Optus, Level 3 Team Up on Australian Content Delivery Network
Level 3 is providing deep-edge caching services to Optus Wholesale and Satellite that will enable Optus to locally cache high-demand content on its network. The agreement gives Optus quicker access to content while growing Level 3’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) capacity in Australia by 300 percent.
This collaboration enables Optus to offer customers faster deliveries and improved delivery completion rates as well as scale on demand to handle traffic spikes without affecting quality. In addition, Optus can resell Level 3’s CDN services across Australia.
“Through Level 3’s CDN, we are able to improve the consumption of video, music, photo and data content over the Internet, not just locally within Australia, but also across the globe,” said Rob Parcell, managing director of Optus Wholesale and Satellite. “Broadcasting customers and website owners with rich media content will benefit from the deployment of this CDN network.”
ST Teleport to Offer Global Ku-band Connectivity With Telespazio Link Up
Singapore-based ST Teleport has formed a strategic partnership with Telespazio to jointly establish a global Ku-band communications network for Maritime Oil and Gas (MOG) customers. Under the multi-year agreement, ST Teleport will be Telespazio’s preferred partner in the Asia-Pacific region.
Through the partnership, ST Teleport customers can access a service area with more than 200 satellites for global coverage, made possible by converging the companies’ Ku-band beams around the world with automatic switching technology.
The two companies are also in the initial stages of jointly developing other value-added satellite communication services to enhance their portfolio and capabilities that will be shared in the near future.
AsiaSat to Deploy Ultra-HD Broadcast Platform on AsiaSat 4
AsiaSat is planning to deploy a dedicated Ultra-HD broadcast platform in the next few months, starting with a C-band transponder on the AsiaSat 4 satellite at 122 degrees east. The platform will be able to deliver two to five full time Ultra-HD channels, which will be transmitted Free-to-Air (FTA).
AsiaSat is working with the UHD Research Laboratory, set up at the operator’s Tai Po Earth station in Hong Kong, to incubate the reception of Ultra-HD content within AsiaSat’s footprint. The lab is tasked with evaluating solutions including the technical compatibility of satellite reception and transmission, playout and compression technologies, as well as content providers. Over the past few months the lab successfully conducted tests using various High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) equipment, including off-air and real-time transcoding of channels at various bit rates. AsiaSat’s Ultra-HD platform is based on Digital-Video Broadcast-Satellite Second Generation (DVB-S2) and HEVC solutions.
Malaysia’s TS Global Network to Own Payload on Apstar 9 Satellite
TS Global Network (TSGN), a VSAT connectivity provider in Malaysia, has entered an agreement with APT Satellite Company Limited to invest in a designated payload on the operator’s Apstar 9 satellite, which is slated to launch in the fourth quarter of 2015. The payload, dubbed MySat 1, will provide C-band transponder capacity for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia-Pacific markets.
The privately owned TS Global Network serves more than 150 Malaysian corporations and multinational companies. With the new payload, the company plans to provide satellite communications services for both government and commercial customers.
Scottish Government Grants up to $2.9 Million to Spire
Scottish Enterprise, the international investment and trade promotion agency of the Scottish government, has awarded up to $2.9 million in grants to Spire. The new funds will support the opening of a new office in Glasgow, Scotland along with further international growth. Spire plans to double its Glasgow team to more than 50 full-time employees by 2018.
The recent grant follows $25 million in Series A funding Spire raised in 2014, which brought the total amount raised to $29 million and fueled a new branch location in Singapore. Spire cited Scotland’s lower cost base and extensive range of universities as key reasons for its interest in the region.
Spire’s Glasgow office, the company’s third office globally, will help develop the next generation of GPS Radio Occultation (RO) technology. The company previously announced intentions to build a constellation of 20 commercial weather satellites, which are slated to launch this year. According to Spire, the constellation will be able to provide five times more GPS-RO weather data than is currently available from today’s fleet of weather satellites for significantly reduced cost.
SSTL’s New Spacecraft Operations Center Goes Live
Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) opened its recently completed Spacecraft Operations Center (SOC) this week ahead of a series of satellite launches. Four SSTL-built satellites are slated to launch in the coming months and the company plans to inaugurate the facility during the first phase of in-orbit commissioning.
The SOC is a control hub containing the infrastructure necessary to track, command, control and downlink data 24/7 from SSTL’s orbiting satellites. The facility will also support several customers’ spacecraft operations, either by acting as a secondary SOC or as backup to their own SOCs when they carry out maintenance or upgrades.
SSTL’s SOC is connected primarily to the company’s own two ground stations in the United Kingdom., but it is also structured to be able to securely communicate with the satellites through a number of ground stations located around the world.
Norway MOD Contracts Skynet Satcom from Airbus Defence and Space
Airbus Defence and Space has signed a four-year framework agreement with the Norwegian Defence Logistic Organisation (NDLO) for the provision of X-band satellite capacity, and has committed to deliver up to 30Mhz of capacity annually on the Skynet military satellite constellation. Skynet will augment the Norwegian forces’ existing secure communications in maritime, land, and aeronautical applications across Northern Europe, the Arctic, and for the missions of Allied nations around the world.
Airbus Defence and Space owns and operates the Skynet 5 X-band satellite constellation and the ground network through the Skynet Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract to provide all Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) communications to the U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD). The contract also enables other NATO and Allied governments to use Skynet to augment their existing services.
Donato Amoroso Appointed Thales Alenia Space Deputy CEO and CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italia
The board of directors of Thales Alenia Space Italia has appointed Donato Amoroso as CEO of the company. Amoroso succeeds Elisio Giacomo Prette, who led the company since 2013. Prette will continue to act as president, and will also be Senior Vice President (SVP) for human resources at parent company Thales Alenia Space.
Amoroso, will also be deputy to the president and CEO of Thales Alenia Space, Jean-Loïc Galle, with direct responsibility for the Observation, Exploration and Navigation (OEN) business line.
Globalsat Inks Multi-Transponder Deal with Hispasat
Mexican telecommunications company Globalsat has entered an agreement with Hispasat for capacity from multiple transponders on the Amazonas 2 and Amazonas 3 satellites. The capacity is for broadband services in the México Conectado program’s10K Networks initiative, which seeks to provide Internet access to more than 10,000 public facilities such as schools, community centers and hospitals.
The 10K Networks initiative is divided into four segments, of which Globalsat will serve three. Hispasat has provided connectivity services to the fourth area via the Amazonas 2 satellite since 2013, covering almost 1,700 places. The new Globalsat agreement is to provide the necessary capacity for the 10K Networks initiative over the next few years.
Latin America: Top Region for New Satellite Capacity
Latin America is and will continue to be the top region for new satellite capacity until 2017, according to the latest research from Euroconsult. While the firm pegs the Calculated Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for satellite capacity usage globally at roughly 5 percent over the past five years, Latin America stood out. This region, along with South East Asia and the Middle East and Africa, achieved annual growth rates surpassing 8 percent. Looking to the future, Euroconsult forecasts total leased capacity in Latin America will grow at a 10 percent CAGR over the next decade.
“Latin America will be the number one region in terms of capacity additions over 2014 to 2017. Total regular supply will increase with around 400 TPEs [36-MHz Transponder Equivalents] over the period, which corresponds to 25 percent of total net additions in global supply,” Nathan de Ruiter, senior consultant at Euroconsult and editor of the “Satellite Communications & Broadcasting in Latin America” report, told Via Satellite.
Euroconsult projects Latin America will soon become the second-largest region in terms of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capacity supply, trailing only North America. De Ruiter noted that global players such as Eutelsat, Intelsat, and Inmarsat; regional players Star One and Hispasat; and new entrants such as Visiona, Yahsat, and O3b Networks are all planning HTS payloads for the region in coming years.
Euroconsult projects Mexico and Brazil will account for greater than half of the total capacity demand by 2024. Both contain the majority of the regional population, with Brazil accounting for 202 million as of 2014 and Mexico standing at 123.8 million, according to the United Nations Population Fund.
With this influx of new capacity, oversupply is also a very serious concern. Euroconsult expects regular capacity fill rates to drop from 80 percent in 2014 to 70 percent in 2017, with Ku-band experiencing a drop in utilization levels from 86 percent in 2010 to 64 percent by 2017.
“We expect that it will take some years before Ku-band fill rates return to 80 percent, especially in Brazil and the Andean region. One important trend is the increasing use and growing impact of large-capacity commitments to support customer projects. Capacity leases are increasingly linked to field trials and/or to the rollout of new initiatives (universal access projects, DTH platforms, consumer broadband services)… for both segments, it will likely take several years until the capacity commitments will be fully utilized,” de Ruiter said.
Peruvian and Colombian Infrastructure Projects Boost Gilat Revenues
Gilat saw two contracts come to term in Q1 2014 that spiked its profits last year, specifically Colombia’s Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications (MINTIC) Kioscos Vive Digital project and Peru’s Integración Amazónica Loreto (IAL) project, which were non-recurring. While the quarter was absent of similarly profitable projects, the company insisted that it is continuing to see growth in its key market areas: High-Throughput-Satellite (HTS), cellular backhaul, broadband Internet in rural areas and In-Flight Connectivity (IFC).
The first quarter did see some good news, including the company’s largest contract award ever, in which the Peruvian governmental entity Fitel granted Gilat with a $285 million dollar contract to support its regional telecommunications infrastructure program. The project looks to complement a larger initiative, the Peruvian National Fiber Backbone project, which aims to connect rural villages across the mountainous and jungle-filled country with broadband services.
Arianespace Dual Launch Adds DirecTV Capacity Over the Americas
Arianespace successfully launched two satellites for DirecTV on May 27 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. The mission carried the DirecTV 15 satellite, built by Airbus Defence and Space on the Eurostar E3000 platform, and the Sky Mexico 1 (SKYM 1) satellite built on Orbital ATK’s GEOStar 2 platform. DirecTV plans to use the new satellites for HD and Ultra-HD services as well as for backup capacity.
DirecTV 15 will be positioned at 103 degrees west, where it will provide services in Ku, Ka and reverse band to the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico. To be located at 79 degrees west, SKYM 1 will double the HD capacity for Sky Mexico, a top player in the Mexican pay-TV market, providing capacity in Ku and R band across Mexico, Central America, Cuba and the Caribbean. DirecTV 15 has a design life of more than 15 years, and SKYM 1 has enough fuel onboard for an anticipated 20-year mission life.
Hermes Datacomms Expands Presence in Middle East with New Office in Iraq
Hermes Datacomms, part of the SpeedCast Group, announced the opening of its newest office in Erbil, Iraq. The new facility is in direct response to increasing demand for services from the oil and gas sector in Iraq.
Hermes Datacomms has been operating in the Middle East for more than 10 years. In 2011, the company was awarded a trading license for Iraq and has since been working with partners to deliver turnkey projects involving fiber and last-mile access as well as VSAT services, fixed, mobile and microwave services.
“Iraq has been a strategic market for Hermes for the past 3 years. With the opening of the company’s newest office in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq, we are well-positioned for growth in the region,” Osama Oulabi, business unit manager, Middle East at Hermes.
RR Media Buys SatLink Communications for $19 Million
RR Media has agreed to acquire SatLink Communications for $19 million, subject to certain adjustments. The purchase, which follows the recent acquisition of Eastern Space Systems (ESS), is expected to expand RR Media’s global content distribution network and content management footprint, as well as add significant upper-tier customers.
SatLink CEO David Hochner will join RR Media’s management team and will help guide the transition. RR Media plans to offer customer service and digital media services to all existing SatLink customers, including expanded content distribution, content management and preparations services, online video services and sports and live event solutions. The company expects to generate incremental revenue of approximately $25 million and adjusted EBITDA of $5 million in 2016. Completion of business and operational integration is anticipated by the end of this year.
Thuraya Releases New Advanced Satellite Phone
Thuraya announced the availability of the Thuraya XT-PRO satellite phone, which builds off the Thuraya XT phone with new features and functionality.
The new satellite phone leverages the GPS, Glonass, and BeiDou Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) for improved location accuracy. The Thuraya XT-PRO has a talk-time of nine hours, and is resistant to jet-water, dust and shock. According to the company, the new device has the largest screen of any available satellite phone and it features a hardened, glare-resistant Gorilla glass display. The satellite phone also features a dedicated SOS button with advanced navigation and tracking features.
Thuraya is targeting professional users in market sectors such as government, energy, media and Non–governmental Organizations (NGOs). The phone enables communications in areas that are unreached or poorly served by terrestrial means within Thuraya’s network, which covers more than 160 countries. Customers can use the phone with a Thuraya prepaid or postpaid SIM card, or a SIM card from any of the company’s worldwide GSM roaming partners.
Yahsat, Orbital ATK, Masdar Institute Create Space Systems and Technology Master’s Degree Program
Yahsat, Orbital ATK, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create the Gulf region’s first master’s level advanced studies space program. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is endorsing it, and the recently created UAE Space Agency was also in attendance at the signing.
The Masdar Institute, a government-established, not-for-profit private graduate university tasked with cultivating an indigenous Research and Development (R&D) capacity in Abu Dhabi, anticipates having its first group of graduate students for the program in January 2016.
US NEXCOM Selects ViaSat Managed Wi-Fi Services
The United States Navy Exchange Service Command’s Telecommunications Program Office (NEXCOM TPO) has expanded its partnership with ViaSat to upgrade its wireless Internet and voice services, and provide a global enterprise-wide Wi-Fi system to Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities, Unaccompanied Housing (UH), Navy Lodges, and Navy Gateway Inns and Suites (NGIS).
Through the new expanded agreement, ViaSat will implement a large-scale hospitality system that includes use of its managed Wi-Fi services to more than 100,000 transient sailors in more than 24,000 guest rooms and suites outside the continental U.S. (OCONUS). Additionally, the company is providing service to more than 70,000 residents of Navy UH bachelors’ quarters and OCONUS family housing units, along with continued support of MWR facilities, including fleet and family service centers, bowling alleys, liberty centers, libraries and child development centers.
ViaSat’s installations will include: Wi-Fi Internet services; a scalable cloud-based voice calling system; a legacy infrastructure upgrade to provide a pathway to future applications including Internet Protocol Television (IPTV); and advanced online reporting through the ViaSat TRACKOS management platform.
Harris, exactEarth to Build 58 AIS Hosted Payloads into Iridium Next
ExactEarth and Harris Corporation have formed an alliance to build 58 hosted payloads covering the maritime Very High Frequency (VHF) band on the Iridium Next constellation. The hosted payloads will significantly increase the size of exactEarth’s constellation — up from eight satellites today — and enable global coverage with revisit times and latency under one minute for real-time Automatic Identification System (AIS) ship tracking.
The hosted payloads have already competed compatibility testing with Iridium’s satellites, with the first launch scheduled for early 2016. Completion of the full constellation is expected in 2017. The services use exactEarth’s signal de-collision detection technology and a sensor based on Harris’ AppSTAR reconfigurable payload technology.
Norsat Contract Revives Positive Train Control Business
Norsat announced it has received orders in excess of $800,000 for its mobile, wayside and base station antennas for exclusive use in Positive Train Control (PTC) applications. The order brings total 2015 year to date commitments from customers to purchase approximately $1.3 million for the continued rollout of the government-mandated PTC initiative.
These new orders follow a lull in 2014 orders as the rail carriers and the U.S. government worked through a series of regulatory and financial hurdles. PTC is a system of functional requirements for monitoring and controlling train movements as an attempt to provide increased safety, including highly advanced technologies designed to automatically stop or slow a train before certain types of accidents occur. Specifically, the U.S. government mandates PTC to be designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive speed, unauthorized incursions by trains onto sections of track where maintenance activities are taking place, and movement of a train through a track switch left in the wrong position.
US Air Force Awards Lockheed Martin Technical Refresh SBIRS Contract
The United States Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company a contract modification to use the modernized A2100 spacecraft based on the company’s Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Technical Refresh proposal. The effort will modernize the Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting (GEO) SBIRS 5 and 6 at no additional cost to the fixed-price contract, originally awarded in June 2014.
The SBIRS program is responsible for America’s early missile warning and infrared surveillance missions. Lockheed Martin’s modernized A2100 is based on an internally funded multiyear program to improve features such as spacecraft power, propulsion and electronics, while also adopting advanced manufacturing techniques to decrease production costs and timelines.