Intelsat Insider

Q1 2017

Disrupting the Status Quo and Redefining Future Networks

Highlights from Intelsat’s North America Connections Panel Discussion

In a panel discussion at the Intelsat Connections 2016 in October, industry innovators shared the technology developments and new approaches they’re taking to disrupt the status quo and redefine future networks. Moderated by Jay Yass, Intelsat’s vice president of business development, participants included David Bettinger, vice president of engineering of OneWeb; Dr. Nathan Kundtz, president and CEO of Kymeta; and John Schramm, CEO of iJet Technologies.

The following includes a few highlights from the discussion:

On driving innovation, especially in developed industries like satellite and aviation:

David Bettinger, OneWeb:

“Innovation is critically important in a developed market like satellite communications because it requires new ways of thinking. OneWeb isn’t doing anything new, but we’re putting things together in a different way. We’re focusing on the economics, market access and other business challenges…such as how to create mass production in an industry that’s used to producing one-off satellites…how to quickly launch and replace satellites…how to track satellites moving at seven kilometers per second. It can be done, but it requires innovative thinking and a departure from traditional approaches.”

OneWeb is on a mission to provide everyone in the world with affordable access to high-speed connectivity through its LEO constellation of satellites. By partnering with Intelsat, the two companies will provide the only fully global, pole-to-pole high-throughput satellite broadband network – combining Intelsat EpicNG GEO satellites with OneWeb’s LEO satellites.

John Schramm, iJet Technologies:

When it comes to innovation, Schramm explained that there is no “killer app” in the airline industry. “For an airline to survive, it’s critical to do a good job with continuous process improvements. You can’t make the business case for adding hardware and connectivity unless you can use that same connectivity to drive operational process improvements across the aircraft. It’s all about making marginal improvements by reusing services and platforms.”

iJet Technologies is transforming traditional aviation business processes from a rigid, hardware-centric architecture to a flexible, software-defined infrastructure. Through its innovations, iJet is enabling a new era of intelligent, connected aircraft that deliver greater situational awareness and operational efficiency through streaming and integrated data.

Schramm added that it’s not enough to have a great new idea or technology, unless it can be proven to impact the bottom line. “You need those innovative early adopters who are willing to take a risk and prove the business case. We are a fast follower business, but you’ve got to have the early adopters for any type of new technology.”

On creating an open ecosystem to bring viable commercial solutions to market:

Dr. Nathan Kundtz, Kymeta:

“Bringing new science into antennas is hard. But figuring out how to turn that into a business is in some ways even harder. We needed to not just innovate on the hardware side, we had to find an ecosystem that would allow us to flourish. That has grown in importance over time as more end customers come to us. Toyota is a great example. They wanted to put global high-speed connectivity into their vehicles and satellite was the way to do it…but they knew the choke point was the antenna. They engaged with us very early to figure that solution out…but we had to bring the network together. Building an ecosystem with Intelsat has been fundamental to our ability to move that partnership forward with Toyota.”

Kymeta is enabling a new wave of ubiquitous, high-speed, global connectivity through its low-profile, software-based metamaterials antennas that make it simple for any person, company, device or vehicle to access. Kymeta partnered with Intelsat to produce flat, electronically steerable, Ku-band mTenna™ satellite antennas that are optimized for the Intelsat EpicNG HTS platform. In 2016, Kymeta and Intelsat successfully tested the antenna for on-the-move connectivity with an 8,000-mile demonstration across the U.S. using the Kymeta satellite-enabled test car.

According to Dr. Kundtz, an open ecosystem creates space for many others to participate and add value. “We would be underestimating the opportunity to talk about the connected car as an application for driving bits over satellite. It’s one of the major places we’ll find new types of content and consumption. The power of capacity, especially that one-to-many capacity into the vehicle, is very exciting.”

Insight into how OneWeb’s LEO and Intelsat’s GEO satellites will work together:

David Bettinger, OneWeb:

“Our partnership with Intelsat allows us to take a common user terminal and be able to talk to networks across the Intelsat fleet, especially EpicNG, and switch and operate over the OneWeb satellites. The application layer is what’s being preserved across this. We will maintain an IP pipe that can be generated from the end user’s network across the satellites, either the GEO or LEO network.”

Ultimately, the intent is to provide access to both GEO and LEO networks at the same time, which would allow large cruise ships and other sets of customers to get “bulk content” over high-performance Intelsat EpicNG satellites, while using OneWeb’s bandwidth for latency-sensitive applications. The key to this global GEO/LEO network is that it’s integrated into the IP networks on the backend side in such a way that it effectively follows the standards of IP mobility.

On the advantages of software-defined antennas for GEO/LEO interoperability:

Dr. Nathan Kundtz, Kymeta:

Enabling interoperability between LEO and GEO satellites requires focusing across the entire chain – the satellites, networks, frequencies, wave forms, regulatory requirements, etc. These challenges are non-trivial and can only be effectively addressed with the use of software-based, electronically steered antennas.

According to Dr. Kundtz, the value provided by software-defined antennas becomes even more apparent when looking at issues of reliability and scale. “As we look at the markets we want to enter to enter…that we need to build the capacity to enter…they won’t be accessible in the same way that a cruise ship or commercial airplane is today. Having a solution with no moving parts is one of the fundamental things required to make it possible to enter into more scalable markets.”

To learn more about how Intelsat, Kymeta and OneWeb are working together to enable the future of connected cars, read Jay Yass’s blog post: Satellite Provides the Key to the Connected…6-q1/industry/connected-car


Intelsat Insider 2017 No.1


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