The maritime connectivity market is on the cusp of a period of extraordinary growth and opportunity. The overall consolidation of the VSAT industry – combined with the ever-increasing availability of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) – has created an environment where networks are getting much larger, and more complex, while the demand for bandwidth is exploding. This rapidly evolving trend has accelerated the need for a new generation of VSAT platforms that can address a wide range of verticals and applications, with unprecedented scale.
While the impact of HTS will be felt across the entire satellite industry, mobility will be one of the first verticals to reap the benefits (and experience the growing pains) of this new technology. Since mobile VSAT terminals use steerable antennas, network operators can quickly roll out HTS capacity by simply repointing antennas remotely. As a result, HTS adoption for mobility will happen literally overnight.
With this in mind, time is of the essence. Investing in the right VSAT platform now is the key to success and survival in this new HTS paradigm.
Answering the Question of Scale
With industry consolidation and HTS causing exponential increases in both network size and throughput, scalability is one of the biggest and most immediate challenges facing mobile VSAT operators today.
First-generation VSAT platforms brought important innovations like beam switching, Quality of Service (QoS), uplink power control, and dynamic bandwidth allocation. Unfortunately, since most of those features operated independently, with primitive logic, the combined results were unpredictable and difficult to manage at scale. Early IP modems were also vastly underpowered, frustrating high-end users and often limiting bandwidth sales.
As the number of satellite beams and terminals increases, beam switching logic must become more customizable and automated, allowing network operators to continually manage factors like load balance, regulatory restrictions, cost and weather.
Powerful HTS spot beams and wideband transponders will require more robust modems and advanced transmission standards to maximize the benefits of these new technologies and deliver the bandwidth customers crave. Attempting to deploy an HTS network with a legacy VSAT platform would be like operating the latest smartphone on a 2G network. Why bother?
Responding to Industry Demand
Our recently announced Newtec MDM5000 Satellite Modem (the industry’s first DVB-S2X VSAT modem), is optimized for HTS and mobility. With support for up to 140MHz carriers and more than 200Mbps of throughput, the MDM5000 will unleash the power of HTS. Combine that with its built-in dual demodulators and three return technologies, and the modem is capable of perfectly adapting to the needs of the maritime market.
Newtec has always been acutely aware of the price pressure facing maritime network operators in a competitive industry with an insatiable demand for bandwidth. With this in mind, we are constantly focused on pushing the limits of spectral efficiency. With support for innovative waveforms such as the aforementioned DVB-S2X and our unique Mx-DMA® return technology, the MDM5000 Satellite Modem can reduce capacity costs by up to 50%; but we don’t see ourselves stopping there.
Newtec is extremely committed to the mobile VSAT space and we have already made great strides towards addressing its unique requirements. Our Newtec Dialog® 1.3 release will support advanced beam switching. A rich set of APIs will provide unprecedented control over beam switching logic, facilitating network load balance, least cost routing and regulatory compliance. On top of this API the Newtec Dialog Mobility Manager implements flexible switching rules fully separated from the beam switching orchestration.
The Next Steps and Future Trends
Despite the remarkable growth in recent years, the mobile VSAT market still has tremendous potential. VSAT is already mainstream in several verticals, including cruise ships, oil & gas, super yachts, military and commercial shipping. Nevertheless, HTSs will improve the quality of existing services and expand the addressable markets, which have historically been constrained by cost and antenna size. Powerful HTS spot beams and affordable flat panel antennas will make mobile VSAT services viable for thousands of smaller vessels, airplanes and even cars.
With the current rapid pace of innovation, the entire satellite industry is under pressure to be creative and become more competitive. Efficiency, scalability and flexibility are the keys to a sustainable business model, so selecting the right VSAT platform is arguably the most important decision a service provider can make.
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