The satellite industry comprises individuals from a variety of backgrounds, market segments, and nationalities. So naturally, everyone who attended the annual SATELLITE 2020 conference in Washington, D.C., brought a different perspective and agenda to the conference. Yet all — from C-suite leadership speaking at keynote presentations and during sessions, to sales representatives waving hello from their booths on the exhibition floor — have nothing but enthusiasm and positivity for where the industry is headed.
In spite of concerns surrounding the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, which tempered the presence of some exhibitor booths, most conference-goers exuded an air of cheerfulness and excitement around both the educational sessions and ample networking opportunities, to mingle with industry insiders, forge partnerships and discuss ideas.
For Scott Sanders, principal program director of Envistacom, seeing keynote speaker Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO at SpaceX, made his first-time show attendance especially memorable — because he also earned bragging rights to his daughter.
“I liked the way he simplified things,” said Sanders, referring to Musk while strolling through the exhibit hall. “Plug in, point to sky. In satellite, it’s got to be simple.”
As he handed out postcard invitations for a technology launch party held at the International Spy Museum on Tuesday night, Sanders chatted about his hopes and plans for meeting with several other conference attendees.
“What I’m most excited about are the opportunities that lay ahead that we don’t even know about yet,” he said.
Ramesh Ramaswamy, senior vice president and general manager of the International Division at Hughes, one of the show’s most prominent exhibitors, expressed excitement over his company’s new global distribution agreement with OneWeb, which the company announced on Monday.
“We will market OneWeb services around the world for applications such as enterprise and government networking, cellular backhaul, and community Wi-Fi hotspots,” Ramaswamy said. “And speaking of community Wi-Fi, we also just announced that we have surpassed 1,000 Hughes Express Wi-Fi Hotspots in Latin America. It is exciting to see the adoption of these hotspots and how they are bringing affordable connectivity to people in places that simply did not have access before.”
Phasor CEO David Helfgott spoke during a session focused on next- gen antenna systems, and said 2020 will be an especially exciting year, given the expected rollout of his company’s phased-array antennas targeting the maritime and land mobile markets.
“I would say this year’s show is lower traffic but higher-quality meetings,” Helfgott said. “It’s always good to talk to your peers and see what everyone is doing.”
Joakim Espeland, CEO and founder of QuadSAT, said his company made its debut as an exhibitor for the first time in 2020, after several years of attending the show. The Denmark company’s booth displayed photos of drones, which aptly illustrated its mission to “combine a simulated satellite payload with drone tech to create a brand new way to test satellite antennas.”
“Our focus at the moment is the satellite operator, but we also want to talk more to the antenna manufacturer,” Espeland said.
Andrew Pluta of Select Fabricators said his company made the trek to SATELLITE 2020 from Canandaigua, New York, in the hopes of meeting more government contacts and anyone looking to do testing and Radio Frequency (RF) isolation.
“We love it in D.C.,” he said. “Most of our customers are in the government space.”
Chris Mainegra, sales engineer for Fujipoly America Corp., said his first year as an exhibitor has presented solid networking opportunities. “I think satellite applications represent a high-growth area,” he said.
Bill Milroy, chairman and CTO of ThinKom Solutions said that despite a few meeting cancellations, he was looking forward to exhibiting and speaking.
“Our strategy for this year is somewhat multi-faceted,” Milroy said. “We continue to successfully build upon the success of our ThinAir KU3030 and ThinAir KA2517 Aeronautical SATCOM (IFC) antenna products with some 1,400 plus installations and 15 million hours plus of accrued flight time on both commercial and government aircraft, and [are] now extending those products to operation on [Low-Earth Orbit] LEO and [Medium Earth Orbit] MEO constellations, supporting seamless roaming from satellite-to-satellite and constellation-to-constellation.”
Milroy said SATELLITE 2020 continues to offer him and other industry stakeholders a unique opportunity to converge and converse with his entire spectrum of customers, partners, and suppliers.
“It’s a great way for us to assess, in person, the pulse and trends across our industry, and to do what we can to educate and influence key decision-makers — such as current and potential customers — relative to the unique merits and benefits of our own products and technologies,” he said. VS