If “what’s past is prologue,” then we are in for an interesting year! We asked leaders from across Hughes to share their learnings from 2021 and insights on trends and opportunities to watch for in 2022.
North American Enterprise Market
According to Mike Tippets, vice president, Enterprise Marketing, organizations continue to “enhance and improve their ability to support remote work, with many different people across many different locations. But true innovation happens when people can get together in person. While we learned over the last two years that we can all work remotely, a hybrid arrangement is better. Time together is better.”
Looking ahead, Mr. Tippets said, “We now understand the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning. It’s been talked about for a long while. Now it’s time to start using it. For the enterprise, it requires finding the repetitive tasks, setting up and teaching the models, using AI/ML for automation. It’s a lot like factory automation. I don’t need an employee to stand there all day pulling a drill bit down; I would rather use them to do something that requires creative, critical thinking. We’ve started implementing AI/ML in our own field service installations with great success, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Dave Rehbehn, vice president, International Division, offered his perspective: “One industry takeaway from 2021 is how the geostationary high throughput satellite (GEO HTS) segment rebounded so strongly, with particular demand for digital divide projects. Looking ahead to 2022, we expect to see a significant increase in ‘flexible’ or software-defined HTS orders from the GEO industry.” Software-defined GEO HTS can change frequency bands, coverage areas, power allocation and architecture on-demand and at any point, to enable operators to tap new markets, address new applications and rebalance for demand.
Rick Lober, vice president, Hughes Defense, spoke of the significance of low earth orbit (LEO) satellite demonstrations for the sector in 2021, noting that: “LEO will become a major element of all future defense programs. This includes commercial and purpose-built systems for the U.S. Department of Defense.” In addition to providing low latency service, one of the great strengths of LEO systems is that they enable connectivity in the polar regions – with are strategically important to the military.
From the perspective of the defense industry, Mr. Lober said: “In 2022, we will move to larger managed service programs, either as the prime or a subcontractor, and expand to other transports such as LEO and 5G,” providing increased options and capabilities for military SATCOM networks.
James Clevenger, director of government sales and business development, offered his reflection on the last year. “Government agencies spent much of their time the past year transitioning and updating their network technologies from the old NETWORX contract to the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract. They now have more options and network providers to choose from, including Hughes.”
Looking ahead to 2022, he said, “LEO satellites will become the reality, as we start to see deployment of LEO solutions and services. It’s exciting stuff. Everyone at the state and Federal level wants to know more, and whether LEO is faster and more reliable. They won’t rip out their existing technologies, but they are eager to see proof of concept networks.” Mr. Clevenger added his prediction that, “Along with LEO, we’ll see more digital signage and digital media deployments, because these solutions provide capabilities that government agencies everywhere need to better engage employees and constituents – especially as contactless services continue.”
Regulatory and Space Sustainability
Jennifer Manner, senior vice president, Regulatory Affairs, agrees that “Non-geostationary orbit satellites, like those at LEO, are an increasingly important solution for broadband connectivity, and multi-orbit strategies are essential to meet all user demands.”
The last year was also notable, Ms. Manner said, because of: “The creation of the first truly global satellite trade organization with the evolution of the European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) to the Global Satellite Operators Association (GSOA). The industry is well poised to address upcoming policy issues, including access to spectrum and space sustainability. For the future, with the increasing number and size of satellite constellations, spectrum management and space sustainability will be critical to the industry’s long-term success.”
And, all of the Hughes leaders agreed: if the past is any predictor, the steep rise in demand for broadband connectivity will continue across all sectors and in all settings—urban, suburban and rural—further strengthening the need for continued Hughes engineering and innovation.