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Advances in airborne broadband technology hold the promise of enabling cost-effective communications to aid situational awareness on the ground for military reconnaissance, border patrols, and other government and commercial applications. But there remain a number of challenges associated with beyond-line-of-sight communications; for instance, signal blockages by terrain and on-the-move impairments.
In addition, high-quality video is increasingly needed to deliver real-time information from aircraft to ground in today’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. This requires data rates of 10 Mbps or more, and high-definition is also starting to become common for some applications, such as video sensors, aircraft radar, and other types of sensors.
That’s why Hughes is leveraging its latest commercial airborne and ground system technologies to develop beyondline- of-sight (BLoS) satellite solutions, or what we know as SATCOM, for military manned and unmanned aircraft, including rotary-wing aircraft. For example, to deal with the challenge of rotating helicopter blades, Hughes has developed error correction codes and an advanced satellite waveform operating over its HX System to resolve blockages. The advanced waveform also supports much smaller antennas and has certain anti-jam characteristics for this and other applications.
In several recent tests, Hughes successfully demonstrated high-throughput video and data transmission over satellite links on a variety of customer rotary-wing platforms. Employing Hughes advanced waveform technology, the new communications-on-the-move (COTM) “microsat” system achieved zero packet loss on transmission and reception through the rotor blades, over both Ka- and Ku-band satellite channels.
The tests were conducted on a variety of military and commercial helicopters in both static and inflight environments that included a number of pitch, bank, and roll maneuvers. In all cases, the Hughes microsat system successfully transmitted full-motion video through the rotor blades over both conventional Ku-band global beam and Ka-band global or spot beam satellites. The system operates with a variety of commercially available airborne antennas, facilitating integration with various government, military, and commercial platforms. The company will test the system in a fixed-wing application with the U.S. Air Force and on a U.S. Navy rotary-wing platform later this year.
“We believe Hughes has a unique approach to innovative, cost-effective mobility solutions for military and commercial applications,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division. “With global coverage and employing much smaller antennas, our new microsat technology is ideal for command and control and ISR missions in all airborne environments, combining patented waveform design on a proven, common platform for all applications—unlike other single-use solutions.”
Hughes novel airborne solutions can also be used on mobile land and maritime vehicles. Additional government and commercial applications for this technology include public safety, police helicopters, firefighting, agriculture, and land surveys.
The military’s increasing use of manned and unmanned airborne vehicles, both fixed- and rotary-wing, is creating a surging need for BLoS communications, including transmission of ISR data—and for which Hughes advanced airborne broadband technology is ideally suited to help improve mission results.
Operating quietly behind the scenes at Hughes is a team of highly trained people who act as the gears that make everything work. Aptly named the Products and Services Group, this is the team that’s responsible for delivering all products and services to our customers— including consumers, small businesses, enterprises, and governments. Its charter encompasses everything from network design, engineering, installation, maintenance, and network operations, to security, billing, and customer support.
In today’s tough economy, IT staff and budgets are becoming increasingly constrained, and as a result, our enterprise and government customers expect us to handle more and more managed services on their behalf. These organizations are looking for high-availability networks, sometimes with multiple diverse circuits within a single site. For example, an organization might have some terrestrial sites with satellite backup, other sites with 4G backup, and a third group of sites with two different terrestrial providers. An important benefit that Hughes brings to the market is its many years of experience managing networks large and small, combined with the flexibility—and the necessary “gears”—to personalize solutions to meet the varying needs of our wide customer base.
Today Hughes ranks among the top three service providers of managed networks in North America. As a single-source, multi-technology transport provider with a national footprint, we not only offer our own broad portfolio of HughesONTM managed network solutions, but we also aggregate best-of-breed offerings from other Tier 1 providers into fully managed services for our customers. With more than 400 qualified terrestrial partners, we have unmatched capability to manage any combination of cable, fiber, wireless, and satellite networks. In addition, our customers can see in real time what’s going on with their sites, applications, and services through our sophisticated Hughes customer gateway and network management portal.
At Hughes, we believe that listening to customers is key to both service development and service delivery. That’s why one of our most important tools is the Hughes Users Group (HUG), an independent group that’s governed by an elected board with membership open to all Hughes enterprise and government customers. At the strategic level, the HUG provides us feedback on future direction for our products and services. At the operational level, the group gives specific input on what we can do better, such as the types of services we offer, performance enhancements, and the functionality of our network management portal. We use the HUG as an invaluable tool to focus our resources and our “gears” on the highest-priority issues, and to help make us a better service company. The enterprise customer survey is also an invaluable feedback tool used to enhance our service delivery performance.
Last August Hughes launched a powerful new satellite—EchoStar® XVII with JUPITERTM high-throughput technology— and just three months later introduced HughesNet® Gen4 services, with the highest-speed plans for consumers and small businesses in the market. The implementation of EchoStar XVII and HughesNet Gen4 was a massive initiative that depended on all our “gears” being in top form.
Counting our two owned Ka-band satellites—SPACEWAY® 3 and EchoStar XVII—plus leased Ku-band transponders, we now operate our services over 32 satellite Points of Presence (POPs). Our next-generation JUPITER 2/ EchoStar XIX—scheduled for 2016 and with a huge capacity of more than 150 Gbps—will add eight additional locations. From a network management and surveillance perspective, this means many more environments to manage on a 24x7 basis. To accommodate the growth, we’ve staffed up our Detroit and North Las Vegas centers to support the expanding field maintenance requirements and the Germantown Network Management Center (NMC) for surveillance and management capabilities.
In fact, with HughesNet service exceeding expectations—700,000 subscribers at last count—we’ve had to scale quickly to stay ahead of the consumer acquisition curve. In addition, we recently signed DISH Network LLC and Frontier Communications as wholesale partners and DIRECTV as a sales agent to offer HughesNet Gen4 service to their customers.
In the end, it’s the responsibility of the Products and Services Group—the “gears”—to ensure that Hughes products and services perform flawlessly for our customers. I am confident that our highly integrated sales, marketing, R&D, and operations teams will continue to bring our customers superior, value-added solutions that power our continued market leadership.
Hughes understands that its team is only as strong as the quality of its coustomer support. That's why the Company works so hard to provide the best possible support for all its customers-no matter the location, and no matter which Hughes products or services are being used.
A key part of that support is the field maintenance organization, whose job number one is to fulfill the commitments made to customers based on their purchase and choice from a range of maintenance plans and service-level agreements. In North America, Hughes partners with Worldwide Technical Services (WWTS), a professional technology services firm, to ensure that customers get the best onsite maintenance when and where it’s needed. Trained on all Hughes product and service lines, more than 330 WWTS dedicated field service representatives, or technicians, serve over 270,000 Hughes customers under maintenance agreements across 15 product lines.
After passing rigorous physical fitness tests, technicians undergo a three-week formal training curriculum to learn about products, services, and processes, including a full day on safety. Most technicians come to the job with an electronic and/or military background and also have PC and networking certifications. Even armed with all this training, a Hughes field service representative is typically accompanied on service calls for the first several weeks by a field support engineer with 15 or more years of experience, ensuring the highest possible quality of support.
Field service technicians are issued safety gear, including flame- retardant overalls, steel-toed boots, safety glasses, all-weather hand protection, and harnesses. Toolkits include not only hand tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches and troubleshooting tools like meters and antenna-pointing equipment, but also safety equipment, including fiberglass ladders, along with a full complement of manuals, checklists, and spare parts.
At its core, field maintenance is all about problem solving. There’s no telling what technicians may encounter at a customer site, and they must be prepared to troubleshoot and resolve any type of problem at any type of site—whether an office, a warehouse, an apartment building, a restaurant, or a single-family home.
They must have a solid understanding of both satellite and terrestrial transports such as DSL and cable. In addition, they must possess expert knowledge of a whole host of technical components such as firewalls, switches, routers, and protocol converters so they can perform the necessary troubleshooting and repairs.
In one possible scenario, a quick-service restaurant customer may find that the store can no longer run credit and debit transactions after a thunderstorm passes through. A call to the local help desk immediately initiates troubleshooting steps confirming the outage, followed by scheduling of an onsite visit. Once at the site, the technician obtains background, not only on the power outage, but also any recent software installations and any other factors that may be affecting the system. Another important part of preparing for any repair work involves setting up a safe barrier around the worksite, which in some cases may require a permit. Only then can the technician proceed with the troubleshooting and repair.
In addition to the dedicated onsite maintenance team, a backup workforce is trained on Hughes equipment so they can step in immediately after major outages to help get sites in the affected areas up and running, including hospitals, shelters, convenience stores, and gas stations.
“Field maintenance is our mainstay at Hughes,” said Dan Isoldi, director of field maintenance services. “Our customers depend on us, and part of our advantage is the ability to continuously maintain equipment—whether new or old—and ensure that it keeps our customers connected to the service they need, with the goal of restoring every site on time, every time.”
Home to pristine wilderness, abundant wildlife, and high adventure, Alaska holds breathtaking allure for visitors and locals alike. From waterways full of whales at Kenai Fjords to the mountain tundra of Denali National Park, Alaska is bursting with natural wonders. Its northernmost reaches are dubbed “land of the midnight sun”—where the sun never dips below the horizon during the summer.
But all that rugged beauty and vast distance also create major communications challenges. Just ask Will Johnson, an entrepre- neur whose experience—and frustration—with spotty Internet connectivity while operating a flight school in the western part of the state led him to start Alaska Satellite Internet.
“We’re so desperate for connectivity in this part of the world,” said Johnson. “We just couldn’t get any connection that was worth a darn.”
Johnson’s company began reselling HughesNet broad- band satellite service in 2006, and continues to provide this high-quality Internet access for the many hunting and fishing lodges, work camps, oil rigs, gold mines, government agencies, schools, police stations, and tribal offices that make Alaska’s economy and public sector work.
But soon after getting reliable connectivity, customers began to demand higher bandwidth and value-added applications, such as Voice (VoIP) and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Enter Hughes High QoS. Based on the company’s advanced HX System platform, Hughes High QoS Service is a turnkey, bundled package of hardware, software, and network hub capacity that enables Virtual Network Operators (VNOs) like Alaska Satellite Internet to offer high-bandwidth and VPN services without requiring a large upfront investment.
Its extensive capabilities give Alaska Satellite the ability to prioritize traffic by class for each customer, ensuring committed information rates for mission-critical business applications and latency-sensitive applications such as VoIP phone calls and full-motion video.
“Hughes High-QoS has been a very successful service for us,” said Johnson. “It has opened up our ability to serve businesses and tribal organizations. It’s very popular with customers who consume a lot of bandwidth, mostly in the business market, and for some residences. They like the unlimited download plans and the service’s consistency and low latency, which are especially important when they’re running multiple business applications or a private network over multiple sites.”
The Hughes High-QoS Service is also ideal for specialized industries such as oil/gas exploration, maritime, and mining.
Because distance and extreme weather make maintenance and repairs difficult and expensive, reliability makes the service popular with business customers who can’t afford outages.
According to Johnson, “It’s rock-solid dependable. I don’t know of anything in the bush that’s more dependable.”
Indeed, dependability is the hallmark of Hughes High-QoS Service. No matter the location, businesses, Indian tribes, and residences can depend on Alaska Satellite Internet and Hughes for high-performance Internet service—even as far as the land of the midnight sun.
Customers expect ease and convenience when it's time to fuel up at the local gas station. They want to pump their gas, perhaps pick up a gallon of milk or a cup of coffee, and hit the road. If they have trouble swiping a credit or debit card, there's a good chance those customers won't come back. Businesses like gas stations that depend on volume can't afford to take that chance.
According to Murphy USA network engineers David Conner and Micah Rogers, nine out of ten times a card swipe fails, it's related to a network connectivity problem. The terminal can't reach the customer's bank for authorization and the transaction hangs up. Even 30 seconds of downtime is enough to cost the company business.
Guarding against connectivity failures is why Murphy USA selected a comprehenseive HughesONTM High-Availability Networking solution at its nearly 1,200 locations in 29 states throughout the U.S. A fully managed solution, HughesON High-Availability combines broadband terrestrial connectivity (DSL and 4G) and satellite backup at each Murphy USA location. If the terrestrial network fails or is knocked out by a disaster, the satellite system kicks in.
Beyond credit and debit card transactions, the company is taking advantage of the solution's diverse capabilities for a range of business functions, including inventory control, employee clocking, security cameras, back-office support, software upgrades, and tank level monitoring. In addition, the network's high speed and capacity enable Murphy's corporate offices to access sales and fuel data constantly throughout the day.
Meeting the stringent Payment Card Industry (PCI) information security standards is a major requirement for Murphy USA, and is fully satisfied by the HughesON High-Availability solution. This includes firewall, rogue wireless access point detection, and virus scanning services at each Murphy location, giving the company what Roger calls "a depth of defense strategy" against information theft.
As an added bonus to its operational efficiencies, HughesON High-Availability is helping Murphy USA's IT department generate revenue by sharing bandwidth with outside vendors and offering services to internal business units. These include promotional and point-of-sale services that can increase customer purchases or just create a more attractive environment.
"We have a vendor who sells drinks at the pump—customers can just add the price to their purchase and select a drink from a cooler," added Rogers. "If a site wants that service and they need a new server to support it, we can add it easily. It's the same thing if they want to add a music server to play MP3s in the store. Hughes makes it very simple to add and maintain additional services."
A Winning Team
According to Conner, the excellent relationship between Murphy USA and Hughes is one of the keys to the success of the solution.
"Hughes is very good at solving problems," said Conner. "They are very open and honest about what's going on. They invite us inside to see what's going on and how they're troubleshooting. Hughes focuses on the problem, opens up, and works with us."
Today, backed by the HughesON High-Availability Networking Solution, that winning team is making sure every swipe counts for Murphy USA customers.
In March, Hughes Communications India Limited (HCIL), a subsidiary of Hughes, was awarded “2013 Best VSAT Operator in India” at the Telecom Operator Awards held in New Delhi. This prestigious award, which HCIL has now received for six years in a row, recognizes companies that demonstrate outstanding performance in delivering world-class results in service and support in the telecom sector.
One of just three companies to receive a 2012 Satellite Spotlight Product of Year Award from Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC), Hughes had the honor of winning two of them, as announced in May 2013.
HughesNet® Gen4 high-speed satellite Internet service was recognized for its ability to deliver dramatically increased speeds (up to 15 Mbps), greater download capacity, and a richer Internet experience to thousands of consumers. HughesNet Gen4 is built upon a network of high-capacity satellites, advanced ground systems technology, and in-home devices tightly integrated to deliver high performance and continuous, reliable service.
At the same time, Hughes HX System 4.0 was recognized for its wide range of technology enhancements to the HX product family, enabling higher performance, efficiency, and a number of significant new features. Designed and optimized for carrier- grade IP broadband networking, the HX System is the ideal choice for mobility and mesh applications including 3G/4G cellular backhaul, Virtual Network Operator (VNO) hosting, and Comms On-The-Move (COTM) for airborne/maritime/ land, including Defense and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) solutions.
Hughes was honored once again in 2013 by the Alliance for Workplace Excellence (AWE) as one of the Greater Washington, D.C. area’s best places to work, receiving the Workplace Excellence Seal of Approval, as well as the Health & Wellness Trailblazer Award. In addition, Hughes was among 30 organizations recognized with the EcoLeadership Award for commitment to environmental sustainability, and one of 18 recognized as leading practitioners in diversity and inclusion.
Also in May, Network Products Guide named the Hughes HS1200 Broadband Optimization Appliance a Bronze winner of the “8th Annual 2013 Hot Companies and Best Products Awards” in the Best New Products category. The Network Products Guide honors are the world’s premier information technology awards, recognizing achievements in industry innovations. The Hughes HS1200 was recognized for enabling a more cost-effective and higher-performance WAN alternative to MPLS networks, providing end-to-end Quality of Service (QoS) over best-efforts broadband, such as DSL and cable. As a result, distributed enterprises can take advantage of Voice over IP (VoIP), video, and real-time data applications at their branch sites without needing expensive MPLS networks.
People who live in rural or remote areas usually lack access to nearby quality healthcare facilities, often facing long travel times to reach one. Take, for example, the northern New England region of the U.S., where tens of thousands live in rural and mountainous regions, including numerous islands that dot the coastline. Until recently, they—along with thousands of migrant workers who seasonally harvest blueberries, apples, and Christmas trees—had no choice but to travel many miles by land and sometimes sea to reach healthcare.
Enter the New England Telehealth Consortium (NETC), a federally funded consortium serving more than 400 sites, including fixed and mobile health facilities throughout the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. NETC’s mandate is to create a shared network among rural and urban health- care facilities, medical specialists, and academic institutions to improve patient care across the region. And although mobile health clinics would seem to be the solution, NETC quickly discovered that terrestrial broadband service is not necessarily available in these areas, yet high-speed connectivity is essential to transmit electronic medical information or conduct online consultations.
Faced with the challenge of bringing broadband connectivity to all mobile clinics—even where no terrestrial service is available—NETC turned to Hughes for its advanced satellite telehealth solution. Offering a wide range of applications to assist in patient diagnosis and treatment, such as videoconferencing, transfer of electronic health records, viewing of digital images, digital messaging, and pre- scription dispensing, this novel solution incorporates high-performance Hughes satellite router technology integrated with AvL Technologies’ auto-deploy antenna. Setting up rapidly, the powerful transportable solution automatically establishes connectivity with the Hughes SPACEWAY® 3 broadband satellite—the world’s first with onboard switching and routing—covering the entire NETC service area.
ProInfoNet, an independent telecommu- nications and computer consulting firm, was selected by NETC to manage the program’s implementation, and is working together with Hughes and AvL to deliver the telehealth network.
“We are excited that NETC’s mobile clinics will have access to telemedicine and electronic health records through the Hughes SPACEWAY 3 satellite system,” said Jim Rogers, president of ProInfoNet. “Patients can now receive excellent remote medical care whether a mobile clinic is parked in rural Maine or docked at an offshore island. This satellite technology allows medical providers at NETC-connected hospitals to provide telemedicine services to NETC mobile clinics across the region.”
“Leveraging satellite broadband is a game changer for telehealth, especially for patients in rural areas who will now be able to receive top-quality care through enhanced telemedicine and information sharing,” said Brian Thibeau, president of NETC. “It is exciting to make a difference in the healthcare of New Englanders by bringing them innovative technology solutions like this.”
“The challenge of getting connectivity to remote and rural areas is not unique to New England,” added Tony Bardo, assistant vice president for Govern- ment Solutions at Hughes. “According to recent Federal Communications Commission data, 10 to 15 million U.S. households are unserved or underserved by terrestrial broadband. The answer is today’s high-speed satellite broadband technology, which is available virtually everywhere and can eliminate the geo- graphical barriers to good healthcare.”
Now, thanks to the power of satellite, no matter how remotely people may live, work, or play in rural New England, they’ll have access to the healthcare they need.
This past summer, Hughes executives could be found at Hughes technology seminars from Moscow to Johannesburg, and from Singapore to Mexico D.F. (Mexico City), discussing satellite industry developments and introducing the company’s latest-generation JUPITER™ Ka-band innovations. Each seminar was attended by a mix of senior-level representatives from the telecom industry, including service providers, operators, government officials, and media. New Hughes Ka-band satellite routers were showcased—the HN9600 and HN9800—which incorporate JUPITER high-throughput technology, the cornerstone of HughesNet® Gen4 high-speed satellite Internet service in the U.S. HughesNet is the world’s largest consumer satellite service, offering speeds up to 15 Mbps and serving approximately 700,000 subscribers.
Hughes was recently awarded a contract by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to expand managed satellite services and to provide MPLS connectivity in the region. Headquartered in Abidjan,Côte d’Ivoire and operating from its Temporary Relocation Agency in Tunis, Tunisia, AfDB has been a Hughes managed services customer since 2008, employinga primary communications network of broadband satellite terminals installed in 32 of its field offices throughout Africa. The expansion contract calls for Hughes to provide MPLS circuits at four AfDB sites, with backhau (STM1) services to Tunisian headquarters from a teleport in Germany. Services include MPLS cloud circuits to regional banks and broadband connectivity in 32 countries.
Hughes recently signed a contract with Maju Nusa Sdn Bhd (Majunusa), Malaysia’s fastest growing VSAT service provider, to supply an HX System 4.0 Network Operations Center (NOC) and 130 HX broadband satellite terminals. Majunusa will utilize the HX System to deliver cellular backhaul services for 2G and 3G sites in rural areas.
On August 5, 2013, Hughes announced that Media Networks Latin America (MNLA)-a B2B unit of Telefonica Digital-selected it to supply a JUPITER High-Throughput System (HTS) to expand into delivering high-speed satellite Internet service to households, using the Hispasat Amazonas-3 Ka-band satellite. MNLA is the major wholesale distributor of satellite direct-to-home (DTH) television services in Latin America and is also the largest wholesale distributor of Ku-band satellite Internet service in the region.
For today’s distributed enterprises, deploying new cloud services, mobile solutions, and customer Wi-Fi can help build a competitive edge in a tough marketplace. But to make all these services and applications work effectively and safely, enterprises need their networks to deliver high performance coupled with strong security. In this environment, robust security and application delivery must work hand- in-hand to ensure quality of service over the WAN while thwarting attacks, safeguarding the network, and maximizing every bit of bandwidth available.
In the past, enterprises have deployed firewalls with enhanced security features along with independent WAN optimization platforms at their branch locations—an expensive and awkward approach often requiring many devices. But now, Hughes has changed all that by combining security, routing, and optimization in one easy-to-manage-and-deploy device that offers dramatic cost savings over separate box solutions. Enter the Hughes HR4700 Branch Gateway, a comprehensive device that combines best-in-class security from Fortinet, Inc. with high-performance routing and broadband WAN optimization. Delivered as part of the suite of HughesON managed services, the HR4700 Branch Gateway is the ideal solution for distributed enterprises.
Offering best-in-class performance, the HR4700 Branch Gateway incorporates two innovative optimization technologies.
Hughes ActiveQoSTM enables true end-to-end Quality of Service (QoS) over “best efforts” broadband networks to deliver enterprise-class application performance. Additionally, Hughes ActiveCompressionTM delivers up to twenty times the available virtual bandwidth for greater throughput and application performance without costly link upgrades.
For in-depth protection at each branch location, the HR4700 Branch Gateway incorporates Fortinet’s innovative network security technologies. Security eatures include next- generation firewall, Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), anti- malware, application and endpoint control, and data leak protection. Running Fortinet’s world-class FortiOS secure operating system, the HR4700 Branch Gateway delivers up to twice the Unified Threat Management (UTM) performance of competing UTMs, with greater port density, superior price and performance, and reduced power consumption. Because security features are delivered as part of a managed service, future enhancements to FortiOS functionality will not incur costly hardware upgrades.
Blending security, routing, and WAN optimization into a single managed offering, the HR4700 is more cost- effective than multiple purpose-built devices. Embedded optimization technology makes it possible to enjoy high application performance over standard broadband networks, instead of expensive T1 or Ethernet access.
“Hughes has long-established expertise as a managed services provider for a wide range of distributed organizations,” said Brian Washburn, research director with Current Analysis. “The capabilities of the HR4700 Branch Gateway are a powerful match for the emerging needs of these organizations, and strengthen Hughes managed solutions in the areas of application performance and security. Only a limited number of other service providers offer a similar range of managed functionality, and typically they need up to three separate devices.”
“We are excited to provide our FortiGate technology as the underlying platform for the new HR4700,” said John Maddison, vice president of marketing for Fortinet. “Combining our award-winning network security with Hughes’ deep expertise in managed networks makes for a truly differentiated and much needed offering for multi-branch organizations.”
A fully managed solution, the HR4700 Branch Gateway is ideal for distributed enterprises in all verticals, including retail, restaurant, gas stations, hospitality, and banking. At all branch locations it delivers the benefits of a next-generation WAN that’s fast, reliable, and highly cost-effective—with the most robust security available.
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