Showing posts with label Satellite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Satellite. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Eutelsat seeks new opportunities - part 2

In the first half of this article, we looked at the recent financial performance of Eutelsat, the Paris-based satellite operator known for its pioneering video distribution services and global reach. Currently, the Eutelsat fleet of satellites is carrying 6,810 TV channels, of which 1,275 channels are HD – a penetration rate of only 19%, which seems low in this era when 4K television screens are now widely available in many markets at declining prices.

As the video market continues to shift toward over-the-top services, and as fibre reaches many of the locations which were previously the exclusive domain of satellites, Eutelsat will seek new opportunities, such as in-flight mobile connectivity -- its only segment that is currently growing. Eutelsat also has interesting ventures underway in Africa, and recently in the "Belt and Road" countries in partnership with China Unicom.

Upcoming satellite launches

Unlike some of its industry rivals that have drawn up plans for dozens, hundreds or even thousands of new satellites in the coming decade, Eutelsat seems to be taking a conservative CAPEX approach with regards to the orders book. While current shareholders may appreciate keeping a healthy dividend, the space business is inherently a costly one. Eventually, satellites get old and must be replaced. Newer technology means that the current assets in orbit can depreciate quite quickly.

As in the case of current satellites not optimized for 100% HD or even 4K video. There will also be the need to defend against the ultra-aggressive business plans of SpaceX and others, who could conceivably push an established company such as Eutelsat into irrelevancy quite quickly. Here is a list of upcoming Eutelsat satellite launches:

A Vision for Africa

In September 2016, Eutelsat suffered a major setback in its vision to deliver broadband connectivity to Africa in partnership with Facebook when SpaceX experienced a launch pad anomaly during a pre-launch test at Cape Canaveral, Florida, leading to the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket and the destruction of its payload, Eutelsat's AMOS-6 satellite.

AMOS-6 was a Ka-band geostationary satellite configured with high gain spot beams for covering large parts of West, EAast and Southern Africa. The satellite was designed for community and Direct-to-User Internet access using affordable, off-the-shelf customer equipment.
The partnership with Facebook was announced in October 2015 with a mission to reach large parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Eutelsat’s upcoming African Broadband Satellite looks to be a replacement for this lost bird. The new satellite t has ordered from Thales Alenia Space for possible launch in 2019. The all-electric satellite will be the first to use Thales Alenia Space's new Spacebus Neo platform. And it will offer 75 Gbps of capacity across a network of 65 spotbeams, which together provide quasi-complete coverage of Sub-Saharan Africa. The satellite will address direct-to-user consumer and enterprise broadband services using dishes from approximately 75 cm.  Villages could use the satellite connectivity for Wi-Fi hotspots and mobile phone backhauling.  No word on whether Facebook will play a role in the renewed project.

There are two other past regional expansions for Eutelsat that should be noted. In October 2017, Eutelsat acquired Noorsat, one of the leading satellite service providers in the Middle East, from Bahrain’s Orbit Holding Group. In 2013, Eutelsat acquired Satélites Mexicanos, for $831 million in cash plus assumption of $311 million in Satmex debt. Satmex operates three satellites that cover 90% of the population of the Americas.

Finally, Eutelsat and China Unicom signed a memorandum of understanding to address satellite communications market in the framework of China’s “Belt and Road” initiative. The agreement builds on in-flight connectivity deal formed between Eutelsat and UnicomAirNet (UAN), which was recently formed by China Unicom's broadband network unit and Hangmei, a Chinese Wi-Fi service and content provider for railways and buses, to provide IFC services to Chinese commercial airlines.

The Belt and Road Initiative is the development strategy proposed by the Chinese government that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. The idea is to build a 21st century Silk Road linking more than 68 countries, equivalent to 65% of the world's population and 40% of the global GDP as of 2017. The Belt and Road Initiative has the support of President Xi and the highest levels of his administration, leading some analysts to call it the largest organised development in history.

China's leading IT players, including China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile, are being encouraged to pursue an overseas expansion strategy. As such, Eutelsat makes an interesting partner for China Unicom in that it already has the satellite coverage, and the local TV broadcast partners), in the regions that China Unicom wishes to expand. Likewise, if Eutelsat is looking for a partner with the financial resources, scale, and ambition to cover Asia, the Middle East and Africa, China Unicom presents many possibilities. Global politics, of course, would play a role, with government contracts and national security interests as top concerns if this partnership were to deepen.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Oak Thorne takes the helm at Gogo

Oakleigh Thorne has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately, replacing Michael J. Small, who has stepped down as President and Chief Executive Officer, and as a director of the company. Gogo said the decision for Small to leave the company was "mutual".

Mr. Thorne, a director of the company since 2003, has approximately 30 years of leadership experience with significant operational and financial expertise. He currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Thorndale Farm LLC, the family office of the Thorne family, which is the largest Gogo shareholder, owning approximately 30 percent of the ompany's outstanding common stock. Mr. Thorne has served in numerous senior management positions, including as Chief Executive Officer of two public companies.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

SES boosts Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) connectivity for Palau

Palau Telecoms will be extending and augmenting a contract with SES Networks for satellite broadband connectivity.

Since 2014, Palau Telecoms has been using SES' medium earth orbit (MEO) connectivity. The contract extension runs until 2020 and increases the amount of medium earth orbit (MEO) connectivity by 150%.

“Since we first initiated service with SES Networks, we have seen a tremendous uptick in demand for fast, reliable internet,” said Sam Masang, President of Palau Telecoms. “Now more than ever people expect to be able to access online services such as ecommerce sites and video calling applications at any time. We’ve been extremely impressed by the O3b fleet capabilities, and look forward to providing services for even more Palau residents in the coming years.”

“At SES Networks, our top priority is working with our customers to create unique and cost-effective solutions that help bridge the digital divide in areas that lie beyond the reach of traditional connectivity options,” said Imran Malik, Vice President, Fixed Data, Asia-Pacific at SES Networks. “We are incredibly proud that through our continued partnership, and ongoing efforts, we are making an impact on social and economic development in Palau.”

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Avanti readies Ka-band satellite for March launch

Avanti Communications confirmed that its HYLAS 4 satellite has arrived safely in French Guiana ahead of a scheduled launch in March.

The Avanti HYLAS 4 is a Ka-band satellite that will provide coverage over Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. It has 64 active fixed beams and four independent steerable beams and is designed for:

  • Backhaul services for mobile network operators
  • Wholesale broadband for ISPs
  • Connectivity for governments (civil and defence)
  • High-speed broadband services for the enterprise market
  • Infill capacity for satellite operators

The spacecraft was built by Orbital ATK.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Intelsat and SES agree on joint use of C-band by satellite and mobile operators

Intelsat and SES last week both agreed to back a proposal to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the seeks to protect satellite services in the 3700-4200 MHz C-band downlink spectrum while opening a specified portion of that spectrum for terrestrial mobile use.

The companies said their joint proposal sets a commercial and technical framework that would enable wireless operators to quickly access approximately 100 MHz of nationwide C-band downlink spectrum in the United States, speeding the deployment of next-generation 5G services. The idea builds on an innovative model first put forward to the FCC by Intelsat and Intel in October 2017 for spectrum sharing.

Under the proposal, a consortium of satellite operators would be created to oversee the governance of the initiative, define and implement the methodology for spectrum clearance, and serve as the sole interface for market-based transactions with parties interested in deploying terrestrial mobile services in specific portions of the C-band.

“The C-band is and remains a critical component of the U.S. network architecture. Space and ground segment operators have invested billions of dollars in U.S. C-band networks and connectivity and generate important value out of it. It is, therefore, our duty and mission to protect the C-band in the U.S. from any form of disruption and preserve its use,” stated Karim Michel Sabbagh, President and CEO of SES.

"Our proposed market-based solution provides a speedy resolution to the U.S. objective of accelerating deployment of 5G services. With Intelsat and SES now in agreement on major tenets of the framework and with the support of Intel, we are confident in our ability to implement this proposal quickly and efficiently, ultimately to the benefit of American consumers and the U.S. economy,” said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler.

Monday, February 12, 2018

United Airlines picks ViaSat for Ka-band in-flight connectivity

United Airlines awarded a contract to ViaSat to bring its latest generation in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) system to more than 70 aircraft, including at least 58 of United's new Boeing 737MAX aircraft. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The service will be delivered over Viasat's advanced high-capacity Ka-band satellite system, which will include the ViaSat-1, ViaSat-2 and ViaSat-3 satellite platforms.

Viasat's IFEC system will also power United's Private Screening entertainment option, which offers customers access to hundreds of entertainment titles from its onboard library direct to their own devices.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

SES-14 and Al Yah 3 satellites reach orbit despite Ariane 5 anomaly

An Ariane 5 rocket launched from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) suffered an anomaly during the second stage separation process. Ground tracking stations lost telemetry contact with the rocket and its two satellite payloads shortly after the second stage separation. An investigation is underway. The CEO of Arianespace issued an apology. Two hours later, Arianespace confirmed that both of the satellites in its payload reached orbit and are communicating.

The mission carried SES-14, the second of SES' hybrid satellite to be launched. SES-14 was equipped with C-band wide beams will help cable and IP operators gain more viewers in Latin America, as well as provide maritime managed connectivity service across the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, HTS spot beams are designed for in-flight connectivity aboard commercial aircraft over the Atlantic provided by Global Eagle, Gogo and Panasonic. The satellite is also hosted a NASA scientific payload called "GOLD" that will enable scientists to study the border between earth and space. SES-14 is the first high-power satellite in the 4-tons class. It was built by Airbus.

The Ariane 5 mission also carried the Al Yah 3 satellite for the United Arab Emirates operator
Yahsat (Al Yah Satellite Communications Company), which is the first company in the Middle East and Africa to offer Ka-band services reaching 60% of Africa’s population and over 95% of Brazil’s population from its geostationary position at at 20° West Longitude. The Al Yah 3 satellite carries 53 active Ka-band user beams and four gateway beams, and produces approximately 8.0 kilowatts of payload electrical power. It was built by Orbital ATK using its new GEOStar-3 hybrid platform.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Harris supplies navigation payloads for GPS III

Harris Corporation delivered two advanced navigation payloads in 2017 to Lockheed Martin for use on GPS III satellites. The company is on track to deliver four more in 2018, and a total of ten units under its contract with Lockheed Martin.

Harris’ navigation payload consists of a Mission Data Unit (MDU), featuring a unique 70-percent digital design that links atomic clocks, radiation-hardened computers and powerful transmitters – enabling signals three times more accurate than those on current GPS satellites. These payloads also boost satellite signal power, increase jamming resistance by eight times and help extend the satellite’s lifespan.

Harris said the first payload, which was delivered earlier this year, is now fully integrated on the U.S. Air Force’s first GPS III satellite, GPS III SV01, which was declared Available for Launch in September, with an expected launch in 2018.

In November, Harris announced that it had completed development of a fully digital MDU for Lockheed Martin’s GPS III satellites 11 and beyond. The new SV 11+ payload design will provide enhanced capabilities and increased performance for the Air Force.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

EUTELSAT 172B enters service over Pacific

Eutelsat Communications’ EUTELSAT 172B satellite, which was launched in June, went into full commercial service covering a vast region stretching from the West coast of the Americas to Asia, Oceania and across the Pacific.

EUTELSAT 172B, which is the fastest satellite to reach geostationary orbit using electric propulsion (in only four months) is optimised for in-flight connectivity across the Pacific and offers 11 spotbeams.

Panasonic is the major client of the High Throughput Service (HTS) payload.

EUTELSAT 172B also offers C-band capacity as well as flexible Ku-band capacity spread across five interconnecting Widebeam service areas. Ku-band can be used for maritime, video, enterprise, cellular backhaul and government services, or as an overlay to deliver live television to passengers in flight.

Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat CEO, said: “As EUTELSAT 172B begins commercial activity that will stretch into the 2030s, this is a key moment to thank the men and women at Eutelsat and our colleagues at Airbus for collaborating passionately on a programme that sets a new industry standard. In addition to taking our 172° East location to a new level of performance for clients in the Asia-Pacific, EUTELSAT 172B further validates the value of electric propulsion for high-capacity satellites that are core to providing cost-competitive services in the telecoms marketplace.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Orbital's Minotaur C Rocket Carries 10 Satellites to Orbit

Orbital ATK successfully launched 10 commercial spacecraft into orbit aboard its commercial Minotaur C rocket.

The miniature satellites belong to Planet, a San Francisco based company that is rapidly becoming a major provide of satellite imagery services. Planet now has a constellation of 275 "Dove" satellites in orbit.  It also now has a constellation of 13 "SkySat" satellites, making it he world’s largest commercial, sub-meter fleet of high-res satellites operating in space.

Orbital's Minotaur C rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Monday, October 23, 2017

SES provides satellite connectivity for Loon balloons over P.R.

SES Networks confirmed that it is providing high throughput and fibre-like satellite connectivity service to Project Loon, the stratospheric balloons that are aiming to deliver 4G/LTE connectivity in disaster-affected Puerto Rico.

The connectivity is provided by SES Networks' O3b FastConnect, a rapidly deployable satellite terminal delivering fibre-like performance.

SES said this effort could not have happened with traditional satellites and could only happen with its fleet of MEO satellites because of its low latency, fiber-like capability.

“Our thoughts are with those whose lives have been impacted by this devastating hurricane," said Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks. “Access to connectivity is crucial in getting those affected the information and help they need after a natural disaster. We are really pleased to be working with X and their other partners to deploy high-performance connectivity to Puerto Rico and to play a part in the island's restoration efforts.”

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Fifth Intelsat EpicNG satellite successfully launched

The Intelsat 37e satellite was successfully launched aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. This is the fifth satellite in Intelsat's EpicNG series.

Intelsat 37e was manufactured by Boeing and equipped with the highest throughput of the entire Intelsat EpicNG fleet. It features enhanced power sharing technology between shaped, fixed and steerable spot beams at Ku-band. This new capability augments flexibility within the payload to optimize connectivity and increase efficiency as requirements shift over time.

The C-band payload includes a mix of high-power spot and wide beams. The Ku- and Ka-band steerable beams, which can be positioned as needed, have been added to increase network access and support high-demand areas for government and commercial mobility applications. They will complement the extensive Ku-band multi-spot beam coverage.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

AsiaSat 9 successfully launched from Kazakhstan

International Launch Services (ILS) successfully launched the AsiaSat 9 satellite into orbit aboard an ILS Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

AsiaSat 9, which was built by SSL (Space Systems Loral), will provide enhanced performance, higher efficiency and greater flexibility for DTH, video distribution, VSAT broadband and mobility services. It carries the world’s first dedicated Ku-band Myanmar beam, new Ku-band beams for Indonesia and Mongolia, in addition to two enhanced Ku-band beams serving Australasia and East Asia and a wider high-power C-band coverage across the Asia-Pacific region.

This was the 416th launch for Proton since its maiden flight in 1965. The Proton Breeze M vehicle is developed and built by Khrunichev Space Center of Moscow.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Kymeta says its fast satellite access service coming soon

Kymeta, a start-up that developed electronically-scanning satellite antennas and terminals for high-throughput communications for land, sea and air, is teaming up with Intelsat to offer a new satellite service with by-the-gigabyte pricing.

The KĀLO high-throughput access service will use fully integrated KyWay terminals and mTennau7 antenna subsystem modules (ASMs) to provide reliable wireless mobile connectivity. The service leverages the IntelsatOne Flex managed services platform. Commercial launch is expected this year.

Dushyant Sukhija, Kymeta’s newly appointed Senior Vice President and General Manager of the KĀLO BU, who joined Kymeta’s executive leadership team in July 2017, will lead the KĀLO BU and the upcoming launch of the service. Sukhija, author of the bestselling leadership book “The Cisco Way” is a former Cisco executive.

“I’m excited to work with our partner, Intelsat, to build a global communication and internet service solution,” said Sukhija. “Having worked with numerous communications companies, that spanned 142 countries, over 65 telecommunications service providers, and more than 1.9 billion subscribers while I was at Cisco, I know the complexities of a solution like this. Doing this with a global network that brings high-throughput internet access to a multitude of mobile platforms will dramatically expand the reach of satellite communications, while simplifying the buying process for everyone.”

“Satellite services today are expensive and difficult to buy,” said Sukhija. “Current satellite services customers often must predict their usage in advance. Imagine having to know exactly where you will be using your phone and how much data you will use three, six or even 36 months from now. With KĀLO internet access services, we’re focused on taking the guesswork out of purchasing satellite services, and making it as easy as purchasing a cell phone data plan.”

“Combining Kymeta’s disruptive flat panel antennas and terminals with our unique global, mobile internet services will make connectivity possible where it has never been before,” said Dr. Nathan Kundtz, President and CEO of Kymeta.

Kymeta Raises $50 Million for Broadband Satellite Antennas

Kymeta, a start-up based in Redmond, Washington,  closed a $50 million Series C financing for its Metamaterials Surface Antenna Technology (MSA-T). The company was incubated by Intellectual Ventures and is backed by investments from Bill Gates, Liberty Global and Lux Capital.

Kymeta has said its mTenna product line will simplify the satellite connection needed for broadband Internet on the go, anywhere in the world. The company uses metamaterials to manipulate electromagnetic radiation to electronically point and steer a radio signal toward a satellite. The technology could be used to maintain a continuous broadband link between a satellite and a moving platform such as an aircraft, car or boat. The metamaterials could be manufactured using established lithographic techniques.  The technology will be used in flat, thin, light, and highly adaptable antennas and communication terminals.

Kymeta has already demonstrated a metamaterials-based antenna establishing a connection with a Ka-band satellite. The connection used an aperture size of 15 by 17 inches and was about one centimeter thick. The antenna was powered by a USB cable using less than three watts of power to drive the electronic beamforming antenna.

In the latest funding round, existing Kymeta investors including Bill Gates, Lux Capital and Liberty Global were joined in the financing by Osage University Partners and The Kresge Foundation.

  • Kymeta is the second company to spin out of Intellectual Ventures. The first, TerraPower, was created in 2008 to develop a new class of nuclear reactor.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Intelsat seeks opportunity through OneWeb, only to be disappointed

by James E. Carroll

From its inception in August 1964, Intelsat has been at the forefront of satellite communications. It has also always been an organisation governed by considerable complexity. Intelsat's original structure was as an intergovernmental organisation (IGO) with 11 participating countries. Over the decades, hundreds of earth stations were built across the planet to receive and transmit signals from dozens of Intelsat satellites in orbit. Though its charter was that of a commercial endeavour, eventually Intelsat came to be governed by 100 member countries and its decision-making process became every bit as complex as if it were an agency of the United Nations. By the turn of the millennium, the public corporatisation movement was in full swing across the telecoms sector as state-owned carriers lost their monopoly status and were forced to attract private-sector investors and compete in the market. For the space sector, privitisation and competition also became mandates, and so in 2001 Intelsat transitioned into a publicly-traded company. Since then, it has experienced a very tumultuous period of reorganisations, buyouts, mergers and public relisting. Some of these bumps-in-the-road were covered in the first part of this article.

Building and launching satellites is extremely capital intensive. Owning and operating hundreds of earth stations in over 150 countries likewise requires a high operating expense budget. After decades in operation, Intelsat is laden with $14.523 billion of debt with many long-term bond holders. On a positive note, the company's revenue breakdown is well balanced: 39% for network service; 42% for media revenue; 17% for government revenue. Customer contracts in each of these segments are predictable and stable. However, though its contracted backlog amounts to $8.5 billion (future revenue under existing contracts), the company has struggled to convince investors that its best days are still ahead. Discounting for the heavy debt load, Intelsat’s market capitalisation is only $391.2 million. There are many cloud-focused software newcomers in Silicon Valley with higher market valuations, but nowhere near the potential of impacting so many people across the globe as Intelsat.

Looking for growth

Some might see Intelsat as a stodgy veteran with a history dating back to the Apollo moon shot era, but its current crop of EPIC Next Generation satellites has accelerated the pace of satellite design innovation. The new designs offer far more capacity, flexibility and potential lifespan than has been achieved to date. As the legacy satellite fleet reaches retirement, the new birds should easily absorb all the traffic from existing contracts while offering plenty of capacity for new applications such as in-flight connectivity for aircraft, mobile backhaul and broadband connectivity in remote locations.

Meanwhile, testing last autumn revealed that the Intelsat EPICNG  platform is exceeding its performance expectations. Specifically, Intelsat cited a 165% to 330% increase in spectral efficiency with ground platforms and modem technologies, and up to a 300% improvement in throughput using next generation antenna technology with its new EPICNG high-throughput satellite (HTS) platform.

The company said testing also confirmed that the EPICNG platform exceeds performance expectations transmitting to and from a flat-panel antenna designed for a new class of small remotely piloted aircraft. Now that it has four EPICNG  satellites in orbit and proven performance results from live testing, Intelsat's business trajectory should be reassuring to investors interested in space. But there is a new wave of hot start-ups in the space race that are gaining attention and investments.

OneWeb enters the scene

In January 2015, Richard Branson made headlines worldwide by announcing audacious plans to build, launch and operate the world's largest satellite network using Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne space plane to put 648 small satellites into low earth orbit. OneWeb (previously WorldVu Satellite) initially announced $500 million in financial backing by the Virgin Group and Arianespace. Intelsat also announced an equity investment in the firm. The venture recruited Greg Wyler, who founded O3b Networks in 2007, as its leader. O3b Networks (the 'other 3 billion' people without Internet access). and which was recently acquired by SES, operates a constellation of 12 high throughput satellites (HTS) in a medium earth orbit (MEO) around 8,000 km from the Earth. O3b offers customers a 'fibre in the sky' solution, with each of the constellation's beams capable of delivering up to 1.6 Gbit/s of throughput at a low latency of less than 150 milliseconds, a significant improvement over geostationary connectivity. OneWeb now aims to replicate and expand on O3b's success by using hundreds of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites instead of MEO satellites.

In June 2015, following a bidding competition, OneWeb selected Airbus Defence and Space for the construction of its broadband Internet satellites. The companies set an aggressive timeline to get its first satellites in orbit by the end of 2017 – an unprecedented pace. In December 2016, OneWeb raised $1 billion from SoftBank Group and $200 million from existing investors. Earlier this year, OneWeb announced it expected to sell all its capacity by launch time. The only announced capacity sold was for a joint Gogo and Intelsat venture. OneWeb has gone on to suggest that it might quadruple the size of its already massive satellite constellation to over 2,500 transmitting units in orbit.

Intelsat sees an opportunity, only to be disappointed

On February 28, 2017, Intelsat and OneWeb agreed to merge in a share-for-share transaction. Under the deal, SoftBank was to invest $1.7 billion in newly issued common and preferred shares of the combined company. This provided for debt exchange offers to certain existing Intelsat bondholders. The stated goal was to reduce Intelsat's debt by approximately $3.6 billion via this $1.7 billion investment. From a technology perspective, the deal sought to integrate OneWeb's LEO satellite constellation with Intelsat’s global scale, terrestrial infrastructure and GEO satellite network.

In June, after several rounds of negotiations, the merger talks collapsed. The apparent reason was that Intelsat bondholders were unsatisfied with Softbank's offer to pay only a portion of the face value of their notes. Concerning the collapsed merger, Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler said:

-    "There were many stakeholders’ interests that needed to be satisfied in this complex transaction. We are disappointed that our bondholders were unwilling to accept the terms of the exchange offers presented over the course of this process. Even without a merger of our companies, the pre-existing commercial agreement among Intelsat, OneWeb and SoftBank will continue. Under this agreement, I plan to jointly develop integrated solutions utilising both fleets and to act as a sub-distributor to SoftBank for the attractive application segments of mobility, energy, government and connected car".

On June-22nd, the FCC approved a OneWeb's request to access the U.S. satellite market. Specifically, the FCC approved OneWeb proposal to access the U.S. market using a global network of 720 low-Earth orbit satellites using the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) frequency bands.

In conclusion, this week’s successful launch of Intelsat 35e is a positive development for Intelsat even though its proposed merger with OneWeb has been withdrawn. OneWeb's LEO satellites would benefit from Intelsat’s GEO capacity, and Intelsat would be rejuvenated by opportunities such as connected cars.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dalkom partners with Intelsat to expand broadband in Africa and Middle East

Intelsat, operator of what it describes as the Globalized Network and provider of integrated satellite communications, announced that Dalkom Somalia has signed an agreement covering satellite services that will allow it to expand its broadband enterprise and direct-to-home (DTH) services in East and Central Africa and the Middle East region.

Under the multi-year agreement, Dalkom, a privately-owned operator based in Somalia, will incorporate Ku-band satellite services provided by Intelsat 17 to extend the availability of services currently delivered over its fibre network. This will allow the operator to expand its broadband enterprise networks into countries such as South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as to the Middle East. Dalkom will also add DTH services to its service offering in Somalia.

Dalkom Somalia is a major Somalia-based telecom provider established in 2003 that currently offers a range of next-generation solutions for broadband, connectivity, cloud computing, managed services, satellite and Internet services to the business, wholesale and consumer market segments.

Dalkom holdss submarine cable, international gateway, application service provider (ASP) and content service provider (CSP) licenses and independent infrastructure that includes international landing stations in Mogadishu, Somalia connecting to the rest of the world, and gateways that connect to key cities in Somalia via metro and backbone infrastructure. It also serves cities in Kenya and Uganda via EASSy through partnerships and operates data centres in Mogadishu, Nairobi and Mombasa.

Registered in Somalia and United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dalkom Somalia is privately owned and funded by Somalian individuals and investment companies. The company holds 10% equity in EASSY and 9.13% in WIOCC, through which it holds equity in the EIG and WACs submarine cables.

In April., pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Econet Global, and Intelsat announced an agreement to introduce Intelsat EpicNG satellite services into the Liquid Telecom network. As part of the multi-year agreement, Liquid Telecom committed to dedicated services on the Intelsat 33e satellite, including ground networking equipment based upon Newtec Dialog VSAT platform with technology developed under the ESA-funded Project Indigo.

The Intelsat EpicNG services expanded Liquid Telecom's coverage and network across the DRC, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe for connectivity to underserved remote or rural areas.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Big ambitions for next gen satellite networks – part 2

While SpaceX is planning to encircle the planet with thousands of satellites for delivering broadband Internet access, another venture, known as Ligado Networks, has come up with a plan to salvage the power of the largest commercial satellite ever launched to deliver connectivity over North America for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) sector, and possibly as a boost for 5G networks.

Ligado Networks is a privately-backed company based in Reston, Virginia, with investors including Centerbridge Partners, Fortress Investment Group and JPMorgan Chase & Co. From the big hitting industry execs on the leadership team it is clear the company is serious. Ivan Seidenberg, a former chairman of Verizon Communications, serves as chairman. Also on the board of directors is Timothy Donahue, former executive chairman of Sprint Nextel and former president and CEO of Nextel Communications, and Reed Hundt, the former Federal Communications Commission. Doug Smith serves as Ligado's president and CEO; he is known for his work in engineering and launching nationwide networks for GTE, Nextel, Sprint Nextel and Clearwire.

Picking up the pieces from LightSquared, SkyTerra and Mobile Satellite Ventures

Ligado Networks, previously known as LightSquared, emerged from bankruptcy reorganisation in 2016 with a new plan, or rather a new version of an old plan. The company controls 40 MHz of nationwide spectrum licenses in the L-Band (1500 to 1700 MHz), which it acquired in 2010 through its purchase of SkyTerra, another bold start-up that envisioned transforming the U.S. mobile scene with satellite communications.

Prior to 2008, SkyTerra was known as Mobile Satellite Ventures and had successfully operated the MSAT-1 and MSAT-2 satellites for over a decade. As 4G LTE technologies neared, the company set its sights and going big. The business plan evolved from pure mobile satellite to a hybrid design where the satellite connectivity would be used to augment terrestrial mobile communications. This would mean using the same spectrum bands from ground based base station as well as from the satellite. The company changed its name to SkyTerra and was acquired by Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners acquired SkyTerra in March 2010. Harbinger invested about $2.9 billion in assets and soon raised more than $2.3 billion in debt and equity financing.

SkyTerra soon became known for its massive SkyTerra 1 satellite, which weighed a record 6,910 kg. The satellite was built at Space Systems/Loral's Palo Alto, California facility. It operates in two 10 MHz blocks of contiguous MSS spectrum in the 2 GHz band throughout the U.S. and Canada. Notably, the satellite uniquely features an 18-metre reflector and an S-band feed array with 500 spot beams. In November 2010, SkyTerra 1 was successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

SkyTerra changed its name to LightSquared and in January 2011 was granted a conditional waiver by the FCC to test its network if it could be shown that the service would not interfere with GPS signals. This alarmed many GPS advocates, who argued that the L-band spectrum was simply too close to its own and that even a little interference could have serious consequences for the military, aviation, agriculture and other vertical sectors that rely on precise navigation.

In February 2012, the company received its greatest setback when the FCC withdrew its conditional approval for LightSquared network due to the potential interference concerns with GPS receivers. In June 2012, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed securities fraud charges against Philip Falcone and Harbinger Capital Partners; the case was settled in June 2013. For LightSquared, the game was over and it was soon forced into the bankruptcy courts. In addition to the technical, legal and financial challenges, LighSquared also faced allegations of political favouritism. Nevertheless, it still had the spectrum licenses and a fully functional Skyterra1 satellite parked in geostationary orbit.

Ligado Network is the new entity that in December 2015 emerged from this decade-long mess. Significantly, the company reached a settlement with the GPS industry on a technical plan to avoid interference issues by reducing the transmission power. It is not clear why a similar compromise could not have been reached in 2012. Ligado is now awaiting clearance from the FCC.

Ligado looks for its market

So back to square one, and Ligado Networks is now moving ahead with the plan to combine Skyterra1 satellite coverage with a ground-based network should FCC approval come. The goal is a ubiquitous national network whose footprint requires far fewer ground-based towers than would otherwise be required for universal coverage. The company says its mid-band spectrum is well suited for things that move, such as planes, trains and automobiles.

In its original iteration, LightSquared aimed to either compete with or partner with 4G LTE mobile services. At least one mobile handset model was developed that incorporated specialised silicon for tuning in the L-band frequency in addition to standard cellular bands. It seemed that a distribution partnership with AT&T was also in the works. For consumers, this would have meant being able to use the AT&T LTE network where available and then seamlessly roam onto the SkyTerra1 satellite service when that signal was stronger. Unfortunately, this handset was based on an old Nokia design and was not an iPhone or Android device. Even without the legal and financial issues, this business plan was not going to work.

Meanwhile, as the number of autonomous vehicles on the road rises, the strain on the mobile infrastructure will rise. Mobile operators are working to 'densify' their networks in preparation for 5G. This might mean more of the capex is focused on the cities and less on rural places. Satellite coverage could really help here, although the issue of latency may prove problematic for fast moving vehicles needing to connect to a geostationary bird. In addition, there is the issue of creating end-point devices tuned for the L-band spectrum. Perhaps Ligado will introduce specialised solutions for the types of vehicles it is targeting. A further issue to consider is the aging Skyterra1 satellite. It has now been in orbit for six and a half years, and most satellites are designed for a 15-year life. By the time the Ligado Network is up and running it may be approaching mid-life status and time to start planning a new one.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

SES Networks launches hybrid resiliency service, Palau Telecoms first customer

Global satellite operator SES has announced a new hybrid resiliency platform designed to serve the requirements of telcos, mobile network operators, enterprises and maritime connectivity providers.

The new SES solution delivers fully-managed, bandwidth-on-demand connectivity featuring intelligent routing and resiliency functionality. SES explained that its multi-orbit approach, which leverages the wide coverage capabilities of geostationary earth orbit (GEO) satellites combined with the high throughput capabilities of medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites, is designed to ensure 100% availability for services.

The new managed solution is currently available in the Asia Pacific region, and leverages a platform designed to enable highly reliable, high performance networks across orbit-diverse connections. SES plans to rollout the service across additional regions, complementing the site diversity intelligent routing capability already deployed for SES networks customers.

In conjunction with the new service launch, SES announced that long-standing partner Palau Telecoms and its customers would become the first to utilise the new hybrid MEO-GEO broadband platform

SES recently launched a new go-to-market organisation based on customer-focused business units. Under the new model, data-centric market segments are served by SES Networks, while SES focuses on delivering differentiated satellite-enabled solutions for fixed data, mobility and government applications. SES noted that the hybrid resiliency platform leverages the infrastructure, networks and operations available via the SES Networks business unit.

SES' combined GEO-MEO offering leverages over 50 satellites in GEO and 12 in MEO. The company operates through two business units - SES Video and SES Networks – that provide satellite communications services to broadcasters, content providers and ISPs, mobile and fixed operators, governments and institutions. SES includes O3b Networks, a global managed data communications service provider, and MX1, a media service provider. SES announced it would acquire a 100% stake in O3b in June 2016.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

SpaceX Launches SES-10 and Retrieves Falcon 9 Rocket

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully delivered the SES-10 communications satellite Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  The first stage of the rocket then successfully landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic.  The historic mission marked the first re-use of a rocket. Falcon 9’s first stage for the SES-10 mission previously supported the successful CRS-8 mission in April 2016.

SES-10, which was built by Airbus Defence and Space and is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, features a Ku-band payload of 55 36MHz transponder equivalents, of which 27 are incremental. The satellite is wholly dedicated to providing service to Latin America, replacing capacity currently provided by other SES satellites at 67 degrees West, as well as bring additional capacity to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The satellite will operate as the Andean Community’s Simón Bolivar 2 providing satellite capacity for each Andean Member State.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

EchoStar XXIII Blasts into Orbit in SpaceX's

The EchoStar XXIII successfully launched into geostationary transfer orbit from the historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

EchoStar XXIII is a highly flexible Ku-band satellite based on Space Systems Loral's 1300 platform with four main reflectors and multiple sub-reflectors supporting multiple mission profiles. Initial commercial deployment of EchoStar XXIII will be at 45° West, and the Satellite End of Life (EOL) Power is 20 kilowatts (kW).

“This is the third satellite built for EchoStar by SSL to be placed on orbit since last June,” said John Celli, president of SSL. I would like to thank EchoStar, SpaceX and our own engineers and technicians who all worked as a team to make this launch a success.”

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