The latest iteration of the GVF-C21 Partnership annual ‘HTS Roundtable’ saw the highest attendance of any of the Partnership’s portfolio of events, with well in excess of 100 delegates engaging in an interactive programme of keynote presentations and four themed, moderator-led, discussion sessions covering space segment, providers & VARS, ground segment, and a regional perspective on space activity in the UK and wider international context.
With a moderating team comprising Michael Pollack, Chief Executive Officer, Traville Group; Betty Bonnardel, Chief Executive Officer, AB5 Consulting; Anver Anderson, Director, Anver Ltd; Martin Coleman, Executive Director, Satcoms Innovation Group; Manny Shar, Head of Analytics, Bryce Space and Technology; and, Martin Jarrold, Vice President International Programme Development, GVF, the programme began with brief introductory remarks from Michael Pollack.
Opening Keynote presentations were offered by John Finney, Chief Executive Officer, Isotropic Systems and by David Meltzer, Secretary General, GVF.
John Finney’s theme, ‘Heralding a Paradigm Shift for Satellite’, focused on significant technology advances in four key areas that are proving to be enablers of a paradigm shift in the communication landscape: Terrestrial Advances – 5G & Network Slicing; Satellite ground network improvements; Satellite payload advances; and Software Defined Radio satellite terminals. These four technology advances will unlock and expedite new and emerging use cases. 5G inherent support of networks of networks combined with these advances in satellite networks will open-up many new opportunities for satellite. Mr. Finney also examined the impact of a truly software defined multi-beam terminal.
David Meltzer, reflecting on his participation at the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2019, spoke to the theme ‘The Promised Revolution: Is the Past Prologue?’ Opening with an overview of the opportunities ahead for the satellite industry in terms of having a share of a US$2.2 trillion 5G market, connecting almost 8 billion people and 200 billion objects, Mr. Meltzer pointed to the success factors of the satellite solutions offering, including spectrum, technology, demand, capacity, cost to deliver service, and pricing. Reviewing the specific outcomes of the ITU conference, Mr. Meltzer noted the: Protection of mobile satellite services (“Earth Stations In Motion”) in Ka band (28 GHz and 18 GHz); Protection of C Band (3.6 4.2 GHz) in Africa and Asia; Operation of NGSO in Q/V Bands; and, 1 GHz additional spectrum for FSS feeder links (51.4 52.4 GHz), and concluded that communications satellites will be a key component of the 5G network; IMT efforts to secure spectrum to the detriment of satellite were unsuccessful; and, spectrum is available to maintain and grow satellite services.
Session 1 – The Operators Forum: GEO, MEO, LEO – featured Chris McIntosh, CEO, Methera Global; Simon Gatty Saunt, Vice President Sales EMEA Fixed-Data, SES Networks; Julian Crudge, Managing Director UK, Telenor Satellite Broadcasting; Sara Mugnaini, Principal for Advance Payloads, OneWeb; Christian Rigal, Principal System Engineer, ViaSat; and, Simon Gray, Senior Vice President Humanitarian Affairs, Eutelsat.
A wide-ranging interactive discussion between panellists, moderator and audience followed on from the speakers’ opening/introductory remarks which variously reflected on: Advantages of MEO satellites in respect of the transient nature of satellite broadband requirements, capacity density, dynamic coverage, changing market dynamics, and system scalability and low initial CapEx; Asking the question if every GEO provider needs an NGSO play; New offerings in versatile managed maritime services; Planned LEO innovations for mobility and fixed markets, and corporate responsibility in design and operational practices, and collaborative approaches to policy in developing the space ecosystem; Challenges for high throughput systems were examined from the point of view of extending from GEO and collaboration between constellations; Optimisation of throughput per satellite terminal over time, and the first ever European HTS with Ka Q/V connectivity.
In Session 2 – The Providers & VARS Forum: New Paradigms for an HTS & Multi-Orbit Future – opening/introductory contributions from Alvaro Sanchez, Chief Executive Officer, Integrasys; Jo de Loor, Market Director Multiservice HTS & Enterprise, ST Engineering iDirect; Nick Burrett, Senior Sales Director, SpeedCast; and, Mark Lambert, Vice President Business Development, Kratos, were followed by observations from the moderators, Anver Anderson and Manny Shar, and audience questions.
The session began with discussion on link budgeting and seamless access in HTS GEO, MEO & LEO in relation to available technology designed to simplify the identification and choice of link budget options, and to enable “no-touch” to point peak and pol, calibrate and commission a VSAT antenna. Dialogue then turned to 5G and the “network of networks” in relation to innovation in satellite platform architecture in order to deliver a seamless user experience, serve all satcom markets, unlock flexibility in global resource management, scale with agile orchestrated service delivery / lifecycle management, and bandwidth efficiency and operational scalability. The implications of integrating LEOs to a VAR were investigated next, with such questions as ‘How will VARs compete with full- service satellite operators?’ And ‘Isn’t it more productive for everyone if we work together and not against each other?’ The final topic of discussion covered the transitioning of satellite ground systems to the cloud through the introduction of digital gateways and data systems becoming a collection of Virtual Network Functions, and looked at Digital IF (Intermediate Frequency) extending the transport of analogue IF data to IP based networks.
Ground Segment: New Architectures for a Brave New World was the focus of the third session contributions from Richard Jacklin, Director of Sales, ViaLite Communications; Andy Lucas, Senior Vice President Satellite Operators & Mobility, Comtech EF Data; Remi Challamel, Senior Business Development & Sales Manager, Thales Alenia Space; Drew Klein, Vice President Sales & Marketing, C-COM Satellite Systems; and, Ashley Dove, Region Head Europe & Africa, General Dynamics SatCom Technologies.
Extending the limits of RF over fibre (RFoF) in the ground segment was the opening subject of discussion, including an examination of various market drivers behind demand trends, and whereas RFoF has been traditionally seen as pure hardware play there is increasing inclusion of greater software content. Raised expectations on pathway performance was the next topic where it was noted that “best effort is no longer good enough”. What is now required is a combination of: High capability, but flexible modems, with the highest performance and QoE, with embedded link optimisation; Efficiency, both in the forward and return directions to maximise the monetisable throughput, and deliver the best economics; Advanced beam switching solutions, advanced load management solutions, robustness in dynamic conditions; together with Compatibility with all constellations, GEO, MEO and LEO. The next question was, “Space or ground: Which One is Leading the Race?” The conclusion was that neither the satellite nor the ground segment is leading the race, they are cross-fertilizing by working together to provide enhanced end-to-end performances with a reduced cost” – resulting in “Very High Throughput Satellite” … to “Very High Throughput System”. Changing the antenna market forever was the next theme, defining the required new technology by the lengthy acronym “CAMPFIRE CREAM” = Conformal, Auto Install, Modular, Power Efficient, Flat, Industry Proof, Reliable, Electronically Steerable, Cost Effective, Regulator Approved, Extendable, Advanced, Multi Constellation. To close, the session discussion turned to plug and play antennas for GEO, MEO, HEO, and LEO applications, emphasising that there is still a significant market for high performance/high precision customised ground stations to serve not only communiations and broadcast, but also TT&C/IOT/ranging, Earth observation/remote sensing, deep space missions, and astronom
To close the programme the contributors to the fourth interactive session – Regional Focus… Starship UK – were Louis Zacharilla, Director of Innovation & Development, Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI); Roger Boddy, Founder, Global Teleports (UK) Ltd; Daniel Campbell, UK Managing Director, Effective Space; and, Martin Coleman, Executive Director, Satcoms Innovation Group.
The theme of ‘How Our Industry Can Grow Regional Economies’ opened the session dialogue, focusing on: Commercial Impulses & Human Destiny; Economic Development Goals & Smart Cities; Collaboration & the Renaissance of the Local; and, making the case for “Astropreneurship”. This was followed by a call to the industry to beware the potential implications of there being multiple satellites in GSO and NGSO with nominal 2 degree spacing in GEO and 790 satellites in NGSO with a forecast of up to 28,000 NGSO satellites planned over the next four years with reference to potential masking and eclipsing of satellite signals and to problems of increasing debris. Issues related to orbital debris were the starting point for the next discussion theme, beginning with the assertion that in-orbit demonstration missions, while focused on life extension, are also a gateway to various other in-orbit servicing applications, there could be deployment of a fleet of small SPACE DRONETM spacecraft to deliver, position, maintain, monitor and guarantee space assets, providing for not only life extension, but also active debris removal, in orbit assembly/salvaging, and asset safeguarding. To close the day, the conference was provided with some year-end thoughts on nine steps to manage space, on considering mobility as a cell strategy, and on managing spectrum post-WRC-19.