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Hughes Network Systems, LLC
11717 Exploration Lane
Germantown, MD 20876 USA
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, also known as Gitmo, is a US military base located on 45 square miles of scrubby flat coastal land on the north end of Cuba. Despite being the oldest overseas US Naval Base, housing roughly 14,000 people, it is an austere environment isolated from the rest of the island.
When the base’s satellite Internet service provider went out of business unexpectedly, up to 40% of Gitmo’s population – the civilian contractors working for the military – were at risk of being completely cut off from the civilized world. With no terrestrial broadband infrastructure, there would be no public or private Internet access.
Just 2 weeks before service was scheduled to end, Hughes received a call for help. The Hughes team quickly identified one of its long-time resellers, Houston Media Systems (HMS), as the ideal candidate to help deliver HughesNet service to Cuba.
“Getting the satellite connectivity to Cuba wasn’t the issue. Getting regulatory approval from Cuba was the issue. We had never delivered service to that country before,” explained Jerry Laatsch, Western Regional Channel Manager for Hughes. “We had to engage Legal, the Department of State, and all the proper authorities before we could proceed. Having better relationships with Cuba helped things progress smoothly.”
Together, Hughes and HMS worked quickly to get all of the paperwork approved within a compressed period of time. The ultimate goal was to minimize the time the base’s civilian population had to go without service. Once Hughes was authorized to sell service into Cuba, the next challenge involved logistics: getting the equipment delivered in a short period of time. That too proved doable for HMS, making it possible to begin installing and selling HughesNet service.
According to Mel Berry, owner of HMS, with the paperwork complete and logistics solved, “We are now able to offer HughesNet service beyond Gitmo and are signing up military personnel, embassies, and Cuban citizens.”
HMS is also able to provide HN and HX Systems to enterprises and governments who wish to operate their own satellite broadband services in Cuba. Optimized for broadband IP services, the Hughes systems support a wide variety of applications, from high-speed Internet/Intranet, to videoconferencing and voice (VoIP).
Now with the Cuban market open for business, thousands of people living and working across the island are able to stay in touch, be more productive, download movies and music, surf the Web, and feel more connected to the world than ever before.
Rafael Guimaraes, President of Hughes Brazil
In this issue, we speak with Rafael Guimaraes, President of Hughes Brazil, about the strategies, opportunities, and challenges associated with the launch of HughesNet service in Brazil.
Q. Congratulations on the recent launch of HughesNet in Brazil. Can you describe this new market opportunity for Hughes?
A. The opportunity is to provide HughesNet high-speed satellite service to unserved and underserved areas in Brazil – primarily households and small businesses. Our coverage footprint will reach over 85% of the population of potential customers who do not have adequate broadband access, where it’s simply not feasible or economical for a provider to offer terrestrial services. Of course, employing our proven JUPITERTM System platform, that’s not an issue— it’s the same cost, the same solution, regardless of where we provide it.
Q. What were the main challenges in the HughesNet launch?
A. Our initial challenge was to build the necessary organization in Brazil. We have been in business successfully providing satellite services here since 2003, focused on large enterprise and government agencies. But consumers and small business represent a different market segment. Hence, we needed to build the right team – not replace an existing one – and to bring specific market knowledge and expertise to the company that didn’t exist before. Now we have two major lines of business.
The second challenge was related to distribution, meaning sales, logistics, and installation. As a starting point on this front, we identified a partner in Brazil to help us create a network of distributors and dealers, which took all of 2015. That partner is Elsys, a company which has more than 35 years’ experience selling products and services in Brazil.
Our third challenge was to build market awareness of the HughesNet brand and this is a process that will take time. We need to be very creative to promote our brand to our key addressable markets in a cost-effective way.
Q. In Brazil, Hughes will replicate its successful North American model, where retail operations sell direct, together with a series of wholesale partners, dealers, and agents. Can you talk about the importance of that strategy?
A. The fact that we have a highly successful operation in North America has allowed us to leapfrog several steps. We get excellent guidance on what does and doesn’t work, and have tried to replicate and adapt proven systems, procedures, and processes as much as possible. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. If we find something that doesn’t work well in Brazil, we tweak it or discard it. This has been critical for us. We could not have launched as successfully or as quickly, without the history and support of the Hughes North America organization. It’s a key advantage for us.
Q. Why did it make sense to expand into consumer services in Brazil now?
A. Given the company’s success in North America, it was only natural to leverage it and expand internationally. Brazil was chosen for several reasons. First, the company believes there is significant demand for satellite broadband services in Brazil. Second, because Hughes has been operating in Brazil for more than a decade, we have established a successful organization here that could be easily leveraged for the consumer business. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the regulatory aspects of the satellite and broadband services in Brazil are well-known and business friendly, which reduces risk.
Q. Can you explain the purpose of geo-marketing strategies?
A. It’s all about drilling down to the details of the market demand, which underpins our entire business case. Brazil has roughly 6,000 municipalities. We are covering about 4,000 of those with the Ka-band coverage from Eutelsat’s 65 West high-throughput satellite, which we acquired—reaching 85% of the target unserved and underserved population. We used geo-marketing tools to analyze those municipalities and understand where the demand was, based on number of households, existing infrastructure (or lack of it), and other factors. It is a structured and methodical way to understand the market.
Q. What are the company’s short-term, as well as long-term, strategic goals for the Brazilian market?
A. In the short term, we are following a graduated rollout plan to provide service to 20 Brazilian states. Our goal is to open up these states during the second half of 2016. And our primary focus is to be certain that we can provide good service to all of our new customers throughout these regions.
In the longer term, we would like to emulate the tremendous success of our North American colleagues and make HughesNet the #1 satellite service across all of Brazil! Vamos botar pra quebrar!
“Hughes President Pradman Kaul and his team have always believed that every employee has an important part to play in the company,” explained Karen Hawkins, Senior Director, Technical Publications and Corporate Insurance. Her group provides a range of administrative and document support services and acts as a lynchpin in the company’s ability to excel as a technology and services innovator.
Decades ago, with the advent of computers, “typing pools” at Hughes morphed into a team led by Hawkins that offered word processing and graphics services to every department—from engineering to marketing. Today, that team of now 30 provides a comprehensive set of support services—from managing the conference center and corporate store, to data entry and mail shop duties, to proofreading technical specs and customer-facing materials.
“Whatever the need or urgency, we can help,” Hawkins said. “We encourage Hughes employees to use our services rather than using temps because we’re cross-trained in so many areas.” With an average tenure of 20 years, staff members have acquired a wide range of skills and deep institutional knowledge.
In addition to providing ad hoc administrative support, the organization operates a full-service Reproduction Center. More than a document copy center, it offers print-on-demand employing high volume equipment for materials, such as four-color trade show glossies and product packaging warranty cards. The organization also fulfills highly specialized customer requests, such as generating database reports—all of which can easily be printed in-house and updated instantly when changes are required.
“We have great people who will pitch in and do the work, even on tight turnarounds. And our work is 100% accurate! It’s neat, clean, and well-organized,” Hawkins said.
Apart from being recognized for excellence, the greatest compliment Hawkins hears is when a request begins with the words: “I didn’t know who else to call.” That is proof that she and her team are serving a critical role at Hughes.
Each Summer, in collaboration with the National 4-H Council, HughesNet sponsors Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camps for local youth in four different states. The program, launched just 2 years ago, is built on the premise that access to quality, hands-on STEM education should not be limited by where a young person lives. Kids all across the US should be exposed to STEM. As the nation’s premier youth development organization, 4-H has a long history of leading such innovative programs.
This year, programs in Colorado, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, were chosen from a host of proposals to receive a $10,000 HughesNet grant to help fund their efforts. The grant is designed for each state to create a STEM program tailored to its youth and their needs. Some employ workshops that mirror the classroom experience, while others take to the outdoors and apply STEM principles to vigorous activities like hiking, zip-lining, and geo-caching.
Discover STEM, Discover Colorado!
For 41 years, the Colorado-based Eagles Nest Owls Roost (ENOR) camp has provided an environmental science, teamwork and leadership focus for kids in 3rd through 6th grades. This year, they were able to use their HughesNet grant to purchase kits and supplies, including GPS units, binoculars, and water testing equipment to support Natural Science Experiential Education (e.g., Forestry, Geology, Sustainability, Entomology, Ornithology). The grant also helped ENOR to expand and extend its curriculum.
With 20 new GPS units networked to computers in the field, the program connects kids to the nature around them and guides them on scavenger hunts to better understand insects, animals, and plants. The ENOR camps reached 400 kids through their week-long summer sessions and will reach another 600 to 700 throughout the year.
Engineered to Fit Kentucky
For 400 boys and girls in Kentucky, a novel program developed by Cornell University and University of Minnesota introduced 10 to 15 year-olds to STEM concepts through their interest in fashion and engineering. Via hands-on activities they explore the relationships between smart clothing and such principles as circuitry, LED lighting, pattern making, design, and movement. The HughesNet grant supported curriculum funding for these emerging Style Engineers and the purchase of kits used in workshops throughout the year.
Finding STEM in the Missouri Woods
An often overlooked gem of the Missouri state park system, Knob Noster State Park is an interesting mix of prairie, savanna and forest, with 3,567 acres lying along both sides of a meandering creek. For more than 90 years, Camp Bob White has hosted summer camps. This summer, the camp used its HughesNet grant to fund higher level science programs by acquiring software, kits, tablets, and more.
With the new equipment, campers were able to work on projects with Lego Robotics kits, involving activities, such as building, coding, and troubleshooting. Others focused on meteorology and learning how to predict weather patterns and their effect on the world around us. Still others built model rocket engines and learned about drones. The camp reached more than 1,900 youth from seven counties in west central Missouri, which included campers 8 to 12 years old, as well as counselors aged 13 to 18.
In Tennessee, STEM is Here to Stay
Many youth are unaware of the countless ways STEM topics impact their daily lives. Tennessee’s goal for its program was to expose campers to hands-on STEM learning in a way that would motivate them to see and explore STEM long after summer camp ended. Ultimately, Tennessee wanted to introduce campers to potential STEM careers.
Its program, called SYSTEM Overload (Students Yearn for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), set out to use the HughesNet grant to create an immersive camp experience. SYSTEM Overload’s key objective was to encourage STEM-based activities throughout the camp day—for example, connecting zip-line activities to the science of energy, learning about physics through archery, or exploring local ecosystems. Campers attended sessions at one of three Tennessee locations: Ridley 4-H Center, Clyde York 4-H Center, and Clyde Austin 4-H Center.
A Winning Partnership
For its efforts to inspire the next generation of leaders in STEM, HughesNet’s partnership with the National 4-H Council is winning recognition in the business community. The HughesNet/4-H partnership won the Business Marketing Association’s B2 Award of Excellence for corporate community relations programs on June 1. Previously, the partners won the American Business Awards Gold “Stevie” for Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year in 2015. HughesNet and 4-H were also finalists for a “Halo” award for cause marketing from the Cause Marketing Forum and for a PR Daily Digital PR and Social Media Award for cause advocacy.
On July 1, 2016, Hughes launched HughesNet® high-speed satellite Internet service in Brazil, the company’s first inter-national deployment of its award-winning consumer service. Operating over the Ka-band capacity of Eutelsat’s 65 West, a high-throughput satellite, HughesNet service will reach 85%of Brazil’s population, bringing the many benefits of affordable broadband Internet access to consumers and businesses either unserved or underserved by terrestrial broadband.
Hughes pioneered satellite Internet service, and the Brazil rollout builds upon HughesNet’s success in North America, which to date boasts more than 1 million subscribers—the world’s largest high-speed satellite network. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently rated HughesNet as #1 among all US broadband providers for delivering on advertised speeds, including both terrestrial and satellite.
“Brazil has many of the same market dynamics as in North America, primarily large untapped demand for high-speed Internet access in areas either unserved or underserved by terrestrial Internet providers,” said Pradman Kaul, President of Hughes. “As a successful satellite service provider to enterprises and governments in Brazil for several decades, we are now expanding our existing delivery and support infrastructure and adapting our proven business model to close the digital divide—bringing people a range of high-speed Internet plans to suit every budget, no matter where they live or work.”
Rafael Guimaraes, president of Hughes Brazil commented, “We are excited to be launching HughesNet Brazil with initially six attractive service plans – three each for consumers and businesses – offering download speeds up to 25 Mbps, enabling customers to do more online than ever before, including email, online shopping, downloading music and video, using social media and browsing the Web.”
HughesNet Brazil service is powered by the latest generation of the Hughes JUPITER System, the world’s most widely deployed high-throughput satellite network platform and one of the first to employ the DVB-S2x standard for efficient use of satellite bandwidth.
Hughes Completes Ops Demo of Military Portable Terminal
Rugged, Compact HM300 Successfully Tested over XEBRA Service
In July, Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division (DISD) completed successful operational demonstrations of its HM300 portable terminal. Designed for military applications, the HM300 provides portable X-band communications.
The HM300 was developed specifically to meet the call to action voiced by the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) G6 at the C4I Conference in 2015 for “a new capability” that would significantly improve satellite communications.
“These tests successfully demonstrate the numerous scenarios of the HM300 terminal’s operational flexibility with the XEBRA service as a reliable, durable and cost-effective communications solution,” said Rick Lober, Vice President & GM DISD. “Its rapid deployment capability makes it an ideal fit for the evolving needs of the military.”
New Ground Station in Myanmar Powered by JUPITER
Myanmar VSAT service operator KBZ Gateway unveiled a new earth station powered by a Hughes JUPITER System, which will support high-performance data services for consumers and businesses throughout the country.
Pranav Roach, President of Hughes India, joined US Ambassador Scot Marciel, KBZ Gateway CEO Mr. Stephane Lamoureux, and a gathering of VIP guests for a ceremony opening the earth station, which is located in Bago and went live on May 24, 2016.
“Our JUPITER implementation is a major step forward in building a network infrastructure to support continued economic growth,” said Stephane Lamoureux, CEO of KBZ Gateway.
KBZ Gateway estimates a potential to connect more than 6,000 sites over the next 5 years.
17,000 Islands, 20,000 Terminals
Hughes HX System Selected to Meet Growing Need For Managed Service In Indonesia Tangara Mitrakom, a leading telecommunications provider in Indonesia, selected the Hughes HX System to meet the need for managed service. Hughes will supply Tangara Mitrakom with a comprehensive solution consisting of two HX System gateways to support up to 20,000 VSAT terminals. The network will operate in the C-band satellite spectrum.
According to Darwin Sariaatmadja, President Director of Tangara Mitrakom, “Indonesia has more than 17,000 inhabited islands. With its proven satellite technology, we are confident that Hughes is the right partner to assist us in delivering services that will support both high network efficiency and superior performance between corporate customers’ head offices and their many remote offices in Indonesia.”
Incorporating carrier-grade IP broadband networking, the HX System includes an economical gateway earth station and high-performance remote terminals and can scale quickly and cost-effectively to thousands of locations.
“Tangara Mitrakom demonstrates that distance and natural barriers do not have to be an obstacle in delivering high-performance Internet connectivity,” said Vaibhav Magow, Senior Director APAC at Hughes.
India’s record of rapid economic development through positive government policies over the last several decades is enviable, reducing poverty and promoting social cohesion. But even after 60 plus years of independence, a large segment of the population still lacks access to everyday banking and finance capabilities. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of this underserved population – about 60% – live in rural India. Reaching them with modern banking networks has recently gained momentum through an effective partnership of government, the banking industry, and the country’s leading provider of satellite broadband connectivity—Hughes India.
The mission to ensure that almost every Indian across 600,000 villages gains access to banking services is monumental, but the partners have embarked on it with eyes wide open and are employing some of the most advanced banking technologies to be found anywhere.
The Ultimate Dream: Universal Financial Access
Based on the principle of financial inclusion for all citizens, the latest program has been labelled the “Prime Minister’s Jandhan Yojna” (PMJDY) campaign to provide a bank account to every citizen. To use bank accounts to their greatest advantage, however, rural residents need to be able to access local banking facilities—for which the most cost-effective option is to develop ATM infrastructures and micro/small branches throughout rural regions. And it followed that satellite networks were the obvious choice for linking these channels to India’s core banking network.
To date, Hughes India has connected the highest number of offsite ATMs and bank branches employing satellite terminals (VSATs) of any such initiative in the world—more than 40,000 ATMs and 33,000 branches. In addition to serving nearly all of the private and public sector banks, Hughes India is also monitoring these networks around the clock, providing ongoing maintenance and field engineering support.
With the ATM and micro branch network expanding, more and more people are gaining access to cash and banking facilities located closer to their homes and work places. Ultimately, the Indian government wants to see every one of its citizens be within 15 minutes walking distance to a bank or an ATM. This seemingly small change will undoubtedly have a dramatic impact on India’s growing economy and help propel the country and its people forward.
Lintasarta, a leading telecommunications provider in Indonesia, selected the JUPITER System as its platform of choice for a new high-availability satellite broadband network to meet the growing demand for high-performance enterprise managed services throughout the country. As a high-throughput satellite (HTS) operator, Lintasarta realized that satisfying customers in such sectors as transportation, media, manufacturing, and government – and enabling them to serve their own customers – required more powerful and robust network capabilities. That’s when it turned to Hughes.
Under the agreement, Hughes will supply a JUPITER System gateway to be installed in Jatilahur, Indonesia, and up to 5,000 terminals. The network will operate in the C-band satellite spectrum and will provide reliable and efficient high-bandwidth connectivity throughout the country.
“Lintasarta is pleased to partner with Hughes to expand its service offerings using the latest high-speed satellite technology,” said Arya Damar, President Director of Lintasarta. “With its proven JUPITER System satellite technology, we are confident that Hughes is the correct partner to help us deliver these services that will provide both high network efficiency and superior performance at the remote sites.”
“Today’s announcement is further testament by leading operators around the world of the compelling benefits of JUPITER technology for both conventional C- and Ku-band, as well as high-throughput Ka-band implementations,” said Ramesh Ramaswamy, General Manager, International Division for Hughes. “We are proud to work with these valued partners to expand the availability and performance of their enterprise managed service offerings throughout their service regions.”
The JUPITER System features a flexible and robust gateway architecture with lights-out operation, enhanced IPoS air interface for bandwidth efficiency, and high-throughput terminals, enabling operators to achieve the highest possible capacity and efficiency for any satellite broadband implementation. The underlying technology is the powerful JUPITER System on a Chip (SoC), a custom–designed microprocessor employing a multicore architecture and enabling 100 Mbps of throughput on every terminal in the JUPITER family.
On May 17, 2016, Hughes was again recognized by the Alliance for Workplace Excellence (AWE) as one of the Greater Washington, D.C. area’s best places to work, receiving AWE’s Workplace Excellence Seal of Approval for the 17th consecutive year.
Hughes was also honored with the organization’s Health and Wellness Seal of Approval for the ninth consecutive year, and was one of 24 companies to receive the 2016 EcoLeadership Award and one of 12 companies to receive the 2016 Diversity Champion Award. The AWE awards honor organizations that promote professional fulfillment and personal wellness at work, at home, and in the community, as well as their commitment to sustainability and workplace diversity. This year’s award recipients included 62 organizations of all sizes and in all types of industries from across the United States.
“Hughes is honored to be recognized once again as a top place to work and a leader in championing diversity and environmental stewardship,” said Pradman Kaul, President of Hughes. “Our employees are our most important asset, and we are committed to providing a positive and inclusive work environment with a range of wellness resources to ensure they maintain a healthy work-life balance.”
All award recipients undergo a rigorous assessment process led by an independent review panel of business professionals and master’s and Ph.D. level students in the fields of business, industrial and organizational psychology, human resources, environmental science, and public health.
“Providing a collaborative, committed workplace where people feel supported, listened to, and are able to achieve their personal best is a critical ingredient in achieving both employee productivity and company success,” said Michelle Pearre, Senior Vice President of Human Resources. “At Hughes, our spirit is rooted in our values of teamwork, diversity, inclusion, trust, and innovative thinking, and we are committed to promoting a healthy balance of workplace and wellness programs that encourage these values and allow our employees to flourish.”
Hughes and other recipients were honored on June 10 at AWE’s Annual Awards Luncheon at the Bethesda North Marriot Hotel and Conference Center in Bethesda, MD.
According to the National Emergency Number Association, an estimated 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 in the US each year. For basic 9-1-1 service that means that when the three-digit number is dialed, a call dispatcher in the local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), or 9-1-1 call center, answers the call. The emergency and its location are communicated by voice (or TTY) between the caller and the dispatcher.
When these PSAPs are distributed across a large geographic area, for example, a county or state, the 9-1-1 network operates much like any other wide area network (WAN)—and is subject to many of the same problems, including disrupted cable lines and infrastructure. Because citizens need to be able to call for help in an emergency, solving the issue of outages is the ultimate challenge for governments operating 9-1-1 networks.
Keeping it Local
Often, agencies believe, “If our T1’s go down, we can use a cellular network as a backup.” What they may not realize is that while the signal to the tower may be wireless, there’s a potentially vulnerable terrestrial line from that tower to the telephone company’s Central Office. If that path becomes compromised, thousands may be left without a way to reach emergency services like police, firefighters, and EMTs.
Hughes SPACEWAY 3 satellite technology can reduce the risk of 9-1-1 outages by adding alternate network path connectivity, should a terrestrial network path ever become disrupted.
“With a single hop over the satellite, we can effectively back up those links and enable 9-1-1 networks to get back online in fractions of a second,” explained Paul Rabenhorst, director, Solutions Consulting at Hughes. “In today’s world, if the PSAP is running on a T1 and it goes down, they reroute the call to another PSAP. That’s not ideal, because you want to be connected to the local 9-1-1 answering point. With satellite as a backup, you’re always connecting to your local 9-1-1 PSAP. That’s what the satellite does.”
For advanced NextGen 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) systems, which use Internet protocols to transmit voice, text, and video communications, SPACEWAY 3 satellite technology is a natural solution.
Power on the Spot
While terrestrial lines are vulnerable to cuts and power outages, traditional satellite systems can lose connectivity or experience signal weakening when there is too much moisture in the sky, known as rain fade. The “power pool” capability in SPACEWAY 3 enables Hughes to push more power to one or more of the satellite’s spot beams in order to strengthen the signal and compensate for weather conditions in those beams.
“The individual spot beams make that possible. We can pinpoint power to areas that need more attention. You can’t do that with a traditional satellite,” Rabenhorst said. This capability is key during weather events, such as hurricanes or blizzards, when emergency services are especially critical.
“Every 9-1-1 network is different. Our system is flexible enough that we can make it work with whatever we encounter in the 9-1-1 world,” he said.
Looking Beyond Failure in TexArkana
In the northeast corner of Texas, an area that includes TexArkana, the Ark-Tex Council of Governments (ATCOG) recently worked with Hughes to complete a series of tests designed to validate incorporating Hughes SPACEWAY 3 into their network to support the failover process and operational continuity.
To test the Hughes solution, several scenarios were created. One involved simulating an outage while a call was coming in to the network. Engineers “failed” both the primary and secondary paths, forcing the call to be carried over the satellite. Once the call was connected to the host and PSAP, testers allowed it to be transferred to a 10-digit number, simulating connections with the fire or police departments. In all cases, the calls were completed without interruption. The team also validated reactivating the primary paths.
Successfully Delivering True Path Diversity
“There was skepticism initially about going from a T1 to a satellite system without dropping the call. But the call never dropped. A traditional Ku-band satellite or one without a processor like SPACEWAY 3 would likely have dropped the call,” Rabenhorst said.
“For this type of true continuity, the satellite system has to be smart enough to do sophisticated traffic processing, especially in 9-1-1 networks that have more than one host site. To achieve the same level of capability with a more traditional satellite network would require a lot more equipment and be costlier to implement,” he added.
With the testing a success, Hughes services are now enabled to support 11 PSAPS and one of the hosts within the Ark-Tex 9-1-1 network, achieving true path diversity for the system.
“We understand that network challenges occur and also that there isn’t a particular method that is THE single solution. As a result, we’re setting up a diverse satellite network to provide additional redundancy to ATCOG’s regional 9-1-1 system for the safety of our citizens. A network solution using site-to-site satellite communications complements our primary network and provides an alternate communication path should issues arise,” said Mary Beth Rudel, Public Safety Manager for Ark-Tex.
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