My six years as part of the editorial team at Via Satellite (2000-2002 as associate editor; and 2002-2006 as editor) spanned some of the key transformative moments that shaped the industry into what it is today. Advancements of satellite-enabled services in emerging markets brought data and HD programming that complemented the already delivered voice services, which further connected the previously unconnected. These advances also dramatically improved and expanded communications and theater operations for global militaries and provided a critical lifeline for first responders. Additionally, they established a solid foundation for enterprise networks to meet new corporate requirements of the 21st century and exceed their revenue-generating consumer goals.
This surge of satellite-enabled services for the enterprise sector propelled the Via Satellite team to launch the magazine’s first and only sister publication, Satellite Business Solutions. Many of you may remember it. Satellite Business Solutions saw the new demand placed on the enterprise sector for new century growth and focused on how satellite technology enabled the expanding business applications for corporate enterprises that required connectivity to their remote locations where conventional networks did not exist, or were insufficient for them to successfully execute their business objectives. It was a publication for the enterprise community, by the enterprise community. It reported on how global corporations — which during this time were expanding rapidly and many into emerging markets — established broadband solutions that allowed enterprises to obtain secure and reliable connectivity for accessing business-critical applications such as email, intranet, Internet access, video-conferencing, large file transfers, and the like. Our main purpose was to showcase how business operations that extend to geographically remote locations depend on satellites to provide the critical communication means to conduct isolated applications such as facility monitoring and real-time asset management, all the while providing an always-on connection with headquarters. And even more importantly, Satellite Business Solutions spotlighted how satellite technology enabled enterprises to expand their business offerings as they sought to capture new market share in their respective industries.
Club Med, one of the first to be profiled, relayed that without satellite technology, the hospitality group offering all-inclusive vacations would not have been able to expand to some of its most exotic locations. At the time it operated more than 60 properties across more than 25 countries worldwide. It was this direct impact of those bits and bytes traveling 22,000 miles that made reporting on the enterprise sector so rewarding.
And it only got more personal from there. Mobile communications surged during my tenure at Via Satellite, and satellite for cellular backhaul services began to take center stage as the evolution to 3G (remember 3G?) and LTE grew. Cellular operators were looking for ways to increase coverage and reduce costs to meet this demand. Up until that time, many mobile operators had in large part stayed away from satellite, preferring terrestrial and microwave solutions, for three key reasons: cost, latency and reliability. It was a distant cousin only activated in case terrestrial systems failed. More backhaul optimization technologies via satellite, which began to reduce bandwidth costs, were introduced to the market and new satellite payloads to address the cellular demand of high-bandwidth content took their spots in GEO orbit.
In times of natural disasters, mobile communications via satellite also became paramount. Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, and the region faced unprecedented communications chaos when the storm severed terrestrial links. First responders routed communications that traveled satellite-to-satellite, while others deployed permanent satellite backup systems that automatically provided connectivity in the event of main circuit failure or in rapid response type services where connectivity was available only during certain periods.
Today we live in a much more connected world. With the Internet of Things (IoT) rapidly becoming our new normal, and smart devices connecting every aspect of our lives. The shift to a new, connected world signals another landscape change that satellite will undoubtedly play a significant role in further materializing. In fact, I venture to guess that in much the same way that the cellular industry matured with satellite, satellite technology will serve as a key tool for IoT new services. It will tether business transactions across industries, seamlessly enable communication flow across regional borders, and maintain a high level of service reliability for successful IoT deployments on the horizon.
What will the future hold? Only time will tell but one thing is for certain: satellite technology will continue to support the communication and connectivity needs of enterprises, governments and consumers. I look forward to learning how it all will materialize through the pages of Via Satellite — this time as a reader. VS