By Mario Narduzzi, Communications Measurement Solutions Marketing Manager
The infinite promise and perplexing obstacles of space were once again evident in 2015.
While the trials and tribulations around the mechanics of getting into space are dominating the headlines, the underlying revolution in satellite enabled communications and earth observation continues to attract investment dollars, crossover design approaches, and technologies leveraged from consumer markets.
Keysight’s leadership position in electronic measurement provides a unique lens into this rapidly changing market. Let’s take a look at the space technology trends we’ve seen this year along with the emerging needs moving forward.
The overwhelming growth of global data is driving the satellite industry to focus on increasing system capacity. In parallel, the recent dynamics in geopolitics is putting additional pressure on the industry to quickly deploy new sensing and communications capabilities. As a result, in 2015 there was a renewed and noticeable focus on electronic design automation, wider RF bandwidth, phased array antenna, and interference protection.
In order to increase data capacity, the satellite industry is continuing to move to higher frequency and higher bandwidth communications schemes. This trend can specifically be observed in the continued development of satellite links operating in Ka-band (26.5 to 40 GHz).
While tens of megabytes of bandwidth transmitted at centimeter wavelength’s (typically, RF frequencies below 18 GHz) were the norm for a decade, 2015 has seen more interest than ever in modulated signals that occupy hundreds or even thousands of megabytes of bandwidth transmitted at millimeter wavelengths (mmW) or RF frequencies between 30 and 300 GHz.
Another benefit of deploying new satellite infrastructures is the opportunity to design-in interference mitigation. In general, the radio frequency bands above 26.5 GHz are much less crowded than the lower frequency bands.
Wide bandwidth signals allow for adaptive modulations that can trade-off between speed and reliability. Wider bandwidth systems also allow developers to employ frequency agile techniques, where transmitted signals can be dynamically relocated to work around interference.
One of the challenges of moving to higher carrier frequencies is the directionality of the signal and atmospheric absorption. This necessitates improvements in antenna technology. While spot beams can be an effective solution for GEO satellites, they may be less practical in LEO constellations.
In response, we have seen significant efforts to reduce the size, cost and complexity of phased array antenna, which can provide beam steering without mechanical systems. Phased array antennas enable directed transmit and receive functionality, potentially combining the benefits of mechanical antenna steering and spot beams. The small wavelength also shrinks resultant antenna size, another benefit of higher carrier frequencies.
Another challenge is the increased pressure to rapidly bring new capabilities on line. There is now more openness to leveraging Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) capabilities and approaches, from components to high volume manufacturing techniques. As commercial ventures into space grow, the electronics industry responds to the larger demand, in turn generating more COTS choices.
In order to shorten development, there is also increased focus on more simulations in the early stages of R&D. For example, we’ve noted use of Advanced Design System (ADS) software for the simulation of highly complex interdependencies unique to space platforms integrating more signal processing within significant power constraints. The rich simulation environment allows engineers to experiment with new components, modulations, interference mitigation before making significant investments in hardware.
More capability being pushed into ASIC’s and FPGA’s has also been witnessed. These designs often contain a mix of time and frequency domains, which necessitate connectivity to both digital and analog instrument interfaces.
Performing design simulations in Keysight’s ADS software and dropping those results into Keysight’s RF generation and analysis test equipment allow for rapid system development even before all the final components are available.
In response to these trends, Keysight added a wide range of new test equipment in 2015, including the industry’s first 50 GHz handheld analyzer and 50 GHz PXI vector signal analyzer, to give aerospace, defense and wireless designers the ability to update their capabilities in the Ka-band. Keysight also introduced the industry’s fastest modular arbitrary waveform generator to support leading edge, high data rate communications research.
With the 2015 acquisition of Anite, Keysight now offers Anite’s Propsim Aerospace channel emulator, a critical tool for reproducing realistic satellite link impairments in a lab environment.
Keysight views its role, as a test and measurement company, to enable its customers to reduce development time and risk. It has assisted designers in the satellite industry by providing simulation software and test instruments to enable emerging COTS options for the space segment, as well as fifth generation (5G) wireless data and emerging network technologies, which can be leveraged for satellite communications.
Looking back at 2015, Keysight Technologies celebrates its one year anniversary as a new company, while carrying on the more than 75 years of electronic test and measurement experience of Hewlett and Packard’s legacy. This is much like the space industry, energized by new investment, blending advances in consumer electronics and building from the more than 55 year history of space.
We can all look to the combined advancements in communications, semiconductor and aerospace/defense to drive that future.
B U L L E T I N S
Intuitive Tools For Dynamic Views
Keysight Technologies has extended their IntegraVision family of power analyzers, the first in the industry to combine high-accuracy power measurements and touch-driven oscilloscope visualization in a single instrument.
The Keysight IntegraVision PA2203A 4-channel power analyzer gives R+D engineers working on three-phase power devices an intuitive tool that delivers the dynamic views they need to see, measure and prove design performance.
Similar to the Keysight IntegraVision two-channel power analyzer, the four-channel entry provides 0.05 percent basic accuracy and 16-bit resolution measurements critical to identify and characterize incremental improvements in highly efficient electronic power conversion systems. While the two-channel version has proven ideal for design and test of common home and office devices that use single-phase power, devices used in commercial and industrial settings frequently require three-phase power.
The new IntegraVision PA2203A provides three-phase power measurements and analysis. The PA2203A has four power channels in the same space-efficient package for fast, accurate design and validation of grid-connected devices, motors, and other high-power devices.
In addition, the instrument lets users visualize transients, in-rush currents and state changes with a 5-M samples-per-second digitizer that captures voltage, current and power in real time with 2.5 MHz bandwidth. By eliminating the need for a scope to view power-line phenomena and time-varying performance, the IntegraVision streamlines measurement setup and reduces configuration time.
Engineers can observe power consumption under dynamic conditions on the IntegraVision’s 12.1-inch capacitive touchscreen with twice the viewing area of competitive models.
The IntegraVision PA 2203A streamlines three-phase device analysis with several unique capabilities:
• On-screen wizard for step-by-step visual guidance to set up complex three-phase wiring
• Choice of a delta (triangle) connection that wires between phases or a wye (star) connection that wires from a phase wire to a common neutral point
• Phasor diagram to verify connections and analyze phase relationship
In addition, the IntegraVision PA2203A offers external sensor inputs and 2-Arms and 50-Arms direct current inputs standard on all four power channels. The external sensor input supports current probes and transducers up to 10-V full scale. Wide-ranging, isolated inputs up to 1,000 Vrms (Cat II) enable engineers to address multiple test scenarios. The integrated data logger provides data capture for up to one year for offline analysis and archiving.
Keysight Technologies, Inc. has introduced multi-module synchronization for its M9703B AXIe high-speed digitizer/wideband digital receiver—increasing the total number of streaming and recording channels available with the M9703B.
The new bundles options (-CB1/-CB2) enable multi-channel phase coherent digital down conversion (DDC) which has applications in 5G, Radar and SATCOM, and Aerospace & Defense.
With up to 320 MHz instantaneous bandwidth (IBW) with tunable intermediate frequency, this high-speed digitizer meets the needs for new technology development in 5G wireless mobile broadband. Used with the recommended host computer configuration, the new options allow guaranteed recording time, storing all I/Q samples for later analysis. A command line software application is included in the bundle for an easy launch and control of the streaming and recording.
As a component of the Keysight solution, the M9703B AXIe high-speed digitizer/wideband digital receiver (bundles -CB1/-CB2) allows customers to quickly characterize the channel behavior in these frequency bands and enables researchers to develop the necessary channel models for designing and validating air-interface alternatives.
For other applications where gapless streaming and recording is not required but there is a need to simultaneously read while acquiring, the new signal processing firmware (-TSR option) enables simultaneous capture and transfer of triggered acquisition data to the host computer.
“In dense urban RF environments where an interoperability and compatibility challenge may exist, the functionality of the -CB1 and -CB2 options allows users to capture and record a long duration of large frequency bands on multiple phase coherent channels,” said Pierre-François Maistre, R&D project manager for the Wideband Digitizer Components group of Keysight’s CMS Division. “This new capability allows users to characterize all emitters and distortions in the RF environment, including their timing relationships to other RF systems and enable an accurate post data processing, which is used in 5G channel sounding applications.”
By Koen Willems, Market Director, Government and Defense
A quick overview of news stories confirms 2015 has been a turbulent year for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
In January, Charlie Hebdo was attacked, while November saw fresh terrorist attacks on Paris and the Brussels lock down. In between, there were terrorist attacks on the Bardo Museum, the Sousse beach and a military bus in Tunisia, as well as a series of massacres in Baga, Nigeria, and the surrounding villages of Boko Haram. There was a mass shooting at the Garissa University College, in Kenya, and, of course, we cannot forget the conflicts in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Mali, Chad, Ukraine and many more.
These events tell us that conflicts are not only fought in theaters far away from our homes, but that the battlefields have now been extended to our very own doorsteps.
As a result of the conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, Europe is seeing a huge increase in migration. Entire families are traveling across the Mediterranean and risking their lives to flee the conflicts. Criminal organizations are exploiting the situation, asking the migrants for large fees and setting-up people-smuggling routes toward Europe. The conflict refugees are accompanied by migrant flows from Africa (through Libya), with people seeking better living conditions and an improved economy.
The Role Of Satellite
Our SATCOM community has a big part to play in supporting governments, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Departments of Defense (DoDs) in their proactive approaches to resolving and managing conflicts and humanitarian crises. The crises management will be a combination of ad hoc and longer-term measures.
Ad hoc, governments, NGOs and DoDs will try to temporarily solve the humanitarian problems, fight terrorism at its root in the conflict areas and stop people-smuggling criminal organizations. For these operations, government agencies need assets on land, sea and in the air.
Whether these assets are fixed, on-the-move, on-the-pause or nomadic, the need for communication is crucial. In many cases, satellite communication will be the only medium to connect the remote operations with (local) headquarters due to destroyed or absent terrestrial communications or due to the mobile nature of the asset. The flexibility of the space and ground SATCOM segment will allow crisis management operations to react quickly to the situation.
However, an ad hoc approach is not sufficient. A longer-term solution requires nations subject to conflict to become stable again at political, social and economical levels.
By tackling the root of the problem, we prevent conflicts and terrorism infecting other nations and create a safer environment. World organizations (UN, NATO, World Bank), NGOs and governments need to partner with industry organizations to introduce programs that will help develop and stabilize nations.
These programs will focus on an integrated approach. In other words, education (for example, an educational network connecting 4,000 schools in Morocco based on Newtec Dialog), elections, health care, human rights and economical development will go hand-in-hand with installing border security networks and training police and defense agencies to maintain security.
The SATCOM industry can contribute to this by partnering with government, NGO and DoD programs. This comes down to providing satellite coverage, offering affordable and flexible SATCOM services and deploying efficient and CAPEX-friendly ground infrastructure.
New High Throughput Satellite (HTS) constellations are already bringing the bandwidth price down and delivering global coverage. In order to offer flexible and affordable services, a multiservice VSAT platform is required.
Enter Newtec Dialog
The Newtec Dialog Multiservice VSAT platform is exactly what Newtec focused on in 2015.
If 2014 was the Newtec Dialog® launch year, 2015 has definitely been the year where the company witnessed the first large projects being deployed on the multiservice VSAT platform.
A significant number of Newtec Dialog projects have been dedicated to government and defense programs. In this changing world, a VSAT system that embraces the complexity of government and defense networks over satellite is needed.
The platform was involved in multiple government, NGO and DoD projects to deal with different programs and crises. Newtec Dialog allows various agencies to combine ad hoc and long-term programs on the same platform. The multiservice element allows agencies to mix data, video and voice satellite services from a single hub in a flexible and efficient way.
Newtec Dialog has been deployed in programs, ranging from Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) to border security networks, peacekeeping, humanitarian, educational, digital divide and police and defense training support networks. The flexible, efficient and scalable nature, combined with Newtec Dialog’s innovative technologies, meets the requirements of agencies and NGOs.
For example, a peacekeeping mission needs to react quickly when it receives the mandate to intervene in a local conflict. ISR and situational awareness data and video will be exchanged and the first logistics set-up. When the peacekeeping operation is fully deployed, other mission support services (reporting, administration, video conferencing), tactical data, field hospitals, local force training and welfare services are connected.
Once the conflict is resolved, the emerging democracies will need political support and organized elections (for example, the recent elections in Burkina Faso were based on Newtec Dialog). With Newtec Dialog, the peacekeeping mission can connect all these services on a single platform, offering flexibility and reducing CAPEX.
The onboard innovative technologies, such as Newtec Mx-DMA™ (Cross Dimensional Multiple Access; part of the Newtec Dialog platform) return technology, FlexACM® and DVB-S2 extension technologies (or the new DVB-S2X standard), provide an efficiency gain of 50% compared to legacy SCPC or MF-TDMA VSAT solutions. Additionally, operational efficiency is increased as maximal service availability can be assured for mission critical data.
Newtec has also seen interest from different government and defense agencies in its modems and receivers during 2015. All Newtec SCPC modems already have the DVB-S2X standard implemented. Combined with the onboard FlexACM end-to-end efficiency and bandwidth cancellation technologies, Newtec customers can achieve very high efficiency rates above 10 bits per second per Hertz.
For example, aggregated ISR data coming from multiple sources and sensor platforms (e.g., UAVs) can be relayed via a high-speed satellite link towards the strategic headquarter for further analysis and dissemination.
The Year Ahead
Going forward, 2016 will be a continuum of 2015—but more intense and turbulent. The growing coalition and military activities against ISIS and other terrorist groups will make their reactions even more violent and unpredictable.
As long as Syria, Iraq and African nations are thwarted by conflict, repression and famine, more migrant flows will move towards more developed nations. The government, DOD and NGO agencies must be ready to face these threats and crises.
Newtec will continue to develop the Newtec Dialog Multiservice VSAT platform and other SATCOM solutions to meet stringent government and defense requirements. Through company expertise and cooperation with government and defense customers, Newtec remains committed to achieving a safer, informed and more connected world.
B U L L E T I N S
A Focus On Africa
Newtec has announced that Liquid Telecom has selected the Newtec Dialog® multiservice platform to enlarge and improve the company’s current VSAT services with more applications and features for current and new customers.
Extending its current relationship with Newtec, Liquid Telecom will use the Newtec Dialog platform to expand its service portfolio towards new markets. The first Newtec VSAT platform with Liquid Telecom became operational in early 2014. Since then, Liquid Telecom has been able to deploy thousands of Newtec VSAT terminals.
Liquid Telecom will operate the Newtec Dialog hub alongside its current Newtec Sat3Play® broadband hub, allowing it to expand its current satellite services to more advanced business-to-business applications and deliver reliable cellular backhaul connections for mobile operators throughout Africa.
As a multiservice platform, Newtec Dialog guarantees optimal modulation and bandwidth allocation, whether it is being used for enterprise, consumer broadband, cellular backhaul or mobility in all network. It features Newtec’s patented return link technology Mx-DMA™, which combines the best features of MF-TDMA and SCPC technologies, making Liquid Telecom’s VSAT services more bandwidth efficient for larger customers and enabling services to run more efficiently and reliably than before.
Additionally, SES Techcom Services will be expanding its Astra Connect broadband service in Africa for the Enterprise and Oil & Gas markets via the Newtec Dialog® multiservice platform on SES’s ASTRA 2G satellite.
SES is extending its current relationship with long-term partner Newtec by the new platform, which is due to be launched in Q1 2016 and will use the West Africa Ku-band beam of the ASTRA 2G satellite, located at 28.2 degrees East. The platform will broaden SES Techcom Services’ current portfolio and flexibly support different services, as well as Newtec’s Mx-DMA™ technology, increasing bandwidth efficiency and service reliability for enterprise applications and enabling those services to run more cost-effectively and reliably than before.
A Brazilian Bond
UAE-based satellite operator Yahsat announced a contract award to Newtec for the delivery of service platforms and operating systems in support of the company’s planned extension across Brazil in 2017.
The new contract to Newtec is for their Newtec Dialog® multiservice VSAT platform, including VSAT baseband hubs, user terminals, as well as the Operating Support System (OSS) and Business Support System (BSS). The contract also caters for the supply of various types of Customer Premise Equipment (CPE). The turnkey solution provided by Newtec, in partnership with Tech Mahindra, is integrated with an Oracle platform, bringing Tier-1 capabilities to the OSS/BSS layer. Tech Mahindra comes with more than 20 years of experience in delivering OSS/BSS solutions to global telecom operators and has a strong presence in Brazil.
This partnership intends to maximize flexibility and innovation and will allow Yahsat and its customers to benefit from a broader product range and wider implementation, better serving the needs of its various markets—from consumer and enterprise broadband customers, to the provision of backhaul services for telecom operators and ISPs.
By Frank Elling, President
Quintech Electronics and Communications, Inc. (Quintech), is a leading manufacturer of RF signal management communications equipment and, since 1989, the company’s field-proven products have met the highest standards of quality and reliability, delivering unmatched uptime, even after as long as 25 years of continuous use.
Quality RF Matrix switching systems for Government and Military requirements are integral to global C4ISR applications, such as satellite Earth stations, Command and Control Centers, and Geospatial Intelligence.
Quintech RF signal management products are used for test and measurement, monitor and control, signal replication, backup and protection, and legal surveillance.
For more than 15 years, Quintech, along with the firm’s DEV division, have been manufacturing RF matrix switching systems as well as RF-over-fiber solutions for government and military requirements. Quintech RF matrix switching systems provide great flexibility while handling high RF input power levels and providing industry-leading gain flatness. These RF designs provide reliable modular and high-density RF signal management solutions.
2015: Expansion By Reduction
During 2015, the concept of “Expansion by Reduction” gained industry wide acceptance. In today’s environment, C4ISR organizations continue to face ever-increasing demands for bandwidth, content distribution, monitoring and data processing.
Convergence of all forms of content delivery and communications is at our doorstep and available to all. All government agencies are feeling pressure to manage operating expenses while demanding increased energy efficiency and decreased equipment footprint.
The capabilities and flexibility of RF Matrix Switches, such as Quintech’s XTREME 256 Matrix, define the next generation of L-band matrix switching systems and features 256 ports in a compact 12 RU chassis. The system is a full fan-out, non-blocking L-band RF Matrix Switch, where any input can be routed to any or all outputs.
This system provides expansion by reduction, minimizing rack unit (RU) space requirements. The company’s flexible matrix architecture (patent pending) supports a variety of large symmetric configurations up to 128x128 or Industry Exclusive Asymmetric configurations such as 64x192, 96x160 or 160x96 all in a single chassis with seamless further expansion capabilities as the need for additional capacity grows. This product was designed and engineered with both up and downlink capabilities. This flexible architecture has allowed the company to quickly respond to government and military customer’s requirements with agility and speed.
In 2015 Quintech and DEV introduced the XTREME 256 as well as several other next level switching products. The RF and Fiber Optic family of products offer a full range of next generation RF systems, all designed to meet a variety of needs and requirements for both small and large configurations alike.
The sales of the L-Band XTREME 256 Port Matrix in 2015 topped our internal expectations. Many Defense/Intelligence organizations have already begun the upgrade cycle of their NOCs, Earth station and ground segments in 2015 with plans to further expand their facility’s capabilities.
During 2015, Quintech and subsidiary, DEV-Systemtechnik, continued to innovate and extend the company’s global reach and reputation in satellite ground segment transmission and wireless test and measurement. As the need for increased awareness of RF and broadcast communication in all formats becomes more important by the day, requirements from governments to more actively and effectively monitor signals is being seen.
From this perspective, Quintech’s contributions have been aimed at driving productivity and efficiency for customers and partners,as they face greater challenges and as new complexities in all platforms of communications are scrutinized. To counter the chaos of a rapidly changing media landscape and the sheer amount of information exchange, the firm’s agile and innovative RF matrix designs are engineered to provide quick configuration changes, greater energy efficiency, and to easily scale in order to provide cost effective counter measures to meet the challenge.
Global Collaboration + Awareness Is Key
“Optimized RF Transmission Solutions for a Converged Network”
Surveillance and Monitoring
Quintech’s Defense and Intelligence industry customers demand superior high quality products and they rely on Quintech’s highly skilled and experienced team with a deep knowledge base in satellite communication, telecommunications, and RF signal-handling domains to address technical challenges. During the last 12 months, the company has launched new products and solutions to help customers better manage the burgeoning requirement for information exchange and continued exponential growth into the future.
Wireless Test and Validation: NEXUS
Another challenge Quintech has been addressing during 2015 is the testing and verification of converging networks and mobility. The Quintech NEXUS product line provides an ideal solution to create test setups, incorporating an ever increasing number of base stations, access points, phones, and tablets using multiple antennas and technologies. These include 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE-A, LTE-U, WiFi, satellite, and wireless mesh networks.
Proprietary software solutions, which accompany the NEXUS products, allow for remote and automated control providing even more flexibility and efficiency. This family of products enables wideband switching used for validation of battlefield network scenarios, as well as many public safety concerns both at home and abroad.
Redundancy: Maximizing Network Uptime
System reliability, network resiliency and availability is important in both battlefield and peace time situations. Quintech’s RF-over-fiber technology including DWDM transmission, combined with the wider availability of fiber infrastructure today, now make it more feasible for geographically diverse satellite Earth station antenna sites to have direct RF connectivity to a single data center. This eliminates the need for duplicate baseband data equipment at both sites. Therefore, significant cost-savings are provided as well as operational ease of use when compared to complete redundant antenna and baseband equipment at both sites.
Ka-band networks can also achieve higher resiliency using RF-over-fiber antenna diversity. In the Ka-band, where the high level of rain attenuation can impact availability during adverse weather conditions, this kind of RF-over-fiber technology and redundancy switching from Quintech can also provide higher network uptime through the re-direction of the signal from the main site to a diverse site using a redundancy switch and RF-over-fiber transmission system.
In addition, if scaled across multiple gateway sites, this solution increases overall usable satellite network capacity by allowing traffic be routed to less utilized satellite sites during challenging conditions. This helps Ka-band network operators to maximize use of available resources, and provides the ability to address a broader range of customer requirements.
Satellites are essential in gathering imagery intelligence and geospatial information for use in policymaking, on the battlefield and by humanitarian and disaster relief first responders. Quintech’s QRM / QFM product line increases reliability, flexibility, and efficiency in remotely located satellite terminal locations in both the downlink and uplink RF chain by routing a single antenna to multiple modems or combining multiple modems to a common uplink antenna.
A single 1RU unit can be configured as an 8x8, 8x16, 16x8 or 16x16 and is easily expanded to a maximum size of 32x32 with additional modules.
The QRM/QFM line features Quintech’s latest Q-ROUTE™ and Q-SENSE™ technology, which provides maximum reliability by signal path redundancy and auto re-route. The matrix provides a solution at IF, CATV, and L-band frequencies. Automatic and manual gain control allows balancing of input and output signal levels.
As 2015 comes to a close, Quintech Electronics and Communications and subsidiaries are more committed than ever to the vision of continued innovation and toward delivering a new generation of RF products that will meet evolving customer challenges in 2016 and beyond.
The company is eager and determined to be the premier engineering partner of choice. Quintech invites contact in order to learn more about the benefits that the superior RF solutions Quintech and DEV Systemtechnik products can deliver to organizations.
B U L L E T I N S
Earlier this year, Quintech Electronics and Communications, Inc. announced the company had delivered 125 of their
This made the QE3 L-Band Matrix Switching System for broadcast, cable, and satellite operating centers the most-selected product in its category, with three times the number of customer shipments as its nearest competitor, according to published reports.
The QE3, Quintech’s third-generation RF (radio frequency) matrix switch, is deployed around the globe as part of the core infrastructure in large broadcast Network Operations Centers (NOCs), satellite facilities, Command and Control Centers and other installations where large configuration matrices are used for RF signal management. The QE3 is a modular matrix that can be configured from 32x32 up to 1024x1024.
“Quintech’s products have met the highest standards of quality, and delivered unmatched uptime, even after as long as 25 years of continuous use,” said Dan Prushnok, CEO of Quintech Electronics and Communications, Inc. “The QE3’s milestone achievement as the most-selected L-band matrix switch is thanks to its unmatched track record of rock-solid performance meeting the needs of our broadcast customers.”
The QE3 is a Quintech third generation matrix design and has become the top selling RF L-Band Matrix. QE3 supersedes its 2nd generation predecessor, the Quintech XRM matrix switch, which has a comparable number of worldwide installations.
Quintech also introduced its fourth generation line of matrices that include the Xtreme 256, a 128x128 12RU switch and the compact 4RU Archimedes 64x64 matrix switch, which are designed to meet the RF signal switching needs of a variety of commercial and government customer applications.
By Tom Cross, Managing Director
This year has been an exciting and challenging one for Ultra GigaSat, and, indeed, for the entire SATCOM industry, which is undergoing unprecedented change.
Part of the Ultra Electronics Group, GigaSat is a SATCOM ground-segment systems integrator and supplier of deployable fly-away and drive-away terminals to both government and commercial customers. The company provides customers with multi-band solutions that meet their exact needs and manufacture virtually all of the non-RF and base-band components in-house.
This vertically integrated business model, together with careful supply chain management, allows us to be very responsive to our customers’ needs and ensure the exceptional quality they rightly expect.
Since becoming part of the Ultra Electronics Group more than three years ago, GigaSat has adopted a strategy that emphasizes the expansion of both the firm’s product range and geographical market footprint. 2015 has seen significant developments along both of these strands.
In terms of product development, the opportunities afforded by the drive towards High-Throughput Satellites (HTS) is exciting as well as the increasing migration of many users to Ka-band as an addition to more traditional services. The achievement of FOC on Inmarsat GX is a great achievement and a key milestone on this path.
The company also sees a lot of further potential in the expansion of X-band services for government users, and, in particular, the continued growth in terminal requirements across the WGS community. There are, of course, many other exciting trends across the industry, including the convergence of numerous bearer technologies, which will drive the need for hybrid multi-bearer terminals in the future.
However, the key trends surrounding HTS, increased Ka-band capacity and WGS expansion has driven the development of the GigaSat offering during 2015.
These trends are driving customer expectations relentlessly in the direction of smaller, lighter terminals that deliver data throughputs currently associated with larger, heavier and more power hungry Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT). The firm’s response to this has been the development of our Micro-VSAT range of terminals.
The Micro-VSAT is a terminal that typically incorporates an antenna that has the equivalent parabolic size of less than 65 centimeters. The first of the Micro-VSAT terminals (using a custom flat panel design) has already achieved GX Mil Ka Type Approval.
That’s just the beginning. Last year, Dr. Andrew Slaney, the company’s Technical Director, published an excellent article “The Challenges Of Micro-VSAT Design” (SatMagazine, September 2014 issue) in which he explained the multiple considerations and trade-offs that have to be accommodated in any successful small terminal design.
This development work has been a key focus for the company and technology partners during 2015—the Flat Panel Micro-VSAT has already been successfully delivered to a NATO customer.
Further development of this range, together with the parallel development of the FA100 VSAT man-pack range, has been underway for some time and will remain a focus for 2016, as the trend toward ever smaller, lighter, more powerful, type approved terminals continues to accelerate.
As well as expending significant time and resource on the development of hardware offerings, the company has also sought to expand an already large geographic footprint. GigaSat has a global sales presence and customer base, selling into more than 80 countries,.
However, this year GigaSat enjoyed significant success in extending reach into a number of countries and markets for the first time. These areas ranged from LATAM to Asia as well as within a number of NATO nations and have included both government and commercial customers.
With the rapid growth in Ka- capacity, and the increasing use of cellular technologies for network access and ENG in North America and Europe, regional variations in SATCOM requirements will increase further in the next few years. Customers will require region and application specific solutions to meet their particular needs.
Asia is a good example of this growth, being a market where GigaSat proven system integration capabilities allow the firm to successfully meet the exacting needs of customers.
The terminals multi-band design helps with this and customers always know that if they purchase, say, C- or
Ku-band systems in the first instance, they have a clear and cost-effective upgrade path to Ka- and X-band in the future.
This flexible, customer focused approach has also paid dividends in LATAM and among NATO and WGS users. As catalogue products are not provided, GigaSat takes pride and huge enjoyment from providing the exact solution to address a customer’s needs.
This has resulted in a number of large multi-terminal orders for drive-away and fly-away systems and is an expected continuing trend over the coming years as the company extends both direct and indirect sales channels. Agents and resale partners are continually being added solid distributors across the globe are always being sought.
The Year Ahead
Looking to 2016, we are likely to see a combination of ‘more of the same,’ in terms of product development and geographic expansion. Expect he further development of GigaSat offerings to include the provision of bandwidth and network services to customers, working in conjunction with market leading global service providers.
The company will increasingly offer wider value-added capabilities from the Ultra Electronics Group to customers. These could range from multiple levels of encryption to cyber protection, deployable wireless networks (including mobile mesh), point-to-point and point-to-multipoint multi-band radio links, M2M and SCADA.
However, how the company moves offerings forward will be driven entirely by customer requirements. The SATCOM market is evolving in ways that are quite exciting and not entirely predictable.
Company activity will be heavily influenced by how adjacent communications technologies develop and how customer applications are served by these multiple bearers and platforms. This rapidly changing market will demand rapidly changing, bespoke solutions that meet exact customer needs.
Agility will be key to market success and it is the companies who can provide differentiated, cost-effective solutions—across hardware, bandwidth and services—that will reap the benefits of future sector growth.
At GigaSat this challenge is relished and the company looks forward to working with customers and industry partners during the exciting
B U L L E T I N S
Simplicity + Increased Throughput
Earlier this year, Ultra Electronics GigaSat developed a family of small MicroVSAT terminals to meet the needs of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and the explosive growth in Ka-band services.
HTS offer a far greater throughput than traditional FSS satellites, for the same amount of allocated orbital spectrum. The increase in capacity that HTS offer is a result of high-level frequency re-use and spot beam technology. This enables multiple, narrow, focused beams. In contrast, classic satellite technology uses a single beam or a few beams.
As satellite broadband continues to expand across the globe, Ka-band technology is at the forefront. The Ka-band revolution began in North America in 2007 and expanded to Europe in late 2010. Now, Ka-band technology is spreading across the globe to the Middle East, Russia, LATAM and Australia.
Increasing demand for broadband is rapidly using up the available capacity of existing Ku-band satellites. Meanwhile, both large and small organizations rely more and more upon media rich content to increase the communications.
Governments require high-bandwidth applications to deliver services across all their functions, while consumers want to watch movies, make VoIP phone calls and use the Internet—all simultaneously.
Ka-band technology makes all of this possible via satellite, giving access to government users, households and business across the globe. The high bandwidth available in the Ka- spectrum and frequency re-use capabilities across multiple beams enables more capacity at faster speeds to small dishes.
GigaSat’s family of MicroVsat terminals use a mix of custom flat panel and elliptical arrays. Their rugged construction and compact form factor offers the simplicity of a BGAN terminal with the increased throughput of commercial and military satellites.
During 2015, GigaSat received a follow-on order from a European customer bringing the total number of flyaway antennas purchased by this customer to more than 60 in number.
Then, a prestigious contract from a significant government end user in Asia for more than 40 antennas systems from the company’s DA Lite Antenna range was signed.
All of the company’s antennas are designed, developed and manufactured, from our bespoke factory in Tring. This growth across Europe means that GigaSat remains a key driver and enabler for economic growth and jobs, leading innovation and providing rugged solutions for faster, smoother communications in the most demanding environments.