Connectivity demand in the Asia Pacific has been on a steady rise in recent years, providing a unique opportunity for the satellite industry to capture new markets amidst new requirements. To learn about next-generation ground systems and their impact on the region, Telecom Review Asia Pacific connects with Vaibhav Magow, Vice President, International Division, Hughes for key insights.
Can you shed light on the current satellite ground segment market and discuss the future of ground systems?
We are at a very exciting period in the satellite industry. The first generation of high throughput satellites (HTS) brought more capacity but they utilized a static design where the coverage and capacity never changes. The latest generation of HTS systems feature flexibility where the coverage capacity can be changed while the satellite is in orbit. This enables operators to meet market requirements for increased capacity and broadband, as well as provides additional flexibility to both operators and customers. Of course, having the right ground system and technologies is a critical part of the equation for the satellite operators and this is an area where Hughes has put a lot of focus. Our JUPITER Series-3 features support for the latest generation of flexible satellites as well, bringing more throughput and efficiencies for the operators.
How has the satellite ground segment evolved, and what are the benefits delivered?
New ground systems offer greater operationally flexibility and scalability. Coupled with the ability to integrate private cloud infrastructure, the latest generation ground systems are very compact which also allows operators to reduce the footprint of their rollout.
With the JUPITER System, we have put a lot of focus on automating and simplifying the operation of the system. For instance, operations are simplified with dynamic channel reconfiguration to work around traffic patterns and cater to different profiles of customers, say in the mornings and evenings. With dynamic reconfiguration, the system automatically adapts to traffic patterns without the need for manual interventions from the operators. Especially for very large systems, where changes cannot be made very rapidly, these systems can cater to changes dynamically, giving operators the flexibility to meet varying requirements and deliver greater capacity to more customers.
At the gateways, where there was only C-, Ku- and Ka-band previously, we are the first to commercialize the use of Q-band and V-band feeder links to bring in more capacity for satellites. We can uplink and downlink more capacity to achieve high speeds supported by VHTS to essentially bring down capacity costs for our customers. But with these higher frequencies come greater susceptibility to rain fade, so we have designed our system to enable very rapid gateway switchovers for these Q-band and V-band implementations.
Today’s ground systems are also becoming more future-proof. To pave the way for future connectivity as 5G systems proliferate, Hughes recently successfully tested 5G satellite backhaul with the JUPITER System. Through a series of tests, we demonstrated that a 5G RAN (Radio Access Network or base station) can connect to the network core over satellite using the JUPITER System – thereby validating our interoperability of 5G networks for cellular backhaul. This paves the way for operators who may only have 3G or 4G networks today to support 5G with satellite backhaul as they upgrade their systems.
How can operators in the Asia Pacific region leverage Hughes solutions to meet growing connectivity needs to scale?
In many markets in the Asia Pacific and other regions, Hughes is enabling operators to leverage VHTS technology to deliver connectivity to 2G, 3G and 4G networks. In Indonesia, for instance, our partners employ the JUPITER System to power community Wi-Fi hotspots in digital divide programs, as well as contribute to consumer satellite broadband and enterprise requirements. With the new, next-generation satellites, our partners can provide the same user segment higher speeds at better prices to positively impact those in rural and underprivileged communities.
For example, in Indonesia, Hughes has a longstanding partnership with PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara
(PSN). In April, we signed a new agreement for them to utilize the Hughes JUPITER System for the Nusantara Lima satellite to provide internet access to those living outside the reach of terrestrial broadband.. A total of 11 JUPITER gateways will power 100 Gbps of capacity across Indonesia, as well as provide capacity to neighboring countries moving forward. In this case, the JUPITER System enables PSN to scale, leveraging high-throughput satellites to provide its customers with higher speeds.
In the Philippines, we are partnering with Cignal TV, a premier DTH satellite provider in the country, to provide broadband services to its subscribers. Hughes is helping Cignal TV scale as traditional satellites are replaced with very high throughput satellites once they become available in the Philippines, using the JUPITER System to enhance satellite capacity and help them achieve their business needs.
Can you share with us some partnerships or collaborations and future plans in the region?
In the region, PSN is just one of many customers and partners that we work closely with. We also have customers and partners in Malaysia and Australia. Globally, we boast a strong presence in other regions. For instance, in Latin America, the JUPITER System is used to deliver high-speed broadband services to hundreds of schools to elevate communities.
In the Asia Pacific, I think what is most exciting is that we are seeing new VHTS satellites that will enable 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps services to subscribers. We will see VHTS and LEO systems serving new requirements with the acceleration of 5G to bridge a digital divide. These multi-orbit, multi-transport solutions will have a far-reaching impact on the region.
As these VHTS GEO satellites, LEO constellations and 5G networks come online, we’ll be able to integrate them into robust, multi-transport solutions. By combining GEO and LEO, we will offer customers an amalgamation of services with the price advantages of a GEO and the low latency of LEO. In fact, we call this our ActiveComms Ecosystem – or ACE – which is our ability to deliver multi-orbit, multi-transport solutions, unlocking a mix of GEO, LEO and terrestrial capabilities, along with the enabling, smart technologies and managed services, to serve our customers’ requirements.