Home >> December 2012 Edition >> Year in Review 2012: Part IV
Year in Review 2012: Part IV
iDirect • Intelsat • Intorel • Iridium


iDirectBettinger by David Bettinger, Chief Technology Office + Senior Vice President, Engineering

What successes did iDirect enjoy over the past year?  

 iDirect’s overriding objective for 2012 was to expand the addressable market for our partners and prepare for the emergence of high throughput satellites.

We started the year with a product launch that expanded the iDirect Platform to serve large-scale narrowband networks and utility applications. We introduced iDX 3.1 and the Evolution® X1, which is a remote bundle that combines a low power, compact remote with a highly efficient BUC and LNB.

We also launched an outdoor version of the X1, which features an IP67 weatherproof housing, offers an extended temperature range and can be powered by solar or an alternative power source.

In October, iDirect announced the first product from our next-generation platform—the Evolution X7 remote—which will be released in Q1 2013. The X7 is built on an entirely new multi-core hardware system. It is optimized to deliver best-in-class performance and operate with high throughput satellites and all frequency bands.

The X7 can reach up to 100Mbps of combined inbound and outbound throughput, with more than 20Mbps on the return channel alone. With this remote, iDirect has achieved data speeds on a TDMA platform that until now have only been possible on an SCPC dedicated link. In future software releases, the X7 will support higher modulations and much higher data rates.

The X7 also features dual DVB-S2 demodulators with fully independent RF chains. This makes it uniquely suited for a range of enterprise voice and data services while simultaneously receiving 12 shared, high-definition (HD) multicast channels over the same or a second transponder or satellite. And it also can combine spot-beam HTS capacity with traditional Ku- and C-band capacity.

iDirectFig1 Another major accomplishment was our ongoing work designing and manufacturing the ground infrastructure platform for delivery to Inmarsat in 2013 for their Global Xpress™ service. We are working with Inmarsat’s designated terminal manufacturers to develop core module technology for each terminal option that will be deployed in the maritime, aeronautical and other markets.

What challenges did iDirect need to overcome this past year, and what challenges will the satellite industry—and specifically your market segment—face over the next few months?

This year was a critical year for iDirect and for the satellite industry because of the emergence of high throughput satellites (HTS) and services. We’ve seen the market for enterprise services emerge, and along with it, new satellite architectures, service provider business models and end-user requirements.

In response to these challenges, iDirect is redesigning the core technology that powers our platform to handle higher data rates and scale much more broadly. We’re also developing a new family of high throughout remotes and terminals, which are easier to install, quicker to deploy and even more finely customized to distinct market requirements. The X7 is just the first of these.

As our platform grows in scale, we’ll ensure it can deliver carrier-class service reliability—both in the field and at the hub side. Plus, we’ll continue to invest heavily in the capabilities of our Network Management System, enabling our partners to reach new levels of network and business performance.

With these improvements in scale, satellite operators and service providers can leverage iDirect’s hub infrastructure to deploy high bandwidth networks that exceed hundreds of megabits per remote site and that can support hundreds of thousands of terminals.

What upcoming projects are in the works and what may we expect to see from iDirect over the next three to four quarters?

In early 2013, iDirect will begin shipping the X7 and introduce a critical update to our operating software, iDX 3.2. The key feature will be Adaptive TDMA, which enhances return channel performance and increases network availability under rain fade and spectral degradation.

iDirectLogo Our partners will be able to design their networks with more than 20dB in fade margin without compromising clear weather throughput. A typical fixed VSAT system can achieve a 20 to 40 percent throughput gain. A typical mobile network can gain about twice as much with improvements in handling rain fade and beam contours.

We will be working with several major satellite operators to develop the optimal ground technology and go-to-market strategy for their HTS projects. And as always, we will continue our development efforts to push the boundaries of efficiency, optimization and throughput. We want our partners to have the best possible technology so they can continue to build their businesses and advance their operations. It will be a truly exciting year, especially given our achievements in 2012 and the overall industry’s promising future.

* * * * * * * * *


IntelSatSpengler by Steve Spengler, Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Strategy

What successes did Intelsat enjoy over the past year?  

 We enjoyed many successes in 2012. Our most significant was our announcement of Intelsat EpicNG, Intelsat’s next generation satellite platform. We redefined the high throughput category, using a high performance design that features backwards compatibility and open architecture—two features that were very important to our customers and their focus on total cost of ownership.

Open architecture allows customer control of systems, demonstrating that we understand the entire ecosystem requirement from capacity, to hardware design, to operational and maintenance considerations.

Initially, the Intelsat EpicNG platform will feature two next generation satellites that will be fully integrated with the existing Intelsat global network. The first satellite, Intelsat 29e, will be manufactured by Boeing and is scheduled for launch in 2015. The second satellite, Intelsat 33e, is scheduled for launch in 2016 and will expand EpicNG coverage to most of the globe.

The development of Intelsat EpicNG demonstrates our focus on providing global broadband for wireless carriers, as well as enterprise, government and media customers. Intelsat EpicNG meets the needs of operators and service providers who are seeing massive increases in bandwidth demand due to the growing presence of smart phones in emerging regions, requirements for broadband on commercial and government flights as well as on cruise ships and sea vessels.

Our customers already have demonstrated their commitment to Intelsat EpicNG. Harris CapRock Communications, Panasonic Avionics and MTN have contracted for a combined $500 million in capacity and ground services over 10 years.

We also launched five satellites in 2012 as part of our fleet replenishment program. The launches of Intelsat 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 delivered new and replenished capacity to our customers around the globe, and freed up other in-orbit assets to provide new capacity and services for regions where demand is growing.

Three of our new satellites include beams that comprise our Global Broadband Mobility Platform, which will be the world’s first global broadband satellite network, featuring 10 Ku-band beams on seven satellites when complete early next year. We see the potential for growth in the maritime sector that includes oil and gas exploration, cruise and leisure ships, and commercial shipping. In the aeronautical sector, commercial airlines are clamoring for new satellite infrastructure to support in-flight Wi-fi and other entertainment services.

Intelsat 22 was noteworthy, in part, as it included a UHF payload for the Australian Defense Force (ADF), which saved the ADF $150 million and delivered the capability several years faster than a traditional procurement. We believe this is part of an overall future architecture approach that will see the provision of this type of communications capability distributed via commercial operators.

The development of our IntelsatOne terrestrial network allowed customers to expand into new regions via PCCW Global’s extensive and robust network. Intelsat also opened a new Miami Point of Presence (PoP) that will enable programmers and service providers to bring content into and out of Latin America and the South Florida region with ease.

What challenges did Intelsat need to overcome over the past year?

IntelsatFig1 As part of the continued industry-wide effort to combat the harmful effects of satellite interference, Intelsat and other satellite operators conducted a successful test of Carrier ID technology during the London Olympics. The satellite industry has been working collaboratively to develop Carrier ID, a stamp on uplink signals that will enable satellite operators to more efficiently trace the source of transmissions to their satellites and accelerate coordination with earth station operators in the event of signal interference. The ability to more quickly identify and correct sources of signal interference will have a significant impact on the satellite sector.

Intelsat also expanded its sponsorship of Global VSAT Forum (GVF) Professional Training to reach customers and installers of Intelsat technologies. Currently, more than 1,000 Intelsat employees and customers across the globe have been provided the Intelsat-sponsored training and this expansion will provide training to even more VSAT installers and operators.

There is also a sense of uncertainty regarding the U.S. government’s budget, especially the potential of sequestration and its consequences, if implemented. While there are plans to reduce the number of troops on the ground, we will continue to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. We believe that the demand for connectivity will not change dramatically, as increased UAV usage for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations will require Ku-band capacity for the next decade and beyond, as there is no plan to move away from commercial capacity.

There is an agenda item at the World Radio Conference in 2015 to consider new spectrum allocations to the mobile service sector and to identify new spectrum for IMT (International Mobile Telecommunications). There were no frequency bands specifically excluded from consideration for this WRC-15 agenda item, but based on past debates on this subject, the valuable and essential C-band spectrum used by satellite end-users has been targeted.

The intervening years will provide a most interesting debate between the terrestrial mobile broadband community and all other spectrum users. The satellite industry will unite to defend this spectrum and communicate the importance that satellite services play in the daily lives of hundreds of millions of users around the world. The industry will actively participate in the studies that will take place leading up to WRC-15— these studies will look into the interests and needs of both the terrestrial and satellite sectors.

What upcoming projects are in the works and what may we expect to see from Intelsat over the next three to four quarters?

IntelsatLogo In the first quarter of 2012, the launch of Intelsat 27 will bring valuable and expanded capacity to the Latin America region, the Caribbean and the northern Atlantic Ocean. The ocean coverage will complete our Global Broadband Mobility Platform. We will add powerful Ku-band coverage over Brazil for DTH (Direct-To-Home) services, and we will expand our video distribution neighborhood across the Americas, complementing our industry leading neighborhoods on Intelsat 21 and Intelsat 11.

We will build on the initial success of moving Horizons 2 to Russia to increase the number of television channels available to Russian viewers. We also plan to continue the build out of IntelsatOne nodes to improve connectivity to our top customers.

* * * * * * * * *


IntorelKijanovich by Dragana Lazic-Mijanovic, Chief Operating Officer

What successes did Intorel enjoy over the past year?  

 With the on-going switchover to digital transmission, Intorel’s goal was to develop a product that would answer the challenges that broadcasters are facing every day—how to insure uninterrupted, reliable transmission of the content. We answered these challenges by developing DVB Master Commander - DVBMC.

DVBMC is the ultimate cross-platform software for monitoring and controlling of DVB equipment. It is the first universal solution targeted directly toward today’s broadcasting operators.

The software runs on all platforms and comes as a complete system consisting of full network device management, service management, real-time alarming, as well as trending and scheduling functions, which are usually sold as separate products.

Long-term relationships are crucial in the ever-changing market where clients are looking more and more to cut costs by engaging the competition. Intorel take it as a success and a sign of trust that over the years the list of our long-term clients faithful to our products and services has grown bigger. We take it as an ultimate proof of the quality of our products. Long term cooperation is beneficial for both the client and the supplier. We know what clients need and want, and we can easily, and with full understanding, answer their needs.

Independent execution of the projects—In the last year we mostly executed the projects directly with the customers. We have seen many of the system integrators disappear over the last few years. Now, clients are taking over specification of the project and the project management and working directly with the manufacturers. This direct contact allows for fast and extremely efficient execution of the projects. In addition, direct contact with the customer is giving us an access to the real-time situations and enabling us to get the information that is necessary for the development of the future products fully tailored to the customers’ needs.

New markets—Intorel’s experience and expertise, quality of our products and flexibility of the execution were the main reasons which allowed us to enter new markets, such as Myanmar. With the appropriate preparation, it is possible to execute the project even on a long distance with the same quality and speed. That was a case with the uplink project that we executed in close cooperation with our local partner and the client.

What challenges did Intorel need to overcome this past year, and what challenges will the satellite industry—and specifically your market segment—face over the next few months?

IntorelFig1 Cutting costs—With the content that is more and more available on the Internet and fibre, clients are less ready to pay for the content (only sport, kids entertainment and the adult industry remain the contents that are earning money). Broadcasters are facing a rough time as their revenues are diminishing. At the same time, they are facing tough competition and ever increasing demands from their clients. For that matter, the need for the reliable automation and products that will increase reliability is obvious. Of course, our answer was DVBMC.

Cutting staff costs—It’s a challenge, as the staff should be an engine of the development of the new products and the implementation of the projects. It’s not rare that projects are late because the staff is overbooked and companies understaffed. This leaves us with more work for suppliers. The investors are blocking development, so the projects are getting longer and longer and there is no space for the development of the new advanced features and products. The staff has less time to develop proper ideas of improvement of the work process.

Purchasing managers and investors—The cutting of costs and staff is complicating the process of orders. Administration costs are growing and we do wonder if there is any merit to this additional control. No more development and research. The contact with suppliers is quite often damaged as investors are doing all in their power to cut costs, even if such extends projects, damages relationships, and at the end, makes the projects even more expensive…

What upcoming projects are in the works and what may we expect to see from Intorel over the next three to four quarters?

Intorel is working on the overhaul of its flagship monitoring and controlling software, Visionic. We will be releasing Visionic 6.0 in 2013—we also expect a lot from our DVB Master Commander.

IntorelLogo Visionic has been in the market for more than a decade and it’s fair to say that Visionic has become an industry standard for monitoring and controlling. We are keeping our pace with the latest software and hardware developments and making the product more stable and easier to use with every upgrade. We are also planning to organize worldwide road shows to demonstrate and advertise Intorel’s products; the exact dates will be confirmed at our Company website, so please visit when such is convenient to do so.

* * * * * * * * *


IridiumDesch by Matt Desch, Chief Executive Officer

What successes did Iridium enjoy over the past year?  

 Whether it was reaching critical design milestones with our next generation satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT; continuing growth in our M2M business; reintroducing our service in Russia; or introducing a revolutionary change to global air traffic management, 2012 was a good and important year for our long-term strategic plan.

2012 was also a year to highlight our latest innovations. Early in the year, we unveiled Iridium Pilot™, a maritime solution that is engineered to perform in blazing sun, frigid cold or high winds. Iridium Pilot delivers broadband data and high-quality voice in one low-cost platform and is able to keep ships connected anywhere on the planet.

What followed soon after was the introduction of the Iridium® 9603, the world’s smallest commercially available two-way satellite data transceiver that combines our satellite constellation with the low latency of the Iridium Short Burst Data service to provide highly reliable satellite communications from pole-to-pole.

In July, we launched Aireon, a planned joint venture that will revolutionize the way the world tracks and monitors air traffic around the globe. We are particularly excited about Aireon, which will be a subsidiary of Iridium and includes partnerships with some of the world’s leading innovators, because it leverages the hosted payload space on Iridium NEXT to transform the business of commercial aviation.

IridiumFig1 Aireon is a unique public-private partnership that offers a solution that the industry needed, but wouldn’t have been possible through any other avenue without significant cost, infrastructure and time investments. By equipping the Iridium NEXT satellites with ADS-B receivers, Aireon will be able to detect signals from equipped commercial aircraft all over the world, relaying them seamlessly to air traffic controllers on the ground, including vital airways over oceans, mountains, remote areas and Polar Regions – an innovation that was unthinkable without an interconnected low earth orbiting system like Iridium.

What challenges did Iridium need to overcome over the past year?

Similar to most companies, we were challenged by macro-economic conditions during 2012, such as the troop drawdown and reduced government spending. However, we are very optimistic about the future of our relationship with the government as they continue to invest in Iridium, evidenced by the recent IDIQ contract awarded to Iridium by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to upgrade the Defense Department’s dedicated Iridium gateway.

IridiumFig2 In addition, we are actively working with the Department of Defense (DoD) to renew our long-term contract and we will ensure that the strategic nature of our work with them remains unchanged. We are also continually diversifying our customer base by teaming with key defense contractors and specialized system integrators.

What upcoming projects are in the works and what may we expect to see from Iridium over the next three to four quarters?

I like to say that Iridium is on, what we call in the aviation industry, a “climb”. Every year, we continue to make progress and we have been steadily on an upward trajectory that will get us over the mountain and into a whole new era of operation. The next year is certainly shaping up to continue that upward trajectory as we expect our M2M, maritime and aviation markets will be an important part of our growth.

Our work with our partners enables them to innovate and bring the best solutions to their customers. For example, our partner LiveTV recently announced a successful business aviation test flight for our Iridium OpenPort Aero(sm) system, allowing passengers to stay connected via Wi-Fi to their Smartphone, tablet or laptop from takeoff to landing.

We also expect to see continued success in the maritime industry, as we have doubled the number of partners now selling Iridium Pilot and our VSAT companion offering continues to grow in popularity because of the critical service it provides for keeping ships connected anywhere their business takes them.

Over the next few years you will be hearing a lot about Iridium NEXT, one of the largest ,commercial space programs currently underway. We are excited about the progress being made as we approach the halfway point of our five-year build, but we will continue to innovate and bring new solutions to market before our first launch. Because the Iridium NEXT design ensures backward compatibility for all earlier generation user equipment, our subscribers can be confident that the products they purchase now will still be fully capable when we transition to Iridium NEXT.

IridiumLogo The examples above are just a few proof points of the industry-leading work Iridium is doing in our market segments. I am encouraged by the momentum I am seeing in the satellite industry and the important role that Iridium plays in this space as the only truly global satellite communications provider.

As we continue our “climb” and clear the mountain of our next generation network build, I am confident that Iridium will reach greater success and bring increased innovation to our partners and customers in 2013. We’re excited about this journey and I’m sure our many stakeholders are thrilled by the final destination.