Thaicom Subsidiary Buys Ka-band Satellite from China Great Wall Industry Corporation
International Satellite Company (ISC), a subsidiary of Thai satellite operator Thaicom, has entered into a satellite procurement contract with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) for a $208 million Ka-band satellite. The subsidiary is buying the satellite on behalf of an unnamed business partner under which the satellite will be licensed and whose orbital slot it will use.
Thaicom said in a press release that the partner will provide the company with advanced service fees that will serve as the source of funding for the construction of the satellite, and that the project is expected to contribute to increased revenue for the operator.
The satellite is designed to carry 37 GHz of Ka-band capacity, equivalent to 53 Gbps; ISC has already agreed to lease out the entire capacity to a major customer. Once completed around the end of 2019, the satellite is expected to provide broadband and mobility services in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand over its 15-year lifetime.
State-owned CGWIC is the only commercial organization authorized by the Chinese government to provide satellite, commercial launch services and to carry out international space cooperation. Other recent commercial contracts include Apstar 9 for APT Satellite of Honk Kong and Belintersat 1 for the new Belarusian operator Belintersat.
Ooredoo Maldives Supplying Thuraya Satellite Products to Fisheries
Ooredoo Maldives has reached an agreement with Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) provider Thuraya to supply resorts and fisheries with mobile satellite products and services across the archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The initial phase of the agreement will provision fisheries and anglers with voice products and broadband connectivity over Thuraya’s satellite network.
The Maldives government has issued a mandate requiring commercial fishing operators to fit their vessels with satellite communication equipment and to supply anglers with satellite phones. The goal of the mandate is to boost safety in the fishing industry. By equipping their fishing vessels with Thuraya’s products, operators will have access to monitoring systems and services that address multiple requirements, such as issues of distress and safety.
Ooredoo Maldives is selling Thuraya SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot devices, along with data packages at retail outlets and through enterprise account teams. The Thuraya devices augment smartphones to function as satellite phones, enabling connectivity on the move, especially in remote areas where terrestrial networks have become unavailable or unreliable. The devices also come with a programmable SOS button that works even if the smartphone is not connected.
“Traditionally, fish[ing] is the main occupation and major source of livelihood in the Maldives. It is also the second largest industry in the country. Safety is an important driver in this sector, where there are many accidents. It is important to have crew-calling capabilities outside of radio range so fishermen can send alerts when in trouble,” said Ooredoo’s Hussain Niyaz.
The second phase of the agreement, which will come into effect later this year, will target the 105-plus resorts located in the different atolls constituting the Republic of Maldives. In a preemptive and precautionary mandate by the government, all resorts and touristic facilities are required to install satellite communication equipment as an added safety measure for tourists and visitors.
AsiaSat CEO Shifts to Senior Advisor Role, Andrew Jordan Takes Helm
AsiaSat President, CEO and Executive Director William Wade is retiring from his post and assuming a new role as senior advisor, the company announced today. The board of directors at AsiaSat has appointed Andrew Jordan as his successor starting Nov. 1; Wade will continue with AsiaSat as senior advisor until March 31, 2017.
Jordan has more than 25 years of experience in the satellite industry, and was the general manager for AsiaSat’s marketing department from 1991 to 1993. He has held executive positions with several satellite operators, and led complex deal negotiations in Asia, Australia, and Europe.
SSL Confirms Health of NBN’s Sky Muster 2
Space Systems Loral (SSL) has confirmed that Sky Muster 2, the second High Throughput Satellite (HTS) designed and built for Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) has performed post-launch maneuvers according to plan.
The satellite deployed its solar arrays on schedule following its launch aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle on Oct. 6, and began firing its main thruster early the following morning to reach Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO). NBN plans to use Sky Muster 2 in conjunction with the first Sky Muster satellite to provide high-speed broadband service to more than 200,000 Australians.
Sky Muster 2 is the second of two twin Ka-band HTS satellites that NBN purchased from SSL and launched with Arianespace. Together, the two satellites provide telecommunications services to Australia’s most difficult to reach citizens, including those in mainland Australia as well as those on offshore islands including Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Lord Howe Island, Cocos, and Macquarie Island in the Antarctic.
Kacific Capacity More Than 70 Percent Presold on First Satellite
Kacific Broadband Satellites, a Singapore-based startup with plans to provide internet connectivity to the Asia-Pacific and Oceania regions, has pre-sold enough of the capacity on its first planned satellite, Kacific 1, that the company is now ready to progress without the support of the U.S. Export Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank). In 2015, Kacific was one of the companies with orders for U.S.-built satellites no longer able to complete a transaction with a manufacturer, in this case, Boeing, because of the lapse of Ex-Im Bank’s charter. The U.S. Congress, after letting the charter expire, did reauthorize the Export Credit Agency (ECA) months later, but has yet to confirm enough board members to constitute a quorum, meaning the institution still cannot support deals in excess of $10 million. Multiple satellite awards remain frozen because of the absence of this quorum, but Kacific is ready to move on.
“Thanks to our large volume of firm bandwidth sales, we have been able to attract interest from alternate financing solutions as well as from other export credit agencies,” Christian Patouraux, CEO of Kacific, told Via Satellite. “Kacific has now all but completed the work required to put its first satellite, K-1, on track. More than 70 percent of its future capacity has already been sold. Thanks to this success, many locations covered by K-1 no longer have capacity for sale.”
Patouraux said Kacific now has more than $434 million in pre-sale contracts and supply agreements. Many of the customers are governments, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecom operators across the Asia-Pacific, with much of their focus being on connecting education and healthcare. Ahead of launching Kacific 1, the company has been providing an interim service that Patouraux said provides an opportunity to learn and adjust Kacific’s future offering to real conditions on the ground. The interim service uses the Newtec Dialog multiservice platform, hosted at Av-Comm’s teleport in Australia to provide internet connectivity in the Republic of Vanuatu.
Multiple FSS Operators Musing a Stake in LeoSat
Upcoming satellite operator LeoSat is in discussion with eight geosynchronous satellite operators on investing in the company’s future high capacity Low Earth Orbit (LEO) system. The talks could lead to an arrangement whereby an established Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) provider would have shared access to the LeoSat constellation once in orbit, Mark Rigolle, CEO of LeoSat, told Via Satellite.
“We are talking to some eight strategic investors, FSS operators, who are in various stages of due diligence,” Rigolle said, adding that it took nine months for SES before that operator made its investment in O3b Networks. Rigolle is a former CFO and CEO of O3b, and guided the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) operator to raising $1.2 billion back in the late 2000s.
Rigolle estimates that LeoSat will require $3.5 to $3.6 billion for its planned constellation of high throughput, low latency satellites. He said the Round A funding the company is currently undergoing will be for equity.
An FSS partnership with LeoSat could continue a trend growing all the more evident among GEO players as they seek to differentiate their services. Last year Intelsat partnered with OneWeb for combined GEO/LEO services, of which Gogo is the inaugural customer; SES this year moved to take 100 percent ownership of O3b, and Telesat procured two demonstration LEO spacecraft to trailblaze a potential constellation of 150 to 200 small satellites.
Europe’s MetOp A Satellite Outlives Life Expectancy by Five Years
Europe´s first polar orbiting weather satellite, MetOp A, has survived double its specified lifetime of five years, manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space announced today. Launched Oct. 19, 2006, the satellite will soon accomplish 10 years in space for the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
MetOp A has orbited Earth almost 52,000 times and delivered more than 100 terabytes of weather and climate data. Orbiting at approximately 830 kilometers the spacecraft was Europe’s first Low Earth Orbit (LEO) meteorological satellite. Now one of three identical spacecraft, MetOp A circles the planet sun-synchronously 14 times a day, flying much closer to the Earth than the geostationary Meteo-satellites placed 36,000 km above the equator. The satellite provides observations in finer detail over the full Earth, including high latitude regions critical for weather forecasts in Europe.
Since September 2012, MetOp A has operated in tandem with MetOp B, flying in the same orbit, half an orbit apart, to better observe rapid changes in the atmosphere. The duo collect data essential for accurate forecasts up to 12 days ahead. The third satellite, MetOp C, is scheduled for launch in 2018.
“By itself MetOp A contributes roughly 25 percent of all data gathered for meteorological purposes, and 38 percent of all satellite platforms. The MetOp fleet’s performance in measuring trace gases, and in the field of atmospheric chemistry, e.g. methane, sulfur dioxide, volcanic ash, has exceeded all expectations. Furthermore, climate and environmental monitoring benefits from the long-lasting program with three satellites designed to operate for more than two decades,” said Dieter Klaes, program scientist at EUMETSAT.
Sierra Nevada Corp Signs MOU to Study European Dream Chaser Variant
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the European Space Agency (ESA) and European partners Telespazio of Italy and OHB System AG of Germany to initiate the pilot phase of the Dream Chaser for European Utilization (DC4EU) program. The team of four will now assess the feasibility and commercial viability of the DC4EU dedicated mission to provide affordable, independent European access to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) via the Dream Chaser Space Utility Vehicle (SUV).
“DC4EU could represent a valuable platform to enable independent European access to LEO through a ‘customized’ European variant of the Dream Chaser spacecraft. We are willing to explore the potential of such a promising solution. That could be a major element for the setting up of the future European LEO service missions ecosystem,” said Giuseppe Aridon, VP of strategy and marketing at Telespazio.
ESA chose the DC4EU mission as one of eight out of 60 proposals to begin a pilot phase implementation in 2016. According to the companies involved, DC4EU would have compatibility with the future Ariane 6 launch vehicle and the ability to land on suitable runways for near-immediate payload access. The objective of the pilot phase is to demonstrate the technical and programmatic feasibility of DC4EU, which includes the preparation of a business plan highlighting the partnership viability for both private and public interests.
“Commercial partnerships are a new element of the ESA Space Exploration Program. They open up space exploration for private-sector-led initiatives and offer exciting opportunities for advancing the implementation of the ESA strategic goals for space exploration in novel ways, and for enlarging the stakeholder community actively engaged in exploring space,” said David Parker, ESA director for human spaceflight and robotic exploration.
SNC has a contract with NASA to provide cargo services to and from the International Space Station (ISS) under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. Along with cargo missions, Dream Chaser has potential for a variety of LEO space missions including in-orbit servicing.
Orbital ATK, Airbus Defence and Space to Co-Build Eutelsat’s Next Satellite
Eutelsat has signed a partnership with two satellite manufacturers, Orbital ATK in the U.S. and Airbus Defence and Space of France, to co-build Eutelsat 5 West B. Under the terms of the agreement, Orbital ATK will provide a GEOStar satellite platform, and Airbus Defence and Space will provide a communications payload consisting of 35 active Ku-band channels. This is the first time the two companies have partnered on satellite work.
With an estimated final launch mass of around three tons and a power of 5 kW, Eutelsat 5 West B will replace Eutelsat 5 West A, addressing predominantly French, Italian and Algerian broadcast markets from the 5 degrees west orbital slot. The satellite will feature switchable transponders to increase commercial flexibility. The companies will design, build and test the spacecraft at Orbital ATK’s satellite manufacturing facility in Dulles, Virginia.
Eutelsat 5 West B will have an operational lifetime of more than 15 years, and is scheduled to launch in a stacked configuration with Orbital ATK’s first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV 1) on an International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket in 2018. Eutelsat expects significant savings will be achieved relative to the theoretical cost of replicating Eutelsat 5 West A, as the replacement is the first satellite to be procured within the framework of the company’s capex reduction strategy announced in June 2016. The company expects these savings to come from an improved match of the satellite’s coverage with specific customer requirements, thus lowering costs on power requirements and hardware.
Eutelsat is discontinuing the C-band mission of Eutelsat 5 West A, which served mainly data customers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The operator plans to enable service continuity by similar C-band capacity available on other Eutelsat resources.
Russia’s S7 Group Buys Sea Launch
S7 Group, the largest private aviation holding company in Russia, has agreed to purchase Sea Launch, operator of the Zenit launch system.
The transaction requires the approval of U.S. government agencies, namely the Directorate of Defense Trade Control within the Department of State, and the Foreign Investment Committee of the United States (CFIUS). Sea Launch and S7 Group expect this process could take several months.
In conjunction with this purchase agreement, S7 Group also signed a deal with S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia to resume Sea Launch operations. In 2014, Sea Launch took its Launch Commander and Odyssey vessels out of service, and reduced the company’s head count. Energia has now agreed to provide S7 Group with the necessary engineering and launch support, as well as system integration services to revitalize Sea Launch, which had its last mission in May 2014.
RigNet, O3b Providing Satellite Connectivity to Offshore Brazilian FPSO Fleet
Satellite operator O3b Networks and telecommunications solutions provider RigNet have entered an agreement with Modec to supply high-throughput, low latency connectivity for the company’s Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels off the coast of Brazil. RigNet will integrate O3b’s Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellite network solution, enabling Modec to deliver operational decisions in real-time through advanced collaborative environments.
An FPSO is a floating production system that receives fluids from a subsea reservoir through risers, which then separate fluids into crude oil, natural gas, water and impurities within the topsides production facilities onboard. Crude oil stored in the storage tanks of the FPSO is offloaded onto shuttle tankers to go to market or for further refining onshore. FPSOs today have become the primary production method for many offshore oil and gas producing regions around the world. Using satellite connectivity, Modec experts at onshore monitoring centers can now work directly with offshore operators, using real-time information for decision-making.
“Because of high-latency, we have had to establish a sub-par communications infrastructure on board each vessel. With O3b, we can set-up offshore as an extended environment to onshore support to implement a consistent and efficient management system, and provide extensive business tools to improve the control of the work, which will eventually reduce operations costs,” said Soichi Ide, VP of Modec do Brasil. “Crews on board an FPSO are often isolated. Having the ability to seamlessly address any anomaly will contribute to quick decisions to act for any safety or environmental event, and will result in delivering better business performance, of course with better financial performance too.”
ARSAT Buys Jupiter System from Hughes for Broadband Across Argentina
Argentinian telecommunications company ARSAT has selected Hughes’ Jupiter system to deliver high-speed satellite internet connectivity to schools and underserved rural areas of the country. Hughes is providing a latest generation Jupiter system, including gateways and VSATs, which will operate over the ARSAT 1 and 2 satellites.
The initial phase envisions approximately 1,000 terminals connecting schools to the internet, working toward an eventual goal of 2,000 sites. ARSAT’s Jupiter implementation is part of Argentina’s initiative to increase internet connectivity and reduce service costs for rural communities that are unserved or underserved by terrestrial broadband services. A particular area of focus is digital inclusion of educational facilities, bringing broadband connectivity to rural schools.
“Argentina has one of the highest rates of internet connectivity in Latin America, but mostly in urban areas. We are working to build on that by improving the quality and accessibility of service across the country, particularly rural areas,” said Rodrigo de Loredo, president of ARSAT.
ARSAT provides satellite telecommunications services such as voice, data transmission, audio and video, and is also in charge of other major telecommunications projects, namely Argentina’s Federal Fiber Optical Network, the National Data Center, and the national platform for the Argentine System of Direct-to-Home (DTH) Free TV.
PeruSAT 1 Beams Back First Images
The Peruvian Space Agency CONIDA’s PeruSAT 1 satellite has delivered its first images after launching Sept. 16 from Kourou, French Guiana. The satellite, built by Airbus Defence and Space as the result of a bilateral agreement between Peru and France, collects images for use in agriculture, urban planning, border control and drug trafficking, and will support the management of humanitarian aid and the evaluation of natural disasters, among other applications.
From now until the end of the year, PeruSAT 1 will undergo exhaustive in-orbit tests from the CNOIS (Centro Nacional de Operaciones de Imágenes Satelitales) control center, which Airbus Defence and Space also built, in Pucusana, south of Lima to ensure that all subsystems are operating properly. After testing, fully trained Peruvian engineers and technicians of the customer CONIDA will operate the satellite.
PeruSAT 1 is based on the AstroBus S platform, featuring a silicon carbide optical instrument system with 70cm resolution. Airbus Defence and Space constructed the satellite in less than 24 months — a record time for the company.
Arqiva Extends International Distribution with Intelsat for Premium Sports
Arqiva has extended its relationship with Intelsat to distribute premium sports content to viewers in the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region via multiple Intelsat satellites. Under a multi-year agreement, Arqiva is using services on Intelsat 34 and Intelsat 20 to broadcast content to millions of sports fans located in these regions.
The Intelsat 20 satellite, located at 68.5 degrees east, hosts the region’s premier cable neighborhood that serves as a transcontinental hotspot from Europe, with a particularly high viewership in India. Launched in 2015, Intelsat 34, orbiting at 304.5 degrees east, is one of Intelsat’s three satellites hosting pan-regional video distribution neighborhoods in Latin America, complementing Intelsat 11 and Intelsat 21. Intelsat 34 includes a C-band payload, which delivers media distribution services to Latin American cable systems for blue chip media including Fox Sports and HBOLA.
Latin American Satellite Operators Battle Recessions, Inflation
Satellite operators in Latin America’s three largest economies are hopeful that economic weakness in the region will pass in the near future. New presidents in Brazil and Argentina, and policy changes in Argentina and Mexico specifically, are having salient impacts on the countries’ telecommunications sectors.
“It is a really tough year for us,” Gustavo Silbert, president of Brazil-based Embratel Star One, said Sept. 12 at World Satellite Business Week in Paris, France. “Inflation is around 10 percent, so it is very, very bad. Unemployment is around 11 percent. Those are the bad things that happened, but what we see now is a kind of turning point; we have a new government with a lot of expectations.”
Brazil impeached its president, Dilma Rousseff, this August after nearly a yearlong process. The impeachment, combined with the Zika crisis and ongoing market challenges from factors like the weak state of the oil and gas market, have further stressed the country’s economy. Silbert said Star One typically makes purchases in U.S. dollars but sells in Brazilian reals, making currency depreciation another challenge. Still, he said the company has had some notable highlights, particularly with the recent Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. He said Star One provided 25 dedicated channels for the Olympics in full HD, as well as some 4K, and made content accessible to “every screen,” including using internet to reach multiple devices.
In Argentina, national satellite operator Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales Sociedad Anonima (ARSAT) said inflation has stalled out the economy, but with the country’s renewed interest in international friendships, moods are upbeat for near-term turnaround.
“Certainly the fact that inflation reached 20, perhaps 30 percent or more in the past years created stagflation of the economy, and we are in the battle to control inflation,” said Henoch Aguiar, vice president of ARSAT. “We think in the next months we will see that and expect good movements of the economy for the next year.”
Aguiar added that while the national economy has struggled, satellite in particular has grown at an appreciable rate. In an accompanying presentation, he said 65 percent of ARSAT 1, the operator’s first satellite, which launched in 2014, is already contracted. The satellite has a 14 percent backlog, 10 percent more capacity sales are forecasted for next year, and another 10 percent are not being leased commercially. ARSAT 2, launched in 2015, is 35 percent utilized, with a 25 percent backlog and future forecasted sales of 30 percent within the next one to two years. Like its predecessor, 10 percent of the satellite is also not available for commercial lease.
In a step change from the past, Aguiar said the Argentine government is planning to shed some of its protectionist policies in favor of letting international satellite operators sell capacity in the country. Even among differing political parties, he said this mindset remains the same: “all of them share one idea — Argentina must be open to the world.”
Aguiar said the recession in Argentina has impacted data services more so than broadcast television, with entertainment apparently carrying more value during hard times. Silbert said broadcasting is down in Brazil, though he added Star One’s 70 degrees west orbital location has amounted to a “hot spot” for the operator as an estimated 20 million receive-only C-band television dishes are pointed at the operator’s satellites at this position. That equates to almost 40 percent of houses in the country, he said.
Mexico’s Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes’ (SCT) Mexsat Program, though part of the government, is also feeling economic pressures as it tries to finance a replacement for the Centenario satellite destroyed in a 2015 Proton failure. Omar Charfen Tommasi, Mexsat program director at SCT Mexico, while stressing that Mexsat does not have a profit motive, said the organization lost replacement satellite money because of Mexico’s financial situation.
“With the gas and oil prices going down and with a sequestration process, we have budget constraints and we need to get creative in carving the correct financial solutions for our needs. That is the case with the new satellite we are planning to buy to provide backup to the Morelos 3 satellite due to the launch failure that we had last year,” he said.
Centenario was the second of a would-be trio of satellites Mexico’s SCT had planned for national communications services and was identical to the third satellite, Morelos 3. The satellites were to serve as backups for each other. Tommasi said the SCT still has a requirement for three spacecraft to meet needs in fields such as national security, e-learning, and telemedicine.
“For Mexico Connectado, we have 100,000 sites connected. Only 30 percent of those are connected via satellite, but we want to increase that number. We want to reach 200,000 sites in the next two years,” he said.
According to Tommasi, the SCT did recover the insurance amount of the lost satellite, but this money “went into the Mexican treasury and was used for other priorities.” He said SCT has been engaged in performing a market study on getting a replacement satellite and hopes to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to satellite manufacturers by the end of this year.
Tommasi said Mexico’s commercial telecommunications sector has grown robustly over the past four years thanks to legislative changes that have introduced competition. He said prices have fallen for connectivity by 23.2 percent over the last three years, and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in telecommunications is now second only to oil and gas. The SCT estimates Mexico has 54 internet users for every 100 residents, up from 21 out of 100 prior to 2012 reforms. SCT is expanding access to connectivity further now that the Mexican constitution deems connectivity to be a human right for its citizens.
South Sudanese O3b Customer Doubles Capacity
O3b Networks customer RCS Communication, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) in South Sudan, has signed a new agreement to receive more than double its current bandwidth capacity over the next two years. The ISP has also decided to become the first customer to implement O3bPerformance Services site “Diversity” solution.
RCS became one of O3b’s first clients by signing a long-term contract in 2013, prior to the launch of O3b’s first satellites, and became the second African business to use the O3bTrunk product following commercialization of the service in October 2014.
RCS uses O3bTrunk to connect WiMAX and high throughput Point to Multipoint (PtMP) networks in the capital, Juba, to the internet. Despite the country’s current challenging times, RCS has nearly exhausted its contracted capacity as demand for bandwidth continues to increase.
“The timing may seem unexpected for us to upgrade capacity and invest in O3b’s diversity solution, as most players in the South Sudan telco/ISP sector are currently scaling down due to economic and other challenges,” said Flippie Odendal, managing director, RCS. “While RCS is not isolated from these issues and their impact, our investment decision was taken with a long term view, though it will have immediate benefits to our clients once deployed.”
O3b’s Diversity solution leverages the operator’s Software Defined Networking (SDN) platform for intelligent switching across multiple satellite links. The solution uses ground terminals placed in multiple locations to boost network reliability and resiliency.
SpeedCast Creates Joint Venture in Ghana
SpeedCast International has finalized a joint venture in Ghana, which it anticipates will broaden the company’s service offerings, increasing reach and reinforcing expansion plans to provide a managed network throughout Africa. The joint venture builds upon the SpeedCast’s existing presence in Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Kenya and Angola. The move places the company in a position to provide more communication services in Africa via fiber, wireless and satellite.
“Based on our existing business servicing energy customers offshore in Ghana, along with the anticipated growth in the region, we are delighted to have a local partner with an already extensive oil and gas sector presence. An important part of SpeedCast’s energy strategy is to anticipate oil field trends and proactively build support networks,” said Bill Green, managing director of SpeedCast Ghana.
Gondwana International Networks Launches Africa-Based Satellite Solution
Pan African telecommunication provider Gondwana International Networks (GIN) has launched Source, a fully managed, virtual network satellite operator service. Aimed at telecoms and internet service providers, Source will be rolled out across sub-Saharan Africa on the first Jupiter hub in Africa, which is owned and operated by GIN.
Mathew Welthagen, CEO at GIN says that the company has partnered with Intelsat on to bring cost-effective satellite connectivity to Africa. “Our collaboration has resulted in the establishment of the first Hughes’ Jupiter hub in Africa. We have over 15 years of hands-on VSAT operational experience, making us well positioned to deliver a new era of satellite services to Africa,” he said.
Welthagen said that Source permits VSAT operators to focus on service provision and customers, not on network infrastructure. Ground support and network management services will be run from GINs facilities at Hartebeesthoek in South Africa. He said this brings immense benefits such as African traffic being landed in Africa, lower latency and secure backhaul, “The location is also a national key point and has multiple levels of security and redundancy.” Regional multi-national businesses with branches across multiple territories will benefit from the minimum capacity requirements for designing network failover, and managing ERP data reporting back to head office, GIN stated.
As a wholesale Virtual Network Operator Platform, Source has two options: Raw Capacity and Managed Service VNO. The Raw Capacity VNO provides the operator with full access to a VNO on the Jupiter hub and the ability to architect and manage its own services. Operators will typically deploy their own packet shapers, provisioning and billing systems. The Managed Services VNO is where the operator contracts capacity on a VNO on the Jupiter hub, but GIN manages the VNO, creating bespoke services in a closed dedicated bandwidth pool. The operator is not required to have in-depth knowledge of VSAT design, and can leverage off GIN’s Allot packet shapers, and OSS/BSS provisioning and billing platform.
Patrick Masambu Elected to lead International Telecommunications Satellite Organization
Patrick Masambu, previously deputy director general and director of technical affairs for the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO), has been elected director-general of the organization. Masambu is the former chairman of the Council of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO), and worked for 10 years as CEO of the Uganda Communications Commission regulatory agency.
The mission of ITSO is to ensure the performance of core principles for the provision of international public telecommunications services; to promote international public telecommunications services to meet the needs of the information and communication society; and to protect the ITSO parties’ common heritage. Masambu brings more than 30 years of experience to the position, including more than six years already with ITSO. Hailing from Uganda, he is the first sub-Saharan African to be elected to the position.
Supernet Exec: Cellular Backhaul Market Under “Immense Pressure”
Intense competition is crippling the cellular backhaul market in Pakistan as both Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and an abundance of satellite operators vie for business, according to Supernet’s Senior Manager for Satcom Products, Ali Akhtar. As one of the country’s biggest satellite network service providers and system integrators, Supernet has the largest market share for 2G backhaul in the country. While Akhtar said the good outweighs the bad for the market when you factor in the defense and enterprise sectors, for the cellular backhaul market, which is dominated by C-band, it is not a great story.
“The competition amongst the formerly five, now four existing MNOs has ended up with such low Average Revenues Per User (ARPUs) that they’ve started giving us terminations notices for satellite links, saying that the higher costs for satellite networks compared to terrestrial networks has made it impossible for them to run sites at a loss.” Akhtar told Via Satellite. “On top of that, the MNOs have considerably fallen behind in their payments. When you add the satellite bandwidth supply glut to the mix, they are also putting immense pressure on us to reduce prices.”
Akhtar said there is a tremendous glut of extra satellite capacity in Pakistan that is shaping the market profoundly. Along with an abundance of players, he pointed to the onset of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) as the catalyst for a price war between new spot beam capacity and traditional Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) capacity. Specifically, he said FSS operators are striving to compete with HTS by lowering their prices to match HTS on a Mbps level.
Telesat’s Anik F2 Services Restored After “Highly Unusual” Anomaly
Telesat reports that its Anik F2 satellite is back to providing customer services after experiencing a technical anomaly that caused a service blackout on Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The satellite operator restored services early in the afternoon on Oct. 3 and confirmed that the satellite is performing normally.
“Satellite anomalies like the one that affected Telesat’s Anik F2 yesterday are highly unusual. Telesat is continuing to investigate the root cause of the anomaly and will advise affected customers as more details become known,” Telesat said in an Oct. 3 statement.
Anik F2 is a Boeing-built satellite that entered service in October 2004, providing coverage predominantly over North America. The spacecraft carries 24 C-band transponders for broadband and satellite trunking, 35 Ku-band beams for enterprise and government mobile applications and 45 Ka-band spot beams for advanced consumer broadband services. Telesat says all of Anik F2’s subsystems appear healthy.
Gogo and Phasor Forge R&D Pact on Next-Gen Satellite Antenna
In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) provider Gogo and Phasor, a developer of new Electronically Steerable Antennas (ESAs), have announced a Research and Development (R&D) partnership for application of their technology to the IFC market. Phasor is creating a low profile flat panel antenna that enables signal tracking without moving parts. The modular antenna is scalable in size and dimension, depending on the demands of the application, and can be used for small aircraft.
Gogo currently uses ThinKom’s phased array antennas for its 2Ku aeronautical connectivity solution, which is capable of more than 70Mbps to the aircraft, with the potential to reach or top 100 Mbps.
Orbital ATK’s Pegasus to fly with Statrolaunch Aircraft
Orbital ATK has entered a multi-year production-based partnership with Stratolaunch Systems to provide several Pegasus XL air-launch vehicles for use with the Stratolaunch aircraft. The combination of Pegasus XL and the Stratolaunch aircraft will target small satellites weighing up to 1,000 pounds for missions to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
The Stratolaunch aircraft is to have a wingspan of 385 feet, a length of 238 feet and a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds. Pegasus has carried out 42 space launch missions, successfully placing more than 80 satellites into orbit for scientific, commercial, defense and international customers.
SpaceX to Launch Terra Bella Satellites Through Spaceflight Industries
Terra Bella, a Google company, has signed an agreement with Spaceflight Industries to launch SkySats on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The company will be the co-lead on Spaceflight’s first Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO) dedicated rideshare mission, designated SSO-A, purchased in 2015. The mission is currently scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in late 2017.
Spaceflight has government and commercial microsats and cubesats booked for the SSO-A mission, and is currently at 90 percent capacity with more than 20 payloads from 10 countries. Confirmed spacecraft include Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s (KAIST) NEXTSat-1 satellite, an astronomy mission and technology demonstrator; an Iceye Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) micro-satellite for all-weather imaging; and HawkEye 360’s first three formation-flying satellites to detect, characterize, and geolocate RF signals worldwide.
“We’re seeing a tide shift in the industry’s expectation for routine, reliable and affordable access to space,” said Curt Blake, president of Spaceflight. “The willingness of prominent commercial organizations to join forces for the advancement of global initiatives is very encouraging to the smallsat community, and to society as a whole.”
Terra Bella has not revealed how many satellites will launch on the mission. In a previous Via Satellite interview, a Terra Bella executive said the company was still in need of launches for eight more SkySats.
JFCC Space Expands Satellite RF Interference Monitoring with Kratos
U.S. Strategic Command’s (Stratcom) Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC Space) has modified a contract with Kratos to expand Radio Frequency (RF) monitoring, interference detection and geolocation services to now include all Department of Defense (DOD) leased Ku and C-band commercial bandwidth worldwide, and X-band geolocation in select locations. Currently Kratos provides RF services for U.S. Central Command (Centcom) and Pacific Command (Pacom) Areas of Responsibility (AORs). The $6.2 million contract modification expands the company’s services to include the four remaining geographic Combatant Commands (Cocoms): European Command (Eucom), Northern Command (Northcom), Africa Command (Africom) and Southern Command (Socom). In addition to expanding geographic coverage and infrastructure, Kratos will provide event and trend analysis of Space Situational Awareness (SSA) information for contracted DOD leased commercial bandwidth.
Kratos delivers these services from a global network of RF monitoring and interference detection sensors and geolocation systems, which the company uses to serve both commercial and government clients. To provide the DOD with the increased worldwide coverage, Kratos plans to add seven new worldwide monitoring sites, host more than 60 antennas and provide visibility to more than 50 satellites, 100 beams and 200 transponders. Additionally, Kratos will add X-band geolocation capability optimized to meet military requirements.
JFCC Space is responsible for executing continuous, integrated space operations to deliver theater and global effects in support of national and Cocom objectives. This includes monitoring and protecting DOD’s commercially leased satellite bandwidth.