Future of Satellite Industry Built on Partnerships

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4Q 2020 | IN-5983

SES has recently announced that it will be partnering with Gilat and ST Engineering iDirect to develop the core infrastructure modem platforms for its O3b mPOWER, non-geostationary-satellite orbit (NGSO) communications system.

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SES Partners in Gilat and ST Engineriing iDirect


SES has recently announced that it will be partnering with Gilat and ST Engineering iDirect to develop the core infrastructure modem platforms for its O3b mPOWER, non-geostationary-satellite orbit (NGSO) communications system.

SES plans to leverage the next-generation modem technologies of Gilat and ST Engineering iDirect. These modem technologies possess open architectures that enable full virtualization of satellite communications. The modems will interface with SES's Adaptive Resource Control (ARC) capability, which aims to efficiently manage in-orbit satellite fleet and its corresponding ground system infrastructure to meet the stringent Service Level Agreements (SLAs) of the industries they support. This increased heterogeneity of the satellite system will be facilitated by the usage of Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) standard.

Openness and Collaboration


SES’ introduction of Gilat and ST Engineering into their system puts them in a better position to capitalize on the economies of scale through increased vendor options from the use of open standards. Open standards in Software Defined Satellite Networks (SDSN) give satellite operators more autonomy in the development, deployment, and operation of their satellite network infrastructure resources, thereby streamlining production costs and improving the delivery of network services.

The emergence of mega non-Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) constellations, notably from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) players such as SpaceX, will require deployments of a much larger scale to follow through on their promise of ubiquitous coverage. The responsibility of managing this massive amount of bandwidth alongside more occurrences of switching/hand-offs within a mega-constellation demands more sophisticated automation and orchestration layers of ground infrastructure. Some of these systems will require frequent beam handoffs every hour at every single user terminal and hundreds to thousands of handoffs per hour at every gateway facility. Additionally, the frequency reuse capabilities of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) systems requires dynamic spectrum allocation and interference management. SDSN can help to cost-effectively scale operations by intelligently automating and orchestrating the increased assets and network elements of these NGSO systems.

SDSN will also be a key enabler for satellite communications to be integrated into the unified network infrastructure of diverse connectivity technologies (i.e., fiber, microwave) that 5G requires. Satellite communications bring forward their own unique advantages that can cater to 5G-centric capabilities such as multi-tenancy, reconfigurability, automation, scaling, and resource slicing. SDSN can also aid in providing reliable network coverage to rural, hard-to-reach areas and support the imminent increase of macro and small-cell sites.

There is also a growing interest across the industry in the potential of interconnected, multi-orbit satellite networks—which are comprised of GEO, Middle Earth Orbit (MEO) and LEO satellites—in providing multi path connectivity to a diverse set of customer and deployment profiles. SES and Hughes are one of the leading voices of this movement. SES is set to provide a multi-orbit cloud scale satellite network (GEO, MEO) to Microsoft Azure. These partnerships add value to the involved satellite operators by streamlining their supply chains, expanding their intellectual property offerings, and having a combined pool of financial and human resources for innovation. These advantages will benefit satellite operators as they navigate the increasing relevance of mega-constellations and how they can be used to fortify 5G networks.

Changing Dynamics in the Equipment Ecosystem


Collaboration is also needed in the satellite equipment market to help position satellite operators in addressing the evolving connectivity needs of consumers and enterprises. The ability to manage scale and costs will prove to be key factors for satellite operators, and recent horizontal integration within the satellite equipment market is a promising direction to address these needs. Merging companies are combining their technology and resources to streamline the costs in product development and manufacturing. Satellite operators can overcome the financial barriers that come with large constellations through the aggregation of resources from these companies.

For example, ST Engineering iDirect’s recent acquisition of Newtec allows it to combine Newtec Intellectual Property (IP) in bandwidth efficiency and ultra-high throughput technologies to complement its satellite technology portfolio. ST Engineering iDirect would consequently have the ability to manufacture value-added products at a faster time-to-market, while managing production costs. Comtech and UHP’s merger has enhanced the ground station product line of Comtech while UHP’s TDMA technology can augment Comtech’s HEIGHTS platform.


Companies Mentioned