Space Segment Disruptive Evolution: GEO, MEO & LEO – Does a Global Crisis Make a Difference?
Thursday, 18 June 2020
3:00 pm UK time / 10:00 am US Eastern time
The term “disruptive evolution” had already established its place in satellite industry dialogues before the current public health crisis, and as a result the orbital environment had become subject of much analysis exploring potential impact scenarios of emerging LEO mega-constellations on the established technologies and business models of existing satellite operators.
With the advent of an unprecedented global crisis, and consequent significant widespread change in the patterns of connectivity demand – with some satcoms user markets brought to a standstill and others rapidly growing their requirements – many new questions have arisen. This session reflected the many issues behind these questions and whilst the 60 minutes of this webinar addressed a substantial array of these, the many themes introduced by a truly global population of attendees clearly indicate that this topic demands more attention.
From across Africa, Algeria to Egypt, Equatorial Guinea to Somalia, and Angola to the Kingdom of eSwatini. From Turkey in the Near East, to Yemen in the Middle East, to Hong Kong SAR and Japan in East Asia. From Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia to India and Pakistan in South Asia; and, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in South-East Asia. From Austria to the UK in Europe. From Canada in the north to Argentina in the south of the Americas and Caribbean. And from Australia. Hundreds of individuals engaged with the energetic dialogue. You can now join too… watch recording below.
Q & A continued….
The following questions were posed during the webinar but there was insufficient time to respond during the one-hour duration of the event. Thank you to our audience for taking an active part by asking questions, and to our panellists for their time to answer them after the webinar ended…
1. What products or services need to be developed to respond to the pandemic’s effects?
Dave Rehbehn: Demand for connectivity has been accelerating for some time and we anticipate it will continue to grow in the coming months and years. The pandemic gave us insight into what we can expect in the future – and what we need in response is what we are already working on, which is more capacity! For Hughes, this will be brought to market in the form of the JUPITER 3 (EchoStar XIX) ultra-high-density satellite as well as multi-transport networks that leverage all forms of connectivity – from satellite to LTE to fiber.
Hamid Nawaz: Smarter Broadband VSAT systems with local caching and adaptive traffic shaping so that more sharing can take place in order to accommodate the additional demand without compromising the quality of experience of the individual user.
2. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, it has significantly impacting many businesses which in turn reduced their spending, including decision to use VSAT services such as O3b. Question: Is there any possibility to reduce the subscription cost for certain period of time to attract customers (again)?
Dave Rehbehn: As far as our subscription service, HughesNet, we signed the FCC’s Keeping Americans Connected Pledge, promising to not disconnect or penalize customers who cannot pay due to the impact of the coronavirus. At the time of this writing, the pledge extends through the end of June 2020.
Hamid Nawaz: For our public response about COVID-19 pandemic please check https://www.ses.com/news/covid-19-it-together
3. What kind of RF and modem integration are you considering for the next generation constellations? Are you investing in super-integrated transmit/receive integrated assemblies and router integration?
Hamid Nawaz: We are always exploring newer technologies in order to make the terminals for our new constellation mPOWER more affordable and efficient. Since this is a work in progress, we can’t share the exact details.
Manik Vinnakota: Telesat LEO will be based on open architecture principles. Antenna and Modem specifications will be made available to the market to develop terminals compliant with Telesat LEO specs. Telesat is also working directly with terminal manufacturers across our focus enterprise markets (terrestrial, maritime and aviation) to accelerate development of Telesat LEO compliant terminals.
4. What are the solutions to ensure that sustainability and debris are kept in consideration when deploying constellations?
Dave Rehbehn: At Hughes we abide by all regulations with regard to orbital debris.
Hamid Nawaz: For O3b mPOWER, we are deploying in Medium Earth Orbit, where there are relatively few satellites and also a lower amount of space debris. There are different ISO standards for end of life depending on the orbital altitude of the satellite constellations. We support the global community by continuing to contribute to them, and then adhering strictly to these standards. SES has a strong track record of removing satellites to graveyard orbits at the end of life, further reducing the threat of space debris.
5. “There are only 375 active cruise liners in the world, and newbuilds are being stalled or cancelled. Any opinion how you intend to address the approx. 100,000 commercial vessels which are addressable?”
Dave Rehbehn: Hughes mobility solutions for the maritime market are not limited to the cruise market. In fact, some of our most recent maritime wins include a ferry boat company in Spain and several offshore/oil and gas customers in India.
Hamid Nawaz: Fortunately, SES has solutions for both segments. We can provide unprecedented throughput and lower latency to cruise liners using our MEO constellation and reliable connectivity options to the commercial fleets using our SKALA global platform for crew welfare and other connectivity requirements.
Manik Vinnakota: With Telesat LEO, we can deliver very high throughputs (100’s of Mbps) to very small terminals around the 65cm aperture class. By offering services to small terminals of a higher quality (speed, latency) and at disruptive economics, we will address the commercial vessels market.
6. Are LEO service plans going to be different for regions of the world?
Hamid Nawaz: SES does not have an active LEO fleet so we can’t comment on it.
Manik Vinnakota: Market economics based on region and industry vertical will be factored.
7. With pandemic experience in the backdrop; GEO, MEO & LEO service providers, agrees that need for more robust high-speed connectivity and availability is here to stay for the industry. Is this enhanced need, helping industry get faster and quicker access, better regulatory regime towards open skies in highly regulated markets? Is there any emergency access protocol in place from ITU or any specific governments?
Manik Vinnakota: Governments have been very active in increasing connectivity options and capacity in rural areas via satellite. Trust this will increase the perceived value of satellite networks and optimize the market access mechanisms in the long term.
8. How long will we have to wait for the ‘light'(O3B Constellation)? It is light we are missing in most parts of Africa. many African countries, where the system is essential, doesn’t have knowledge of its existence. I personally have worked with the system, but it was with the United Nations Support Office in Somalia.
Hamid Nawaz: The current SES O3b constellation is fully used in Africa. Unfortunately, we have very little capacity remaining for use over Africa with today’s MEO fleet, but we agree that there is strong demand for reliable high-throughput services across the continent. Our next generation O3b mPOWER constellation bring ten times more throughput across the globe, and increased flexibility to route traffic and deploy a greater number of local gateways for our customers.
9. Given the epileptic cellular backhaul services via microwave and fibre links in Nigeria, What plans do the satellite operators have for MNO for 5G roll out in Nigeria?
Hamid Nawaz: We’re not able to comment on the exact specifications of our customers’ or other MNOs’ strategies for 5G rollouts. However, we do offer coverage from multiple satellites for Nigeria that have already been field-tested for 4G LTE services. We are part of the 3GPP and other standards organizations designing the future of 5G networks, and we’re confident our upcoming O3b mPOWER solution will be able to offer the high throughput and low latency required for a quality user experience over a 5G last mile, with capacity available for Nigeria.