Home >> November 2012 Edition >> Executive Spotlight: Vivian Quenet
Executive Spotlight: Vivian Quenet
V.P. Sales—Asia Pacific, KVH Industries


QuenetHead Based in Singapore, Mr. Vivian Quenet has led the Asia-Pacific sales efforts for KVH Industries since March 2011. Before joining KVH, Mr. Quenet served as director, Asia-Pacific, for mobile satellite communications provider Vizada, where he oversaw all operations for the company’s office in southeast Asia. Over the course of 10 years with that company, Mr. Quenet worked to bring satellite communications services to commercial mariners in several regions across the globe.

SatMagazine (SM)
Mr. Quenet, your experience within the world of satellite communications is truly global in nature. How did you decide upon a career in this industry in the first place?

Vivian Quenet
I initially chose a career in the cellular industry that was exploding, because I was attracted by the novelty and the potential of the work. I moved from cellular to satellite and then specialized in maritime.

Cellular is a local mass market, where individuals are drawn in by the immensity of a huge industry. Satellite is a niche market at a local level, yet sizable, internationally. It means individuals can make a significant difference in their market.

This is what was appealing to me in the first place. The fact that satellite communications addresses specific businesses that operate in remote and harsh environments adds to the interest of the job. We truly provide the ultimate link to civilization. The maritime industry, although it is a niche and specific market, adds an international flavor to my work. It’s a global community of passionate people, which I like.

SM
For our industry, one of the crucial areas of concern in the United States revolves around locating and hiring trained professionals, from sales to engineering, from marketing to understanding the financial ramifications and more, for crucially needed positions. How different is it in locating suitable candidates for crucial positions in the APAC region of the world, as opposed to the same searches in the United States? If there is a noticeable sense of talent, to what do you attribute the difference?

QuenetFig1 Vivian Quenet
I’m often confronted with the challenge of recruiting talented people who need several skills to be successful. They should have some knowledge of the satellite industry and the maritime industry, and on top of that, understand the challenges that IT managers are facing within the shipping industry. This type of profile is not easy to find—anywhere in the world.

In Asia, the challenge is even bigger due to the immense difference between the communities and cultures that are active in the maritime industry. The sense of community is far stronger in Asia than in Western countries, and Asians highly value their peer groups. It is therefore very difficult to find profiles that can address several national markets in Asia. The ideal candidate must not only have the same attributes as his colleague in the U.S. or Europe, but also be very versatile and flexible to deal with different cultures and communities.

SM
What was it about KVH Industries that drove you to change your career goals to this company, rather than remaining in a similar position with one of your now competitors?

Vivian Quenet
It was the spirit, the innovation, and the vision of the company that drove my decision. The consolidation of the MSS (Mobile Satellite Services) industry happened with new types of companies entering the game. Most of them were fund managers, private equities, and similar financially driven companies. Their model is simple. They acquire several companies in the industry, merge them together, and look for “internal synergies” to optimize their profitability. Their growth is mainly external and profit is usually linked to cost cutting. With a nice growth curve and record profit, the newly created group is usually sold within a few years at a premium price, benefiting the fund and its customers, but leaving the group usually in poor shape, due to the lack of investment, loss of customer focus, and unclear direction.

Futron_ad_SM1112 What attracted me to KVH Industries is exactly the opposite. Although the group is attentive to financial performance, it focuses primarily on its customers and invests in new technology to continually launch new products and services that can help existing and new customers. The result is a fast and healthy organic growth led by innovation. If you look at the company's business growth in the past year, much of it comes from the mini-VSAT Broadbandsm business, which did not exist prior to 2007.

SM
How does KVH Industries work with its partner, ViaSat, in Asia-Pacific accounts and servicing?

Vivian Quenet
ViaSat is a true partner. We are working together on government customers and on licensing issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

SM
What is your opinion of the Ka-band maritime satellite communications services coming online soon vs. existing Ku-band solutions?

Vivian Quenet
The most important factor is how customers use the frequency—and which company they are buying from, rather than the frequency those companies are using. Look at Ku-band, for example. KVH uses Ku-band, and so do all our competitors, yet our products and services are quite different. The mini-VSAT Broadband network uses ArcLight® spread spectrum technology that allows faster speed, lower latency, and smaller, cheaper antennas, despite using the same Ku- frequency as our competitors.

SM
What is KVH’s answer to the Ka-band technology? What are the differences that make KVH technology more competitive?

Vivian Quenet
I think the most important difference at this stage is that there is no Ka-band solution yet. Maritime Ka-band is only experimental at this point, and is so far only working in a laboratory. There is a lot of noise today because Inmarsat attempts to stop its high-end customers from moving to KVH’s mini-VSAT Broadband network. Inmarsat could have a global maritime solution in late Q4 2014, early 2015, when all its satellites are launched—and if everything goes according to plan.

I have no doubt Ka- can work in a lab, but the maritime environment is very different. Ka- is far more subject to rain fade than Ku-band and requires very accurate pointing. This makes it very challenging in a maritime environment considering frequent rain, especially in a tropical area like Singapore, and considering the rolling and heaving of each vessel.

Already it was announced that Ka-band will need to be backed up by a FleetBroadband system when Ka- can’t cope with conditions. How much is the customer really going to be able to use Ka-band high-throughput at sea? How much will the product cost? What speed will users get? How many people are going to share the satellite’s capacity? This is information Inmarsat is not disclosing. There is simply too much uncertainty.

SM
KVH’s biggest competitor in the maritime satellite communications market is, obviously, Inmarsat; how will KVH answer that company’s recent price increases for its Fleet and FleetBroadband services, as well as its well-advertised upgrade path to the new XpressLink Ka-band service?

Vivian Quenet
Inmarsat is losing, one by one, many of its top-end customers who are moving to mini-VSAT Broadband to optimize their operation. Inmarsat’s answer is to jump on Ka-band without really knowing if this is the right frequency for maritime usage. They won’t know until 2015, so they are launching an intermediate solution called XpressLink, which is based on old TDMA VSAT technology that is only capable of 256 to 512Kbps max, and backed up by FleetBroadband.

QuenetFig2 The issue remains that Inmarsat still needs to pay for the Inmarsat 4 satellites (FB service) and finance the Inmarsat 5 new satellites (Ka-band). As they are losing many good customers, they must increase the price of Fleet and FB services to satisfy their shareholders. This is mathematically working, but as the shipping industry is also facing a severe downturn, this move is very unpopular among ship operators.

At KVH, we focus on our customers and we continue to develop innovative, cost effective and high-quality products. We make sure our public pricing is known, and Inmarsat does the rest.

SM
What are the primary satellite communications’ concerns for maritime operators based, or primarily operating in, the Asia-Pacific region?

Vivian Quenet
Maritime operators need to communicate with shore for many reasons...

Regulatory purposes, such as ENOAD (Electronic Notification Of Arrival and Departure) when calling or leaving the U.S.
Email, including picture or video files, for vessel repairs
Operation and maintenance, with the PMS (Planned Maintenance System) connected to the communications device for remote and automatic operation
Crew welfare


Lately, with the charter price decrease and fuel price increase, we see more and more applications for route planning. Optimizing the vessel route not only saves fuel, it shortens the voyage, which translates to crew cost savings and faster goods delivery. To work efficiently, those routing applications need to collect a lot of real-time data analyzed on shore—weather forecasts, optimal cargo delivery times, and geopolitical events, to name a few. A leading Japanese fleet just signed with KVH to deploy this route optimization on more than 100 vessels.

SM
How does KVH compete successfully against local providers in the ever-increasing markets of the Asia-Pacific region of the world?

Vivian Quenet
KVH Industries Pte Ltd., based in Singapore, is one of the newest KVH offices worldwide. Although we don’t yet have the same name recognition as KVH in the USA or in Europe, we have already won very large contracts with Asian companies, and we are already the maritime VSAT company selling the most VSATs in the region. Local providers tend to focus on regional coverage because they don’t have global coverage. We can address local and international companies.

SM
What KVH products are a success for the APAC markets? Why?

Vivian Quenet
Our TracPhone® V7 three-axis combines the best attributes of traditional MSS devices with affordable hardware and easy logistics and installation, but it also has the advantages of faster speed, lower latency, and a fixed monthly price.

QuenetFig3 We just introduced the dual mode C-/Ku-band TracPhone V11 and we already have large shipping companies who have signed up for trials with an intent to buy. V11 is the ideal solution for commercial and offshore vessels traveling outside Ku-band coverage and in tropical and humid areas. Its potential 4Mbps download speed is more than enough for any type of application and its single small dome allows it to be installed on every type of vessel.

SM
What are the major differences between APAC and the other areas of the world where you have SATCOM experience, such as Europe and Africa, as far as product alignment and sell-through?

Vivian Quenet
Our European colleagues are selling the same V7 three-axis to their merchant shipping customers. They also have a leisure market in the Mediterranean (and Caribbean) area and are successfully selling our V3 terminal, which offers 2Mbps download speed and a very affordable airtime rate of $0.99/MB. That’s perfect for casual web browsing. In addition, the size of the V3 is only 37cm, similar to a FB250, which perfectly fits the size of most yachts. The leisure market is limited in Asia, hence we are selling fewer of those products. My experience for the African market was mainly for land applications, so it doesn’t really compare.

SM
What does the next year or so hold in store for KVH in the APAC market segment?

Vivian Quenet
We are going to continue our commercial efforts in Singapore, which have been especially successful with tanker companies. We see a lot of interest among offshore vessels for our C-/Ku-band TracPhone V11, and we will focus more on this segment in 2013. We will also focus on North Asia, establishing KVH people in this part of Asia to market our products.

SM
Where do you believe the SATCOM market is headed? And what are some of the most significant challenges ahead for our industry? How do you see such being addressed?

Vivian Quenet
After the consolidation in the MSS market, we are seeing a consolidation in the VSAT market as well, which will continue in the years to come. The market will continue to go towards broadband and fixed-rate plans with VSAT service. I believe the companies that will be successful are the companies that will provide real solutions to the shipping industry, rather than just cheap commodities. That’s what happened with the cellular market. All phones are 3G or 4G now and provide voice, data, bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connections.

What really makes the difference is the apps, the content, and the solutions the phones contain. You don’t buy your iPhone® or Android because it’s cheap or fast, but because it comes with that app you really want. That’s why I don’t think it’s important to focus on Ka-, Ku-, L-, or C-band. What’s most important is how you combine it with your own corporate value. The merchant shipping industry has a lot of issues to solve and the successful companies will be the ones who listen and understand the real issues of the industry, and address them with the right solution.

SM
Looking back over your career, what project or projects have brought you the most satisfaction?

Vivian Quenet
I have had successful commercial contracts with the largest shipping companies in both Europe and Asia, but two things really stand out. The first was my decision to move to Asia and start a sales unit in Singapore, from scratch, for my previous company. Beyond the entrepreneur experience, I learned to adapt and understand different cultures and why they are successful.

The second one was joining KVH Industries to develop its activities in the Asia-Pacific region. Although I had a comfortable situation, I’m very happy I made the move. KVH is customer and innovation driven, rather than self-focused and financially driven. That is corresponding better to my way of thinking.