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Executive Vice President, Engineering
In this issue we explore how Hughes innovations are answering the need for connectivity everywhere.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about the global landscape, from a technology perspective?
A. Many try to position satellite as a competitor of terrestrial. But satellite broadband networks complement terrestrial networks and provide costeffective connectivity in areas with inadequate terrestrial infrastructure. Hughes services and technologies have increasingly become an integral part of the wireline/wireless telecom ecosystem that delivers ubiquitous, high-availability, high-throughput services to end users. And this is true in both developed and so-called developing economies, as evidenced by the fact that during the last 30+ years, Hughes has shipped over 7 million VSAT terminals to customers in more than 100 countries.
Over the next decade, the largest driver for more bandwidth will come from the demand for consumer broadband in a mobile world. It will also continue spurring the need to achieve the lowest cost per bit in connecting people, enterprises, and things, besides delivering more capacity. The expanding deployment of 4G/5G/IoT terrestrial networks together with next generation High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) GEO and non-GEO (NGSO) satellites—including LEOs, MEOs and microSats—will target this demand.
Q. Can you expand on how satellite and terrestrial are complementary?
A. While terrestrial networks will seek to achieve higher capacity by reducing individual cell coverage areas, this in turn will create more opportunities for next generation HTS networks, providing backhaul and cloud opportunities for the impending tsunami of data no matter where it’s generated. An HTS system—like
our Hughes JUPITER™ System—covers wide areas with typically multiple uplink and downlink frequencies across many user spot beams to maximize capacity,
with multiple gateways providing terrestrial network connectivity for a set of user beams. HTS satellites like JUPITER 1 and 2, provide fixed mapping between uplink and downlink frequency bands, with a focus on capturing more broadband subscribers in the higher density population areas of the coverage. Collectively
with 4G/5G terrestrial networks, this architecture creates a truly ubiquitous global network. And new generation LEO satellites will further augment capacity from the sky, with the additional benefit of low delay for applications that require it.
Q. What is the role of these technologies and systems in the expansion of services around the world?
A. Our JUPITER System not only powers high capacity HughesNet® services across the Americas—with over 1.4 million subscribers and counting—it’s now become the platform of choice for operators on 6 continents, including smaller operators. Its scalability offers lower initial capital expense and incremental growth as subscriber demand justifies over time. The JUPITER System operates on both HTS and conventional satellites around the world, providing flexibility not just for fixed applications, but also for emerging mobility markets, such as aeronautical and maritime services traversing multiple countries.
As a case in point, beyond the U.S. and Canada (in partnership with Xplornet), HughesNet service now spans Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Mexico operating over multiple satellites: EchoStar XVII/JUPITER 1, EchoStar XIX/JUPITER 2, along with Hughes hosted payloads at 63W and 65W. Offerings are comparable across the Americas because of common JUPITER technologies in the gateways and customer VSATs, as well as in network management and back-office
systems delivering best-in-class Quality of Service (QoS).
Q. What are some of the ways Hughes is evolving its technologies to meet future demand?
A. At Hughes, we consider several factors as critical drivers for next generation architecture choices. These include user expectations, the changing nature of Internet traffic, the devices by which end users get service, and the technologies to be deployed. Next generation technologies include more advanced waveforms, the use of millimeter wave bands such as Q and V, mobility management, beam-tobeam and satellite-to-satellite handover, and upper layer enhancements. For
example, our JUPITER 3 System design has the capability to deploy Q and V band spectrum, which increases system capacity and enables higher data rate service plans for subscribers. It is a characteristic of JUPITER waveforms to be spectrally efficient, and of its wideband nature to deliver the lowest cost per bit. As an example, a single 200 Mbps JUPITER carrier waveform can deliver over 1 Gbps throughput, enabling the ever-higher grades of service capability demanded in the marketplace. And let’s not forget the increasing role of AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) in our core systems and applications, including as examples software-defined radios and smart network management.
That’s the technology piece of it, all fueled by knowing that consumers expect connectivity everywhere. Beyond direct VSAT services per customer, Hughes solutions combine satellite backhaul of cellular networks to extend affordable connectivity to the public using their handheld phones or other devices. Local communities can take advantage of Community Wi-Fi delivered over satellite links in a low-cost shared model, as more powerful JUPITER VSATs have the capability for multi-user mobility extensions. This footprint extension of Hughes networks is complementary to the evolution of 4G/5G/IoT roll out, which some estimates say will lead to 50 billion or more connected devices globally.
In order to achieve the vision—not just for Hughes but for the benefit of all within the telecom ecosystem, including end users—the satellite community needs to work with the various regulatory organizations to secure adequate spectrum around the world. Only then can we build the complementary systems to support the ubiquity that leads to connectivity everywhere.
Q. What is Hughes doing to anticipate the need for even larger capacity systems? In other words, what’s next?
A. Technology will not stand still. Our next generation JUPITER 3 satellite will deliver over 500 Gbps of capacity. In short, capacity will only keep growing and cost
per bit keep coming down. Newer space technologies mean a larger structure, with more DC power and electric orbit raising—leading to more mass capability and larger payloads. Several payload enhancements include higher radio frequency (RF) operation up to 50 GHz, with more spot beams to improve capacity density and allow for more competitive service plan offerings. Hughes gateways and VSATs will leverage the latest technologies in baseband signal processing, solid state electronics, and passive as well as active RF devices, while real-time embedded software will enable higher performance networks and an increasing set of applications.
Hughes will continue to develop and deploy technologies that improve the efficiency of transport in terms of bits/Hertz, that can drive new applications
in narrowband systems and further support the IoT evolution as part of 4G/5G. The emergence of LEO broadband satellite systems like OneWeb fits well with
JUPITER because they’ll offer more capacity, more coverage, and more choices of opportunities around the globe, including applications requiring lower delay as noted earlier. The Hughesdeveloped OneWeb gateways will be essential in hybrid GEO/LEO systems, where policy-based routing provides choices for optimum traffic paths. GEO satellite systems like JUPITER will continue to flourish as high capacity needs soar in diverse regions and areas.
We’re living in a period of unprecedented growth in demand for connectivity of people, enterprises, and things globally, which will keep our engineers very challenged and very busy for years to come.
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