A Connected Pacific: Horizons 3e Is Final Piece in Intelsat Global EpicNG Network
Innovative Tech + New Business Models Will Transform the Region
Terry Bleakley, Regional Vice President, Asia-Pacific, Intelsat
Six years ago, Intelsat unveiled a revolutionary constellation of high-throughput satellites (HTS) that would deliver high-power spot-beam service to meet a range of maritime, aero and terrestrial needs. Five of these Intelsat EpicNG satellites are in now in service. The sixth, Horizons 3e, is scheduled to launch later this year and will cover East Asia, Oceania and the Western Pacific and importantly, complete global coverage.
Horizons 3e will also bring advanced features that will benefit mobility, fixed and network operators, governments and broadcasters operating in the Asia Pacific region. All Intelsat EpicNG satellites have the most advanced digital payload available in the marketplace, allowing the satellite to be reconfigured from a ground control station, a first for a commercial spacecraft. It allows for connectivity from any beam to any beam, meaning the satellite can receive a signal in one frequency band and retransmit in another. For example, a customer can begin service with C-band hardware to mitigate rain fade and then switch to high-performance Ku-band terminals at new locations as their business expands.
The digital payload is also critical for interference mitigation. Interference, whether intentional or accidental, is one of the major challenges faced by our industry today. If someone broadcasts a rogue signal, either maliciously or due to a poor install method or faulty equipment, it can be very difficult to locate, and it affects other customers. With the much smaller beams of the Intelsat EpicNG satellites, we can find sources of interference and shut them down much faster.
While all Intelsat EpicNG satellites have been built on the Boeing 702MP platform, the technology on each satellite has evolved and enhancements have been made For example, Horizons 3e adds a multiport amplifier that optimizes power across the satellite. With earlier Intelsat EpicNG spacecraft, while the digital payload enabled beam switching, each spot beam was assigned a fixed amount of power. If a spot beam was not in use, the power could not be reallocated to support the spot beams that were in use. With the multiport amplifier, if one spot beam is idle, its allocated power can be distributed to other beams to meet customer throughput demands. By matching satellite power usage to traffic demands, customers can take advantage of the improved efficiency to enhance and expand their operations.
Since Intelsat EpicNG’s first launch in 2016, its satellite technology has delivered on its promise of higher performance better economics and simpler access.
One of the first customers in the Asia Pacific region to take advantage of the improved performance provided by Intelsat EpicNG was Supernet, Pakistan’s leading satellite service provider and network integrator. Many of Supernet’s customers operate mobile networks in challenging and remote mountainous terrain. With Intelsat 33e, Supernet installed new modems at each of its remote sites to enable 3G cellular service without major capital investment. Once connected to Intelsat 33e, the VSAT sites saw throughput nearly double, from 6 Mbps/MHz to 11Mbps/MHz. With the improved Supernet network, a majority of the mobile network operators in Pakistan are now connected – reaching new users and delivering new services at a much lower total cost of ownership.
While the higher performance in-orbit is critical, we quickly realized that we needed combine the higher performance and better efficiencies generated by Intelsat EpicNG with smaller, more affordable ground solutions that can be easily installed. By doing so, mobile network operators are able to easily and cost efficiently expand their services in areas where they once could not close the business case. We are seeing this in Brazil, where mobile network operator TIM Brasil is leveraging the increased efficiency delivered by Intelsat 29e to reduce operating costs and expand its wireless network to bring fast, highly reliable, affordable broadband connectivity to the remote regions of Brazil.
Separately, the interoperability of Intelsat’s network architecture with other technologies and constellations will enable the seamless expansion of maritime and aero broadband connectivity, particularly at a time, where bandwidth demand is soaring. KVH’s maritime broadband network incorporates Intelsat EpicNG services and IntelsatOne Flex, a global managed service that provides flexible coverage where it is needed, to simplify the delivery of high-speed broadband services to maritime customers around the globe. KVH is the inaugural partner for IntelsatOne Flex for Maritime and its customers are seeing data speeds triple, and, in some cases, increase by a multiple of six. The launch of Horizons 3e will complete the global footprint of Intelsat EpicNG and provide aero and maritime operators with unprecedented resiliency, redundancy and speed.
In addition, Intelsat EpicNG has further enhanced our broadcast distribution capabilities. Spot beams on Intelsat 35e are being used by CANAL+ Overseas to deliver DTH services in the French Caribbean. Television and Radio Broadcasting Network of Armenia is using an Intelsat 33e spot beam for its DTT network. And Intelsat 29e and Intelsat 33e have been used to deliver fast, reliable, high quality OU services for live, global news events, such as the Royal Wedding and the Singapore summit.
Intelsat EpicNG is delivering results for customers across all verticals around the world. Horizons 3e will complete Intelsat EpicNG’s global fabric and importantly, deliver the benefits of Intelsat EpicNG to customers in the Asia Pacific region where bandwidth demands continue to rise. As communications networks are never static, we are already planning for the next evolution of our fleet and continue to press for more innovation in ground and antenna technology to further simplify access to our technology. In addition, our Intelsat EpicNG satellites also will also be fully interoperable with OneWeb’s low-Earth orbit constellation.