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What To Look For...
by Carlton van Putten, Blue Sky Network

The Past, The Present, and The Future
Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellite systems provide various satellite communications systems and handheld satellite services in North America. Ten years ago, mobile satellite services (MSS) took communications to a new level in making handheld satellite services portable for the first time.

Today, four MSS operators offer voice and data services to North America. Depicted below are the basic services offered and available from each provider.

When considering the tables above, it is important to know specifically what it is you are looking for or hope to accomplish with your satellite coverage. If a company’s primary concern is data services, then any provider will deliver optimal coverage.

However, if a primary concern is global coverage, there is only one service of choice that offers optimal coverage while another provider does not have any degree of coverage available. Let’s say for example that voice and mobile data services are options you would like to have available, but you do not require optimal coverage of these features. In this instance, a company can settle for partial coverage from a company such as SkyTerra (formerly Mobile Satellite VenturesMSV) as opposed to necessitating optimal coverage from a provider like Iridium.

The satellite provider of choice for any company depends upon the services they require. The graph on the previous page does show that services vary, but to get the best overall service, the choice is clear. Something also important to consider when reviewing current services is to ask what services will made available in the near future? The first table on the previous page offers a glimpse into what nexgen services are planned to be made available to customers.

in addition to the four satellite providers outlined in the tables, there is one new anticipated player — TerreStar — which has two satellites under construction and is planning their first launch in either this year or next (originally scheduled for 2007/8).

TerreStar’s TerreStar-I will be the world’s largest and most powerful commercial satellite and is expected to better existing satellites’ signal sensitivity and number of spot beams generated. Such a system would cause quite a change for MSS in the U.S., but there are currently major uncertainties and risks associated with the system. These “challenges” include prolonged financing and the actual building and launching of satellites.

Assuming these concerns do not become a problem, TerreStar’s planned all-IP next generation mobile communications network over an integrated satellite-terrestrial system still depends on successfully deploying satellites and implementing an ATC network in order to leverage FCC licenses.

Major Decisions
The major contenders in the U.S. satellite market: Globalstar, Inmarsat, Iridium, and SkyTerra are each able to offer different services, strengths, and weaknesses. The key to provider selection is in knowing which services, and the quality of those services, willl be available today and in the future.

About the author
As Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Carlton van Putten is responsible for worldwide sales and marketing for Blue Sky Network. His responsibilities encompass sales and channel management, corporate communications, and product marketing activities In more than a decade of senior management experience, Carlton has filled several senior management positions at both start-ups and multi-national corporations including COO of Maredy Corporation, President of Rivus Internet Group, and as Vice President of Marketing at Stream International and Focus Enhancements. Earlier in his career, he held several marketing and sales positions at “A-list” companies like Apple Computer, and has worked to help them develop and execute business strategies that refine their focus and capitalize on emerging market trends. van Putten holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Business Administration from the University of California, Los Angeles.