This year’s long anticipated SATELLITE 2021 Conference and Exhibition marked the event’s 40th Anniversary, in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of Hughes and the 35th Anniversary of Via Satellite—all of which were celebrated throughout the week.
Inside the Gaylord National’s hallways, breakout rooms and exhibit booths, industry talk focused on broadband, 5G (and 6G), rapid prototyping, accelerated acquisitions, global networks, and space junk. And that was just on the first day! Throughout the event, four themes emerged:
Broadband is now as essential as electricity. Every type of broadband – fiber, cable, cellular, satellite – is needed to connect everyone, everywhere. While satellite alone won’t bridge the digital divide, it will narrow the gap faster than terrestrial broadband. Demand for connectivity is at an all-time high and will only continue to accelerate.
Connecting everyone, everywhere requires operators and service providers working together, including across orbits. Multi-orbit solutions can leverage the best of each constellation. They can rely on Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellites for capacity density and big data applications (like wireless robotic systems for use in automation, medicine and the military) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites for global coverage and low latency applications.
In a joint announcement, Hughes and OneWeb, the LEO satellite communications company, shared details from their demonstration of multi-orbit connectivity in action. The test, recorded on August 26, featured the successful real-time, seamless switching between the Hughes JUPITER 2 geostationary, high-throughput satellite (HTS) and OneWeb’s low latency, high speed LEO constellation. The demonstration highlighted advantages of each type of connectivity, with Hughes ActiveTechnologies™ software instantly evaluating the type of traffic and transmitting it over the most efficient path.
As Pradman Kaul, president of Hughes explained, “OneWeb’s system enhances the Hughes portfolio of networking capabilities, introducing a low-latency option with global reach that complements GEO satellite capacity density and capability to meet our customers’ needs.”
The demand for broadband can only be met with multi-service networks that include GEO as part of the solution. This means employing the right ground technology – which was a continuous theme throughout the show. GEO offers the cost structure critical to bridging the global digital divide and enables the lowest possible cost per billable bit but depends on an advanced ground platform to realize its potential. As one example, Hughes announced that Eutelsat selected the Hughes JUPITER™ System Series 3 to enable services on the new EUTELSAT KONNECT VHTS (Very High-Throughput Satellite).
“EUTELSAT KONNECT VHTS contains the most powerful on-board digital processor ever put into orbit, necessitating a ground system of equal caliber to make the best use of its capacity,” said Pascal Homsy, chief technology officer of Eutelsat. “The JUPITER System is the natural choice for EUTELSAT KONNECT VHTS, as it is proven to support multi-service networks with flexibility, reliability and efficiency.”
The right ground systems are powerful, efficient and flexible; they enable operators to allocate satellite capacity to match customer needs and meet service commitments.
The connected future depends on multi-transport technologies using every type of broadband to satisfy the growing demand and deliver a better customer experience. Since no single technology can solve the digital divide on its own, Hughes technologies are unlocking the ability to use different transports together.
“Hughes is uniquely positioned to take advantage of our GEO, LEO, fixed and mobile satellite services’ experience to create the hybrid networks that will provide the best user experience,” Dr. C.S. Ravishankar, senior vice president of Engineering at Hughes, explained during the session titled The Hidden Complexity of Ground Communication.
That’s a critical component in the equation of what it will take. User expectations today demand ubiquitous broadband that is both high performing and reliable. As a result, the use of multi-orbit, multi-service and multi-transport systems will be essential to creating global networks that deliver connected experiences for everyone, everywhere.