Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category

Putin’s “Mafia in Space” Episode

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Did Russia’s boss of bosses just bully his way through space? Reports of Russian FSB-owned spacecraft Luch/Olymp-K1 being moved to Intelsat 901’s 18.1-deg. West orbital location came to light earlier this month in a detailed report by Brian Weeden in The Space Review. Since Putin owns them, the Russian story — typically full of lies — was parroted by the BBC as “U.S. anxiety.”

Not true.

Was the old KGB club looking to intercept the Palestine Al Yawm feed? Probably not.

The spacecraft is being portrayed as a data-relay Luch payload, but it has much more — including special laser capabilities. It is a military spacecraft with multiple missions, including RPO, destroying space assets and providing satcom links to the Russian navy.

If the Luch/Olymp spacecraft came with 10 km of Intelsat’s, that’s cause for concern. Putin and his criminal state doesn’t care about anyone or any entity, and the Russians are testing the world order to see whether anyone’s able to respond with force.

Facebook, Ka-band and Africa

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Using state of the art satellite technology, Eutelsat and Facebook will each deploy Internet services designed to relieve pent-up demand for connectivity from the many users in Africa beyond range of fixed and mobile terrestrial networks. Satellite networks are well suited to economically connecting people in low to medium density population areas and the high throughput satellite architecture of AMOS-6 is expected to contribute to additional gains in cost efficiency.

That quote is not from a press release issued in 1999. It’s from Eutelsat’s announcement of a partnership with Facebook on 5 October 2015, leasing Ka-band capacity on Spacecom’s forthcoming spacecraft. In 1999, satellite was seen as the “leapfrog” technology, intended to bypass old wireline or tower-based schemes to get the Internet out to the people of Africa. Although “good for data” Ka-band payloads were not widely available back then, the same disadvantages are still lingering:

  1. the high cost of space segment
  2. customer premises equipment is not cheap
  3. latency will always be an issue

Unless Facebook dollars subsidize the first two costs, we’ll only need to deal with physics.

The RF signal to and from the geosynchronous spacecraft will always require a 1/4-second to complete, then add a little bit of time to get the content, then another 1/4-second to serve it up. We’re not getting into video or any rich media — just the basics. Fine. People without any connection will be happy with whatever they get. High-throughput or not, you get what’s allocated to you.

Let’s consider reliability. First, there’s the issue of a reliable electric supply. Do we have enough of that in Sub-Saharan Africa? Next, there’s the signal itself. Even with a good link budget, and backing-off on the data rate a bit, you’re dealing with a considerable amount of rainy conditions for wider areas, so you can expect the signal to fade or experience complete outages during the rainy season.

Considering satcom’s promise hasn’t been kept for so many years, true “leapfrogging” is happening everywhere. In Rwanda, for example, 4G LTE is being built out and it kills any comparison to satcom alternatives using geo satellites. Using LEOs from O3b Networks works well, but somebody stills has to make the economics work.

So good luck to to Facebook and their effort.

Two Launches in One Day!

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Both Atlas V and Ariane 5 rockets went up recently. Both were equipped with rocketcams, but the weather was better at The Cape than in Kourou, so the Atlas launch’s lookback was really cool.

Black Eye for Satcom at Black Hat?

Monday, August 4th, 2014

This week, at Black Hat USA in Las Vegas, Ruben Santamarta is to present his findings of how he was able to hack satcom terminals, at least in theory.

At first glance, especially with lots of alarming details from DailyTech, you’d think the party for in-flight WiFi via satcom was over. Their piece was based on a Reuters story, which wasn’t as frightening.

The theoretical hack involves low-bandwidth services using Inmarsat and Thuraya. In-flight broadband uses more bandwidth and wasn’t really included in the study. Managing unmanned terminals is common in this industry segment.

Take a look at the white paper (PDF) published by IOActive and see for yourself. You can be sure all those mentioned in the 25-page report are asking their engineers if this is indeed possible.

I wouldn’t worry about it much.

SpaceX Falcon-9 Feeds The Reefer

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Congrats to ORBCOMM, providers of ReeferTrak and other fine services, on their launch this morning…

Thanks to SpaceX for bolting a rocketcam to the fuselage!

Better Internet for Cooks

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

What a gorgeous place to visit: the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. It’s not cheap to fly there and it’ll take more than a day from the Eastern U.S.

How’s the Internet connection out there? It’s getting better, thanks to Telecom Cook Islands and O3b Networks. They began installing and testing back in December and they should be up and running with more by now.

What do their customers think? They’re happy…

O3b Networks is well-funded, yet it may soon face competition from one of its backers, namely Google.

WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits 02/07/2014

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Ariane 5 launches Athena-Fidus and ABS’s first built-to-order satellite. [Space News – 02/07/2014]

Experimental microsatellite launched three years ago for U.S. National Reconnaissance Office has operated nearly flawlessly according to manufacturer Millennium Space Systems’ press release also revealing some details about the classified launch. [Space News – 02/07/2014]

Proton M – © RIA Novosti. Oleg Urusov

Two Russian telecommunications satellites have been delivered to Baikonur in preparation for mid-March launch. [Ria Novosti – 02/07/2014]

U.S. satellite export regs remain a frustration for European industry. [Space News – 02/07/2014]

Credit: Exelis artist’s concept – Space News

Continuing problems with an Exelis-built payload will delay the delivery of the first of the GPS 3 next-generation navigation satellites. [Space News – 02/07/2014]

Canadian policy outlines broad national goals for space program. [Space News – 02/07/2014]

TCS gets $6.8m contract with U.S. Army for maritime-stabilized VSAT satellite systems and associated engineering systems. [Via Satellite – 02/07/2014]

SKY Perfect JSAT selects Kratos for command and control system for JCSAT-14 satellite. [Market Watch – 02/07/2014]

Globecomm founder and CEO David Hershberg to retire. [Satellite Markets & Research – 02/07/2014]

Credit: Astrium artist’s concept – Space News

Satellite builders likeliest to benefit from French satellite broadband funding. [Space News – 02/06/2014]

ST Electronics selects Antrix corporation to launch its first commercial satellite, TeLEOS-1 earth observation satellite, into a Near Equatorial Orbit. [Satellite Evolution Group – 02/06/2014]

ST Electronics to distribute its TeLEOS-1 satellite images globally, partnering with Satrec Initiative Co Ltd and SPOT Asia Pte Ltd. [Satellite Evolution Group – 02/06/2014]

The first Singapore-made commercial satellite will be put into orbit in the fourth quarter of next year. [Channel NewsAsia – 02/06/2014]

Airbus Defence and Space, formerly Astrium, has expands its Ku-band satellite services portfolio with new Terralink Companion Quick Deploy solution ideally suited for field communication in operations such as mining. [Mining Weekly – 02/06/2014]

Measat highlights satellite capabilities and announces launch of Measat 3b in May. [Via Satellite – 02/06/2014]

ViewSat to use Intelsat capacity to facilitate and enhance distribution service to the North American DTH market. [Via Satellite – 02/06/2014]

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to look into wholesale satellite service to local telecom providers across far north. [IT World Canada – 02/06/2014]

KVH ships 4,000th TracPhone system for mini-VSAT broadband network. [Satellite Evolution Group – 02/06/2014]

Colombian state telco ETB acquires local satellite communications firm to improve nationwide offer for corporate and government clients. [BNamericas – 02/06/2014]

Credit – SpaceX photo – Space News

Next SpaceX station cargo run slips into March. [Space News – 02/05/2014]

ITC Global expands reach in U.K. and European energy industry with new operations in Aberdeen, Scotland. [IT Business Net – 02/05/2014]

Globalstar Sat-Fi MSS solution enables users to use any Wi-Fi capable device through an app and a Sat-Fi hot spot – targets two billion-people market.. [Via Satellite – 02/05/2014]

Using a repurposed commercial satellite, Air Force crews flew MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., during multiple missions in November and December. [U.S. Air Force – 02/05/2014]

Photo: SES – Via Satellite

SES’ Astra 2E satellite enters commercial service at 28.2/28.5 degrees east. [Via Satellite – 02/04/2014]

Inmarsat’s SF1 ready for launch – Photo: Inmarsat – Via Satellite

First of three Inmarsat Global Xpress satellites completes orbital deployment stages on scheduile. [Via Satellite – 02/04/2014]

Euroconsult to organise Latin American satellite summit [RAPIDTVNews – 02/04/2014]

Iridium introduces Wi-Fi hotspot, a high power broadcast service, and a maritime communications solution, and prepares for Iridium Next satellite replacement program [Via Satellite – 02/04/2014]

Globecomm Systems extends contract with Avanti Communications to deploy satellite broadband services in Cape Town and Johannesburg Africa. [Business Day – 02/04/2014]

AST works with SRI International to provide Iridium communications throughout the Arctic for safety of life purposes and tracking. [Via Satellite – 02/04/2014]

Hughes is providing broadband satellite Internet access to Yukon Quest dog sled crews. [Yahoo Finance – 02/04/2014]

SES-8 now fully operational, co-positioned with NSS-6 at 95 degrees East, to serve Asia Pacific region. [Yahoo Finance – 02/03/2014]

NSR’s take on Thuraya’s Satsleeve for Android – how it positions Thuraya in the addressable market, and how partnering with a competitor to enter the U.S. market could be of benefit. [NSR – 02/04/2014]

Hills Limited is partnering with BAE Systems to develop a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) terminal crucial to the satellite communication systems of Australian-USA and allied defence forces. [WhaTec – 02/04/2014]

Demand for Occasional Use (OU) and Satellite Newsgathering (SNG) is leveling out to a more regular year-over-year pace from the familiar even-odd year oscillation of demand in the past. [Via Satellite – 02/04/2014]

THAICOM launches fast Internet connectivity service, powered by Gilat satellite equipment. [Yahoo Finance – 02/03/2014]

After tests last year, “fifteen of fifteen company commanders found the” Soldier Network Extension (SNE) portion of the Army’s Warfighter Information Network “distracting and indicated they would not take the SNE to war.” [Nextgov – 02/03/2014]

Newtec and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), sign a multimillion-euro contract to deploy Newtec’s satellite broadcast solutions as part of the EBU’s major pan-European news exchange network. [SatNews – 02/03/2014]

RigNet completes acquisition of Inmarsat’s energy broadband business. [IT Business Net – 02/03/2014]

Transaero Airlines is expanding its in-flight Internet and mobile connectivity communication services. [Via Satellite – 02/04/2014]

Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) signs contract with Sudanese TV to broadcast the Sudanese TV channels bouquet exclusively on Arabsat satellites. [Korea IT News – 02/03/2014]

Australian telecommunications company Optus wins five-year satellite and broadband contract with NBN. [International Business Times – 02/03/2014]

Emerging Markets Communications (EMC) has enhanced its technology and infrastructure to deliver VSAT mobility services, currently active on trains across Europe and Africa. [Via Satellite – 02/03/2014]

Satcom Direct becomes an Inmarsat BGAN distribution partner. [Contact Center Solutions – 02/03/2014]

Iran unveils two domestically-made communication satellites, one to bolster its wireless connections and the other capable of taking high-resolution pictures, media reported. [ynet news – 02/03/2014]

“Satellite Manufacturing and Launching: The Dawn of a New Era” [NSR webinar February 12, 2014]

“High Utilization AND High Throughput Efficiency? Solving the TDMA vs. SCPC Dilemma” [Via Satellite webinar March 5, 2014]

WBMSAT satellite communications consulting services

Iridium’s Hot Spot

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Nice job by the marketing folks at Iridium! No, I’m not talking about their cheesy video production. I’m talking about getting their story picked up by the traffic-mongers at Gizmodo.

Iridium GO! is a small Wi-Fi device that connects to the LEO system for connectivity anywhere in the world.

That’s hot.

Their write-up is practical and spot-on:

Satellite data speeds typically max out around 2.4 to 2.8Kbps (that’s KILObits). We’re talking early ’90s dial-up speeds here. So, you can send a picture, but it had better be very compressed, and you may require the patience of a zen master. SMS speeds, though, should be comparable to what you’re used to here in your bustling metropolis, and it should be fine for text-based emails, too.

The Iridium GO! will be rolling out sometime in the first half of 2014. The price will depend on retailers, but Iridium expects it to be under $800. Yeah, that’s steep, and don’t forget you’re going to need a plan in order to connect. Again, plan pricing will be set by retailers but Iridium estimates that they will begin around $35/month on the low end, and about $130/month on the high end for unlimited data.


1st Commercial Launch for Falcon-9

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Today’s launch of SES-8 into GTO made many rocket scientists very happy. Obviously, those who’ve worked at SpaceX for years are ecstatic. The entire launch vehicle community is happy for their success, as are those living on Florida’s Space Coast, who are expecting economic growth again.

The engineers who work on commercial satcom missions are happy to be back at the The Cape for launches. Let’s face it: compared to Kazakhstan or French Guiana, Florida is a better place for launches.

From a business perspective, satcom operators now have more options when it comes to launch vehicles. And with the SpaceX manifest of 50 launches, it seems this “crazy space business” is about to start making money.

We wish SpaceX and their commercial customers continuous success!

Here’s the full launch video…

Satcom Erosion: 4G LTE

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Companies such as Hughes and Spacenet probably don’t have to worry about, as their future in transaction processing with VSAT technology isn’t going away. It may not be growing much, but the business is there.

Until an alternative process for secure transactions comes around. Well, here comes Verizon Private IP Wireless LTE.

A report in Computerworld puts it into the proper perspective for the satcom set:

With the new service, customers with LTE smartphones and tablets and LTE modems for their laptops can access the nearest cell tower and will then be routed to an enterprise gateway in one of many Verizon switching centers, Konings said. Data routed to and through the enterprise gateway is encoded, but not encrypted, and kept totally separate from the public Internet. Encryption of the data can be added, if desired.

At a Verizon switching center, the data then also joins Verizon’s global MPLS network, Konings said.

Verizon demonstrated ATM cash machines that are connected to its LTE network at CES in January, but the company didn’t describe its Private IP connection, which can be used to keep transactions secure and will allow a bank to move an ATM more easily to a new location.

LTE speeds, generally described by Verizon as 10 times faster than EV-DO, will also be useful for quickly activating remote digital signs and can even be used for transmitting video wirelessly, he said.

A news report with video can be transmitted over the Private IP LTE network instead of a more expensive satellite connection, he said. Also, wireless over LTE could be used as a backup network or for routing data to storage.

“With faster speeds, companies can provide many more apps [wirelessly] than before,” he said. Verizon describes its LTE speeds for consumers as averaging 10 Mbps on downlinks, with up to 2 Mbps on uplinks.

In addition to wireless data costs, the only cost to a business for Private IP over LTE is a $500 one-time charge to create a mobile private network, which can serve up to 1,000 sites, Konings said.

SNG? 1,000 data site? That’s satcom territory! This will be interesting to watch — especially when you add the satellite bandwidth used for video contribution feeds. Big business (read: satellite operators) ought to take notice.