Year In Review 2011 Part IV
Kratos Defense and Security Solutions KVH Industries Marlink MVS Nevion
Kratos Defense and Security Solutions
by John Monahan, President, RT Logic, and Robert Wright, Jr., Sr. V.P. + GM, Integral Systems
2011 has been a year of opportunity. Despite the state of the global economy, it has reinforced the axiom that those who stay close to their customers and offer innovative and flexible solutions will do well. As demand for increased satellite bandwidth, improved ROI and QoS continue to grow, it is driving innovation and efficiencies as never before seen. Industry customers will continue to seek out affordable, easily accessible and customizable commercial-based solutions as an alternative to expensive, proprietary products.
Since 1997, RT Logic has delivered innovative ground-based, signal processing systems for the space and aerospace communications industry. More than 4,000 of our systems have been deployed and are being used by 90 percent of U.S. space missions during their test, launch and/or on-orbit phase. Our solutions help ensure that customers meet their mission requirements and optimize their operations, while doing so with little to no increase in staff, on-schedule and within budget.
Earlier this year, our parent company, Integral Systems, was acquired by Kratos Defense and Security Solutions. Now, as part of this leading technology solutions provider with nearly $1 billion in revenue, RT Logic is closely partnering with other elements of Kratos and with our sister companies CVG-Avtec, SAT Corporation, Newpoint Technologies, and Lumistar to provide best-in-class, commercial-based products and services that assure the availability, reliability and security of satellite and terrestrial networks. This includes solutions across a wide spectrum, from command and control to signal processing, interference monitoring and geolocation, network management, cybersecurity, data recording, test applications and other areas where the industry is seeking new and advanced solutions.
It is clear that 2012 will continue to be a time of change. To meet the increasing demands of government and commercial customers, vendors will have to be even more flexible, innovative and responsive. They will need to tackle additional program requirements, even during the development and deployment phases, and provide solutions that drive efficiencies throughout the system. Upcoming U.S. Government budget reductions will pose an interesting challenge in driving the next generation of efficiencies. New program starts will be few and far between. Existing programs will need to adapt to and integrate new capabilities or solve obsolescence issues in a cost constrained environment. Companies that offer commercial-based solutions and rely on open and adaptable architectures at a fixed price will hold a considerable advantage.
On the technology side, we will see a new set of capabilities come online or be exploited in novel and possibly unanticipated ways. These include the Space-based Infrared System (SBIRS), Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) System, Rapid Attack Identification Detection Reporting System (RAIDRS), Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF), hosted payloads, and others. As the ground systems for many of these programs were delivered many years prior to initial operations, this will offer opportunities to adapt the current ground systems to meet changing Concept of Operations (CONOPS), as well as new applications and threats. It will reinforce the need for flexible architectures that can accommodate unanticipated changes to the global situational/threat landscape.
In addition, RF interference will continue to challenge the industry. By proactively addressing the problem, commercial satellite operators, service providers, resellers and broadcasters can mitigate the loss of millions of dollars of revenue/profit by applying proven technologies. In 2011, in partnership with our sister company, SAT Corporation, we increased our ability to offer satellite interference monitoring and mitigation capabilities as a service. SAT Corporation is the only company that can provide comprehensive RF mitigation solutions (analysis, monitoring, detection and geolocation) as either a product solution or a service. Customers of all sizes now have access to the most powerful interference detection and geolocation capabilities available today.
While other trends are sure to arise, no matter what the coming year brings we will continue to do what we have always done: Focus on the customer. We remain committed to listening and to delivering innovative products and services that meet the sometimes contrasting needs of providing greater levels of service in a cost-conscious environment. As we close this year and enter 2012, it is clear that the need for more efficient, scalable, flexible and affordable products will continue to increase.
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by Jim Dodez, Vice President, Marketing and Strategic Planning
2011 has been a year of great growth for KVH Industries, Inc., and its satellite communications and entertainment solutions, as well as for the businesses that rely on those solutions. Ship owners and ship management companies are jumping at the opportunity to harness the productivity of onboard networks to drive profitability, especially as new technology is allowing antenna sizes and airtime costs to shrink. KVHs mini-VSAT Broadband and compatible TracPhone V-series antennas are a perfect example of that technology. With more than 1,500 systems fielded, mini-VSAT Broadband is the worlds fastest growing maritime VSAT network.
Existing satellite communications users on large vessels are increasing their data use and smaller vessels are now starting to deploy broadband satellite services as advancements like KVHs mini-VSAT Broadband service make it possible with compact, affordable solutions like the award-winning 14.5-inch (37cm) TracPhone V3 (announced in February). This new system brings true broadband connections to vessels as small as 30 feet for as little as $0.99 per megabyte for data and $0.49 per minute for voice services to landlines and cell phones worldwide. A number of flexible service packages make it easy for mariners to choose a plan that meets their needs. For example, a customer with a $1,000 per month satellite communications budget can select a package that includes both the lease charge for a TracPhone V3 antenna and 1000 megabytes of mini-VSAT broadband service. That same $1,000 investment for Inmarsat service will pay for about 100MB of data.
We followed the successful introduction of the TracPhone V3 with the completion of the global mini-VSAT Broadband global network expansion. Service went live in South America in September, making the mini-VSAT Broadband network a powerful, affordable alternative to older, slower, and less-reliable services that were once the only option for mariners. The network is currently delivering more 100 terabytes of data and more than 1.5 million phone calls annually, with average network uptime of 99.5 percent, with worldwide regulatory authority to operate offshore and in-port in more than 125 countries around the globe.
KVHs TracPhone V-series antennas also offer expanded, end-to-end network management capabilities that are invaluable to commercial operations. The CommBox Ship/Shore Network Manager is at the heart of these features, offering onboard network management solutions that can be linked to shore-based offices and customized to meet the unique needs of every company and every ship.
In October, KVH introduced its new 1m TracVision HD11, its largest and most sophisticated maritime satellite TV system. It offers an unmatched suite of ground breaking technologies, including 4-axis stabilized tracking, KVHs TriAD Ka/Ku multi-band technology, and an advanced Universal World LNB, which enables the TracVision HD11 to automatically reconfigure itself to track any of the more than 100 satellites contained in its Worldwide TV satellite library. This means the system can switch between regional satellite TV services without requiring a crew member to climb up to the antenna to change the LNB. The TracVision HD11 can also be controlled using convenient iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch® apps. We also held a grand opening celebration at our new headquarters facility in Singapore, KVH Industries Pte Ltd. This state-of-the-art facility features a showroom, test center, and training center for partners and customers. This region is critically important to maritime commerce around the globe, and we feel that it is important to have permanent staff and facilities there to ensure the best service for KVH customers and partners. The mini-VSAT Broadband network and our products and services offer tremendous benefits to the ships, large and small, that operate in these waters. We recognize the importance of this robust market and we look forward to serving mariners not just in Singapore, but throughout the Asia-Pacific region, for years to come.
Moving into 2012, KVH is looking forward to supporting the global maritime industry with a global presence, including offices in Middletown, RI, Tinley Park, IL, Denmark, Norway, and Singapore, with plans for KVH entities in Brazil and Japan. We will also open a new 75,000 square foot manufacturing and warehouse facility at our world headquarters in Middletown, Rhode Island to support growing demand for our satellite products.
This is an exciting time for the maritime satellite communications industry, and KVH is poised to help our customers take advantage of it by offering the most reliable and affordable solutions to meet the needs of vessel operators around the globe. Maritime businesses are rapidly becoming more technologically sophisticated, and KVH is developing solutions that will take satellite communications at sea to the next level. While our competitors race to introduce solutions as reliable, compact, and affordable as the mini-VSAT Broadband network and TracPhone V-series antennas, KVH is forging ahead. In the months and years to come, we will work to provide radically new options that will help mariners do business efficiently and conveniently wherever they travel.
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by Tore Morten Olsen, CEO
2011 has been a good year for Marlink with continued growth. The underlying demand for constant connectivity has continued to increase, in spite of the global downturn in the market, and Marlink has been able to increase the number of vessels in service as well as data throughput and bandwidth requirements for existing customers.
This success can be attributed to the fact that we are not reliant on a single technology. Our portfolio incorporates a host of services ranging from MSS, such as Inmarsat FleetBroadband and Iridium, to our own VSAT services Sealink, WaveCall and @SEAdirect. We have no preference for a specific access platform. Thanks to our wide range of solutions, we are able to focus on providing a package that best suits the customers needs.
It is our belief that VSAT and MSS services are needed to answer the markets demands as both bring different benefits to the table. Those companies that are able to offer a variety of technologies on different platforms, such as Ku-, C-and even Ka-band, will be the winners in the long term.
This year, we have seen varying trends across each of the sectors that Marlink operates with: Oil & offshore, passenger ships, and transportation. The offshore segment is steadily expanding its area of operation, becoming more global than regional, especially because of the activity in Brazil and off the Australian coast. This drives demand for the identical services these companies receive in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea.
In the passenger vessel segment, a key trend this year has been for cruise and ferry operators to offer free Internet on-board as a benefit to passengers. As a result of the recession, the competition for passengers is increasing. That is driving passenger ship operators to add benefits such as connectivity to their service package, with the view to gaining that competitive advantage.
There have also been some changes in the transportation sector this year. This segment used to be driven by crew welfare requirements, but with a significant reduction in crew, we have seen a much stronger demand for applications which improve operational efficiency of the fleet. The segment has been more focused on keeping the operational costs under control and communications is now being prioritized for this application over the crew application which was previously the priority. This trend is being driven by the financial downturn in the shipping market. Vessel operators have been operating at break-even rates for a long time so there is a requirement to really focus on maximizing operational expenses.
Looking ahead to 2012, many of the trends witnessed this year are set to continue. The need for smart and cost efficient communications from shore-to-ship and ship-to-shore has increasingly become the standard requirement. The on-going focus on smart solutions from ship owners, combined with service providers continuous commitment to improving value for customers, is addressed by Marlink through the development of Value Added Services, making it natural for these trends to remain key drivers moving forward.
We are also seeing more emphasis on complete communications packages which integrate VSAT and MSS satellite communications solutions. In-line with Vizadas recent introduction, Marlink is offering new maritime broadband bundles designed to provide exceptional flexibility to its customers in the offshore, cruise and transportation segments. Incorporating a wide range of satellite communications equipment and services, the new bundles enable ship operators to choose hardware and airtime in accordance with their specific requirements for bandwidth, coverage, contract length and budget.
Ship operators, increasingly, are requiring more complex communications capabilities to support a multitude of applications and the availability of flexible services is fundamental to this. There is no one-size-fits-all communications solution new maritime broadband bundles allow our customers to combine a range of services and hardware to satisfy their individual needs. Customers are also able to upgrade to higher bandwidth mid-contract if required, while selecting the best migration path to next generation Ku- or Ka-band services. Serving the largest shipping companies in the world, we believe the new bundles will provide global, future-proof communications solutions.
We also expect to see an increased focus on the quality of the satellite communications link, as opposed to focus on cost. With connectivity now being so heavily relied upon for business critical applications, it will also mean new and existing customers will demand more robust solutions with higher bandwidth to accommodate their needs. Marlink is committed to creating value-added services to improve the efficiency and performance of the link. Additionally Marlink will offer upgrades to its existing network to further enhance the service, both in terms of stability and in quality service.
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by Alexandria Tuel, Marketing, and Deborath Deffaa, CEO
As the giants of industry are closing campuses and customer sites, MVS is focused on the resulting large hole in consumer confidence. The world is switching to digital training and advertising as a way to reach customers, and the reseller is getting lost in the chain. MVS has found that resellers who keep the communications industry working are being increasingly ignored. Satellite communications is not a plug-and-play consumer industry; it needs technical pros selling, explaining and demonstrating the technology. However, there are no facilities out there to train the distribution channels upon which we all rely.
How does MVS ensure our end-users are getting the best advice and technical expertise, bang for their buck? Simple we train the distributors. MVSs brand new headquarters features a state-of-the-art training room and demonstration facility. The demo room is wired for voice and data transmission, using land mobile, aero, and maritime hardware and software from leading manufacturers.
President of MVS, Deborah Deffaa, commented on the historic perspective that SATCOM technologies, saying they are technical products for technical people. Manufacturers and resellers are approaching the industry as if their products are geared toward the consumer. But theyre not, said Deffaa, these are highly technical devices with complicated functionalities; the everyday consumer has difficulty with even the most basic task of dialing 911.
A woman-owned, small business, MVS has always had a certain appeal to manufacturers and resellers in the market; as a facilities-based competitor, MVS welcomes consumer interface opportunities as the Company continues to bolster its market approach. The customer is the most valued component of MVSs business strategy. We want to meet with our clients face-to-face and provide them with a touch and feel atmosphere where they can become more familiar with our products.
MVS traditionally provides satellite communications equipment for maritime consumers as well as private clients. With the only satellite communications demonstration facility on the east coast, MVSs demo room is fully equipped to train consumers and Partners on mobile and maritime products.
MVS is not limited to strictly GSPS, broadband terminals, and antennas. Partnering with a variety of software application developers, MVS has created a custom set of unique applications for its satellite communications customers. Such programs include Sea Secure, an instant closed-circuit channel with video, audio, or text only capabilities over IP. This technology is truly a plug and play, cost effective application. Geared toward the maritime community, Sea Secure caters to crew welfare, allowing its users to communicate with family on land at costs lower than other video conferencing software, or even voice calls. The software also allows a crew captain, in the commercial fishing industry for example, to monitor activity on other vessels, ensuring that all cargo comes back to port.
In March, MVS launched a promotion offering a free Isat Phone Pro and free airtime card to customers who submitted photos of themselves using their phones in the field. MVS received a wealth of contest entries, a small success that MVS hopes garners further trust in the Companys promise to deliver. With 10,000 users and visitors around the world, MVS has strengthened consumer interface options and intra-office connectivity by launching an updated, consumer-ready dashboard, MVSnet. MVSnet offers a customized platform for resellers, allowing them to use their own domain to complete activations and provide customer care for their end-users. More advanced search capacities allow executives to identify customers, accounts, and products quickly and easily. Partners and resellers have access to customer information including invoices, data plans and hot traffic; and registered MVS associates can activate numerous accounts with only a few clicks of the mouse.
MVS has seen a significant increase in sales and activations across the board since the start of 2011 and completed more than 8,000 total activations in 2011, and is continuing to receive new business.
In 2011, MVS updated their network to operate at 10 times its previous capacity, allowing for nearly 100,000 activations and providing plenty of room for growth. As the third largest Inmarsat distribution partner, the Company is exceeding expectations.
The top two Inmarsat DP companies produce five times the revenue MVS experiences, yet MVS is activating at nearly 50 percent the volume of those larger satellite communications providers. Deborah Deffaa expects MVS to double its market growth in 2012.
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by Jan Helgesen, Director of Product Management
It was a prodigious year of innovation for Nevion, a provider of managed video services for broadcasters, service providers, and government entities worldwide. Nevion unveiled more than 20 new solutions and product enhancements, from in-service monitoring, H.264 and JPEG compression and a universal IP transport platform to optical processing components and a complete managed services platform for any network infrastructure.
For the satellite industry, as for all of broadcasting, more sophisticated monitoring, control and management is critical not only to ensure that services achieve continuous target quality standards but that they do so more efficiently and effectively. More efficiencies and better use of network resources regardless of the underlying infrastructure became the mantra of 2011. All paths are leading to an environment where content transport, monitoring and management are seamlessly integrated into one system.
Nevions FCS in-service monitoring series and the enhancements unveiled this year are an example of how proactive in-service monitoring helps providers meet defined service standards with greater efficiently and cost effectiveness. With remote video circuit monitoring through a built-in web interface, FCS series products monitor DVB-ASI, HD/SD-SDI signals according to DVB and SMPTE recommendations and ensure that services achieve target quality standards 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Monitoring systems detail information about each transport stream, test signals without breaking any feeds, monitor multiple signals at once, and pinpoint signal failures down to the transport stream level. The system also allows service providers to demonstrate SLA compliance and provides valuable input for creating SLA reports.
Compact and cost effective, the high density FCS1000-PLUS platform provides in-service monitoring with full support for IP networks. With full monitoring of integrity, presence and activity on each channel, the platform allows users to pinpoint quality of service issues along the transport path and proactively correct problems before they affect services a complete solution for monitoring the entire video transport infrastructure.
Debuting at IBC earlier this year, the multifunctional FCS250-IP is designed to passively and non-intrusively monitor and assess the integrity of professional digital video broadcast transmissions over IP networks. A single FCS250-IP unit can perform simultaneous monitoring of up to 256 transport streams at Gigabit Ethernet wire-speed. The module complements a Nevion standalone system that monitors ASI, HD and SD signals transported by Ventura, Flashlink and VikinX product families.
When transmitting signals over a contribution network, satellite providers must ensure that signals at uplink exactly match those at downlink. The signal handed off from the broadcaster must precisely mirror the signal at downlink with no degradation or other quality compromises. While it sounds simple enough, guaranteed quality quickly becomes complex when it depends upon ensuring quality at three different points: At input, throughout transport, and prior to playout. The hybrid network infrastructure of a leading Paris-based satellite provider had the capacity to meet these challenges but the need for highly effective control, monitoring and management at every step was critical.
FCS1000-PLUS devices were deployed to monitor DVB-ASI, transport streams, and HD-SDI signals throughout Paris, where the provider operates a video contribution ring, as well as large satellite uplinks. The unit was used as a probe to detect issues on the fly, troubleshooting through dedicated tools built into the system. Monitoring data is immediately forwarded to a built-in monitoring system, which stores it and immediately notifies operators if quality issues have occurred or are imminent. The archived quality of service and experience data is subsequently used for valuable trend analysis and historical reporting.
Designed for central, non-intrusive monitoring of up to 16 DVB-ASI, transport streams, HD/SD-SDI signals and video-over-IP channels, the FCS1000-PLUS platform serves several critical monitoring functions, including monitoring HD-SDI signals prior to delivering them to the contribution network. The providers customers deliver signals to the provider within their buildings, where fiber access is present and a probe checks signals. Post transmission, the module monitors the ASI streams. A bank of IRDs demodulate the transport streams to present them for analysis by the FCS module, providing all necessary metrics in a clear, easy-to-understand fashion. The FCS1000-PLUS is integral to ensuring that providers meet predetermined quality standards as defined by their Service Level Agreements (SLA).
As content increasingly comes from a range of sources and in widely varying formats, the need for sophisticated monitoring and management that enables proactive detection of potential issues and real-time action to correct problems are critical. Fortunately, the age of managed video services is here, reducing the complexity of monitoring, control and management processes for more efficiencies and providing better tools to achieve continuous quality standards. Everyone including end users relaxing in front of their favorite broadcasts wins.