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Lessons in disaster relief: the importance of communications resiliency
One of Hughes most important missions is to provide access to, and ensure, reliable communications services during times of emergency. During the devastating 2017 hurricane season Hughes played an active role in supporting several disaster relief efforts, including providing essential communications capabilities and assisting impacted regions as they work to restore their networks—which is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. These experiences demonstrate the critical need for emergency preparedness plans and resilient communications infrastructure before disasters strike.
Restoring Lost Connectivity
Responding to the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Jose, and Maria, Hughes employed its market-leading HughesNet high-speed satellite service—operating over a three satellite, geostationary orbit (GEO), Ka-band constellation that covers the continental U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI)—to support relief efforts. In Texas, Hughes to continue to do so until their work is complete. In November 2017 alone, FEMA and other agencies relied on Hughes satellite-based services to place more than 30,000 calls. In Puerto Rico, Hughes and ResponseForce1 supplied the San Cristobal Hospital in Ponce worked with ResponseForce1 to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in providing satellite Internet access and Voice over IP (VoIP) services to the public at community shelters, so people could stay in touch with family and friends. FEMA has used Hughes services extensively during its response efforts and plans with very small aperture terminals (VSATs) and solar generators, helping the hospital get connected to the web and back operating. Additionally, satellite Internet services were quickly restored to retail customers, such as wholesalers, pharmacies, and many small businesses, enabling them to carry on after the local economy came to a screeching halt. Transactions made possible included processing insurance claims, credit card payments, and government-issued food stamp (debit card) purchases. In addition to supporting FEMA, Hughes has worked with other key government agencies in the region, such as the National Weather Service (NWS), Department of Defense (DoD), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Since the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the USVI, more than 1500 new HughesNet activations have been initiated for both government and private sector users on the islands.
Infrastructure and Preparedness
The 2017 experience in these communities demonstrates the vulnerability of terrestrial communications in the face of natural disasters, such as hurricanes or floods, which can wash out, or disable groundbased infrastructure. Satellite-based infrastructures offer true alternate communications paths not exposed to the same vulnerabilities, making them essential for resilient and reliable communications—either as backup or
primary networks. Critical facilities in particular—such as schools, utilities, police and fire stations, hospitals, and FEMA offices—should be outfitted with resilient satellite communications to augment their terrestrial networks, whether wireless or landline, including backup of 9-1-1 services.
The Time for Preparedness Is Now
While there is no controlling the weather, government agencies and communities must seek to bolster their communications network resiliency before the next disasters strike. That requires federal, state, and local governments to include path diversity in their standards and best practices, and to explore the adoption of such requirements in infrastructure funding criteria. Governments must ensure that adequate funding is available to enable communications to remain operational during even the worst disasters. As demonstrated in Puerto Rico and elsewhere, given the availability and high quality of today’s latest satellite services, no community should be left unprepared to recover communications capabilities again. Implementing satellite path diversity has proven to significantly enhance network resiliency in the wake of disasters. As a case in point, following Hurricane Maria’s departure from Puerto Rico, a new large-scale emergency was taking place on the island. The 90-year-old Guajataca Dam, located between the towns of San Sabastian, Quebradillas, and Isabela, was compromised from severe structural damage. While the entire island was without power and terrestrial communications, the NWS had an existing Hughes VSAT at their local station which they connected to their power generator, enabling them to make emergency calls to both the DoD and FEMA informing them of the impending crisis. Because of this pathdiverse communications, NWS was able to issue an immediate evacuation order from the U.S. Federal Government, alerting the estimated 70,000 people who lived and worked downstream from the dam. Subsequently, the DoD rushed emergency resources to the dam and restored it to a stable and operational condition, mitigating a potential catastrophe.
In 2018, Hughes announced it was awarded a follow-on contract to continue a pilot study program to assess the feasibility of interoperability across multiple satellite communication (SATCOM) systems for the Department of Defense (DoD). The newest study builds on the growing partnership with the DoD to assess what the ideal military SATCOM architecture would look like and how diverse systems could work together at the IP layer. Under this award, Hughes will develop a prototype Flexible Modem Interface (FMI) for military terminals to enable various military and commercial systems and services to interoperate in the field.
“Hughes is being asked to develop, produce, and deliver a hardware and architecture prototype solution to support interoperable SATCOM capabilities for the military, which will help fortify satellite communications in contested environments,” said Dr. Rajeev Gopal, senior technical director of Advanced Systems for Hughes. “We look forward to delivering a solution that will help increase the resiliency and interoperability of the various commercial systems, including over Geostationary Earth Orbit High-Throughput Satellites (GEO HTS), Low Earth Orbiting satellites (LEOs), and military SATCOM systems and services used by DoD.”
Military Satellite Communications Defense Department assigns Hughes a critical role in designing and prototyping flexible modem interface for future SATCOM operations Currently, systems operated by the military are closed, with limited interoperability. The planned assessment and prototype deliverables have the potential to create a more resilient, cost-effective, and flexible SATCOM architecture for DoD. The FMI prototype will fit within the context of a mission management architecture that supports wide-beam, spotbeam, and on board processing satellites, including new GEO HTS and LEO satellite constellations. Hughes will also look at DoD’s future needs and capabilities, evaluating a secure and affordable wideband communications architecture that can facilitate varied and redundant space and ground transports.
“The overall goal for Hughes is to help the Defense Department produce a solution that expands the capabilities of the U.S. government’s satellite communications.” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of Defense and Intelligence Systems at Hughes. “To do that, we will examine how to create an interoperable system that is flexible and resilient, allowing DoD’s various global applications to operate over its own satellite network as well as leveraging commercial satellites, management systems, gateways, waveforms, and modems for DoD terminals to increase mission assurance.”
Hughes Selected for Complex Commercial SATCOM Contract Vehicle from GSA
Hughes was named one of multiple awardees of the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Complex Commercial SATCOM Solutions (CS3) contract. CS3 is a multiple-award, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract vehicle with a performance period of up to 10 years, including a base period of 5 years and two option periods available afterwards.
Under CS3, Hughes will offer government agencies customizable solutions designed to meet networking requirements across multiple categories, including: emergency responder operations, interactive services, broadband access, continuity of operations, training networks, and mobile SATCOM. The Hughes solutions available on CS3 will leverage the Hughes JUPITER™ System, the most widely deployed high-throughput satellite broadband platform, which supports a wide range of applications.
In the age of required connectivity—when governments simply cannot function or serve the public otherwise—the CS3 contract is more important than ever before. Many agencies work beyond the reach of terrestrial communications or in areas where landline networks have been wiped out by a disaster. Having a contract vehicle for resilient network solutions will enable agencies to streamline procurement activities to get the solutions they need when and where they need them.
“Hughes is proud to have been selected for the CS3 contract and the opportunity to continue supporting government agencies, worldwide, on their missions requiring satellite communications,” said Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of Government Solutions at Hughes. “Our continued selection under this family of contracts confirms the government’s confidence in Hughes and our demonstrated capabilities.” This recent award marks the third time that Hughes has been selected as a provider for this line of contracts. Hughes Recertified for Newest ISO Quality Standards Hughes has been re certified by an independent auditor as conforming to the newest ISO 9001:2015 quality management system standards. This recognition confirms the company’s ongoing commitment to quality management principles, continuous improvement, and strong customer focus in the design, manufacturing, delivery, and support of telecommunication services and products for its consumer, business, and government customers.
“Since its inception, Hughes has been dedicated to meeting and exceeding the highest quality standards in every aspect of our business—including our management principles, our design and manufacturing process, and our strong focus on meeting customer requirements and providing exceptional service,” said Bob Stedman, vice president of Quality for Hughes. “Being in the forefront of attaining certification to the newest ISO 9001:2015 standard is a demonstration of our continued commitment to these principles and to continuing to be a trusted partner for our customers.” The ISO 9001:2015 standard is based on numerous quality management principles, including a strong customer focus, the role of top management, the process approach, and continual improvement.
Hughes executive recognized for leading efforts to restore critical communications in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
In March 2018, Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of Government Solutions at Hughes received a Fed100 Award for leading an extraordinary effort to re-establish critical communications in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) following the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. In its 29th year, the Annual Fed100 Awards are among the most prestigious celebrations of exceptional individuals—both from industry and government—who drive federal IT accomplishments.
Bardo led the Hughes team during a chaotic and critical time of desperate need. Puerto Rico and the USVI had been completely knocked offline with no power and 2,400 miles of transmission lines destroyed. Bardo’s team showed unprecedented resolve in overcoming several logistical obstacles and challenges to deliver critical satellite communications capabilities to the government after terrestrial-based infrastructures were crippled.
The massive effort was made more challenging due to major transportation hurdles. Finding reliable shipping (to and around the island), housing, storage, food, and supplies was no easy feat in the first month following the storm. Bardo’s team, including Deb Chowdury’s program management group, worked 7 days a week with numerous people, companies, agencies, and nonprofit organizations to facilitate the relief and recovery mission by establishing reliable communications
capabilities. Hughes involvement in these ongoing recovery efforts will continue for the foreseeable future based on the magnitude of destruction from the storms.
Bardo has over 36 years of experience supporting government telecommunications, and during his 15 years at Hughes, much of it has been related to emergency preparedness and response. He has unabashedly leveraged the company’s engineering and network operations resources to deliver much needed solutions during some of the biggest disasters on record, including Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.
Hughes Teams with mu Space and SES Networks to Provide Broadband Access to Rural Southeast Asia
Satellite broadband Internet will help to improve lives among the rural and underserved communities of Thailand
Rural communities of Thailand will soon be able to enjoy reliable satellite-based broadband services delivered by mu Space Corp using SES Networks’ satellite capacity and the Hughes JUPITER™ System. mu Space is a Thai space technology startup, which aims to provide satellite services that are affordable and easy-to-install and offers widespread coverage. By contracting capacity on SES satellites and using the Hughes JUPITER System, mu Space will be improving quality of life for Thailand’s citizens by providing reliable and affordable satellite-based broadband for telecom providers and businesses.
According to Thailand’s telecom industry database, only 12% (more than 8 million people) of the country’s 70 million population currently has access to broadband. Recognizing its importance in social and economic development, the Thai government has launched several initiatives, including a National Broadband Policy and a new economic model, Thailand 4.0, with the goals of increasing broadband penetration to 95% of the Thai population by 2020, and to transforming the country into an innovation-driven economy.
“At mu Space, our mission is to deliver nationwide and reliable connectivity to everyone in Thailand, to improve the quality of life of the local people,” said James Yenbamroong, founder and CEO of mu Space. “We have been searching for the ideal partners to ensure that we can deliver reliable broadband services at the right price point. Together with the global experience of SES Networks and Hughes, we are confident of the high service quality that we will jointly deliver in Thailand.”
“In rural and underserved areas, satellite is the best solution for broadband access, as it’s much more affordable and faster to deploy compared to land-based Internet infrastructure,” said Imran Malik, Vice President, Fixed Data, Asia-Pacific at SES Networks. “We are thrilled to help empower Thai citizens and improve their lives with opportunities involving the digital economy.”
“In exurban and rural communities, terrestrial networks are difficult to roll out and costly, contrasted with the new generation of satellites and access technologies that bring affordable access to people anywhere across continent-wide coverage areas,” said Ramesh Ramaswamy, senior vice president and general manager, International Division at Hughes. “We are excited that mu Space has chosen our JUPITER System to deliver on their mission of bringing broadband to everyone in Thailand.”
Senior Vice President and General Manager, International Division
In this issue, we speak to Ramesh Ramaswamy about Hughes many successes in international markets over the past year and its plans for the future.
Q. This issue’s theme is “Powering a Connected Future.” Can you talk about the importance of Internet access to economic and social development around the world?
The World Bank has published several reports showing that an increase of just 10% in broadband penetration increases a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by nearly 2%—a staggering statistic. The United Nations has even noted that broadband access is now essentially a human right. And beyond economic benefits, the social impact Executive Corner Ramesh Ramaswamy Senior Vice President and General Manager, International Division of broadband is also well understood, from better educated kids in school, to telemedicine, emergency preparedness/ response, online banking, and virtually all government services to citizens, not to mention keeping our families and friends connected. That is especially true in rural areas, because broadband access increases a community’s ability to join the mainstream economy.
Q. What does that mean to Hughes and our customers?
You can see it in how peoples’ lives change for the better. When an area gets connectivity and access to information, people can pay bills, apply for passports, get land records, or download e-training courseware—which is a major driver in emerging economies, such as India, where half the population is under 30 years old and many want to improve their education but can’t afford to leave their towns or villages. Broadband is all about the opportunities it opens up no matter where people work or live. For Hughes, this demand translates into more business to supply the systems that enable broadband services, and in delivering those services—whether directly as with our leading HughesNet® high-speed satellite service, now with over 1.2 million subscribers in the Americas, or indirectly, through partnerships with leading operators around the globe.
Q. How is Hughes making access more available and affordable through solutions such as community Wi-Fi?
The latest generations of High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) technologies, such as our JUPITERTM System, have brought the costs of broadband access in exurban or rural areas to the $50 to $60 a month range—which is affordable for a family living in a developed economy.But clearly, that single user per VSAT model is too expensive in an emerging economy internationally. To overcome this challenge, Hughes has innovated several alternative access models. One is satellite backhaul of cellular, where our solution makes it cost-effective for a mobile operator to build out wireless base stations in lower density and rural areas, which would otherwise be prohibitively expensive, using terrestrial backhaul, such as fiber, cable, or microwave. The consumer is then able to get affordable mobile broadband using their various cellphones and devices. A second way is community Wi-Fi. In this scenario, a single high-performance VSAT provides access to tens or even hundreds of customers over a Wi-Fi access Cloud, connecting traffic over a satellite link to the Internet. In both cases, the cost per subscriber becomes affordable even in low-income-percapita economies.
Q. Can you talk about the importance of our International Partners to Hughes success?
This network is fundamental to Hughes strategy and our success. Our strategy has always been to have a healthy mix of services and systems revenue, whereby service demand drives equipment sales, from which we learn how to improve features and lower costs to further fuel the service business. In that way it’s a virtuous cycle. As we expand into more International markets, we supply our operator partners with the latest technologies and share our service know-how in a win-win way. It’s a formula that has worked for us in the past and is now being further fueled by deployment of HTS systems globally.
Q. Last year saw a long list of major achievements around the world for Hughes. What were the most notable international accomplishments?
First, you have to look at one of our biggest successes—our consumer broadband service in the U.S.—and the ways we’ve been able to extend it into international markets, from both a wholesaler and retailer perspective. Last year, we consolidated our broadband services provisioning in Mexico through our wholesale partner, Star Group, who is using our JUPITER™ System and EchoStar XIX satellite to deliver broadband to all of Mexico. Then, through our Brazilian subsidiary, we extended our HughesNet consumer services in a retail model, replicating what we do in the U.S. That’s been a tremendous success, which we’ve built on last year with HughesNet in Colombia, and set the stage for it in Chile, Ecuador, and Peru later this year. Our JUPITER System continues to power major programs around the world. For example, the India Ministry of Petroleum employs it to provide connectivity to thousands of gas stations across the country, while rural banking is growing exponentially with satellite-enabled ATMs flourishing in villages and towns nationwide. In the Africa region, Global IP chose Hughes to deliver a JUPITER System to power services over a new HTS they’re launching with 150 Gbps of capacity. And we were selected to connect 267 systems around the world for a nuclear monitoring system. Across all market sectors— enterprise, consumer and government—2017 was a banner year for Hughes.
Q. How does Hughes differentiate itself to win system sales?
We are committed to providing the highest quality, most cost-effective and scalable systems and technologies, together with sharing our services’ know-how to power the success of our customers. This is what sets us apart. Whether through advanced bandwidth management or other technologies that translate into more services at lower cost, or through innovative network support for lights-out operations, this combined technology and services leadership is indeed our competitive edge.
Q. How has the JUPITER System helped Hughes maintain market leadership of roughly 50%?
It starts with the throughput and efficiency performance of the system. We were the first to market with DVB-S2X— widely recognized as the most efficient standard for the outroute. Recently at the SATELLITE 2018 show, we demonstrated live, a single JUPITER HT2000 remote terminal delivering more than 200 Mbps of data—about double the throughput performance of the closest competitor. And we continuously enhance the system with new features and capabilities—often applying lessons learned from our own service business; for instance, we are introducing a new inroute access scheme that will significantly improve response times for encrypted Web traffic.
Q. What are the company’s short-term, as well as long-term, strategic goals for international markets for 2018 and beyond?
We will continue to build upon the success of HughesNet in the Americas and expand into Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, all powered by the JUPITER System. We also plan to aggressively grow our successful HughesON™ Managed Network Services globally, bringing enterprises and governments seamless, end-to-end solutions, including SD-WAN across the most cost-effective mix of technologies whether terrestrial fixed, wireless or satellite. And we’ll continue to provide JUPITER System technologies to a growing family of leading operators around the world. It’s heartening to see the strategy we envisioned play out so well. Our ability to leverage services and technologies we’ve perfected in the market and to work with partners we respect and trust means we are extremely well-positioned going forward.
During the 2018 Hughes Sales and Marketing Meeting held in Bethesda, Maryland in January, two teams were recognized as Innovation Award Winners. One team from the Engineering, Product and Technology category won for its work developing the JUPITER™ System Satellite and Gateways; a Business and Operations team won for its HughesNet® Gen5 Direct Marketing Innovation.
2018 Innovation Award WinnersEngineering, Product and Technology JUPITER System Satellite and Gateways
2018 Innovation Award WinnersBusiness and Operations HughesNet Gen5 Direct Marketing Innovation
2018 Engineering Day AwardsSoftware Engineering MTS
Vishwas Grama Nanjundaswamy
Hardware Engineering MTS
Broadband Internet access drives social and economic development
The global economy is experiencing a digital revolution, with the world increasingly moving from resource-based to information-based economies. Indeed, the World Wide Web has become the universal platform for communications and exchange of information among people, businesses, and organizations—no matter where they may be—all made possible by broadband Internet access.
In his 2016 world development report titled, “Exploring the Relationship Between Broadband and Economic Growth,” Michael Minges reviewed multiple studies covering a group of countries to examine the economic effect of broadband over time. Study after study demonstrates the impact and importance of the Internet to societies and their economic development. Some interesting findings cited within his report include:
An overall conclusion is that increasing broadband Internet penetration is a social and economic imperative in all countries, developed and developing alike. Yet in lower density ex-urban, mountainous and rural areas, from Africa to Asia to the Americas, the cost of building out terrestrial fixed or wireless infrastructure is often prohibitively expensive, complicated by difficult terrain, poor roads, and limited utilities— representing the primary barrier to much-needed expansion.
Enter new generations of High-Throughput Satellite systems, which have ushered in a range of cost-effective broadband solutions—from single to shared user access—that are proving to be competitive in both performance and cost.
Fueling the Revolution
As a case in point, HughesNet® high-speed satellite Internet service in the Americas now claims over 1.2 million subscribers—the world’s largest broadband satellite network—and in the U.S. it was recognized by the FCC as the first service to deliver 25 Mbps download speeds nationwide. Powered by the JUPITER™ System operating over the EchoStar® XIX HTS satellite, HughesNet is now available beyond North America in Brazil and Colombia, and will be expanded later this year in Chile, Ecuador, and Peru.
Globally, operators on four continents are deploying the same JUPITER System and its high-performance very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology to expand their broadband services—with the potential to reach millions of customers unserved or underserved by terrestrial access. While satellites can make Internet access available to anyone, anywhere, buying a single VSAT for a home is simply not affordable in developing economies, where disposable income for Internet access is a fraction of that in the developed world. To meet this challenge, Hughes has introduced two shared access model solutions that bring affordable broadband connectivity to emerging economies.
In this model, a single high performance VSAT provides access to tens or even hundreds of customers in a community over a Wi-Fi access Cloud, connecting traffic over a satellite link to the Internet. The service offerings can be flexible, configured for the number and type of Wi-Fi users, and for occasional or pre-paid use, or even on a monthly subscription-based plan. The key underlying principal is that this is a cost-share model; by splitting the cost among users, service plans can be made affordable for virtually any market.
An excellent example is by KB Iskra, an ISP with a successful community Wi-Fi model implementation in rural areas of eastern Russia. A mile-wide Wi-Fi access Cloud covers an entire population of a remote town or village. Typically, each VSAT supports 20 to 30 subscribers, each paying on average 50% less each month than individuals with home-based service in urban areas, thanks to the cost-sharing model. The company has installed more than 600 such shared VSATs, and now provides affordable service to almost 20,000 regular Wi-Fi users who would have otherwise remained unconnected.
To understand the opportunity and how many people could get connected under scenarios like this, consider how many people in Russia are unconnected. According to their 2010 National Census, 26% of Russia’s population (more than 37,000,000 people) live in 154,000 rural settlements, of which 40% have fewer than 10 residents. Deploying individual broadband VSATs to these settlements would provide affordable broadband access to millions of residents.
In terms of implementation, this model is especially attractive to governments with the objective of providing Internet access to an entire country’s population on a relatively short timeline and without massive cost implications. Given the wide coverage areas, satellites have the power to cover an entire country, overcoming the distance and terrain barriers faced when expanding terrestrial service.
Satellite Backhaul of Cellular Service
This JUPITER System solution optimizes satellite backhaul of 2G, 3G and 4G cellular traffic, with low Capex and Opex to justify building out cellular overage in lower density or difficult-to-reach areas where the cost of fiber, cable, or microwave backhaul is prohibitive. Additionally, it can be configured as a backup or a traffic off-load to urban terrestrial links that reach capacity limits. Using scalable platforms, such as the JUPITER System allows MNOs to justify incremental capital investments while using satellite capacity as efficiently as possible to lower operating expenses.
“The latest enhancements of our flagship JUPITER System validate our ongoing commitment to an ever-growing family of valued operator customers, ensuring that their investment in Hughes technology will gain them a competitive advantage in their markets today and for years to come,” said Dave Rehbehn, vice president of international sales and marketing. “New
capabilities include the JUPITER Aero System, with up to 600 Mbps capacity to aircraft, addressing the entire spectrum of community, enterprise, backhaul, aero and maritime sectors, bringing more capabilities to new markets and fueling the digital revolution around the globe."
Whichever broadband access model makes sense, and whether delivering services directly or with partners around the globe, Hughes is all about innovating technologies and services that power a connected future for people no matter where they live, work, or play.
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