The Power of the Satellite Ecosystem

By Stephen Good, Vice President, Network Services Product Management

Ecosystem March 31st, 2014 — Like death and taxes, we are being confronted with another certainty: you will consume more data tomorrow than you did today.

The increase in popularity of social media teamed with the increased availability of smart phones, tablets and laptops has dramatically changed how we communicate with one another. Virtual connectivity via WebEx along with video teleconferences from these devices is becoming a necessity to maximize productivity in an office setting. These trends have created an unquenchable demand for more content, immediately, and as a result, high-end end users have created an insatiable demand for seamless and cost-effective connectivity regardless of the time or their location.

Given these large-scale global trends and changing business model demands, how do satellite service providers develop the technology to deliver the level of connectivity and efficiency necessary to respond to current and emerging broadband demands for personal and professional use? How do we work with hardware and technology partners to create solutions that will allow customers to expand their subscriber base, while at the same time, lowering their total cost of ownership and driving up their average revenue per user (ARPU)?

The answer is simple…through tight alignment of technology innovation throughout the satellite ecosystem.

Satellite

It is incumbent upon satellite operators, such as Intelsat, to innovate in the sky to provide fixed and mobile service providers with an array of coverage options with the proper footprint combined with the ability to choose the spectrum that best meets the requirements of their application mix and long-term business needs. Satellite operators must leverage game-changing technology to provide game-changing economics, providing cost efficient start-up and transition costs teamed with cost-effective upgrade paths as demands continue to grow. In addition, the technology in the sky must also provide service providers with more power via future-proofed systems to meet these demands.

Intelsat is incorporating Intelsat EpicNG high throughput satellites into its fleet to complement existing traditional wide beams to provide differentiated services.  The increased throughput and efficiency of the design, via its mix of wide and spot beams, provides groundbreaking levels of performance as more bits are able to be delivered to a given ground station.

Our design concept was simple: give our customers—who best understand their end markets—flexibility and freedom of choice to implement the best possible solution for their requirements.

Equipment Manufacturers

That same kind of innovation, choice and flexibility also needs to occur at the equipment manufacturer level. Only by marrying innovation in the sky with ongoing innovation on the ground will the satellite industry provide the best solution to its customers and, most importantly, to their end users. Ground manufacturers must continue to break new ground, incorporating increasing amounts of horsepower into their designs to match innovations in the sky. New and better modulation techniques, increased data handling and packet processing and more flexible bandwidth allocation schemes are a necessity to ensure satellite remains an integral part of a fixed or mobile service provider’s hybrid network.

A recent panel discussion of players throughout the ecosystem at Satellite 2014 addressed just this topic. Within this panel, there was much discussion on how best to support service providers as they expand their networks to more rural or geographically challenging regions with solutions that reduce time to market while scaling to meet growing data, voice and media demands of their end users. The consensus of the panel was that it is on everyone within the industry—and not satellite operators or hardware manufacturers on their own—to work together to break new ground and provide levels of service that its customers deserve, all while providing control to the service provider to allow further differentiation and innovation in service delivery and support methods.

Open vs. Closed Service Model

That leads us to the type of service model that is needed to succeed. In our view, an open architecture platform offers service providers more flexibility and choice over the long-term. Intelsat EpicNG’s white label, open architecture platform is backwards compatible, providing customers the option to continue to leverage the reach of traditional wide beams while incorporating in the high throughput spot beam design where it makes economic sense — without having to replace existing hardware.  This will result in lower operating and capital expenditures, enabling service providers to scale their network and increase their subscriber base at a much lower total cost of ownership.

When satellite throughput, efficiency, coverage, architecture, spectrum and ground hardware are aligned, our customers’ opportunities expand. The latest example of this type of collaboration is the broadband connectivity agreement announced today by Intelsat and Vodacom, leveraging Hughes Network Systems ground platforms.

Collaborations such as this are happening throughout the industry, and given the positive response to the next generation Intelsat EpicNG platform, Intelsat is at the forefront. With the goal of enabling the next wave of satellite-based services, Intelsat is working with the entire ecosystem to help drive innovation and solutions that generate greater efficiency, helping our customers achieve lowest cost of ownership. We’ve made steady progress, but in order to achieve our goals, collectively, we must continue to push ourselves to do more.

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