“A Meaningful Journey” Arunas Slekys

I am honoured to have served as Chairman of the GVF for the past 15 years, a brief moment in cosmic time – yet a significant period during which the satellite industry became a mainstream part of the exploding consumer internet marketplace. Indeed, in the mid-2000’s broadband satellite technology was still in its infancy and the business case for consumer services was considered by many to be highly risky if not downright foolish. Conventional wisdom was to build on the successful enterprise/government sectors – launched in the mid 80’s when Sam Walton implemented the first commercial satellite network, eventually hailed by Fortune magazine as ‘one of 20 most strategic business decisions of the 20th century’ because it gave WalMart an ‘informational competitive advantage’: Connecting all of his locations across rural America at uniform high quality of service, including video conferencing and at costs independent of location.

GVF itself was founded a decade later by industry leaders whose technology and service innovations began and continue to deliver the same core benefits that drive our industry’s success – across virtually all vertical sectors, from retail, energy, financial, hospitality, aero/maritime to emergency response and telemedicine. With the advent of Ka-band broadband satellites, our industry pushed into the consumer segment, lowering cost per bit of high-speed connectivity to be competitive with terrestrial technologies, thereby expanding addressable markets to include the billions of people unconnected worldwide.

The latest market data shows the total installed base of VSATs globally is approaching 10 million sites, with over 2 million internet access customers as the fastest growing segment, not to mention hundreds of millions of DTH (direct-to-home) satellite TV customers employing VSAT one way technology. But though these are relatively small numbers when compared to the billion or so with terrestrial internet access, it portends the beginning of an even more exciting future for satellite. Because today we are on the verge of a huge market disruption in the form of new satellite architectures, combining GEO/LEO/MEO constellations that will operate seamlessly with the global 5G network of networks: Integration of satellite access as part of the 5G core standards (or NTN for Non-Terrestrial Networks) is well underway and will unleash the opportunity for satellite to reach potentially billions of mainstream personal and IoT devices, making it a plug and play option for all service providers.

And you can bet that GVF members whose innovations brought us here will lead the way to unlock that bright future. I welcome you to join us and to contribute in this meaningful journey to help connect the world and make it a better place.

Arunas G. Slekys, Vice President, Hughes/EchoStar and Chairman, GVF

Arunas Slekys is responsible for managing all of Hughes marketing communications and advocacy initiatives worldwide. He holds a B.App.Sc. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Toronto, a M.Sc. from the University of Illinois, and a PhD in computer and communications engineering from UCLA. He is the co-author of a founding patent for wireless data systems (CDPD) and is a frequently published author on satellite and wireless communications. Dr. Slekys has served as the elected Chairman of the GVF Board since 2006.

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