Constellations’ Play in the Fixed VSAT Market
Vivek Prashad, Senior Analyst, NSR
Satellite Constellation players are focusing on their go-to-market strategies to capture different segments of the Satellite Communication markets, especially the high volume, highly attractive fixed VSAT segment. Starlink has acquired >500,000 subscribers globally and has recently dropped price offerings in Europe and Latin America to capture a larger piece of the market. Per NSR’s assessment, however, prices are still significantly away from unlocking demand elasticities – especially in the consumer broadband markets. OneWeb is also progressing to deploy its services across applications by partnering with downstream players. The company has lower barriers in massive opportunity markets like India as Bharti is one of their major stakeholders. Recently, they have partnered with Hughes-India for service distribution. The major target markets are going to be Enterprises and Social Inclusion programs. Telesat-Lightspeed is facing some delays due to financial challenges and further clarity about their progression is expected in coming months. Other major players such as Kuiper and O3b mPower are moving ahead with their satellite realization and launch plans. How will these developments impact incumbents like Viasat, Hughes, SES and others? What will be the impact on the industry landscape in terms of market capture and other performance indicators? NSR’s VSAT & Broadband Satellite Markets, 20th edition report has gone deep into these key industry questions and below are some of the major assessment findings.
Opportunities and Challenges
Mixed trends across the Fixed VSAT market covering applications such as Retail/Hospitality, Banking, Social Inclusion, Energy, Government/Military, and Consumer Broadband, makes the assessment both critical and crucial. COVID-19 has played a key role in changing the demand dynamics of these use cases as the thrust towards connecting the unconnected and digital transformation are more critical than ever.
The Retail/Hospitality application witnessed a sizable drop in demand during 2020 and into 2021 due to lockdowns across regions. However, in late 2021, demand has ramped up for upgrades and new installations in regions such as Asia. Moreover, investments into transition to cloud applications is driving demand and revenue growth. Banking has been relatively stable and growing consistently in the emerging regions and incremental rise in capacity demand at existing sites is driving the growth trend. Social Inclusion is ramping up at an unprecedented pace with government-mandated programs across regions, such as Bakti & Bharat-Net leading to investment trends on the rise with the COVID-19 impact. Government/Military fixed VSAT market is saturated in terms of in-service unit growth. However, capacity demand acceleration with the non-GEO capacity influx is expected to lead to higher bandwidth provisioning by the end of the forecast period. Energy markets are witnessing decline due to competition from terrestrial networks or due to site closures due to COVID-19. Value-added applications such as Edge computing, SD WAN, Cloud etc. are expected to drive the ARPU growth in the long term across applications such as Energy. Consumer Broadband, undoubtedly, is the largest and fastest growing segment in the Fixed VSAT market. HTS capacity supply, capacity pricing and equipment pricing are expected to be key to sustainable success in the Consumer Broadband segment. Overall, NSR estimates Service revenue in the Fixed VSAT market to grow from $6.3 Billion in 2020 to $23.5 Billion by 2030 at a CAGR level of 14.1%. On the equipment side, the estimated cumulative revenue opportunity is $18.0 Billion during the 2020-2030 timeframe with a 35% contribution from the traditional enterprise segments. Out of these varied and overall opportunities, how are the Non-GEO players positioned to capture its share of the pie?
In order to assess Non-GEO trajectory in the near, mid and long term, below are some Non-GEO trends and recent accomplishments by stakeholders:
- 2500+ operational satellites by September 2022.
- Acquired 500,000 Consumer Broadband users across 40 countries for Starlink satellite services. The typical terminal is priced at $499 and service at $99 per month. However, recently it is noted that the monthly service pricing dropped in UK, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Chile and Mexico.
- Rolled out premium satellite services for Enterprise Customers at $2,500 equipment price and monthly services at $500. Unlike Consumer Broadband terminals, the premium terminal will be able to connect from any location. It will enable enterprises to order any number of terminals and manage locations under a single account. Advertised bandwidth is 150 Mbps to 500 Mbps and latency of 20 ms – 40 ms. However, absence of SLA based offering is posing resistance to growth in the enterprise segments.
- Partnered with Microsoft Azure for cloud platform. Undoubtedly, Cloud is booming, and the trend is likely to continue as Enterprise customers invest in digital transformation.
- Beginning to penetrate smaller markets like the Philippines via partnership route.
- Challenges with the U.S. FCC RDOF subsidy is setback but long term, it will not have a transforming impact on Starlink’s plan.
- 400+ operational satellites. Planned fleet size: 648
- The company is progressing in its service deployment plan through downstream partnerships and acquisitions:
- Partnered with Rock Networks to serve Canadian Armed Forces and other Government of Canada installations, in Canada’s Arctic Region utilizing Rock Networks hardware and services.
- Acquired TrustComm to further propel into U.S. Government opportunities, looking particularly at northern latitudes.
- Signed Broadband MoU With Northwestel for connectivity in Northern Canada. The plan is to deliver connectivity services to remote mines, businesses, and governments.
- Partnered with Galaxy Broadband as distribution partner to Improve Connectivity across Canada and the Arctic Region. The partnership will focus on expanding bandwidth for a variety of industries such as Mining, Oil and Gas, Utilities, Construction, and Community Aggregation.
- Signed distribution partner agreement with Alaska Communications to expand the company’s connectivity solutions across Alaska.
- Signed MoU with AT&T to create a framework enabling the operator to sell broadband services to businesses outside the area of its fiber network.
- Partnered with BT for rural broadband plan in UK.
- Partnered with the Kazakhstan government to digitize the country’s economy by providing high-speed internet connectivity.
- Signed contract with Hughes to deliver satellite broadband connections across India.
- Merger with Eutelsat has mixed signals in the market. At the moment, the deal looks more favorable for OneWeb.
The other key players such as Telesat, Kuiper and O3b mPower are relatively in early stages, however, NSR expects these players to play a significant role in the latter part of the decade. O3b mPower (2nd Gen) is expected to start launching satellites in Q4 2022 – the asset is expected to benefit from SES’s distribution channel and existing customer base. Telesat Lightspeed has signed a $600 million agreement with the Canadian Government, but despite that, the constellation is facing serious financial challenges. Kuiper service roll out is expected around 2025 and the constellation is expected to massively benefit from the AWS infrastructure.
NSR forecasts Non-GEOs to address 426 Gbps growing at a CAGR level of 60.5% from a lower base value of 4 Gbps in 2020. In comparison, GEO-HTS is estimated to service 498 Gbps by 2030. Clearly, close competition is expected between the two types of capacity in the long term. Growth in both GEO-HTS and Non-GEO HTS is driven by increasing demand at existing sites, upgrades from FSS to HTS and price decline levels triggering demand elasticity dynamics. FSS capacity demand is projected to consistently decline resulting in overall reduction of 378 TPEs during 2021-2031. On the Consumer Broadband side, one-third of the total capacity demand is projected to be addressed by Non-GEO players, aggregating to 4.6 Tbps by 2030. Bandwidth allocation, regulatory approval, service + equipment availability, reliability, and pricing are going to be the major growth factors but do come with large challenges as well.
Non-GEOs have reached a stage where they cannot be ignored. A few players such as Starlink & OneWeb have reached the stage of deploying commercial services and in some cases such as consumer broadband in North America are competing head-on with the incumbent GEO players. The key value propositions that the constellations are offering are greater bandwidth allocation per site, low latency, and lower prices per Mbps. In recent developments, Starlink dropped its prices in Europe and Latin America. NSR understands that these players are still far from proving their business economies and are in-progress to address regulatory approvals, terminal pricing for Consumer Broadband markets, and many other technical and supply chain challenges. Overall, NSR does not expect a paradigm shift overnight in favor of constellation players. At the same time, it expects the market for Non-GEOs to grow organically in the near and mid-term. In the long term, these constellations are scaled, and more constellations are added with massive bandwidth, translating into unlocking demand elasticities across use cases, thereby resulting in accelerated growth. The top three growth applications for Non-GEOs are going to be Energy, Government/Military and Consumer Broadband applications.
GEO players with HTS platforms will continue to be on a growth trajectory and maintain a dominant market share position in the Fixed VSAT segment. But market share will witness gradual erosion from Non-GEO competition. As a result, many players in the value chain will move towards multi-orbit strategies, while some will stick to their existing business model. The bottom-line question is – Will the interplay between these changing dynamics push the industry towards a volatile or healthier ecosystem? A question that the coming years will answer.
Vivek Prasad has been involved in the Space Industry since 2010, he began Consulting for NSR in 2019. Prior to his Consulting work with NSR, he was leading the Frost & Sullivan Space Research Program as Industry Principal. At Frost & Sullivan, he has authored reports on market research topics encompassing Small-satellites, Mega-constellations, Enterprise broadband & Satellite Communication market and has led multiple client-centric consulting assignments including the UK Space Agency Spaceport business model.
Why satellite connectivity will power Asia’s next leg of economic growth
Mohammad Marashi, SVP, Product and Strategy Networks Product at SES
According to latest ITU data from 2021, of the 7.8 billion world population, 37% remains unconnected, with most of this population concentrated in developing regions. The Asia-Pacific region (APAC) leads the way with nearly 40% of the population unconnected translating into 1.8 billion people. According to GSMA, mobile broadband expansion has helped in increasing the internet penetration by almost 4x in last decade. The mobile internet users in APAC exceeded 1.2 billion in 2021 and this is expected to increase to 1.5 billion by 2025.
The Asia-Pacific internet economy is therefore anticipated to grow astronomically in the coming years. In fact, Southeast Asia’s digital economy alone is anticipated to reach US$363 billion by 2025. With its digital economy as a key growth enabler, the APAC region must lay the necessary connectivity foundations to fulfil its potential as a global economic powerhouse, as well as adopting adequate and performant technologies. The region is also expected to further boost its digital economy with the acceleration of the 5G roll-out, enabling work opportunities for the previously unconnected by facilitating the shift towards a distributed workforce, while catalysing the enterprise application of emerging technologies relying on network connectivity.
The Asian-Pacific economic success is therefore set to become a reality, driven by consumers and enterprises growing demand for performant connectivity. But what will be key to achieve the digital economic growth in the region as a whole is to establish access to high-speed connectivity networks to populations, often dispersed across several small islands on the same territory and that need to be interconnected. It is indeed paramount for network operators to bridge this gap and bolster connectivity in the region, where satellite networks have a leading role to play with its high capacity to connect even the most remote areas, in the most cost-effective way.
SES’s next-generation MEO satellite constellation, O3b mPOWER, can equally enable low latency connectivity services, with levels comparable to high throughput fibre-like performance. (source: SES)
Four drivers of change in the APAC connectivity landscape
A. Hybrid working
Network use across the region has accelerated as consumers work remotely and seek entertainment at home in post-pandemic times. This surge is testing network infrastructures and service providers’ capacity to keep up with consumption – specifically in India and Southeast Asia, where most people access the internet via mobile and have little fixed-line capacity to fall back on. In India, for instance, mobile devices are the most preferred mode of accessing the internet for over 99 percent of the population, owing to ease of access and affordable data plans.
B. Unprecedented and frequent natural disasters
The intensification and higher frequency of natural disasters worldwide, and in Asia-Pacific represents a sizeable challenge – as it is devastating homes, infrastructures, and telecommunication networks, ultimately leaving populations isolated and unable to reach out to their friends and families. As a case in point, damages to a singular subsea cable providing connectivity to Tonga resulted in complete network outage, and restoration of the cable took a total of five weeks. As the damaged cable connecting the islands of Vava’u and Tongatapu in Tonga undergo repair, SES’s O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellite constellation service provides Vava’u residents of with connectivity. Once the cable will be fully repaired, it will become a resiliency service to the main cable that connects the island to Tongatapu.
This is one of the many examples where SES brought an immediate solution for emergency relief, as its O3b satellite suite has played a pivotal role since its launch in 2013, restoring connectivity across disaster zones across Peru and Puerto Rico. With Tonga leveraging SES’s O3b (MEO) satellite constellation as a quick backup for emergency relief then as a permanent technology solution, it is evident the high quality, performance, and reliability of the connectivity solutions provided by MEO satellites are an ideal choice for these remote areas.
C. Increase in cloud adoption
The enterprise market is facing the accelerated digitalisation and modern technologies adoption as well. Cloud services are increasingly being popular for businesses which see their Cloud services spending peaking, as organisations increasingly transition workloads into hybrid environments. Cloud services made up over 84 percent of APAC IT and business services spending in the last quarter of 2021 — the largest percentage out of all regions globally.
Cloud services have traditionally been accessible through the internet using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for a point-to-point connection. However, as businesses progressively shift high-value workloads to the cloud, they will require a more direct, higher performance connection, as well as a potential alternative network solutions as a failsafe to fall back on in the event of network outages. Additionally for businesses located in underconnected or underserved areas, a reliable and high-performance connectivity is essential.
This is when cloud meets satellite, resulting in cloud-optimised satellite connectivity that has enough flexibility to allocate bandwidth capabilities based on workload demand while delivering a coverage comprehensive enough to reach even the most remote places on the planet.
D. 5G deployment
Asia Pacific is home to some of the world’s leading 5G markets: 14 markets in Asia Pacific have launched 5G commercial services, with at least 10 more to follow before the end of 2025. 5G mobile subscribers are projected to reach over 430 million connections in APAC by 2025 representing around 14% of total connections and overtaking 2G & 3G connections in the intervening period. While 5G is likely to be a critical driver of economic growth in the region, the cost-intensive deployment process itself poses many challenges – particularly with the relatively poor return on investment (ROI) that the business-to-consumer (B2C) market has offered thus far.
However, there is an opportunity to be seized by service providers in deploying 5G where there is a guaranteed customer base: remote industries and enterprises that can transform their business with the capabilities of 5G. Satellite connectivity such as SES’s MEO constellations can offer a clear benefit over other satellite network providers with its sheer reach capabilities, allowing service providers to expand the reach of their 5G networks where investments in the network can be best capitalised.
Industries and enterprises such as energy, telcos, as well as government and defence agencies, can enjoy fibre-like speeds from O3b mPOWER. (source: SES)
The connectivity conundrum
Looking more closely at the different satellite constellations, it is worth pointing out that even within the satellite landscape, not all constellations are built equal and it is paramount to understand the capabilities and the needs on the customer’s end.
On one hand, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, which have garnered media attention as being the latest shiny new technology in the industry– have been heralded as a solution for mass-consumer and enterprise broadband internet needs, offering low-latency connectivity for science, imaging and low-bandwidth telecommunications needs overall. However, depending on their different operators, LEO satellites are currently at various stages of development or financing. Regardless of the markets they may serve, the LEO satellites are limited in the bandwidth they can deliver over the demand regions, leading to inconsistent broadband or connectivity issues for the end-user.
This limitation is not necessarily experienced in the initial months of the service roll out when the subscriber numbers are low. As the number of subscribers within a beam increases the available bandwidth decreases and the consumer experience deteriorates, and speeds become drastically slower. Expanding the constellation does not necessarily remedy the situation since the area covered by a beam is limited by the satellite spectrum available, regardless of the number of satellites in view.
On the other hand, MEO satellites such as SES’s first-generation constellation – O3b – and its second-generation constellation, O3b mPOWER can equally enable low latency connectivity services, with levels comparable to high throughput fibre-like performance. Unlike LEO services, O3bmPOWER offers dedicated throughput to ensure speeds remain consistent.
The ability to deliver high-speed connectivity services from tens of megabits to multiple gigabits per second reliably, securely and flexibly means SES’s O3b mPOWER is well-placed to serve industries who require high throughput in the most flexible manner. One example of the flexibility features is the reallocation of bandwidth supply across the field of view of the satellite (the portion of the earth visible to the satellite) to match the demand for data. This matching of the supply and demand is why I refer to MEO as the “Most Efficient Orbit”. It is for this reason that SES continues to invest in advancing the capabilities of its MEO solutions, investing further in its own advanced O3b mPOWER satellites that are expected to provide connectivity at industry-first fibre-like speeds.
There is an opportunity to be seized by service providers in deploying 5G where there is a guaranteed customer base: remote industries and enterprises that can transform their business with the capabilities of 5G. Next-generation satellite operators alongside service providers can provide this type of connectivity to empower industries. (source: Getty Images)
Leaving no one behind on the path to connectivity for all
For the last decade, SES’s O3b satellite system has played a pivotal role in transforming certain countries across the region. For instance, reliable and low-latency high-performance connectivity boosted tourism and improved education across the Cook Islands while crew in the mining industries stayed connected with their loved ones despite being hundreds of miles away.
Unfortunately, the geographical characteristics of countries of the Asia-Pacific and its dispersed populations across the region means that half of the APAC region remains unconnected. With increased adoption of newer technologies such as cloud and 5G, access to next-generation digital technology is now essential to driving economic growth in every part of Asia-Pacific.
Governments across the region have been undertaking initiatives paving the way for network operators to invest in the region with focussing on making connectivity accessible so that people and organisations everywhere can have an equal opportunity to leverage digital solutions.
As businesses progressively shift high-value workloads to the cloud, they will require a more direct, higher performance connection. Cloud-optimised satellite connectivity can support the workload demand while delivering a coverage comprehensive enough to reach even the most remote places on the planet. (source: Getty Images)
For example in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rolled out a Digital India vision which focuses on increasing mobile broadband access – a governmental plan that could potentially boost the country’s digital economy to $1 trillion by 2025, up from just $200 billion in 2018. Following the directive set by the government, companies are investing into the right infrastructure to make the vision a reality. When Jio, India’s leading digital service provider, tapped on SES’s second generation MEO system to further expand its connectivity services to unconnected areas, it became clear the next generation satellite system will be essential to narrow the digital divide. The unique joint-venture between the two companies will result in reliable and high-performance networks across India by the end of 2023 and is expected to help the Indian population gain access to a wide range of digital services, from remote health to government services.
Ultimately, the satellite communications landscape is on the precipice of immense growth. There are opportunities to narrow the digital gap and truly connect the APAC region but selecting the right network solutions that can navigate connectivity and reliability challenges, will be key. After all, varying connectivity needs will necessitate the selection of satellite solutions that are truly built to meet those needs. Still, one thing is certain: communications networks are surely built to chart the next chapter of Asia’s economic chapter.
Mohammad Marashi is a Product and Technology Executive with over 23 years experience in leading complex product and innovation solution offerings in the satellite industry. Since joining SES in 2020, Mohammad has been overseeing Product & Strategy across multiple network segments. Mohammad has focused on the development of products for SES-17 Very High Throughput Satellite (VHTS) and SES’s next generation MEO platform, O3b mPOWER. Prior to joining SES, Mohammad had held numerous executive roles at Intelsat in Product Strategy, Product Development, and Innovation.
Building the Right Kind of LEO for Enterprise and Government Markets
Glenn Katz, Chief Commercial Officer, Telesat
The introduction of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations has energized the satellite industry. LEO is expected to revolutionize satellite connectivity, fulfill the promise of 5G and close the global digital divide (more accurately described in most locations as the digital quality divide).
This has caused great excitement, yet the fact remains that LEO is the “new kid on the block.” Is all the excitement warranted, and what specifically does LEO mean for APAC? To answer these questions, we need to look at a few factors.
Why Now for LEO?
The concept of LEO has of course been around for many years. In the 1990s, Globalstar, Iridium, Odyssey and Teledesic all had ambitious LEO plans, but eventually many of them struggled or canceled their constellations due to high costs. Every decade there seemed to be a plan for how LEO communications systems would be introduced.
The critical difference today is LEO has moved from concept to reality. In addition to Iridium’s narrowband 66-satellite constellation, Starlink has launched roughly 3,000 LEO satellites and OneWeb has launched about 400 LEO satellites to deliver broadband from LEO. LEO broadband connectivity is not a theoretical concept anymore.
What made this change possible was a drop in the costs of building and launching a LEO satellite constellation. Costs of digital processing, optical inter-satellite links (OISLs), launch expenses and manufacturing have all decreased exponentially over the past decade.
Suddenly with LEO the latency that plagued GEO satellite connectivity can finally be addressed. That’s a critical point because it challenges the assumption that the quality of a broadband connection should be dictated by geography. Why should a service provider or end user accept an inferior experience simply because they are not located in a large city? Why should being on a plane, or a boat, or in a remote location make any difference? Latency is why satellite connectivity currently only accounts for approximately 2% of the broader telecom industry globally.
LEO will change the connectivity paradigm in remote and rural geographies. Low latency and better security will lead the charge. Modern cloud-based applications assume low latency. Without it, they fail, or at best operate in a very suboptimal way. Most Internet applications assume low latency for good performance and security.
By complementing terrestrial networks, LEO will enable global digital equality, so everyone can benefit from digital innovations.
Rendering of the Optically linked Telesat Lightspeed network for enterprise-class services (source: Telesat)
Not all LEO constellations are created equal
It’s important to remember that LEO simply describes a location in space, not the service being delivered. The target market and business model that the satellite operator intends to serve drives the network design. It’s similar to how you develop a piece of real estate; you could build a condo, a house, a shopping mall or a factory. Each option has an intended purpose and outcome.
Enterprise, Mobility and Government markets don’t want best-effort services; they want guaranteed service levels backed by SLAs. Telesat’s approach is to build an enterprise-grade network that requires a more rigorous, resilient architecture than consumer-grade LEO. Further, Telesat’s LEO network capabilities will provide partners with a programmable virtual network operator (pVNO) capability. As a pVNO, partners can customize network services based on their use cases and customer needs, dynamically manage services to all their remotes and allocate network resources to optimize economics.
The Telesat Lightspeed architecture provides unprecedented performance and flexibility to enterprise customers. Telesat Lightspeed was designed to be steerable fibre in the sky, ready to fill the gap wherever terrestrial fibre is not cost-effective or feasible. This highly flexible and scalable LEO backhaul network connects remote communities, airplanes and ships to the core telecom network and puts service providers in control of where, when, and how they serve their customers. And it ensures that enterprise and telecom service providers can provide their customers with a city-like broadband experience, no matter how rural or remote their location.
Enterprise-class LEO networks also make it possible for non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) to be fully integrated into terrestrial networks, and those that are MEF certified simplify the integration of LEO with terrestrial networks. This makes the creation of hybrid terrestrial/non-terrestrial 5G mobile infrastructures possible, dramatically elevating throughput and reliability for enterprises and consumers alike.
Telesat Lightspeed uses larger, more powerful satellites than other LEO operators to reinforce resiliency. Powerful onboard processing and an AI/ML-based network operating system allow guaranteed SLAs and efficient resource usage.
All of these features are why Telesat Lightspeed can guarantee enterprise-grade availability. Combined with the end-to-end offering made available via a pVNO capability described earlier, this gives enterprise customers everything they need to tap into the potential of LEO broadband connectivity, without incurring the cost of building it themselves.
Enterprise customers usually prefer choice when it comes to SATCOM hardware requirements. Some LEO operators have addressed the hardware issue by taking a fully vertical approach and doing everything in-house. This presents the customer with just a single option. Telesat is not taking such an approach and will have multiple companies offering user terminals because enterprise customers don’t want to be locked in with a single provider. They will have the flexibility to choose the right solution from an ecosystem of suppliers.
The Telesat Lightspeed LEO constellation (source: Telesat)
Another interesting development is the proliferation of terrestrial hardware innovations for NGSO networks. Improvements in SWaP-C – size, weight, power and cost – are occurring regularly. The cost of antenna and modem technologies has also dramatically decreased, just as it has for other LEO technology. The satellite hardware industry is extremely dynamic, with both incumbents and new entrants doing exciting work. This will only accelerate as LEO adoption grows.
Several terrestrial hardware vendors are developing multi-orbit and multi-link capabilities that will allow a user to link to multiple satellites across GEO, MEO and LEO orbits. This will give service providers the ability to offer seamless, uninterrupted service for users when switching between orbits, maximizing the benefits of each constellation per application served.
For example, a multi-orbit terminal on an aircraft can simultaneously provide broad GEO capacity for live television programming to the plane, and LEO can be accessed for fibre-like passenger internet. End users achieve increased flexibility and aren’t locked into a single vendor.
Telesat’s LEO Go-To-Market Strategy in APAC
Each country and operator in APAC have their own unique needs. It’s important to work together with existing service providers and satellite operators, rather than trying to go direct to end users. That is our heritage at Telesat and how we’ve always done business in the region. Telesat Lightspeed can provide reliable, guaranteed backhaul to power local operator networks, and they will deliver services to the end customer.
We understand the regulatory environment in Asia and we’re taking a country-by-country approach to gain market access. Telesat will serve each market with local partners, local ISPs and Telcos. We’re also looking to provide Telesat Lightspeed capabilities to regional satellite operators, who wish to pursue LEO connectivity to enhance their offerings.
Several successful Telesat LEO demonstrations have been conducted with potential partners in Asia, including:
Taking the right LEO approach offers the potential of eliminating geography as a roadblock for next-generation connectivity. The right kind of LEO can close the digital quality divide in APAC.
Glenn Katz is Telesat’s Chief Commercial Officer and is responsible for product development, product management and product marketing, as well as leading and expanding the international sales team for all Telesat services. Mr. Katz is a deeply experienced and high-performing executive in the communications industry with a comprehensive understanding of complex networks and a proven track record of delivering innovative services and a compelling value proposition to drive profitable growth. Most recently, Mr. Katz served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Solutions for Comcast Business, an organization that he helped launch in 2014 and successfully expand over seven years. Before Comcast, Mr. Katz held positions as President and CEO of Spacenet, Inc., Interim President and CEO of Starband, and he served in a variety of executive and engineering roles with Gilat Satellite Networks, Scientific Atlanta, and Digital Transmission Systems. Mr. Katz earned Master and Bachelor degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA.
Interview with Brian Holz, CEO, Mangata Networks
Today, 4 billion people on Earth do not have adequate access to the internet. This hinders the exchange of ideas and ground-breaking discoveries and deepens inequalities across our communities.
Tell us a bit about the current state of global connectivity.
Brian Holz: There is a huge digital divide today in the world. One reason is in fact the lack connectivity in general, or of access to the technology. Systems today have the opportunity to help solve these problems.
Mangata is a company that is going to bring state-of-the-art capability around the globe, focusing on communities that are under connected today. We feel that humanity needs to work together, and that all people need to become a part of the digital economy.
If you look at what is happening today, there are only 7 or 8 companies globally that control the digital economy. More than half the population isn’t participating in it.
A connected globe
As a human on this planet, you want to see everybody progress and use their knowledge and knowhow to participate. You want to see them expand what they’re capable of and push humanity to do more. Consider for a moment that there are brilliant thinkers with amazing ideas all over the world. These are individuals with the capacity to transform medicine, business, education, etc., but the broader world is completely unaware of them, because we aren’t connected to half of humanity. We want to bring state of the art capability at an affordable cost with tools to help develop capability and businesses locally.
When Juliette Neu (Co-founder, Chief Experience Officer, and EVP Asia Pacific)and I started contemplating the business, we really wanted to facilitate a way for people to share their knowledge. Technology today is starting to enable that: 5G networks, edge compute, onboard processing for satellites, etc. We have found a novel way to combine all that and believe we can have a profound impact, on a global scale.
How is Mangata Networks addressing this lack of connectivity?
Brian Holz: We’re going to launch the system in the very beginning of 2025. We can start with 8 HEO (highly elliptical orbit) satellites, covering the Northern hemisphere, which will generate a significant amount of capacity. We can get almost 800 gigabits per second on those 8 satellites… which is a lot.
Mangata HEO and MEO Constellations
Scaling as we grow, we’ll follow that with 24 MEO (medium earth orbit) satellites, to get global coverage. That gives us an over 2 terabit per second network, with just 32 satellites.
This is way different than what other people are doing today. It has a lot more capability at a network level. Its quicker and faster to deploy for global coverage, with far fewer satellites than anyone else is implementing and with better coverage of where people and machines operate. This means it will be more sustainable and better for the space environment.
HEO and MEO coverage compared to LEO coverage
And because we can scale the business, we can deploy capital very close to when we’re going to start using those assets in space to generate revenue. That creates a lot of savings for our customers.
You’ll see us operating small networks in 2024 in South Korea, Singapore, the UK, and the US, and you’ll see us operating our own satellites and growing those networks in 2025… and lookout in 2026!
How is connectivity itself evolving, and how will Mangata Networks impact that process?
Brian Holz: You’re never going to change how people and machines connect in a short amount of time, but in say 10 years we think we can have a profound impact in bringing capacity into places that don’t currently have it. Our total system can generate over 50 terabits per second of capacity globally. We can use that capacity to connect state of the art compute capability locally, so people can develop their own applications relevant to their own community and needs. That’s something that isn’t possible today, for much of the world.
And yes, we think connectivity itself is changing dramatically. If you go back to the 1980s and you look at how compute was done at that point in time, you had mainframe computers. Then it migrated into desktop computers, then to tablets and phones. Now 80% of people have more compute capability in their home than was in that original warehouse-sized, mainframe computer.
We think cloud compute is going to do the same thing. Today, for every cloud service provider, you have multiple, million-square-foot facilities that house cloud. They are enormous and consume lots and lots of power. It’s all very centralized.
We think over the next 10-15 years the same thing that happened to mainframe computing is going to happen to cloud compute, network topology, and cloud services. Instead of today’s centralized network, it is going to distribute with services being hosted closer and closer to the individual user. We are just at the beginning of this market shift.
Technology and user experience is driving this transformation. One element is 5G networks. The standards for user experience, healthcare applications, remote education, connecting factories and making them more sustainable, all require localized cloud. So, we think the cloud is going to massively distribute, and we’ve architected a system that can really have a profound impact on that change.
MangataEdge and 5G Connectivity
We can do this using satellite. We can do it at a cost now, that is comparable to new fiber deployment. And since we can go anywhere, we can go to places that aren’t connected yet. The whole network topology is going to transform, and we are going to be at the forefront of that.
It’s going to be a very different world. We started this business to support our mission. We didn’t just create a mission around the business. That mission is to create a platform, a system, where people can exchange with each other. Where knowledge is accessible to all. Where everyone has a seat at the table.
Brian Holz has over 35 years of experience in progressive space system engineering and program management, managing $1B project costs, raising equity and supporting multi-faceted boards, etc. Previously, he has built two start-up companies from the ground-up. Being one of the foremost team members and the CTO of O3b Networks, he was instrumental in delivering all its technical systems through the start of service. He headed OneWeb Satellites as its CEO for the first two years and helped raise the initial capital. Brian holds a B.S in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering from Virginia Tech, and an M.S in Space Systems Engineering from George Washington University.
Interview with Diederik Kelder, Chief Strategy Officer, Rivada Space Networks
The transformative potential of low earth orbit (LEO) constellations continues to be one of the burning topics in the satellite sector. What can LEO networks deliver and what are the opportunities for the Asia Pacific region? Will we finally see the convergence of satellite and terrestrial wireless connectivity?
Q. What is your view on the current status of the satellite industry?
The “traditional” satellite industry is in transition and we are on the cusp of a new era in global communications. Our world is increasingly data-driven, cloud-based and cybersecurity conscious, creating an ever-growing demand to transport data securely and quickly around the globe. With geostationary (GEO) satellites increasingly viewed as a last resort or gap filler for data transport due to high latency and low throughput, we are now looking to the new low-earth-orbit (LEO) constellations and a fundamentally different satellite architecture to provide the new networks that meet today’s demands of latency, throughput, reach, mobility and security.
New technologies such as IoT and M2M, and an increased shift toward data-driven decision making and automation will continue to drive our dependency on data, and fast and resilient communications networks. Bandwidth and coverage requirements are also rising with the demand for always-on connectivity. Businesses are increasingly looking at how technology and connectivity can improve operational efficiency.
While satellite has a unique position thanks to its reliable and ubiquitous nature, to remain truly relevant, we now need to look to the innovation in terrestrial wireless networking and when combined, how this disrupts the connectivity landscape.
Rivada Space Networks – Connected City (source: Shutterstock)
Q. What does a new satellite architecture for data look like?
True data-driven applications such as 5G backhaul, remote management and enterprise connectivity require a fundamentally different satellite architecture that can solve the issues of latency, throughput, reach, mobility and security. In addition to the issue of latency, as we move to a more data-centric world, the traditional “bent pipe” satellite architecture is showing its limitations. Bent pipe means that whatever is transmitted to a satellite needs to come straight back down to a gateway. Using that type of technology effectively reduces the role of satellite to a last mile or local loop provider and requires many earth stations that are connected to terrestrial infrastructure to carry traffic to its final destination. This is suboptimal to say the least and comes with a great amount of expense, operational requirements and compromises on security.
The real game-changer for secure connectivity will be achieved by moving away from the traditional “bent pipe” and taking satellites to the next level, turning constellations into networks. Rivada Space Networks is developing one such system comprising a constellation of 600 LEO satellites fully interconnected using laser links, meaning that the network will not require each satellite in the constellation to be connected to a gateway with terrestrial backhaul to provide point-to-point connectivity to and from anywhere in the world. This allows users to communicate through a single global private network running entirely over the constellation without any terrestrial touchpoint other than the user terminals or the secure cloud insertion point. This physical separation at the infrastructure level significantly increases cybersecurity and data sovereignty and does so at a global scale.
In combination with this optical backbone in space, we will leverage the unique wireless technologies of Rivada Networks Inc to optimize network utilization and facilitate the buying and selling of broadband capacity. The company’s patented technologies including the Dynamic Spectrum Arbitrage and Open Access Wireless Marketplace platform will enable efficient use of spectrum and provide customers with ultimate flexibility. When wireless technologies converge with satellite over a single, highly secure network you get the best of both worlds, providing resellers and B2B customers with the ability to securely connect any two points on the globe with low latency and high bandwidth.
Rivada Space Networks – Disruptive Network (source: Shutterstock)
Q. Is there room for multiple LEO systems?
There are a number of new LEO constellations which will have a positive impact for data communications. Current systems such as OneWeb, Starlink, Amazon Kuiper and Telesat are addressing different markets and therefore have differentiated system architectures. So, it’s not so much about who gets there first but who has the best solution to address a certain market need. Rivada’s connectivity network solution is truly unique with the ability to deliver fiber-like services via a single, high-performance, inter-connected, MPLS-based LEO constellation. Our target market is not retail internet connectivity but wholesale and enterprise markets. We want to democratize access at the enterprise level where these services are available to enterprises that previously would have found the barriers to entry too high. Rivada has built its business model around Enterprise Data Connectivity and is building a network that will not only provide unique advantages, it will also help to expand markets by enabling new opportunities through previously unavailable levels of performance combined with worldwide reach.
Q. What are the new opportunities for the Asia Pacific
With LEO bringing all of the above advantages to the satellite market, allowing satellites to go beyond their traditional role of ‘gap-filler’, LEO systems will actually start to become a technology of choice for data communications and a more dynamic extension of the terrestrial telecoms networks. For multi-national enterprise, government services, maritime and energy, LEO systems can solve essential communications and connectivity challenges and meet the ever-growing need for an enterprise-grade, on-demand experience anywhere in the world. A broadband network in low earth orbit can be used for a number of applications—for example, to provide 5G satellite backhaul to the cellular industry, give banks secure networks with their foreign offices, provide enormous uploading bandwidth required for oil & gas and mining exploration or enable secure office in-the air or at sea scenarios. LEO will not only provide a competitive advantage in the existing satellite services market; it will help to expand these markets by enabling new opportunities.
Rivada Space Networks – Space Connectivity (source: Shutterstock)
Q. Why is cybersecurity important?
Recent events in Ukraine have demonstrated that we are increasingly reliant on the commercial satellite sector and in particular new satellite constellations to provide high-throughput, resilient communications infrastructure. The proximity LEO satellites have to the earth translates into lower latencies and better data rates. Security and resilience are also key attributes and with Rivada’s unique point-to-point architecture, traffic can be transported in its native form and carried from any point on the globe to another without touching the earth’s surface in between and therefore completely isolated from the terrestrial infrastructure. For mission-critical communications, rooftop-to-rooftop without any terrestrial touchpoint in between, means an ultra-secure, resilient communications network.
Q. Are there opportunities for GEO & LEO?
From government applications to corporate networks and from cellular data solutions to the energy and maritime sector: data and mobility markets are strong in the Asia Pacific region. With new constellations becoming a reality, hybrid multi-orbit networks present more choice for the industry and many traditional GEO satellite operators and telcos looking to remain relevant and competitive need to complement and expand their capabilities and provide combined GEO/LEO data services that cannot be supported by GEO alone. Combining the ubiquity of satellite with innovative terrestrial wireless technology means that Rivada is creating a whole new communications landscape. We expect GEO operators and telcos to see the value in partnering with Rivada to offer the market enterprise grade, low latency, extremely high speed and ultra-secure data services worldwide.
Diederik Kelder has over 25 years’ experience in the satellite communications industry, which includes working for a number of the most prominent satellite operators in the areas of strategic planning, commercial planning and business development. Before joining Rivada Space Networks, Diederik worked at LeoSat Enterprises, a low earth orbit communications start-up. Prior to that he was with SES, where as Vice President Business Development Asia he led a series of initiatives including partnerships and space and ground asset development. In addition, Kelder was VP Business Planning for New Skies Satellites where he set up and rolled out the strategy, business planning and revenue forecasting functions.