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Q. At the heart of Hughes is its engineering. What are some of the exciting breakthroughs for Hughes?A. Hughes engineering has delivered several exciting innovations recently. Our newest “System on a Chip,” or SoC, is designed with advanced VLSI technology to power the next generation of JUPITER™ very small aperture terminals (VSATs). We’ve also made breakthroughs in software and firmware algorithms, which are propelling highperformance Mobile Satellite Systems and boosting our leadership position in Ground-Based Beam Forming. Other examples include implementing superfast digital hardware and more efficient mechanical packaging that underpin new versions of broadband gateways. Ultimately, these types of engineering innovations enable our customers to gain more capacity and capabilities with improved systems reliability and cost-effectiveness.Q. The Advanced Development Group, or ADG, helps drive many of our innovations. Can you tell us about this group and their contributions to Hughes?A. Our Advanced Development Group is always looking to the future, pushing the technology envelope, exploring new and innovative ways to design next-generation systems and products. One recent example is the development of the scrambled code multiple access (SCMA) waveform. SCMA is a technique for minimizing latency of satellite transmissions and for operating in a highly secure Web browsing environment. In this issue of Channels, there’s a great article that explains how Hughes technologies, such as SCMA, are meeting a wide range of government customer requirements for enhanced mobility and portability.Q. What significant industry trends do you see?
The overwhelming strong growth of broadband dwarfs other trends, fueled by global demand for high-speed Internet access. Which translates into more bandwidth, over wider coverage areas, for both fixed and mobile applications. This aligns well with the investments we continue to make in advancing the state-of-the-art in broadband Ka-band technology: to deliver ever more bits and ever more functionality at lower cost.
Q. What is the Hughes strategy regarding emerging markets?
A. We try to take a longer-term view when looking at markets, focusing on those areas where we believe there will be sustainable demand for broadband and a manageable regulatory environment. For example, in early 2016, the EUTELSAT 65 West satellite will be launched and operational. Our high-throughput JUPITER technology will be deployed for the ground system and customer premises terminals. This will open up a host of opportunities for consumer service in Brazil.
Q. Which Hughes product and technology launches are you most excited about, and why?
A. The upcoming EchoStar XIX/ next-generation JUPITER System launch will provide higher capacity than any existing broadband satellite system. That is really exciting. In addition to meeting demand for HughesNet® Gen4 high-speed satellite Internet service in North America, it will provide the flexibility to support a wider range of applications and technology advances.
Q. What would you like to tell the NEW engineers as they enter the workforce?
A. At Hughes, we have always led with our technology. Today, we have an exciting array of opportunities to enable recent graduates to develop into world-class communication design engineers. This will continue the “best of breed” tradition that is pervasive across the whole Hughes engineering team. In addition, many of our business and operations leaders of today started their careers in engineering before progressing to their present roles. Nothing is more true at Hughes than the old adage that a bright engineer can accomplish anything.
A full array of updated HughesNet® Gen4 service plans enabled by a new generation of performance- enhancing innovations, known as SmartTechnologies™, are bringing customers more choices and more benefits through improved data compression, Web site loading, and media download speeds. SmartTechnologies let customers do more of what they want online without interruptions or running over their monthly data allowances.
“Hughes is constantly innovating to enhance our customers’ online experiences,” said Mike Cook, senior vice president, Hughes. “As the clear market leader, we strive to make HughesNet the best solution for people to enjoy all the benefits of high-speed satellite Internet access no matter where they live or work—from ex-urban to rural areas with limited or no terrestrial broadband.”
The SmartTechnologies suite consists of four tools—SmartFetch™, Smart- Compression™, SmartBrowsing™, and SmartResources™—that compress data more efficiently, speed downloads, improve Web browsing, and help subscribers optimize their data usage. Three SmartTechnologies tools automatically manage data handling in the background for maximum user convenience. The fourth, SmartResources, shows customers their data allowance and enables them to add data to their plan with tokens if they see they are going to need more bandwidth.
Hughes developed SmartTechnologies after drawing on decades of experience in satellite technology and service delivery, resulting in more options for customers to stay connected through improved downloading, browsing, and data usage management.
In October, Hughes launched a full suite of aeronautical mobility features and capabilities for the award-winning JUPITERTM System to enable service providers to deliver industry-leading, high-performance broadband services to airline passengers.
“This new platform represents a significant advance in satellite- based mobility connectivity, extending the capabilities of our JUPITER System—the mostly widely deployed HTS system in the world—to deliver high-performance mobility services across both HTS and conventional satellites,” said Paul Gaske, executive vice president for Hughes. “Fully compatible with wide beam Ku-band and spot beam Ka-band satellite capacity, it positions mobility service providers to reliably and cost-effectively meet the continually growing demands of their customers to stay connected with high-speed Internet access virtually anywhere.”
The Hughes HT Aero Modem, including the core router module and JUPITER mobility technology, features the JUPITER System second-generation System on a Chip (SoC) that supports 200 Mbps of throughput, readily accommodating the highest demands for aeronautical broadband. Designed specifically for the aviation broadband industry, it also supports faster and seamless beam switchover, within a satellite or between satellites, to ensure that users enjoy superior broadband service on a global basis. Compared to Hughes prior generation mobility terminal, the new HT modem delivers more than a tenfold increase in throughput performance to an individual aircraft.
Concurrent to the launch, Hughes also announced an agreement with Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE), a worldwide provider of aircraft connectivity systems, operations solutions, and media content to the travel industry. GEE will utilize the Hughes JUPITER System HT Aero Modem to power its next-generation, high-performance broadband aeronautical service. The modem is DO160 compliant and is compatible with GEE’s current antenna system, enabling easy and cost-effective upgrade to improve speeds for GEE’s current connected fleet of nearly 700 aircraft.
“Hughes and GEE have been partners for nearly a decade,” said Gaske. “We believe GEE’s adoption of our latest technology will greatly facilitate its continued leadership in the industry, and the ability to easily retrofit this platform into its large existing fleet of customer aircraft will be a huge benefit to both GEE and its customers.”
In a recent article featured in Via Satellite’s online magazine, Satellite Today, Aditya Chatterjee, chief technical officer at GEE, noted that the company did not originally anticipate delivering such speed and reliability in flight until 2018.
“When Hughes actually started on this technology a couple of years ago, they were aiming for the next generation, but last year we felt that it would be nice if we can skip a generation and could introduce what we planned for 2018 in 2016. That’s what we did. This is indeed the next generation and this is, technically speaking, one generation ahead,” Chatterjee explained.
“The new modem can provide enough streaming power to satisfy a plane full of people. Narrow-body planes have fewer than 200 people. Wide-body planes would have more than 600. For a wide-body, you may have to put two of these modems, where in today’s technology, you have to put 10 to achieve the same amount of throughput,” said Chatterjee.
This accelerated release of advanced aeronautical mobility features and capabilities will enable GEE and other service providers to make massive strides in the global inflight connectivity market and continue to improve the passenger experience.
Internet access is the key to the world’s digital economy by connecting people to information, capital, and markets. Yet according to the latest statistics, less than half of our planet’s 7 billion population has access to high-performance Internet service—leaving about 4 billion people on the wrong side of the so-called digital divide. Satellite broadband is helping to close this divide, reaching ex-urban and rural communities where terrestrial service is not cost-effective, whether based on fiber, cable, or DSL technologies.
As a recent case in point, one of Mexico’s leading Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Pegaso Banda Ancha, a subsidiary of Grupo Pegaso, has chosen the Hughes JUPITERTM System to extend high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi access to more than 5,000 locations in Mexico’s rural areas through a high-performance satellite broadband network. An estimated 26 million of the coun- try’s 120 million people, many of whom live in rural or difficult to reach mountainous areas, have limited or no Internet access.
The country’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) is attacking the obstacles of distance and terrain through a national satellite Internet program designed to provide broad- band access to more than 100,000 people in Mexico’s rural regions. Locations include rural schools, hospitals, universities, parks, and government development and disaster prevention agencies.
The SCT selected Pegaso Banda Ancha from among several Mexican ISPs vying for the job following a comprehensive evaluation process, which required proven technical experience to provide the maximum cost-benefit ratio while connecting all 5,000-plus remote sites in just 4 months. Pegaso Banda Ancha combined a strong commitment to social development with more than 15 years of experience providing satellite connectivity to large companies and government organizations.
Pegaso Banda Ancha operates thousands of remote satellite broadband stations in Mexico and also provides Internet access in the US, Central America, and the Caribbean. The SCT provided Pegaso Banda Ancha with 278 mhz of bandwidth on its Bicentenario satellite to deliver high-quality service across all locations.
JUPITER’s high-performance modular design and bandwidth-efficient solution offered Pegaso Banda Ancha an ideal networking solution for connecting such a large number of sites over a vast area in a short time window. Numerous other advan- tages of the JUPITER robust gateway architecture include lights-out operation, enhanced IPoS air interface, and high- throughput terminals of up to 100 Mbps capacity, which helped Pegaso Banda Ancha implement the project on time and on budget.
The JUPITER System has been fully implemented, and all 5,062 sites in 362 municipalities across 29 states are operational, managed through Pegaso Banda Ancha’s Toluca network operations center.
Students and teachers in the 362 communities now have broad- band Internet access through their schools and universities. Doctors and health officials use satellite broadband to connect to clinics and regional medical centers, while libraries and community centers are offering Internet service to the public for personal use.
“Internet access is a basic ingredient for economic and social development,” said Grupo Pegaso chief operating officer Javier Braun Burillo. “The Hughes JUPITER System will enable us to connect remote communities and schools with many of the same economic, governmental, and educational resources available in urban areas.”
Bringing communications to areas high in the mountains of South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is a herculean task. Vodacom, an African communications company, has been committed to bringing portable, solar-powered mobile phone technology to this and other remote areas on the continent. In addition to boosting economic and social development, the hope is that through increased communications capabilities, this conflict-ridden area will become safer. Its people will no longer be at the mercy of bandits and robbers because they will be able to connect with the government, law enforcement, and the outside world.
To support Vodacom’s efforts, Hughes is delivering the cellular backhaul services that make such communications possible. The latest generation Hughes HX System is a high-performance, field-proven satellite networking solution to backhaul all generations of cellular base station technologies— including 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE—and is cost-justified in areas like the town of Numbi that are impossible to reach using traditional terrestrial means, such as fiber, cable, or microwave.
This photo essay tells the story of building the first tower in Numbi. Photos by Susan Schulman.
Hughes recently unveiled the new HM System, engineered around its novel software-definable modem (SDM) technology and scrambled code multiple access (SCMA) waveform. Employing a commercially based, open standards architecture, and frequency band-agnostic platform, the HM System enables highly resilient and affordable solutions to meet a wide variety of mobility and portability requirements for government users. Beyond fixed applications, it offers satellite-on-the-move capabilities for airborne, maritime, and land mobility, including a complete, ultra-compact and portable terminal for small teams reliant on quick-deploy connectivity. With the first gateway installed and fully operational in September 2015, the three commercial-off-the-shelf products are now ready for market roll-out.
“The basis of our new HM System is a novel advanced waveform technology with very low-rate coding and multiple access techniques,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager, Defense and Intelligence Systems Division, Hughes. “Continuing the Hughes tradition of innovative satellite networking solutions, it utilizes advanced software-definable SCMA schemes enabling high-throughput, secure and efficient sharing of bandwidth, paving the way for government organizations to experience superior mobility and portability.”
Suitable applications for the HM System include intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance, border patrol, search and rescue, disaster response, wildfire monitoring, oil platform communications, cellular backhaul, and airborne beyondline- of-sight (BLOS) communications.
The three HM System product solutions for government applications include:
HM100: Enterprise Application Modem—A universal rack-mounted hub that is transportable and offers high-throughput to support ground station SATCOM operations.
HM200: Satellite-on-the- Move (SOTM), Ruggedized Modem—A mobile, ruggedized modem for any communications- on-the-move scenario, with real-time situational awareness and BLOS capabilities. Target applications include land mobile, maritime, and airborne platforms. The HM200 offers faster acquisition time, low power requirement, carrier-in-carrier capabilities, MIL-SPEC connectors, internal power supply, and separate data and M&C ports. It also delivers the best data rates in the market for SATCOM through rotor blades and for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
HM300: Ultra-Compact, Portable Terminal—An ultra-lightweight, man-packable communications solution that allows fast deployment and recovery while enabling up to 512 kbps of voice and data and is suitable for use in harsh environments. A complete terminal, the HM300, offers X-band communications with a small antenna footprint in a compact, low-power package. It reduces the requirement for large and heavy satellite communications kits and also achieves significant service cost savings when compared to L-band service alternatives. The HM300 is the portable terminal of choice for the XEBRA Service from Airbus Defence & Space.
International award honors company’s role in India’s medical education system At the 17th annual VSAT satellite industry conference held in London in September 2015, Hughes was selected as winner of the “Changing Lives” award, which recognizes an inspiring initiative that has significantly impacted telecommunications in a community, assisting in alleviating hardship and contributing to subsequent economic and social development.
Hughes has developed an innovative satellite-based training solution known as the Hughes Interactive Onsite Learning platform and is working with medical tutoring schools in India to help meet the growing demand for key specialties such as gerontology and endocrinology, as well as to deliver basic healthcare services to rural communities. The solution delivers virtual 3D-quality capabilities enabling direct eye contact, voice interaction, and chatbased queries between students and instructors and is reaching rural communities across India.
“The quality, cost-effectiveness, and adaptability of the satellite-based training solutions developed by Hughes and its partners for medical specialties opens the door to their application in basic healthcare—such as pre- and post-natal education in the large number of rural communities across India—as well as non-medical areas, such as business practices and engineering,” said David Hartshorn, secretary general of the Global VSAT Forum and one of the judges for the award.
Another judge, Robert Bell, executive director of the Society of Satellite Professionals, commented: “Hughes won the award in my view because of the scale of the solution, reaching 25,000 medical students in 50 cities; its targeting of a serious bottleneck in healthcare, which is the physician training in underserved areas; and the fact that it should be possible to reproduce it fairly easily in other emerging market countries facing similar problems. When it comes to changing lives, Hughes has made a big dent in a vital quality-of-life issue for India.”
Globally, an ever-growing demand for high-speed Internet access—with the latest statistics showing connectivity exceeding half of the world’s 7 billion population—crosses all borders and market demographics. Beyond the well-served urban centers, connecting the billions in ex-urban and rural areas with limited or no terrestrial broadband services has spurred the emergence of higher capacity and more cost-effective high-throughput satellite (HTS) systems to help close this so-called “digital divide.”
The Hughes JUPITERTM System, which powers HughesNet®—the world’s largest satellite broadband network with over 1 million subscribers in North America— and was named the Technology Innovation of the Year at VSAT 2014, has emerged as the leading choice of operators around the globe for delivery of satellite broad- band services in both enterprise and consumer markets alike. Beyond North America, it’s now been selected as the foundation system of new broad- band satellite services by operators in Turkey, Russia, Malaysia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Featuring a modular and robust gateway architecture with lights-out operation, an enhanced air interface for bandwidth efficiency and performance, and a family of customer terminals capable of throughputs greater than 100 Mbps, the flexible JUPITER System enables operators to achieve the highest possible capacity and efficiency for any satellite broadband implementation. As evidenced by different operator implementations around the globe, JUPITER is the ideal platform even on conventional Ku- and C-band satellite capac- ities, with a seamless migration path to next-generation Ka-band high-throughput satellites.
With JUPITER, operators can be confident about delivering the widest range of applications across all market sectors, from high-speed Internet access, to cellular backhaul and on-the-move applications, to the most demanding enterprise solutions requiring strong security and QoS capabilities. A milestone using the JUPITER System for conventional satellites was recently achieved by Mexico’s Grupo Pegaso, with the successful deployment of 5,000 Ku-band terminals for broadband Internet access for rural schools and universities across the country. (See Closing the Digital Divide in Rural Mexico, page 9.)
Responding to customer needs, Hughes engineers continue to expand JUPITER product offerings, with the HT1400 as its latest high-throughput enterprise router.
Designed to operate over multiple satellite bands, including conventional C-band and Ku-band, as well as Ka-band, the HT1400 enables satellite operators around the world to leverage the power and efficiency of the JUPITER System over conventional satellite capacity while positioning them for seamless migration to future high- throughput satellites. In fact, depending on the configuration, operators may not need to replace existing outdoor electronics when upgrading to HT1400 routers.
“We developed the HT1400 specifically to meet the growing demand from enter- prise customers for high-performance networks,” said Ramesh Ramaswamy, Hughes vice president, international sales and marketing. “As an integral part of our JUPITER System, it paves the way for operators to rapidly implement a tech- nology upgrade over conventional C-band and Ku-band satellites in order to deliver even the most demanding enterprise appli- cations in a wide range of markets—while enabling easy transition to high-throughput Ka-band satellites in the future.”
Easy to use and cost-efficient to operate, all of the high-throughput remote terminals are powered by the JUPITER System on a Chip (SoC). Developed by Hughes engineers, the JUPITER SoC is an advanced very-large-scale-integration (VLSI) design incorporating multiple processors and is the key component that enables every JUPITER terminal to achieve greater than 100 Mbps throughput performance, capable of supporting a wide range of applications today and into the future.
Bringing Hughes technology and service innovations to market demands extraordinary talent from a range of disciplines and a team of bold visionaries with dedicated focus. The Advanced Development Group (ADG) is a centralized functional group within Hughes that actively contributes to all of the company’s businesses through concentrated research and development (R&D) of the latest communications technology. Led by Dr. Lin-Nan Lee, vice president of engineering and an expert in satellite communications, networking, and wireless communications, the ADG is also supported by Stan Kay, vice pres- ident of engineering and a small team of roughly a dozen engineering experts.
“We are a small group and we don’t really want the group to become too big or to be a burden on the bottom line,” Dr. Lee explained. “We just need exceptionally good people, because a great idea from one of them can be worth so much.”
In the mid-1990s, when Dr. Lee first joined Hughes, the ADG focused primarily on wireless technolo- gies. Over time, he expanded that focus to encompass all of the technologies that were fundamental to the company’s new lines of business and meeting customer needs. Major R&D activities typically include modulation, coding, signal processing, multiple access, and data and image compression techniques, with some effort given to practices and algorithms that help improve efficiency and user satisfaction for Hughes broadband services, such as deep packet inspection and available bandwidth estimation. According to Dr. Lee, the team plans its focus for at least 5 years.]
“We anticipate what we’ll be working on and try to explore ahead of the curve,” he explained. For guidance and direction, “We hear from people within the company, from upper management, and other business groups. We also make our own judgments based on all types of trade journals, newsletters, and publications that we read. We make sense of what’s real and what’s fluff, and make adjustments.”
While all of the members of the ADG team are dedicated R&D resources, they also lend their engineering expertise to different projects companywide. “We like the mix. We can’t just do research for its own sake; we’d get too isolated and our work would be at risk of becoming irrelevant to what’s going on with the rest of the company,” Dr. Lee said. Working with various business groups enables the team to better support innovation, keep pace with, and drive industry trends.