Getting the Most Out of High Throughput Satellites (HTS)

Monday 13 June 2016
Getting the Most Out of High Throughput Satellites (HTS)



By Jo De Loor, Market Director for Multiservice, HTS and Enterprise at Newtec

HTS: The Turning Point

High Throughput Satellites (HTS), using spot beam technology, started to emerge in commercial satellite communications over the last decade. The first HTSs were mainly focused on consumer and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) broadband services and often tied into a vertical integration model, which saw the satellite operator also act as the service provider. In South-East Asia, we had Thaicom’s IPSTAR using Ku-band and then, in the US, the vertically integrated service providers launched Ka-band HTS, establishing a direct sales model for consumers.

The real global breakthrough of HTS happened in the last five years, with new entrants such as Avanti and Yahsat launching a fleet of Ka-band HTS to start offering high throughput satellite services. This also opened up some HTS space segment for other business models such as MHz capacity sales. The traditional satellite operators quickly followed and also started to put HTS capacity in orbit. Today, most satellite operators have or are planning HTS satellites. While initial HTS were focused on optimization of the cost per bit delivered, we are now also seeing HTS payloads, often in Ku-band, which are optimized for flexibility and reliability for a large variety of satellite services and markets. 

Broadband Leads Capacity Demand

According to studies from NSR and Euroconsult, the market demand for global GEO HTS services will reach 1.5 Tbps by 2024. As far as can be seen, demand is largely present in all regions: North America, as a mature and growing market, is leading but is followed by emerging markets in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa. The majority of the demand is for broadband services, with forecasters predicting that 1.1 Tbps of broadband services will be delivered using Ka-band. Meanwhile, “only” 50 Gbps will make use of Ku-band HTS capacity. Other applications, alongside broadband, represent about 325 Gbps of service capacity demand, distributed over Ku and Ka-band, but also including some C-band HTS. 

If we look further into the distribution of services after broadband, we see that the largest market is enterprise services – with 115 Gbps demand – followed by cellular backhaul and government and mobility services, using 76 Gbps to 57 Gbps respectively. The broadcast markets, with 18 Gbps, has lesser demand where it is used for regional Direct-to-Home (DTH) delivered over spot beams but HTS also fit well for occasional use services, such as Satellite News Gathering (SNG) and IP SNG.

High Value Verticals: 76% Revenue Using 21% Capacity

It becomes more interesting still if we also include the forecasted service revenues for each vertical. Broadband represents 79% of HTS capacity demand but represents “only” 24% of the service revenues. Broadband is a high-volume, low-margin business which explains the lower revenue and margin per Gbps. The other applications represent 76% of the HTS revenues but only account for 21% of the service capacity. Markets such as mobility and government represent the highest service value per Gbps capacity.

HTS Success Factor = Multiservice Play

From this we can conclude that it will be key for HTS operators to address the demands for these various markets and verticals. The broadband demand is large and long term, but it will take time to grow the customer base gradually. On the other hand, the higher value verticals are a good complement: these markets can yield fast Return on Investment (ROI) on HTS capacity as it involves less sites but more bandwidth demand per site. Such high-value services have a good return in regards to price and margin, but demand may be subject to more fluctuations over time, such as the slowdown in demand for oil & gas services today. Supporting a good mix of customers in different verticals will maximize HTS service revenues. It will also limit the business risk, both during initial ramp-up and in the long term, as demand from various verticals may change over time.

VSAT 2.0 – What’s Next?

Next-generation VSAT platforms addressing those HTS services will be required to support a wide range of verticals and applications, with unprecedented scale. 

High-performance spot beams require the most advanced transmission standards. DVB-S2X forward link with wideband carrier support is one of the key elements to leverage HTS payload resources. Using high efficiency MODulation and CODing schemes (MODCODs) up-to 256APSK, it can leverage the spot beam link performance, enabling high service availability. The large high throughput wideband carriers result in optimal statistical multiplexing, enabling delivery of very high throughput services to individual terminals. Also the return link performance allows the use of 32APSK transmission schemes, providing unprecedented inbound IP efficiency as high as 4bps/Hz.

Dynamic bandwidth allocation schemes will need to be more efficient and scalable in order to sustain the next wave of growth. Modem hardware must be more powerful and future-proof, supporting higher data rates and extending upgrade cycles while still meeting the customer required price points. Satellite networks should also be more transparent and integrate more seamlessly with terrestrial networks.

Serving the higher value markets also requires highly reliable services even during rain fade conditions. Features such as Automatic Uplink Power Control (AUPC) and Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM) are essential, but need to be implemented in a sophisticated manner to enable delivery of the service reliability and Quality of Service (QoS) required by the customer.

Powerful spot beams will also create new challenges for mobility. Beam switching logic must become multi-dimensional, allowing network operators to continually manage factors like load balance, regulatory restrictions, cost and weather.

The value chain for HTS-based services is evolving to more managed services, driven by the required economy of scale to roll-out HTS service infrastructure. There has been much debate over the effectiveness of the so-called “closed” and “open” business models – meanwhile our industry has been adopting business model innovations which enable various players in the satellite services value chain to focus on their own strategy and strengths. Satellite operators will more and more deliver a managed service (wholesale) to the service provider which will be operating as a Virtual Network Operator (VNO). Using the elaborate VNO capabilities of the platform, service providers will be able to deliver tailored services according to the end-customer requirements, and still have all tools available to roll-out such services and manage their Mbps capacity and terminals.

In the near future, VSAT platforms will also need to extend their reach into space, integrating directly with satellite payloads to optimize service delivery.

Newtec Dialog HTS Solution

The Newtec Dialog® solution is a scalable and flexible multiservice satellite communications platform that allows satellite operators and service providers to build and adapt their networks easily and in a flexible manor in-line with market requirements. The Newtec Dialog platform will secure the future of operators, giving them the ability to offer a variety of different VSAT-based services while making hassle-free decisions on the most appropriate technology to be used.

The platform is optimized for the delivery of broadband services and managed services for specialized verticals such as enterprise, cellular backhaul, mobility, government and broadcast. It is perfectly suited for offering a range of managed services. These can either be offered directly as managed service profiles for end-users, offered as a service for a group of end-users (e.g. government network), or as wholesale capacity via other service providers. Those service providers will be able to define and sell their own services to end-users without the need for additional CAPEX investment in hub infrastructure based on the elaborate VNO functionality included in Newtec Dialog.

Wideband carrier in DVB-S2X delivers an optimized forward link, while the return link with three supported technologies can make use of the most optimal technology: MF-TDMA, SCPC and Mx-DMA®, the unique return link technology. Together with the new HighResCoding™, Mx-DMA combines the best of MF-TDMA and SCPC, enabling services up to 75 Mbps to operate far more efficiently. The services can be delivered using a range of modems: the MDM2000 high-performance, cost-effective terminal for broadband services, the MDM3000 modems for high-value services or the MDM5000, which is able to deliver optimized services to the most demanding sites by supporting service rates up to 120/40Mbps concurrent.

The Newtec Dialog platform is already being used by major satellite operators and service providers worldwide: Yahsat for its Al Yah 3 Ka-band HTS, Intelsat for its EPIC, ABS, SES, Star One, Claro, Petrobras, Quantis, Talia, United Nations, Network Innovations, Marlink, RuSat, Liquid Telecom and more.

Future Trends

On the space segment we see two key further trends: the emergence of Low-Earth-Orbit satellite (LEO) constellations and more flexible, high-capacity GEO HTS payloads.

LEO constellations will further complement the GEO HTS capacity in orbit. On the ground segment, one of the key technologies to enable commercial success of the LEO satellites is the availability of cost-effective, electronically steerable Flat-Panel-Antenna’s (FPA) to follow the satellite movement and handover between two satellites.

For GEO satellites the trend is to introduce new concepts that bring more flexible and software-enabled satellite payloads. Most of today’s HTS have a fixed capacity and footprint allocation. Future HTS will be able to allocate the available capacity according to where demand is located geographically at any given time. Along the same lines, Newtec is innovating the ground segment so that services can be delivered in an optimal and very cost-effective way.


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Best regards,


Jo De Loor
Market Director for Multiservice, HTS and Enterprise at Newtec 

APSCCThis article was published first in APSCC's Q2 2016 newsletter, titled "Getting the Most Out of High Throughput Satellites". 

Download the PDF extract here.

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