COMMAND CENTER: Peter Hadinger
Vice President, Government Markets, Global Xpress and the President, Global Government Services, Inmarsat
Peter Hadinger is the Vice President, Government Markets, Global Xpress and the President, Global Government Services, Inmarsat. He leads the development of the government offerings for Inmarsats new Global Xpress satellite program. Global Xpress will provide worldwide high-speed connectivity to mobile users via a constellation of Ka-band satellites, starting in 2013. He also runs Inmarsats U.S. Government operations as a trusted partner for sensitive applications.
Mr. Hadingers background includes 30 years as a leader in technology development, engineering and spacecraft programs at TRW/Northrop Grumman. His efforts focused on MILSATCOM, ISR, air-space integration, cyber, and international initiatives. He was the designer of the first MILSTAR protected signal processing payload and holds four U.S. patents. In his strategic planning roles he specialized in startups, technology assessment and identifying new opportunities to create strategic advantage by organic differentiation and M&A.
Mr. Hadinger has a strong regulatory and policy background. He served as co-chair of the satellite industry delegation that helped to craft the global Telecom Services Agreement at the WTO, Vice-Chair of the FCCs WRC-07 Advisory Committee and Vice-Chair of the Satellite Task Force for the Presidents National Security Telecom Advisory Commission. He is past chairman of the Satellite Industry Association and served as a Brookings Congressional Fellow in the U.S. Senate. He received his BSEEE from California State Polytechnic University, an MBA with emphasis in finance and strategic planning from George Mason University.
Mr. Hadinger, would you tell us about your background and what brought you into the world of MILSATCOM?
Before joining Inmarsat, I spent 30 years working at TRW/Northrop Grumman in the area of technology development, engineering and spacecraft programs. You might say that MILSATCOM has been at the core of my careerwithin months of leaving university, I found myself working on a key part of the R&D that led to the first protected satellite systemMILSTAR. It was a great place to start because the challenges of protected SATCOM really force you to think about every possible contingency in order to deliver the robustness required for essential missions. That discipline and understanding of mission drivers made a great foundation for everything that followed in my career, from ISR to air-space integration to cyber.
You joined Inmarsat Government Services in April of 2011 after working at Northrop Grumman for 30 years. What attracted you to Inmarsat and how different is your Inmarsat work from your previous employment?
Ive spent my entire career working at the leading edge of technology and space systems. Inmarsats investment in Global Xpress, as the firstand so far, onlyglobal commercial wideband system is an incredibly appealing opportunity to create a new MILSATCOM augmentation capability. These sorts of opportunities dont come along every day and it has been my great pleasure to work with a talented and motivated team to bring it to reality.
In that sense, it is quite similar to everything I accomplished at Northrop Grumman. However, I must say that doing work that has a solid commercial fundingnot annual appropriationshas been a refreshing change.
Inmarsat is currently the leading player in mobile satellite communication servicesthe company has invested significantly over the last 15 to 20 years to ensure that it has the most up-to-date technology to support its customers. Inmarsat has been playing a critical role in supporting government and military users on a global scale; and what I saw in the company and its project to develop and launch Global Xpress is a great opportunity, not to be missed.
You see, in their part, many commercial systems had attributes that were attractive to governments that eventually lead to their use. Global Xpress will be the first commercial system that was designed for government purposes from the start. It will support government and military users at a whole new level.
My experience at TRW/Northrop Grumman has helped position me well for my roles at Inmarsat. The scope here is much larger; I need to work with governments, military, peace-keeping, disaster-relief and aid operations on a global scale. It is really challenging, at the same time interesting to specially introduce our new Global Xpress to the Governments, to show them the capabilities that we can provide to fulfil their requirements. My regulatory and policy background has also enabled me to contribute to the team here at Inmarsat.
Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) have become fundamental to successful military operations. With the capacity of Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) bandwidth being limited, how do military communication operators ensure they have enough, or reliable, bandwidth to get the data to war-fighters in the field?
Governments are making prudent investments in next-generation MILSATCOM to ensure cost-effective access to bandwidth for their missions. Ka-band is at the core of those investmentsWGS, Athena-Fidus and other programs are leading the recapitalization of government space and terrestrial infrastructure to take advantage of the inherent advantages of higher frequencies. However, the cost-effectiveness of government-owned MILSATCOM applies only where it can be highly loaded, which is for augmentation in bandwidth or coverage.
It is prudent to incorporate commercial solutions where resources are shared with other markets and MILSATCOM can leverage investment made on a larger user base. By procuring terminals that can simply tune between the military-Ka and the commercial-Ka frequencies next-door, governments give themselves tremendous access to on-demand resources to address present demand and future contingencies.
Communications play a crucial role in the success of any government or military operation. Over the years, MILSATCOM has always been the core solution for government users, purposely built for high-performance global coverage with a high level of security. Since 2000, ISR have become more and more important in military operations; and it is getting more difficult for MILSATCOM to keep up with the increasing demands while not all the governments have enough budgets to use MILSATCOM, which is limited and comes at a high cost.
This has meant Governments must now turn to commercial SATCOM more to complement MILSATCOM capacity in providing bandwidth and coverage for their operations at an economy of scale. Nowadays, commercial SATCOM solutions are more secure and reliable, and come at a lower cost when compared to MILSATCOM, being able to address Governments concern in the ensuring the confidentiality and security of their operations.
At Inmarsat, our Ku-band has always been the choice for government and military users, thanks to its efficient, low-cost infrastructure and equipment. Now with Ka-band providing global mobility with data-efficient spot-beam technology and small terminals, it will be a great advantage for militaries.
How can Commercial SATCOM complement MILSATCOM in providing broadband satellite solutions to military users? How do you foresee the roles of Commercial SATCOM and MILSATCOM changing over the next three to five years?
Let me compare the COMSATCOM/MILSATCOM dynamic to how you and I use cars: We own the one at home that we use every day but we rent the one we use when we fly somewhere else. It simply wouldnt make sense to own a car in every city you might visit or, similarly, to own a delivery truck just to handle your occasional moves.
To become a more effective augmentation partner, I see commercial SATCOM becoming similar to MILSATCOMfocusing on global, rather than regional, implementation, incorporating military frequencies to support legacy terminals and adopting an on-demand capacity model that better matches the dynamic nature of military requirements.
How can Inmarsats Global Xpress fill this gap?
Global Xpress is first and foremostGLOBAL. Just like every generation of U.S. MILSATCOM, Inmarsat has always considered global coverage an essential requirement. Efficiency and responsiveness are maximized when you can invest in a single kit of equipment that can be deployed at anytime, anywhere.
Second, Global Xpress incorporates military Ka-band frequencies that leverage the large investments that governments are already making in Ka-band equipment. Just as important, Global Xpress is offering on-demand commercial service that allow militaries to fill in the gaps between high-intensity spot beam coverage, which is ideal for supporting en-route communications, small unit deployments, and long-track AISR.
What is the timeline for Global Xpress? When are you launching the service?
Were in the final stages of preparation of our global space, ground, product and service infrastructures for Global Xpress. The first satellite is planned launch around Q3 2013. With a successful launch, service will begin across the Indian Ocean region by 2014. Successive launches will bring service to the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean regions so on our current timetable global services should be available by the start of 2015.
What are Inmarsats broad plans and vision for 2013, specifically along the support for government and military users?
In 2013, we will continue working with our partners to expand the products and services available across our existing L-band infrastructure while preparing for the addition of Global Xpress capabilities. We will roll out higher speed and more cost-effective L-band services and launch the fourth of our Inmarsat-4 generation satellites, a system with improved performance known as Alphasat. In 2013, we will also focus on extending our support to customers and partners in even more countries around the world.
Emerging Asia is increasingly modernizing its military capabilities. How is Inmarsat leveraging this trend? Do you see an increased investment in satcom technologies and by which Asian countries?
Asia has always been on the forefront of satellite technology investment trends. Spot-beam satellites, hosted payloads, Ka-band and other innovations have deep roots in Asia-Pacific needs, which include challenging coverage demands, the requirement for efficient cooperation between commercial and military uses across multiple countries, and insatiable growth in bandwidth driven by the regions economic forces.
Inmarsats current and future systems bring consistent capability and performance across all of Asia, while being dynamic and flexible in resource allocation to address both long-term trends and short-term contingencies. Thats been a great combination for us all along and were not going to change it. We will be spending more time and effort focused on our government partnerships and customers in Asia, knowing that while our coverage may be global, the demands and investments by governments are quite local and unique to each country.
How do you manage to lead the Asian and other market segment work as well as the Companys U.S. Government operations?
Inmarsat has established two market-facing government organizationsour Global Government Business Unit and our U.S. Government Business Unit. Their teams focus on the unique needs of their respective partners and customers and are very good at what they do.
Our Global Xpress team is the companys focal point for bringing our new Global Xpress global wideband capability to the government marketplace. We are working closely with these existing business units and our strategic partners to ensure that governments worldwide understand the opportunity that an entirely new global MILSATCOM augmentation capability brings to executing their increasingly dynamic missions in a cost-effective manner.
An area of concern for many SATCOM companies is the ability to hire professionals from what appears to be a shrinking pool of trained candidates... what are your concerns regarding future hires, and is Inmarsat involved in supporting and encouraging STEM training in middle/high school curriculums as well as in college courses?
Every technology-driven company head knows that their most important resource isnt the plant or the equipment but the brainpower that walks in and out of the door every day. Leadership depends on attracting and retaining the industrys best minds, while investing in development of new talent for the long term. Inmarsats reputation for technical excellence, buttressed by strong financial performance and innovative new programs such as Global Xpress, have made us a preferred employer in the market and we have been able to selectively hire leaders with extensive industry and government experience.
At the same time, we are all incentivized to invest in STEM activities as individualsI personally enjoy the opportunity to participate in an engineering advisory board at Virginia Tech and at the same time to lead the formation of an elementary school program, and especially, its science curriculum. Members of my team similarly play a variety of advisory roles in academia and occasionally teach in their areas of expertise. This is also the case in every other unit; and as a company, weve formed partnerships with various universities and industry associations to make broader investments in support of STEM education worldwide.
Given your years of experience in our industry, what are your prognostications for SATCOM and its related industries over the next year or two? What major challenges will need to be surmounted? (i.e. financial, technical and so on).
The history of SATCOM, whether military or commercial, is marked by a series of leaps in terms of capability, brought about by new investments and generational innovations, followed by a slower and more gradual adoption as technology is rolled out to users. Customers and partners can only outfit so many ships, airplanes and organizations at a timewith timing depending as much on the rotation of assets out for maintenance as it is on the availability of hardware and talent for installation.
We are at the cusp of one of those leaps, with the introduction of Ka-band in military and commercial satcom. While satellites are lasting longer, the need for new capabilities has continued to space these leaps about every seven years so there is more overlap in generationswhich further facilitates the transition process. Inmarsats last big leap was the launch of the Inmarsat-4 series in 2005-2008 and we are launching Inmarsat-5 (Global Xpress) in 2013-2014.
On the adoption side, the next couple of years will see the continued reduction in Ka-band terminal costs, as consumer rollout brings Ku-equivalent scale to the electronics manufacturing, and military investment focuses on improvements in size and efficiency of key components at the high-end. The 75 percent smaller size of Ka- terminals also brings similar weight and cost reductions in the antenna structures and pointing mechanisms. When coupled with the higher peak speeds and lower per-MHz cost of Ka- capacity, the transition of existing users from Ku- to Ka- will accelerate, while new markets in mobility and high-speed that have been poorly addressedsuch as commercial aerowill be opened.
We will see L-band reposition to leverage its unbeatable strengths in handheld, small (<60cm) mobile and low-cost M2M services as well as providing an increasingly high-speed complement to Ka-band service for spatially and spectrally robust applications.
Financial challenges abound. Resources in the market are finite and money will follow performance. Ku-band will remain strong and relevant for broadcast, where it has durable differentiators, but I expect that the rapid introduction of global MSS-like end-to-end managed services to the historically lease-based FSS VSAT industry will change the ways that government buys service and with it, streamline the layers of firms that built-up based on the older model. Inmarsat has low debt, high cash flow and has already committed to the next generation of global connectivity with Global Xpress Ka-band. I believe you will see a lot of companies trying (or at least wishing) to do the same.
Do you see Hosted Payloads as playing a critical role as MAG and the Commercial sides of the business become more and more dependent upon one another?
Hosted payloads can be great ways for government to leverage satellite launches but they are nothing newAustralias Optus C1 is a stellar example of military leveraging commercial SATCOM and is now nearly a decade old.
Inmarsat-4 satellites have all carried hosted GPS augmentation payloads and the new Alphasat will carry technology experiments in Q/V-band and lasercom which represent long-term growth investments in SATCOM. But there is a difference between hosting demonstrator payloads and implementing long-term global infrastructure around which governments will build CONOPS and investment roadmaps.
Governments will continue to insist, rightfully, on owning a core part of their own infrastructurewhile CHIRP is a good example of technology demonstration on a commercial ride, I dont expect global missile surveillance to become a commercial mission. Similarly, MILSATCOM will remain primarily the province of dedicated government resources, especially for protected services that have no commercial equivalent and place high demands on spacecraft design and operational flexibility.
The correct long-term strategy for commercial operators is to support hosted payloads where they can help customers explore new concepts as well as to realize that the real problem for government these days is in acquiring the resources needed to expand and improve their core global constellations.
By investing in long-term solutions that align with government roadmaps, programs such as Global Xpress, that include MILSATCOM capabilities, not as a hosted payload but as a core part of a global service offering, are going to play the most critical role in commercial augmentation of military and government SATCOM.
As you look at your impressive career, which project or missions truly brings you a sense of satisfaction?
I am at heart an inventorsolving problems in new ways and creating new teams and systems from scratch is my passion. Ive been fortunate to have worked on the most challenging leading-edge of government space capabilities while at Northrop Grumman, and now at the leading edge of commercial augmentation to government at Inmarsat.
You never forget your first fingerprints in space job; for me that was MILSTAR, or some of the national security missions that really do change the worldbut for an inventor it is the current challenge (and just maybe the one after that) that really gets you excited. The Global Xpress team has already made a number of very impressive accomplishmentsand that is before launch. I can hardly wait for the next steps.