best of the available connections. “Another issue we have worked on is customised billing solutions. Our billing process acts as a bridge between the
Challenges remain. Broadcasters will want flexible technology that allows them to stream over a variety of low-data rate networks such as Wi-Fi as well as satellite networks like BGAN, Thuraya and VSAT and also be able to switch seamlessly to the least-cost network option available. Secondly, with regard to Thuraya and BGAN-type services, the next hurdle will be to deliver HD quality video from a portable unit in real-time, which requires about a 10- to 20-fold increase in bandwidth performance over products currently available. Going by Nabil Ben Soussia’s presentation at the recent Milsatcom Middle East conference in Abu Dhabi, HD quality video from portable units is already available and he believes that the future is bright given that compact mobile technology has resulted in huge cuts in news-gathering cost. Describing the incredible advancements satellite technology has made, Nabil says, “In the past, an organisation had to plug a tape into a machine at some dedicated fibre or satellite uplink location. Now they can use portable laptops and compression to send packaged video over the internet. Given the situation in the conflict zones across the globe, it is much easier to get a laptop and small satellite IP device into remote areas than it is to drive a truck or fly in a dish.” PRO March 2012 | SatellitePro | 25
‘The World’ under scrutiny
Image for illustration purpose
Rigorous analysis of images from Dubai’s first earth observation satellite, DubaiSat1, proved that the group of islands off the coast of Dubai that comprise the famous ‘The World’ development is stable and changes detected were man-made
26 | SatellitePro | March 2012
“We started looking at the images even before we were contacted by the government to look into the matter,” says Abdulla Hamad Bushehab, associate research engineer – space programme, of The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), as he outlined this unique case-study for SatellitePro Middle East. Spurred by media reports about the apparent erosion of ‘The World’, two research scientists at Dubai’s EIAST began to study the images that Dubai’s first earth observation satellite, DubaiSat1, was routinely taking up to two times a day. “Experience is essential to analysing images to distinguish the nature of change in a landscape over a period of time,” says Bushehab. When studying ‘The World’, the team had to look at changes in deep
sea levels, the shallow sea levels round manmade islands and the shape of the islands. “My colleague was already studying sea levels for another study and that experience was useful when looking at the islands that make up ‘The World.” Reflectance is a key concept when studying satellite imagery. It is defined as the ratio of the radiant energy reflected from a surface to the radiant energy incident on the surface. Explaining the concept of reflectance, Bushehab says, “From urban areas typically with their streets and buildings, we have low reflectance and for deserts, we have higher reflectance. Taking all parameters such as rain, seasons, tide movements and so on, into account, we compared images taken over time using various tools. Visual inspection is only
16 Amount of sediment (Red) decreased compared to the previous images.
The study Visual inspection of the images showed no signs of erosion and deterioration of the World Islands. In addition, there were no signs of big changes. The main changes detected were the connection between four islands with each other and the digging activities on one of the islands. Classification and change detection functions were also applied to the images. The green and blue colours in the classification results represent land, and the red colour represents sediment. Land with high reflectance is shown in blue (usually dry sand) and land with medium reflectance is shown in green (usually wet sand). When comparing the images, with the classification function applied to them, small differences are detected between images. The size of the green and the blue areas in each image is a little different. Some detected changes are caused by natural phenomena, like wind and low/high tide. This also leads to slight changes in the shape of some of the islands. Some small changes diasappeared in images taken on different dates, which aided the team in linking it to low/high tides. The main difference between all images was related to the red areas (sediment). As demonstrated, big differences in the amount of sediment exist between images. It looks like a natural event that varies in occurrence. No specific trend was detected for this phenomena, which could be related to the water current in that area. Finally, change detection was applied to the images. Four sets of comparisons were made. Analysis was done to images that were three months old, six months old, nine months old, and 12 months old. The November 2009 image was used as reference. For each set, the two images were compared with each other to see if changes occurred to the shape of the islands since the reference image. When applying change detection function, big changes are shown in either bright red colour or in blue colour. According to the change detection analysis, the main changes that occurred in theâ€™ Worldâ€™ islands are the digging activities on one of the islands and the manmade connections between four islands. There are other indications of changes, but these changes are because of natural causes like high and low tide. Analysis of results also did not show signs of erosion or deterioration.
Emirati engineers from EIAST are currently preparing to launch DubaiSat-2
Figure 1: Classification Function applied to images of The World.
Four islands connected with each other. The connections are manmade.
Amount of sediment (Red) increased again.
Figure 2: Classification Function applied to images of The World. Images acquired on successive months.
Amount of sediment (Red) decreased.
Amount of sediment (Red) increased again.
Figure 3 : Classification Function applied to images of The World. Images taken over a gap of three months.
March 2012 | SatellitePro | 27
“The change detection tool compares two images and compares reflectance to indicate change. If the change persists into the next image, taken three months later, it is a permanent change. That is why our study on ‘The World’ is based on images taken over a period of a year and a half”
Conclusion and recommendations In this report, three different analyses tools were used to analyse ‘The World’. The detected changes were manmade. The first change is the manmade connection between four islands, and the second change is the digging activities on one of the islands. Moreover, there were minor changes detected that were related to natural phenomena, like low/high tide and wind-related. Analyses done using satellite images did not detect erosion or deterioration on the islands that make up ‘The World’ development. However, the researchers cautioned that a final conclusion cannot be reached without inputs from environmental scientists, and a field visit to the islands by environmental experts.
Abdulla Hamad Bushehab, associate research engineer – space programme – The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST)
the first step and used typically for urban projects. But for further analysis, the change detection tool compares two images and compares reflectance to indicate change. For example, if a road is being constructed in the desert, you will have a range from
high (desert) reflectance to low (road) reflectance. With the islands, we would have known if there were changes in the islands with the changes in the depth of the sea as indicated by the reflectance factor. If the change persists into the next image, taken three months later, it is a permanent change. That is why our study on ‘The World’ is based on images taken over a period of a year and a half.” Of the image processing team, Bushehab says, “Most of the engineers working here are graduates from the Al Khalifa university, many specialising in the communications field. Fortunately one of the courses is image processing and a number of our final year projects were around satellite image processing.” Currently studying the fog phenomena over the UAE following two major road accidents in the country, Bushehab and his team continue to demonstrate the tremendous practical impact earth observation satellites have towards helping policy makers take informed decisions with issues ranging from urban development to environmental conservation. PRO
EIAST signs MoU with RTA to advance infrastructure work The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The MoU affirms the RTA’s need for up-todate satellite images that show the progress of their infrastructure work on Dubai’s streets and roads. The MoU was signed by Salem Humaid Al Marri, the head of project management and space missions, Department of EIAST, and Abdulla Al Madani, the CEO of corporate
28 | SatellitePro | March 2012
support services at the RTA. Al Marri said: “This MoU is of extreme importance to us as it supports our strategic approach to serve the RTA by helping them improve the infrastructure work done on Dubai roads, and it also highlights the common interests of both organisations to document the different phases of road enhancements through satellite images.” Al Madani said, “The RTA is pleased to sign this agreement with EIAST, which will inevitably strengthen the geographic information systems
mechanism. The agreement will play a vital role in enhancing the efficiency of our road projects through the provision of high quality data and satellite images that are periodically updated.” DubaiSat-1, the UAE’s first earth observation satellite, has relatively high spatial resolution that complements existing geographic information system (GIS) databases and enables more efficient monitoring and prediction of natural events such as sandstorm observation, fog forecasts, and determining the quality of water in the area.
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Milsatcom operations: Role of the commercial satellite industry With constrained budgets and a decline in military headcount, cost-effective communications solutions with maximum availability take centrestage. Satellite professionals at the Milsatcom Middle East conference held in Abu Dhabi, examined the evolving relationship between government/military establishments worldwide and commercial satellite operators, towards developing communications solutions for increasingly demanding operational requirements
30 | SatellitePro | March 2012
130 Examining the evolution of military satellite communications, Tareq Al Hosani, CEO of Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PrJSC (Yahsat), speaks of interoperability. He says military satellite communications need, “highly complex architecture spanning multiple applications with a common platform to allow simple integration and with mobility playing a key role.” He says that satellite operators must adapt to these changing needs that are driving the IPbased military networks. There is need for real-time connection, Hosani says, with “information transfer between the field and command centre [taking place] without delay or loss and there is a need for highly reliable solutions and maximum availability.” He adds, “richer applications require higher bandwidth. There is also increasing focus on cloud computing offering a greater range of “on-demand” applications, with more security and ease of use, for end users. Lastly, we are seeing increasing pressure on military budgets resulting in the use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) versus proprietary solutions.” Bandwidth requirements, according to Hosani, are increasing at a rapid rate for military satellite communications (Milsatcom) use. Among the higher bandwidth drivers, in his view are “increasing dependence on communication, for instance, the need to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and the need for mobility and conferencing, among other requirements. UAVs, for example, require in excess of 8Mbps of data offload from the aircraft.” Hosani says, “there is more data being transferred given the increasing need for higher resolution images and video, where voice requires 32Kbps and video conferencing, for instance, requires in the region of 1Mbps. Moreover, what is important is the time-criticality of information transfer – data must be received in seconds.” From reserving satellite capacity to ensuring ground support and executing field solutions to setting up secure network applications, governments, according to Hosani, are seeking end-to-end integrated solutions.
Tareq Al Hosani, CEO of Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PrJSC (Yahsat)
Spacecraft owned by the largest three satellite operators
Proven reliability of satellite communication networks The majority of logistical issues in military settings stem directly from the inability of information systems to provide accurate and actionable data. For militaries to be reliable, responsive and flexible, Dr. Leslie Klein, P.Eng. president and CEO of Canada-based C-COM Satellite Systems Inc, vouches for satellite-based communication networks, saying, “Satellite communication networks are proven to provide unmatched reliability with far fewer failure nodes than existing terrestrial solutions. ” He believes COTS VSAT equipment is essential to the survival of the modern day military allowing for a high degree of reliability in connecting critical areas such as ammo supply positions, hospitals, tactical warehouses, and distribution hubs.
“We are seeing increasing pressure on military budgets resulting in the use of commercial-off-the-shelf [over] proprietary solutions“
Dr. Leslie Klein, P.Eng. president and CEO of Canadabased C-COM Satellite Systems Inc
Given tighter military budgets, the era of the $2,000 toilet seat and the $100,000 mobile satellite antenna, are clearly over. Dr. Klein believes that COTS VSAT technology products are less expensive, more readily available and have proven to be reliable for many military applications. He says that coupled with tighter budgets, the “increased demand for more and more bandwidth can be addressed more cost effectively by commercial satellite providers.” He adds,“Ka-band will be a game changer in the commercial market place and it will impact the military much the same way. Low-cost, readily available, high-speed VSAT terminals (fixed, on-the-pause and in-motion) are being deployed in anticipation of the demand for these services.” C-Com, according to Dr. Klein, is working with a number of Ka-band providers such as Viasat,
“Satellite communication networks are proven to provide unmatched reliability with far fewer failure nodes than existing terrestrial solutions” March 2012 | SatellitePro | 31
Hughes, Yahsat, Avanti and others, to deliver COTS on-the-pause. In addition, advanced technology Ka-band in-motion products are also being developed for this market place. With high-precision VSAT solutions that can fit in a suitcase, allow for easy assembling in minutes by one person with precision antenna pointing and long-life batteries than can be charged using solar panels, the commercial satellite industry has an array of next generation, state-of-the-art mobile satellite antenna technologies for use by governments on mission critical operations. Growing opportunity of hosted payloads Given the cost constraints being faced by governments across the globe and the unrelenting need for real-time communication,
Government use of commercial missions • Proprietary government systems continue to be in use and new programmes are being launched (e.g. WGS, Skynet) • However, high funding requirements coupled with financial austerity measures, are making these programmes increasingly difficult to commission for many governments
Tim Deaver, VP, Government Solutions, SES
“Hosting capabilities on commercial satellites can provide more affordable access to space then using dedicated spacecraft because the majority of costs are borne by the host spacecraft which decreases the cost / Kg for shared missions” Tim Deaver, VP, Government Solutions, SES, believes there is a growing opportunity with hosted payloads. He explains the concept saying, “The term ‘Hosted Payload’ refers to the utilisation of available capacity on a commercial satellite to accommodate additional transponders, instruments or other space-bound items. “By offering hosted payload opportunities, the customer is provided with frequent, timely and affordable access to space.” The Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP) programme, for instance, will test a new type of wide field-of-view infrared technology for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Centre. CHIRP launched on board SES-2 in September 2011. Of the advantages of using hosted payloads, Deaver says, “Hosting capabilities on commercial satellites can provide more
• Increasingly, though, governments are showing willingness to buy from international operators to serve their domestic military needs (e.g. Xtar), offering more options in terms of quality, coverage and price Hosted payloads • In line with the commercial space, the hosted payload option for military missions is also gaining ground • Given the financial pressures and typically limited needs in terms of transponders for most governments, this is a much more cost effective and viable option Tareq Al Hosani, CEO, Yahsat
Nikolaus Faller, VP, international sales and marketing, MENA, Astrium
“The latest generation terminals are lighter and use satellite capacity more efficiently. Systems are becoming more complex and diverse, and to manage them efficiently requires advanced modular software” 32 | SatellitePro | March 2012
National systems • National operators have been a traditional source of leased capacity supply to governments (e.g. Yahsat, StarOne, China Satcom)
affordable access to space then using dedicated spacecraft because the majority of costs are borne by the host spacecraft which decreases the cost / Kg for shared missions.” Equally significant is the nominal satellite manufacture process that is less than 36 months allowing for communications solutions that are both on time and on cost. Early engagement for an effective hosted payload initiative Underlying the importance of early engagement, Deaver says, “The largest three operators account for over 130 spacecraft and with a typical
15-year lifetime, it would equal nine replacements per year.” He adds that, “not all satellites are candidates for hosting payloads either because the satellite is already too large or in the wrong location for your needs or has conflicting requirements from different customers.” Underscoring the need for timing and synchronisation, Deaver believes that ideally, hosted payload procurement would occur prior to spacecraft manufacturing. The advantages of shared satellites are many, says Deaver. “The “partner nation” can design and specify its own payload and can control it independently. The shared satellite model saves time, reduces risks, brings cost advantages and controls complexity. A transfer of knowledge to national teams for future operations and projects can be ensured. Also, partner nations can rely on the expertise and experience of a veteran satellite operator when making technical, programme and commercial choices.” For hosted payloads to be an effective strategy going forward, Deaver believes there needs to be open dialogue between customers
and operators. With real timelines and the need for payloads to be geographically and operationally compatible, he says, “our business is a long-cycle business. The more we can find out about future requirements early, the better chance we have to modify our fleet to meet a client’s needs.” Given that the host operators are transparent capital-investment managers, he says, “we must make the business case. The commercial satellite industry is an infrastructure business at its core – metrics of return-on-investment is the key driver. Creating a capability to support the government will be driven by the business case it presents.” The system, not technology, delivers capability It’s the system, not the technology that delivers capability, believes Nikolaus Faller, VP, international sales and marketing, MENA, of Astrium. Systems engineering underpins new capability. Explaining the crucial factor of the system, he says, “you may go shopping for an iPad but….It’s only a ‘window’ onto a diverse, complex and hybrid communications system. If that system is not ‘fit for purpose’,
your iPad is useless. “The latest generation terminals are lighter and use satellite capacity more efficiently. Modular, flexible military-off-the-shelf terminals and modems can help future-proof your system. Systems are becoming more complex and diverse, and to manage them efficiently requires advanced modular software.” Governments, he believes, need to get the retrofit integration/performance trade off right early on. Also planners and decision makers need to “find a way to augment the communications system that you’ve already got on-board.” With each piece of intelligence that can anticipate acts of terrorism, violations or manmade disasters being critical to protecting a nation, governments and their armed forces are looking for state-of the-art capabilities that give them an edge in the field, on the seas, in the air and in cyberspace. Satellite professionals are unanimous in their view that governments are, in the face of constrained budgets, looking towards the commercial satellite operators for highly responsive, need-based solutions. PRO
The Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) view In your view, how important for an MSS operator, is the government and military sector, as compared to the other vertical markets you service? The government and military sectors have always been one of the major growth drivers of the mobile satellite services (MSS) industry. If we look at the figures, more than 80% of the satellite communications used by the government and military sector depend on commercial satellite communications operators. Research has proven that the size of the global military communications market in 2010 amounted to US$15.91bn. Moreover, recent industry forecasts predict that defence departments across the globe will spend over $7 billion on the development, acquisition and maintenance of 25 different multi-mission communications programmes over the next ten years, with about 480,468 individual hardware units being sold. That being said, this sector is key to Thuraya and we have a strong dedicated team specialised in ensuring that our government and defence consumer demands are met.
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American forces from Afghanistan and Iraq? In the short term, the government and military sector will maintain its current position. We do not expect that the sector will significantly diminish following the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan and Iraq as deployable satellite communication solutions continue to be a necessity in other parts of our geographic footprint for various government missions. Additionally, forces other than the US are deployed for peace-keeping missions as part of their international responsibilities in the region.
Robert Demers, VP, government services, Thuraya Telecommunications Company
More specifically in the MENA region, do you see this sector (government/military) growing or diminishing in the next few years considering the planned withdrawal of the
From data and voice to video conferencing, which area do you see traffic increasing among your end-users? In order of importance, in terms of traffic and revenue, video and video-conferencing is the main pillar alongside high-speed data usage, followed by satellite voice services. Military consumers rely heavily on broadband service as their needs are more data-centric. They need reliable, real-time information in support of mission-critical operations.
Number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne every second 24/7
“Satcom can deliver more than ever before” Industry veteran Tim Shroyer, CTO, General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies, sees the dawn of a new era driven by innovative technology that offers increased capacity to users at the prices that have never been lower Do you see the dawn of a new era with regard to the emergence of Ka-band, the reduction in cost of ‘bits’, improved mobility, the ability to make smaller antennas work and other innovative technologies? Ka-band satellites are providing significantly more on-orbit capacity in most regions of the world. Communications’ products from UAEbased Yahsat and others coming on orbit in the Middle East, make a reference to similar advantages. Users benefit greatly from the increased power and bandwidth available from these new Ka-band transponder services because the satellites have broader spectrum available and higher downlink power. In addition, they can also “re-use” the spectrum through focused spot beams. Where previous satellites had spot beams to essentially increase power and sensitivity over narrow regions of interest, the new spot beam technology permits the same satellite to use the same uplink and downlink frequencies to cover different areas at the same time, multiplying the capacity available on the satellite just as cell phone systems do on the ground. This frequency reuse reduces the total cost of the transponder capacity because it shares the cost of the satellite among many more earth terminals. Why do you believe Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) is ideal for broadcast? Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) is unique in communications technology because it can cover significant regions of the earth from a single transmitter. One high power transponder on a satellite can cost-effectively provide television or radio distribution services over an entire region, bringing all the benefits of high bandwidth, high quality video and audio broadcast in the most cost-effective way possible. These same services benefit commercial and military
Tim Shroyer, chief technology officer, General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies
Tim Shroyer is the CTO of General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies. In this capacity he is responsible for oversight of the engineering and technology for the manufacture of satellite earth station equipment. Since beginning his career as a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy, where he was a shipboard communications officer and watch officer with DISA, Shroyer has been active in the satellite communications industry for more than 20 years. communications systems by delivering information needed by a larger number of users simultaneously. What are your views on the cost per bandwidth being a primary consideration in satellite communications? The big consideration in satellite communications has always been the cost of the satellite transponder bandwidth, or space segment. However, the cost of the space segment really includes the cost of the bandwidth itself, usually expressed in MHz or actual RF bandwidth, and the cost of the whole communications system. With
efficient earth terminals and effective IP routing systems, the cost of the initial earth terminal hardware might be higher than the cheapest possible approach, but if properly designed, it can result in the lowest total costs overall, including space segment leases and equipment procurement costs. This trade-off is especially important with new Satcom-onthe-move systems. A less capable Satcom-onthe-move system might initially cost less than a high-performance terminal that can maintain contact with satellites and transmit efficiently, but the total cost will always be lower for the communications overall with a highperformance Satcom-on-the-move system. From choosing the right terminal to interference issues, what are the challenges ahead? Some of the challenges in the satellite communications industry are determining how to make best use of this new broadband mobility capability. Satellite broadcast is fairly well understood by consumers and broadcasters alike. It is so common to use satellite communications systems for television broadcasting that we all simply take that for granted. It just happens and appears to work flawlessly. We in the industry keep pushing on the capabilities of earth terminal technology to reduce the costs of the hardware on the ground while improving the real performance. That is more challenging because the price points are being pushed hard by the market at the same time. New Satcom-on-the-move terminals will continue to evolve quickly as users find more and more applications for the growing use of broadband coverage anywhere in the world. We will continue to play a leading role in developing new and improved communications systems in support of military and commercial users worldwide. PRO March 2012 | SatellitePro | 35
SatVertical: Oil & gas
The bandwidth demand surge With the exploration and drilling companies seeking to remotely manage their sites, the oil and gas sector is experiencing a burgeoning demand for high-bandwidth applications, says Keith Johnson, president, energy division, Harris Caprock The growing need for bandwidth in the energy sector “I have been in this industry for 25 years and I can see that communications has gone through an amazing transformation even within the satellite industry. If we go back even 10 years, a typical site required 256Kbs at the most. But now, many of our offshore facilities require 2Mbps, and some of them go up to 4Mbps. So there has been an exponential growth in the amount of data that is generated in some of the more complex facilities. “There are advances in the way 36 | SatellitePro | March 2012
communication is managed both at the remote site and on the satellite, so you get more efficiency and faster throughput. More recently, in terms of a leap change is the desire among the oil and gas and drilling companies to remotely automate and manage their sites. This requirement has grown tremendously over the last several years. “They are putting more advanced technology on the rig, so that they don’t need to have as many people on the site. These new applications that allow for remote monitoring, require more
bandwidth. Sometimes on a deepwater platform, the drilling companies have to invest up to a million dollars or in excess of that, in additional equipment, to allow for this remote management capability. “The other change that has taken place is in the realm of crew morale. There has been a real push to provide basic connectivity out of these remote sites. It is no longer about just making a call. Employees want to Skype and so on, and providing these services to the entire crew becomes bandwidth demanding. It is a constant challenge for these companies
2 to invest in additional bandwidth to ensure high crew morale and thus retain personnel. “More recently, because of the Gulf of Mexico incident, safety requirements are becoming even more rigorous. Data replication and storage of critical data is becoming a strong requirement among oil exploration companies. We anticipate that other regions and governments will adopt these new regulations that require the rig operators to undertake more sophisticated management of data that is produced at the site and are required to store the data in such a manner that it can be retrieved when called for. While there will be an improvement in safety standards, it might become cost prohibitive for some of these companies to operate in this region. “We are working with our customers on how best they can store and manage their data, including working on a system of metadata tagging for streamlined retrieval of data. Part of the question going forward will relate to the quantum of data storage the government is going to require the oil exploration companies to sustain – will it be data gathered over the previous week, or year? Regulations are still being developed and we don’t have firm answers yet.” innovative solutions deployed on rigs “The oil and gas customer does use cloud computing, but we don’t see the technology being used extensively when it comes to real-time drilling applications. Today we see it being used for mail services, and for disaster recovery backup systems. We have a cloud computing and cyber security centre and we have some pilots under way for our drilling customers. They are trying to see how best to use the technology. “One of the current trends is when there is a large concentration of personnel on a facility that requires a high amount of bandwidth, submarine fibre is being deployed. This solution is being driven by bandwidth demands on deep water facilities and needs to be justified in terms of usage. The goal is to reduce personnel and to be able to manage and monitor
Bandwidth demand currently on a typical rig site
with companies to provide that. In Brazil, for instance, every rig in the coming years will require remote telemedicine facilities. “In remote areas, it is challenging to provide a high level of service at a low cost. These are difficult-to-reach locations and you need people and spares available to ensure uptime. Though communications systems on a rig is a critical differentiator in terms of working efficiency of the rig, the outlay, even if you include all the IT infrastructure and satellite capacity usage, is probably less than 1% of what it costs to operate a deep water facility that would have close to a billion dollars in equipment.”
Keith Johnson, president, energy division, Harris Caprock
Growth in the MENA region “We definitely see the MENA region as a growth area. I would estimate that MENA accounts for 30 to 40% of our energy revenues. We work closely with satellite
“They [exploration and drilling companies] are putting more advanced technology on the rig, so that they don’t need to have as many people on the site. These new applications that allow for remote monitoring, require more bandwidth” these facilities remotely. We own and operate submarine fibre networks and currently it is a niche sector. If we look at the industry at large, satellite is still the predominant provider and even in the cases where submarine fibre is deployed, VSAT is used as backup in case there is a break in the fibre. “From a terrestrial standpoint, fibre is inevitable – but we are seeing an interesting trend along West Africa. Though the major cities have fibre, the challenge remains with the ‘last mile’. Due to security reasons or other factors, companies are not able to get fibre to their facilities. So satellite is an option because companies will then have the antenna within their facility and that lends a greater degree of comfort. So despite the expansion of fibre networks, there will always be a demand for satellite-based communications. “Another trend that we are excited about is remote telemedicine. We are partnering
operators to ensure we have capacity. We also track drilling activities. Like we say in the industry, it is the exploration and production companies that decide where the next drilling operation is going to take place next. Until they decide to spend money on exploration, the rest of us are really in a holding position. We grew at 12% last year and we see those trends sustaining in the future. “This is an exciting time to be in the industry with the emergence of Ka-band and new cost-effective technologies. We have been told that we are probably the largest bandwidth provider in our segment. We are engaged with virtually every satellite operator and while we have a tremendous amount of cost associated with satellite bandwidth, we have a dedicated team to manage and monitor our satellite capacity and to ensure that our customers have what they need to continue to operate.” PRO March 2012 | SatellitePro | 37
Working with inclined orbits Service providers and government and defence agencies view inclined orbits as an opportunity to acquire better-priced bandwidth, and technology has developed to provide constant throughput at optimal availability in the most efficient way
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Optimum Use of Inclined Orbit Satellites
Inclined Orbit Satellite
Legacy modulation (Worst Case Scenario)
*Inclined orbit fit for variable rate and fixed rate services (CIR) through Bandwidth Management
Government agencies and service providers are increasingly using inclined orbit satellites for the transmission of data for all their applications and service. The driving factor behind the transition towards inclined orbit birds is an OPEX consideration. The inclined satellites provide a good alternative to reduce the bandwidth cost by half. Another driver is the need to source bandwidth over regions where satellite capacity is scarce. In order to extend the life of a satellite, some satellite operators decide to put the satellite in an inclined orbit. The switch to inclined orbit operation has repercussions on the availability of the services as the
satellite footprint shifts in a predictable and continuous pattern. Therefore it is essential to implement technology to optimise the throughput over inclined orbit satellites. This is necessary to increase margins, keep OPEX under control and to support government missions independent of the location around the globe. Option to go inclined Inclined orbit satellites can be defined by the fact that they exhibit an angle other than zero degrees with the equatorial plane. At the end of a satellite’s life, when station-keeping fuel is running low, there is the option to “go inclined”. Station-keeping
The driving factor behind the transition towards inclined orbit birds is an OPEX consideration is performed in two directions, east-west and north-south. Since the Equator runs in an east-west direction, with many adjacent satellites, east-west station-keeping is mandatory. The north-south station-keeping can be abandoned with the result that the satellites in inclined orbit start to make a figure of eight pattern. On the ground this could be experienced by having a weaker signal or lesser throughput during parts of
Are satellite operators alive to the challenges of managing a satellite in an inclined orbit.What, in your view, needs to be done to manage the transition smoothly? Koen Williams, strategic marketing director, goverment and IP trunking, Newtec says, “Satellite operators will lose a section of their customers, such as DTH providers, who require constant throughput. The empty bandwidth needs to be filled up as quickly as possible with customers that can deal with fluctuating bandwidth. Hence the bandwidth is offered at 50% lower prices. But instead of keeping the satellite alive for just 10/11 years, the life of the satellite can be extended to 15 years when putting it in an inclined orbit. This gives the satellite operator four to five years of
extra revenues. “Keeping the satellite in its slot and putting it in an inclined orbit could also be a strategic choice by the satellite operators. They want to keep the satellite slot (and not lose it to other companies as competition for orbital slots is fierce above some regions) until they have a satellite ready to replace the older satellite in the same slot. And if the launch of the replacement satellite fails, the satellite providers still have some buffer until the next launch. “The fluctuating throughput that comes
along with inclined orbit satellites tends to frighten away providers that need to transport Committed Information Rates (CIR) services over these satellites. At Newtec , we offer FlexACM, the option to provide both variable as fixed rate throughput in DVB-S2 ACM (Adaptive Modulation and Coding) to fulfill SLA requirements. By bringing fixed rates and CIR to ACM, we at Newtec address the service providers in pointto-multipoint configurations providing constant throughput at optimal availability in the most efficient way.”
March 2012 | SatellitePro | 39
the day when it is off axis. Most inclined orbit satellites operate up to six degrees, but in some extreme cases, some satellites can go up to 15 degrees.
need to be available at all times to exchange mission critical information and to keep customer satisfaction at a high level. However, the footprint shift which comes naturally with inclined orbit satellites results in a periodic reduction of throughput and could cause link losses and packet drops if the correct technology is not implemented. Receiving conditions could drop as much as 6 dB, which means that a low modulation scheme and increased error correction has to be used. Other effects that occur through inclined orbit operations are degraded cross-polarisation performance, an increased range variation, range rate and Doppler shift. PRO
Satellite operators have different drivers to put satellites into and to keep in an inclined orbit. • Extend the life of older satellites • Opportunity to extend revenues • Risk mitigation to keep the orbital slot until replacement For service providers and government agencies, on the other hand, the inclined orbit satellites give the opportunity to drive down bandwidth (OPEX) costs. In the exercise of keeping OPEX under control or increasing margins and revenues, government agencies and service providers tend to migrate their services to inclined orbit satellites. Due to the link degrading conditions of these satellites (resulting in less throughput) the bandwidth is offered at up to a 70% lower price than normal transponders over the same area. Communication lines over the satellite
Koen Williams, strategic marketing director government and IP trunking, Newtec
Application Note: Newtec
“Keeping the satellite in its slot and putting it in an inclined orbit could also be a strategic choice by the satellite operators. They want to keep the satellite slot (and not lose it to other companies as competition for orbital slots is fierce above some regions) until they have a satellite ready to replace the older satellite in the same slot”
Inclined Orbit Satellite Extension life
Satellite in fixed orbit
Fixed Orbit (10y)
Extending the life of a satellite by putting it in inclined orbit
Fixed Orbit (9y)
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Inclined Orbit (5y)
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CABSAT 2012: FEEDING THE REGION’S APPETITE FOR COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY Broadcast and satellite professionals will return to Dubai for the largest ever CABSAT. Taking place from 28 February - 1 March 2012, at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, the event will showcase products and solutions from 42 countries including France, Germany, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Spain, Turkey and the United States, among others. Held in conjunction with CABSAT, the satellite section of the show, launched four years ago, has become the industry networking platform to explore business opportunities, formulate strategies and create partnerships for video, voice, data and IP communications over satellite. A recent survey titled “Satellite Communications & Broadcasting Markets Survey, Forecasts to 2020” by Euroconsult, anticipates the value of satellite capacity
leasing to grow at 7% annually (CAGR) over the next ten years, driven by connectivity needs and the growth of digital TV in emerging markets. Combined with the launch of new generation High Satellite Systems
(HSS), interest has increased for cable and satellite professionals through the region. According to the latest research by Informa Telecoms and Media, there are 80 million television households in the Middle East and North Africa market. Today satellite television reaches 65% of them, but by 2016 that proportion will rocket to 80%. In 2012, the CABSAT exhibition will be 15% larger than last year, filling the new Sheikh Saeed Halls and expanding into the arena, with satellite dishes, outside broadcast equipment and other demonstrations. Abdulhadi Alhassani, director of satellite control and maintenance at Arabsat said: “CABSAT has put the MENA region on the world map.” PRO
The GVF Satellite MENA Summit at CABSAT “On day one (February 29, 2012), the summit will investigate an issue that for the satellite industry, and for its customers, is responsible for causing service interruptions, significant increases in operational costs, decreasing reliability, and generally impacting on industry competitiveness – Radio Frequency Interference, or RFI. The subject of Ka-band will be a key focus of the agenda of the second day of GVF MENASAT @ CABSAT 2012, a day that sets-out to examine and profile the nature of satellite applications and technologies in the MENA, and which comprises a blend of discussions that will be topically-based and thematic in orientation, offering analysis of cutting-edge product and service solutions from the global satellite industry as they are positioned to meet the communications needs of the Middle East and North Africa marketplace. “The CABSAT event will include leading users, satellite operators, manufacturers, and other subject experts in interactive discussions and debate. Themes to
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Martin Jarrold, director of international programmes, Global VSAT Forum (GVF)
be included are: Addressing Satellite Interference Challenges; Pro-Active & Reactive Solutions; Training & Certification; Product Quality Assurance; Carrier ID; Spectrum Initiatives; Space Data Association; Network Validation Initiatives to Address Sub-Optimal & Dysfunctional
Networks; Auto-Deploy Antenna Systems. “Beyond the dialogue on satellite interference, the subjects for discussion during the MENASAT Satellite Markets & Services Summit, to be held on 1st March, is a widely encompassing overview of a range of key issues on the current international satellite communications agenda, including: Understanding Today’s & Forecasting Tomorrow’s Regional Growth Drivers; Satellite Transponder Supply & Demand, and the Dynamics of Ka-band in the MENA Region: Global & Regional Satellite Operators - Local Knowledge & Universal Markets; Satellite-Wireless Access to Multimedia Solutions on the Move; Mitigating Disaster, Promoting Development, Driving Sustainability; Energy, Maritime, other Key Regional Verticals – The Mission Criticality of the Communications Space; New Regulatory Dynamics: MENA Administrations in a Global Context; The DVB-S2 Technology Advantage; Sustainable Development Solutions via ‘SatCommunity’ CSR Initiatives.”
ASC Signal: Showcasing Ka-band technology Horizon Satellite Stand # S-2 Services increases capacity over the region One of the earliest developers of Ka-band antenna technology, Canada-based ASC Signal will be demonstrating its patented subreflector tracking technology, among other solutions at CABSAT 2012. Supported by four decades of engineering heritage, ASC Signal is a manufacturer of satellite earth stations, radar and HF antenna systems. Keith Buckley, president and CEO, ASC Signal, says the Canada-based manufacturer of satellite earth station, radar and HF antenna systems plans, at CABSAT, to “meet with customers in the MENA region and work to better understand the needs of users in this region. For the Middle East and Africa markets, ASC Signal is tracking all of the movements and sees them as potential opportunities for growth.” He adds, “One of the company’s key focus areas is supporting emerging Ka-band systems, a market segment where we have an outstanding track record (mainly in other regions) based on our unique patented sub-reflector tracking (SRT) technology. Our SRT technology has been proven to give superior performance in challenging climatic conditions, for example, from the IP
Stand # S-E1
Keith Buckley, president and CEO at the ASC Signal Whitby manufacturing facility
Star network in the humid heat and typhoon conditions of South East Asia, to the Wildblue network with its extremes of hot and cold temperature in continental North America.” In addition to the rapidly expanding Kaband segment, the company also provides many different models of X-band gateways, and is regularly developing new antenna and feed systems for both commercial and military customers in existing and newly expanding frequency bands.
Globecomm Systems’ Noorsat serves diverse MENA market media platform Stand # S-C1 Noorsat, a satellite service provider established in 2004 to cater to the Arab world’s increasing demand for satellite-based services will be participating at CABSAT for a sixth consecutive year. Noorsat has capacities at both hotspots dedicated to serving the Arab world; Badr Al-Arab Noorsat 1 (EB2) at 25.5° E and Badr Al-Nile Noorsat 7 (AB7) at 7° W. Noorsat currently carries approximately 200 FTA and pay TV channels, in both Standard and High Definition formats. The company’s satellite capacities serve the needs for TV, broadband access, data and telephony services through a combined teleport network.
HorizonSat will be increasing its satellite capacity for the MENA region with two agreements – one with Eutelsat on their 3C satellite located at 3-Deg East and another one with APT Satellite Company in their upcoming APSTAR-7 satellite located at 76.5 Deg East. The new contracts have increased the existing inventory of HorizonSat by another 216 MHz of capacity. “The overwhelming response of the new DVB-S2 ACM IP-service in the MENA region has prompted HorizonSat to increase their platforms on iDirect, Comtech and Newtec. We are able to respond to the tremendous demand for satellite capacity in our principal target locations since we are one of the few to have services running on all the three platforms,” says Joel Lundahl, business development manager. HorizonSat is also setting up a teleport – a new facility built outside Munich in Germany that will be fully operational by mid-2012. Horizon Satellite Services (HorizonSat) is a satellite service provider in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, offering a broad range of services that include wide area network solutions for data transfer, internet backbone connectivity, satellitebased ISDN solutions, VoIP handling services and GSM Backhauling.
Stand # S-H11 Globecomm has expanded the Tempo hosted interactive video services. The new 2.2 release integrates support for the Tempo Enterprise Media Appliance with a new suite of Interactive Distance Learning features, including live and ondemand IDL over internet, corporate WAN, satellite or hybrid networks. The extremely low latency of the design enables live voice for interactive training broadcasts. Another significant feature is the ability for a presenter to pose questions during an interactive session and track how attendees respond.
Joel Lundahl, business development manager March 2012 | SatellitePro | 43
Newtec’s initiatives with the DVB-S2 standard PAKSAT-1R to expand Stand # S-G12 customer base in the MENA region Satellite communications specialist, is now and there are a number of critical items Newtec, has teamed up with Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) members, Arabsat, Cisco, SES and Thomson Video Networks, to get the discussion for an update to the DVB-S2 standard on the DVB agenda. DVB has started investigating the commercial reasoning behind a specific standard for satellite broadcast contribution and high speed IP trunking and backbone links. As a first step in extending the current DVB-S2 standard, Newtec is launching its Clean Channel Technology at the upcoming CABSAT exhibition and conference. While Clean Channel Technology further improves satellite efficiency for IP trunking and backhauling, it also improves broadcast contribution by up to 15% compared to the current DVB-S2 standard. Newtec’s customers will be able to benefit immediately from Clean Channel Technology as it is available as a software field upgrade for existing Newtec equipment. According to Newtec, the time for change
that can be addressed in the improvement of the current DVB-S2 standard including: • an extension to guarantee interoperability and better satellite efficiency for professional satcom applications • a differentiation between contribution and distribution to make the greatest efficiency gains by making the standard aware of the application in which it is being used • an optimisation per application for ranges of typical and realistic conditions • an increased number of modulation and coding schemes and Forward Error Correction (FEC) choices providing the highest resolution for optimal modulation in all circumstances. “We predict that a new DVB standard will lead to significantly more efficient solutions than any DVB-S2 based satellite equipment on the market today is capable of. This step forward is critical to ensuring the continuation of a vibrant and profitable satellite industry,” said Dirk Breynaert, CTO and co-founder of Newtec.
Better satellite transmission with Televes Stand # S-B11 Televes Middle East FZE is the subsidiary of Televes-Spain, that specialises in the manufacturing of equipment for the reception and distribution of TV signals. At CABSAT 2012, Televes will be presenting, among others, the following new products: • The new modular Headends for RF networks T0X – DVBS2-COFDM, DVBS2QAM, QPSK-PAL, A/V to COFDM … and also Fibre Optics Distribution.
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• The newly released version of the Televes range of Mswitches featuring higher input and amplifications levels, selectable gain, return path and improved ergonomics • The DTKOM, MicroKom and PicoKom ranges of amplifiers • The ZAS HD free-to-air satellite receiver • The MiniKom range with switchable gain and new domestic modulators with LED display • Broadcasting range for DTT transmissions
Stand # S-G41
Usman Bajwa, CEO
Paksat is showcasing its new satellite PAKSAT-1R which was successfully launched in August 2011, and became operational in October 2011, providing continuity of service with a successful transition of all customers in telecoms, data and broadcast from PAKSAT-1 to the new satellite. PAKSAT plans to continue expanding its services across the region, with a focus on GSM operators, data and internet service providers and TV broadcasters in the Middle East and Africa with an offer of reliable C and Kuband satellite capacity and cost-effective broadcast solutions. Paksat MCPC service: Paksat offers Multiple Channel per Carrier (MCPC) service on PAKSAT-1R from international teleports strategically located in the region, providing access to millions of cable-based households across the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and Europe. Paksat MCPC service addresses video distribution needs by combining fibre connectivity, hosting, up-linking, video turnaround and satellite capacity into a fully integrated video broadcast solution. The service also provides cost-effective broadcast options for existing and new TV channels. It provides customers the flexibility to expand their channel lineup as they grow.
AsiaSat to launch high-performance satellites Hiltron launches HSACU Stand # S-62 SNG antenna controller On AsiaSat’s participation at CABSAT and their plans for the MENA region and beyond, Tom Loi, senior regional manager of AsiaSat, said, “CABSAT is a good opportunity for us to meet our clients and partners. In addition to the recently launched AsiaSat 7 – our existing fleet of AsiaSat 3S, AsiaSat 4 and AsiaSat 5 satellites – all of which carry both C-band and Ku-band beams on-board, AsiaSat has also recently concluded construction and launch contracts for two additional satellites, AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8, that shall expand our fleet and significantly enhance our ability to serve the MENA region with high performance and reliable satellite services. “The year 2012 will see us put our newly launched AsiaSat 7 satellite into operation, and behind the scenes, our engineering team will be working to ensure the upcoming launches of AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8 to match the needs of the markets they will serve, which include the MENA region.”
On strengthening AsiaSat’s position as one of Asia’s leading satellite TV distribution platform, he said, ”AsiaSat is well known as the leading distribution platform for TV broadcast content for the Asia Pacific region. Whether for national and international TV broadcasters, sports content providers, international news agencies, AsiaSat’s key focus is to ensure that the essential link between the broadcasters and their viewers is maintained. With our valued partners in the region, broadcasting to the Asia Pacific has never been more achievable than ever before. Among the 500 TV and radio channels there are over 45 Middle Eastern TV and radio channels available on AsiaSat for the many diaspora and viewers who are interested in the developments in this region. Many of the channels on our satellites are available digitally free to air, which drive audience penetration to cable headends, rebroadcasters, embassies and individual home viewers and listeners.”
Innovative filters from A1 Microwave Stand # S-B34 First-time participants, A1 Microwave Ltd., the UK-based designer and manufacturer of filters and diplexers for satcoms, telecoms, radar and scientific applications, will be showcasing new filter models at CABSAT. Having just announced the supply of new waveguide filters for use in Yahsat satellite communication systems, the company will be looking towards building on its sales network in the region, said Peter Dumbell, international sales manager. He added, “A1 Microwave, designs and manufactures some of the smallest and lowest insertion loss waveguide filters on the market today. Standard and custom filters are available for C, X, Ku and Ka frequency bands. We are exhibiting at CABSAT for the first time this year and are looking forward to meeting our existing as well as new potential customers. We are also interested in meeting potential new sales agents for these territories.
“We are showcasing our unique X band transmit (Tx) and Receive (Rx) filters models PB1500WB and PB1504WB which provide over 90 dB of rejection in the adjacent frequency band, and have typically 0.3 dB insertion loss. These filters are just 170mm long for the Tx part and 180mm long for the Rx device which makes them ideal for the small fly away type satellite terminals.”
Stand # S2-A11 Hiltron GmbH, a distributor, integrator and manufacturer in the domain of satellite communication and related fields, has chosen CABSAT 2012 as the Middle East launch venue for the new HSACU SNG controller. The solution provides fullyautomated satellite auto-acquisition and is compatible with all leading motorised satellite newsgathering antennas. “The HSACU serves two key roles, being designed for integration into SNG trucks or for refurbishment of existing SNG antenna control systems,” explains Hiltron GmbH managing director Dr Michael Schiestl. “Housed in a compact rackmountable chassis, it provides easy and efficient control of three-axis motorised antennas of up to 2.4 metres diameter. Azimuth, elevation and polarisation control are performed entirely in software.” Full control of the Hiltron HSACU can be performed locally or from a remote IP browser. Local control is achieved via front-panel pushbuttons and a colour touch-panel graphic display. In IP remote control mode, the entire system can be controlled from wherever it is convenient to the SNG workflow. Fully automated acquisition of accessible satellites can be achieved within less than two minutes. An internal DVB-S/S2 tuner is provided for satellite verification. Heading determination is performed using a GPS and/or a fluxgate compass. The HACU-DSNG includes dual-axis compensation of truck inclination. It is compatible with resolvers, potentiometers, inclinometers and directcurrent drive-motors.
March 2012 | SatellitePro | 45
Hispasat offers new satellite capacity for the MENA region Stand # S1-H34 Participating in CABSAT for the second time, Hispasat has new satellite capacity to offer the MENA region. Currently enjoying a leading position in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets in content broadcasting and distribution, Hispasat will focus on promoting Hispasat 1E , the Ku-band Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) and Broadcast Satellite Services (BSS) spacecraft across the MENA region. A spokesman for the company said: “Hispasat will be able to facilitate competitive solutions for operators interested in linking the three continents (Africa, Europe and America) with just one satellite system. This new capacity will allow, for instance, telecom operators and broadcasters to link, with a single jump, the Middle East with the entire American continent. Hispasat also has a strong portfolio of solutions with regard to VSAT technology, Satcom-on-the-move and low cost residential internet access. Given the
Stand # S-G1
strategic importance of the MENA region, the Hispasat Group at CABSAT will be looking at establishing new relationships with potential partners and customers.” Hispasat 1E provides high-quality capacity for Hispasat’s new initiatives which include Direct-to-Home television (DTH), Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), value added broadband services in mobile, land and maritime environments, and high definition television (HDTV). It is located at 30 degrees West longitude, with coverage over North Africa, Europe and the Americas.
New RF product from Peak Communications Stand # S-C26 Having participated since 2006, Peak Communications Ltd., will be showcasing a new RF product for satellite earth stations, including passive and active splitters/ combiners, multi-channel variable gain units, reference generators/distribution and a broadening of the Automatic UpLink Power Control (AUPC) product range. Gary Allen, sales manager, Peak Communications, stated: “Building on our popular, existing Automatic UpLink Power Control (AUPC) product range, Peak Communications has recently released a 10-channel ‘expansion’ unit to work with the UPC7000 AUPC unit, which until now has only been available in a four-channel version. 46 | SatellitePro | March 2012
Yahsat 1A lights up CETel teleport in Germany
“For this configuration, the UPC7000 uplink power control unit monitors the output from a Beacon signal via an internal or external Beacon Gary Allen, sales manager receiver and subsequently determines the uplink path gain compensation required to maintain a constant uplink signal level. Compensation is applied to the uplink paths via attenuator channels (with optional fail-safe by-pass circuitry) within the EXP010 ‘expansion’ unit.”
Meike Langer, director marketing and sales
CETel Group (Central European Telecom Services) will be offering satellite services on the satellite Yahsat 1A. Its teleport, located in the centre of Germany near Bonn, operates a 6.1m antenna on Yahsat 1A satellite, which offers complete coverage over Europe and the Middle East in lower extended Ku-band. With its teleport facilities, CETel can offer up/downlink services as well as broadband internet access and further fibre optic connections via this satellite. On choosing Yahsat, Meike Langer, director marketing and sales, said, ”The recently launched Yahsat satellites cover areas where CETel has key stakes; namely in the dynamic markets of Africa and the Middle East. With their attractive offers, it has been an easy decision to promote Yahsat’s services via our award-winning teleport in Germany.” On the vertical markets and audiences CETel hopes to tap through this coverage, Langer said: “The CETel Group offers its services to ISPs, militaries and corporates in need of large bandwidth requirements. On the marketing strategy going forward, Langer commented: “CETel offers turnkey solutions that let our customers focus on their core business. “With regard to the new Ku-band coverage of Yahsat 1A, CETel offers excellent pricing and is prepared to sponsor hardware for large volume links.”
Gazprom to promote new satellite capacity at CABSAT Stand # S-K31 Gazprom Space Systems (GSS) plans to build Yamal-300K (900E), Yamal-401 (900E) and Yamal-402 (550E) satellites and develop its ground infrastructure with a state-of-the-art telecommunication centre. The launch of the satellites in 2012-2013 will increase the satellite capacity of the Yamal system four fold. With a customer base that reportedly includes more than 200 diverse companies in 50 countries of the world, more than a quarter of the Yamal satellites’ capacity is sold on the international market and about 70% of the international traffic is dedicated to the Middle East. “CABSAT,” according to Igor Kot, deputy director general, “is extremely important for us to meet with our current and potential customers. Our Yamal-202 (49E) is a wellknown satellite in the EMEA market, so our usual objective for CABSAT is to support our business in this region.” He added, “We hope 2012 will bring new opportunities for Gazprom, with the upcoming launch of three
Stand # S-4
Igor Kot, deputy director general
new satellites. The first one, Yamal-300K, will be launched into the 90E position mainly to support the Russian and CIS markets, but it will also have a steerable beam that can be pointed optionally to serve South Africa or South East Asia or even Australia at the customer’s wish. The second one, Yamal-402, is to be launched into the 55E position and will have a coverage over the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia.”
Supernet serves VSAT market in Pakistan with SES World Skies Stand # S-H1
SES World Skies, a division of SES S.A., announced that it has signed an agreement with Supernet Limited, a satellite service provider from Pakistan, for high powered Ku-band transponder capacity on the NSS-6 satellite at the orbital location of 95 degrees East. This capacity will support a large VSAT network for corporate customers in Pakistan. Supernet is already a customer of SES for 52 MHz of C-band transponder capacity on the NSS-12 satellite, which supports a 60-site GSM backhaul network for one of the leading GSM operators in Pakistan. Imran Malik, CEO Supernet Limited, commented: “Our VSAT network is growing
Turnkey satellite communication solutions from Luna
Luna Space Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (Skyband) is a service provider for engineering, turnkey solutions, installation, support, operation and maintenance for VSAT, wireless and data communication, data centre and managed services. Skyband has been in operation in the Middle East and GCC regions since November 2003. At CABSAT, Skyband will offer turnkey satellite communication solutions to meet the developing connectivity needs in various market sectors. The operation leverages multiple Skyband owned hubs and network operating centres located in Riyadh and Jeddah that support star, mesh, point-to-point, and hybrid topologies. Skyband operates in 33 major cities and uses 11 customer support centres to ensure commitment to delivery of mission critical services to customers.
at a fast pace. We needed to partner with a quality satellite operator to keep up with the demand. NSS-6 gives us the ability to expand our services in our primary market as well as serve customers in the neighbouring countries.” March 2012 | SatellitePro | 47
“The Ka revolution has really begun this decade” The satellite industry’s ‘flying car’ is finally making its way down the production line writes Drew Klein, director of international business development, C-COM Satellite Systems Imagine a small, mobile VSAT antenna system that can deliver 8Mbps up and 20Mbps down using only a 3W BUC (block upconverter). Now imagine that while the hardware costs for this product are comparable to existing Ku-band antennas, the bandwidth costs are only a fraction of what they are today. Welcome to the future: The future of Ka-band technology. In 1999, Irving Goldstein wrote in The Future of the Electronic Marketplace that “the first global broadband Ka-band systems are not expected to be operational until 2001 or 2002”. It seems that Ka has been the future for a long time. The article envisioned Ka-band satellites to be conceptually similar to the ‘flying car’ imagery of the 1950’s, a mind-blowing change in technology which would literally transform the game. Similar to the ‘winged-machine’ visions from the past, there didn’t appear to be any serious progress materialising in the highfrequency band of Ka. A few years ago, however, Telesat, Wildblue and Spaceway in North America began offering Ka services for residential customers, but there had been little deployable advancement in the commercial sector – until now. The revolution has really begun this decade, starting with KA-SAT’s launch in December 2010 – a single satellite with 38 times the capacity of a standard Kuband satellite. In October 2011, Viasat-1 was launched with 140Gbps of data capacity, more than all the satellites covering North America combined. ViaSat-1 in North America, like KA-SAT in Europe, is capable of two-way communications with small dish antennas at higher speeds and a lower cost-per-bit than any satellite before. With the upcoming launches of Yahsat 1-B in April for 48 | SatellitePro | March 2012
Drew Klein, director of international business development, C-COM Satellite Systems
applications that drive the expansion of new technologies. Technological advancements like DVB-S2 with ACM are making rain fade a less likely issue for Ka users, and further advancement is likely to eliminate these problems all together. C-COM, for instance, is in the final stages of completing certification for its new generation auto-pointing Ka-band antenna systems for commercial use in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As cost of bandwidth drops over time, more and more users will be attracted to use satellites instead of land-based communication systems, especially for disaster recovery and other factors (political and economical). Low bandwidth costs will attract new market verticals including mobile applications and maritime. Later in 2012,
With the upcoming launches of Yahsat 1-B in April for the MENA region, and several other Ka-birds expected in space between now and 2015, including Inmarsat’s Global Express, it is clear that the satellite industry’s ‘flying car’ is finally making its way down the production line the MENA region, and several other Ka-birds expected in space between now and 2015, including Inmarsat’s Global Express, it is clear that the satellite industry’s ‘flying car’ is finally making its way down the production line. One of the biggest technical limitations would be the rain-fade factor. In some regions around the globe, Ka-band may not be acceptable due the high number of days where rain and heavy downpours are present. Critical applications demanding high service availability may never accept lower than 99.99% link quality and availability. In many cases, it’s those critical
C-COM is expected to roll out a number of different Ka related products for alternate market verticals. We are now in an age where satellite broadband has become economical for almost everyone. In the commercial world, this couldn’t come any sooner, as the benefits of using Ka, even just as a stopgap to remove some strain from existing Kuband networks, are significant. Smaller antennas, lower power requirements, greater bandwidth at a lower price – all point to a revolution in the satellite broadband industry. PRO
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