Home >> December 2012 Edition >> Year in Review 2012: Part VII
Year in Review 2012: Part VII
Telespazio • Thermopylae Sciences + Technology • ViaSat • Vislink • WORK Microwave

Telespazio VEGA UK

TelespazioGraham by Graham Hart-Ives, Head Of Network and Connectivity

What successes did Telespazio enjoy over the past year?  

 During 2012, we introduced four new product lines into the UK, dramatically expanding the portfolio of products offered from world class MSS solutions to fixed and mobile VSAT, backhauling and TV Broadcast services.

We are now generating interest from a much wider portfolio of clients and are able to offer existing clients a richer product set from which to select. This wider portfolio has meant we have had particular success this year in recruiting new distribution channels and opening new markets, such as M2M and construction.

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

At the start of the year, we were faced with challenges in maintaining margins in a market that is mature and has many large players. We responded by broadening the portfolio and consolidating key functions into head office operations. This gave us the freedom to focus on the customers with whom we had the strongest relationships, and with whom we felt we could generate long lasting partnerships.

I think that in the medium term, Ka-band represents a double edged sword. For those unprepared for the revenue and margin falls that it’s introduction are already bringing to the market, many will see their business diminish unless they have high-quality, value-added services to offer customers that can take advantage of this technology—firms without these capabilities will undoubtedly suffer.

The other edge, of course, encompasses the new opportunities that these low prices will offer to the end-user. Such is already presenting new uses and new markets are opening. The key challenge is identifying and building the correct solutions today to place an organization in the correct position in the value chain.

TelespazioFig2What upcoming projects are in the works, and what may we expect to see from Telespazio over the next three to four quarters?

TelespazioLogo We are looking forward to some exciting announcements concerning distribution over the coming months. We have, recently, won some business that will enable us to take a step into a new market. This represents for us a key element in our future growth plans.

More specifically, we are developing our billing and customer self-management tool—The Portal—to bring enhanced flexibility to our channel. Plus, we are investing in the method whereby we interact with one of our key customers that will enable them to offer a more complete service to their end users—and that drives business for all of us.

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Thermopylae Sciences + Technology

ThermoClark by AJ Clark, President

What successes did Thermopylae enjoy over the past year?  

 2012 was a very exciting year for Thermopylae Sciences and Technology (TST), where we saw tremendous growth and won multiple industry awards. For example, in October, we were honored to receive the Star Workplace Award for medium-sized workplace from 2012 Washington SmartCEO.

In addition, we were selected as a 2012 GovCon Award Finalist for small business under $25 million. Finally, we received a major award from the C4ISR Journal, which recognized our Windshear program as one of the Biggest Breakthroughs of 2012.

In addition to receiving multiple awards, we released new versions of all three of our core products. We also coordinated with our partners at Google to complete a massive enterprise licensing deal regarding its Google Earth software for the Department of Defense, which will effectively take place over the next five years. We also won a major contract with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to support future cloud and advanced analytic/geospatial interfaces.

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

It’s no secret that funding for large Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) programs was less during 2012. Though we are seeing major changes in the satellite sector, which is being driven by major mergers of companies such as GeoEye and DigiGlobe. Their convergence is a positive environment for us, actually. Due to the resources both organizations bring to the combined company, they have the potential to invest in service delivery conduits to meet a much larger customer base.

ThermoFig1 At TST, we focus on getting tools and data into the hands of users that are part of a new geo literate community. This community had their eyes opened as to what they could do with satellite imagery when Google made Google Earth available. This resulted in hundreds of millions of people around the wold downloading and using it.

As such, the convergence of these commercial providers allows us to focus our resources on supporting a collective effort around a single organization. Rather than building two content delivery systems and trying to make them work in a burgeoning market, we can pool resources, as firms such as TST are engaged to support and create a better experience and business model for the new geo literate community of users. This new community might want to purchase smaller chunks of pixels, rather than customers purchasing historic large chunks such as the National Geospatial Agency (NGA).

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

Through our partnership with Google, we are excited to be using new methods to deliver management tools for commercial satellite imagery to mobile smart phone users. We are currently providing select commercial and federal customers with the ability to load a miniature Google Earth Server that runs on a smartphone device. Such allows users to have beautiful imagery and maps—even if they don’t have a network connection.

Thermologo This capability removes bandwidth constraints that come from transferring a large map or image tiles. It’s an incredible innovation and we are thrilled to be involved with this effort by delivering this technology in its early stages to end users. Over the next few quarters, we will also be rolling out this full capability.

In addition, during the next three to four quarters, TST is launching three major product upgrades. Our iSpatial product underwent a significant investment that combined all of the lessons learned from working with commercial satellite imagery and optimized the user interfaces for a higher degree of performance and leveraging emerging technology solutions. This will allow us to easily mature and grow with the latest browser-based technologies, while still supporting customers using legacy browsers that are part of their baseline of systems.

Finally, our Ubiquity products will be riding the wave of mobile adoption in the enterprise user space in the coming months.

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ViasatRowe by Bruce Rowe, Director, Public Relations

What successes did ViaSat enjoy over the past year?  

 The ultimate success was when our new high-capacity satellite system entered service in January. That included the rollout of our Exede Internet service at the end of March. We had planned for that to occur for many years, starting with the design of our new system, including ViaSat-1, the satellite construction, building all the back office facilities and infrastructure for the network, and then the launch of the satellite in 2011. Consumer and media response to Exede Internet has been overwhelmingly positive and we’ve added more than 100,000 subscribers in the first six months.

Two additional commercial successes were winning satellite infrastructure contracts from NBN Co in Australia and KACST in the Middle East. Those helped solidify our position as the leader in new Ka-band technology.

ViaSat experienced a successful year in our defense business, in spite of the current budget environment. This happened because we’re working on unconventional projects that deliver capabilities that aren’t being effectively addressed by bigger-budget programs of record. Two of the areas we saw grow the fastest this year were government mobile broadband services, mostly for airborne ISR missions, and our new system for U.S. Army Blue Force Tracking 2. Our year-over-year government segment revenues increased by almost 25 percent.

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

VisatFig1 We broke new ground in the satellite broadband arena because our service is so different from what satellite service used to be. With that comes some uncertainty. The challenge is how will customers react? How do you market the service so they really understand just how different it is, and how do you make sure you are can provide the best customer service? We had a good idea of what was going to happen, but you can never know until you launch the business.

The launch delays we encountered with ViaSat-1 also put us in a tough position as our fixed costs kicked in without the network up and running to generate revenue. That created a challenge across the company to build revenues from other sources to support that business until we could start to grow service revenues.

As we mentioned, we had to overcome the budget uncertainty created by sequestration, which delayed some government awards. But overall, I think we met all of those challenges extremely well.

As an industry, we need to continue to innovate to compete, not just within the satellite business, but within the greater communications industry. It’s moving so fast that you can’t rest. For example, we’ve had great response to our Exede service, but we’re continually thinking about how to improve the service. In August, we launched the Late Night Free Zone so our customers can download large files in the nighttime hours without the usage counting against their volume cap. In October, we increased the data allowance on our entry-level plan from 7.5GB to 10GB.

Certainly the government budget situation—sequestration and the fiscal cliff—are a challenge for all businesses, particularly for those of us who derive a major part of Company revenues from government contracts. The administration is promising to resolve the problem before it takes effect and we hope they are able to get that done.

Another ongoing challenge is finding talented employees, particularly engineers, who can help us carry on with our growth as we execute on the new projects we’re winning. We work hard to build the academic-corporate partnerships to foster talented students and attract them to ViaSat.

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

VisstLogo We’ve won close to $1 billion in new contract awards in the first three quarters of our current fiscal year, so we have a lot of exciting and challenging projects to work on. We’ve got the scale now to see that backlog continues to grow. Those projects include bringing a great broadband service to rural dwellers in Australia, keeping our troops safer with the next generation of Blue Force Tracking, delivering broadband connections to educational and research institutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, spreading high-speed Internet in Latin America, upgrading military SATCOM networks, and enabling military personnel to use smart devices on their missions with secure network technologies.

Another area where you will see continued innovation from us will be in improving and expanding our airborne broadband networks and services for private jets, commercial airlines, and the military. You may have seen the recent forecasts that Ka-band is going to see substantial growth in airborne broadband applications in the coming years. We will be at the forefront of that technology development.

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VilsinjkPayne by Michael Payne, Chief Executive Officer

In 2012, the Vislink SATCOM focus was on the launch of the world’s smallest and lightest satellite data terminal, the Advent Mantis MSAT. The launch of the MSAT product has been successful and testament to Vislink’s ability to quickly respond to customer needs with market leading products.

At 27.5 lbs., MSAT is designed for one man operation in challenging operational environments. It is a rugged terminal, resistant to extreme environmental conditions, that is deployed from a single lightweight backpack. The MSAT is a versatile addition to the Vislink portfolio of solutions which includes satellite, microwave, IP and cellular technologies. In addition, the MSAT compliments a range of manned and unmanned solutions Vislink already provides for land, sea and air based communications and surveillance.

Initial military orders are now being filled and MSAT terminals are currently undergoing field trials for battlefield, command center and special operations implementations. MSAT meets the high-bandwidth connectivity requirements now demanded by forces around the world to address an increasingly difficult operating environment.

Vislink developed the military spec. MSAT to address demand from forces around the world that require a highly portable solution capable of delivering high bandwidth voice and data communications. Providing up to 5Mbps upstream data throughput, MSAT can be used to deliver high definition video intelligence in addition to standard voice and data requirements. Even in the most hostile operating environments, the terminal can be unpacked and operational within five minutes.

VisVislinkFig1 MSAT meets the MIL 810F & DEF-STAN military specifications for shock, vibration, sand and rain and is provided as a one box solution incorporating antenna, modem and all electronics. A high performance parabolic antenna is coupled, according to customer requirements, with interchangeable modem and encoder options.

The latest development of the company’s MSAT system is designed to address the emerging Ka-band satellite newsgathering requirements of broadcasters around the world.

The Mantis MSAT is an exciting departure for Vislink’s Advent Satellite product portfolio. Never before have we had the combination of speed, flexibility and lightweight construction bundled into a single product. The combination is clearly the right one because our customers have made it the fastest-selling satellite terminal product in our 30-year history. The terminal is available to operate in X-, Ka- and Ku-bands.

Why Ka Band?
• Rapid proliferation of Ka-band availability and capacity:
• 3650 x 36Mhz transponder equivalent bandwidth in 2011
• 4910.3 in 2012 (34.5% increase*)
• Note: Over 44 satellites with Ka-band payloads due to be in operation in 2012*
• Trend continues for the foreseeable future with a significant number of new Ka-band satellites under construction
• Proliferation of Ka-band equipment in parallel with increased capacity availability:
• New Ka-band interoperable or specific VSAT modems
• Additional ODU options (reflectors, transceivers, BUCs, LNBs)
• Additional Ka-band integrated terminals (manpack, vehicle mounted, maritime)

*Frost and Sullivan, Global Transponder Market, May 2012

The Trade-offs Between BGAN + Ka-Band
Recent launches of high-throughput Ka-band satellites are set to add another dimension to satellite news-gathering(SNG). The challenge was to provide a comprehensive Ka-band SATCOM product with a form factor which delivers portability, ease of use, and superior performance in a variety of environments. To address the market needs, Vislink developed the Advent MSAT. A solitary reporter with an Advent MSAT terminal can engage the unit’s on-board GPS satellite finder, align and lock-on to a receiving satellite, acquire a network, set up a camera and prepare for a live shot in minutes. It uses readily available battery or mains power and supports all popular transmission modem options.

One of the major benefits in using Ka-band is the cost of use. Recent studies have shown that the use of Ka-band is up to 30 percent less expensive than BGAN transmission, which means that an MSAT system could pay for itself in one year. The expanding availability of Ka- segment space is what is making this possible. Eutelsat, Yahsat, Avanti, ViaSat and other satellite communications companies have recently launched satellites specifically for Ka-band use, so the Ka-band footprint is expanding rapidly. Europe, North America, the Middle East and Russia are already covered and initiatives are under way in Australia and Latin America.

VislinkLogo Vislink is the only secure communications manufacturer to offer integrated solutions that include satellite, microwave and cellular technologies. Our research and development teams have been hard at work creating the next generation of solutions for the broadcast and surveillance markets.

In 2013, Vislink’s innovation will continue as we unveil our most comprehensive set of video collection and distribution products enabling the customizable solutions our markets require. Vislink’s core competencies of satellite, microwave, and cellular provide an uncommon leadership position by bringing these technologies together and offering the most competitive solutions for broadband connectivity. These ubiquitous communications solutions, regardless of the transmission method, will provide seamless user experiences.

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WORK Microwave

WorkKoppenberger by Kai Koppenburg, Sales and Marketing Director

What successes did WORK Microwave enjoy over the past year?  

This year we developed many innovative new technologies and products to increase our worldwide customer base and build on the company’s more than 25 years of success designing satellite communications equipment.

Leveraging DaVid technology, our new DVB-S2 Modem SK-DV data and video modem simultaneously transport data (network connection) and live broadcast (video content) over a single satellite carrier, aggregating multiple MPEG transport streams and IP data into a unified DVB-S2 multistream.

This is a significant development for the satellite communications industry because it provides operators with one device for managing ASI and IP inputs, making it easier to support hybrid infrastructures while optimizing bandwidth, increasing data-transport efficiency, and reducing operating expenses.

Another important advancement is the five percent roll-off feature recently added to our DVB-S2 modem and modulator solutions. This means operators can achieve up to a 15 percent bandwidth gain on top of the DVB-S2 standard, a significant improvement in bandwidth allocation as compared to the 20 to 35 percent roll-off provided by DVB-S2. This can dramatically lower a user’s operational costs.

WorkFig1 We have also optimized bandwidth use by introducing a new traffic shaping capability to our modem portfolio. Operators can now control the volume of traffic being sent over satellite and determine minimum/maximum data rates for each content type.

A recent partnership with XipLink, a leading developer of wireless bandwidth optimization products, further enhances our modem series by integrating WORK Microwave’s DVB-S2 IP-Modem ACM functionality (OptiACM) with XipLink’s traffic shaping QoS/TCP function into a single environment. This effectively eliminates issues associated with traditional bandwidth allocation and introduces new configuration parameters and options that were not previously possible.

Our next-generation DVB-S/S2 modulator was highly successful in the broadcast and teleport markets. The flexible solution features multistream technology, transport stream over IP (TSoIP), and a powerful new user interface to increase cost savings on satellite bandwidth costs while minimizing rack space requirements.

Finally, we launched our next-generation Frequency Converter Series, which features a lower phase noise by far exceeding the recommended industry standard according to Intelsat’s IESS-308/309 phase noise specification.

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

Perhaps our greatest accomplishment this year was designing a frequency converter series that provides a competitively priced, highly scalable and customizable modular design while delivering lowest possible phase noise. Phase noise interference can be extremely harmful to a satellite operator’s signal as it moves through the communications link and reduces the quality of that operator’s service.

Given the growing demands of advanced modulation schemes, such as 16APSK and 32APSK, and higher operating frequencies, such as Ka-band, we understood the industry’s need for an improvement in phase noise performance. To meet this need, we recently launched the fifth generation Frequency Converter Series, which reduces phase noise levels above and beyond the recommended industry specification to achieve a phase noise level better than -65dBc/Hz at 10Hz and -97dBc/Hz at 10kHz for Ku-band, and better than -58dBc/Hz at 10Hz and -91dBc/Hz at 10kHz for Ka-band. We are particularly proud of our achievement in reducing phase noise within the Ka-band, due to the specific challenges presented by this frequency range.

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

A trade-off of implementing a small (five percent) roll-off in our modem portfolio is pre-distortion on the transmission side. Our goal is to execute pre-distortion as well as make it accessible for any user, especially those who are not RF specialists. Dedicated measurements or programming the complete transponder characteristics are some of the initial approaches we are currently working on to optimize pre-distortion for the end user—we plan to roll out those enhancements in the near future.

Now that we have been able to demonstrate the dramatic improvements in performance and bandwidth allocation offered by our fifth generation frequency converter series, we are focused on securing new deployments in the Asian, African, and North American markets.

WokrLogo The most promising projects are Ka-band deployments, as it is challenging to achieve a low phase noise at higher frequencies. In digital broadcasting applications, it is especially important not to exceed the recommended level of phase noise according to Intelsat’s IESS-Norm-308/309 as a worse phase noise level causes digital signals in the demodulator to be decoded incorrectly, creating artifacts in the TV signal. WORK Microwave frequency converters allow satellite providers operating in the Ka-band to achieve a phase noise far better than the Intelsat industry recommendation; therefore, we expect growth in this area.

Finally, between introducing lower phase noise levels for our frequency converter series and bandwidth optimization technologies for our modem portfolio, we expect to not only maintain our primary broadcast customer base, but also address the needs of new and emerging market segments such as Internet Service Providers.