The satellite industry is poised for change – with major innovations redefining the value we can deliver to our clients.
Satellite constellations now measure capacity in multiple Terabits per second, unleashing capacity at an order of magnitude never before seen in our industry. And the DVB-S2X standard is driving unprecedented gains in performance and efficiency to meet surging demand for bandwidth across every nation and business sector.
Yet, here’s the all-important question: How will satellite operators and service providers harness the power of current and future capacity to most efficiently run their networks and capitalize on growth opportunities? The answer hinges on three factors.
First, we need to address the constant need for higher throughput. Customers require more bandwidth and higher speeds — and in an increasingly competitive environment, the pressure to deliver has never been more intense.
The second success factor is managing scale at the right cost and pace. Broader adoption leads to more expansive network deployments, and traditionally that equates to expensive infrastructure build-outs.
Today, satellite operators and service providers need to change the cost model for ground infrastructure deployment, keeping up with demand without dramatically increasing capital and operating expenses.
The third success factor is about readiness for new changes coming from every direction and in rapid succession — new network applications, new end-user markets and the next wave of satellites.
The emergence of intelligent satellite payloads promises to deliver exponentially higher bandwidth efficiency, with features like beam hopping and time slicing. Ground infrastructure can’t be the bottleneck in this march forward. It must be able to stay in lock-step with satellite innovation, enabling networks to adapt as these new satellites are launched and added to existing networks.
"There is massive new opportunity for those who can deliver the right throughput rate at the right cost, run large networks cost-effectively, deploy new services rapidly, and continually stay ahead of the pace of technology,” states Kevin Steen, Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Chief Operating Officer, iDirect.
At iDirect, our approach to innovation aligns with this reality. Two years ago, we began a dramatic re-thinking of our ground infrastructure platform to tackle tomorrow’s demands. Our immediate plans are focused on unleashing the power, performance and efficiencies of High Throughput Satellites (HTS). But that’s only half the story. It’s also about ensuring the ground segment operates in tandem with emerging satellite designs to constantly drive lower economics and open new markets.
“Our goal is to remove every barrier to growth — whether it be network speed, operating cost or market viability,” says Wayne Haubner, Senior Vice President, Engineering & Emerging Technologies, iDirect. “We pushed through a set of engineering challenges that will put us ahead of what the satellites can do. And the result is new technology that gives our customers the capability to go into markets that have traditionally been untouchable.”
A key strategic element of our new architecture is a state-of-the-art programmable ASIC chipset customized to exploit the full capabilities of the DVB-S2X standard and optimized for iDirect’s highest performing Adaptive TDMA waveform. The ASIC chipset delivers a revolution in bandwidth performance, meeting any end-user need in the foreseeable future.
The second major aspect of iDirect’s technology strategy is bringing virtualization, and, ultimately, cloud computing, to the hub side of the network, enabling a more flexible, powerful, resilient, compact, and energy-efficient gateway able to run virtual network functions. Together, these exciting technologies represent a game-changing future for ground infrastructure performance, surpassing today’s limitations on all fronts.
A Smarter Remote Portfolio
The ASIC chipset is the powerful intelligence inside iDirect’s next-generation DVB-S2X remote portfolio called the iQ Series. With the ASIC chipset, we can design a remote with best-in-class DVB-S2X performance. And through software licensing, service providers can easily increase throughput and add network capabilities, driving a massive expansion of applications and setting new service level standards, all while extending the deployment life of the remote.
“The approach that we took with our new generation of remotes was to really build, from the ground up, a chip that would allow us to have that flexibility and performance — all in one package,” states Haubner.
“Demand is more intense than it was a few years ago, and it's much more unpredictable,” affirms Mike Liou, Vice President, Product Management, iDirect. "The need to change features and functionality with minimal intervention is critical given the dynamic era we’re in, and the iQ remote was designed with this need for adaptability and flexibility in mind."
iDirect’s iQ remote series is targeted for broadband, enterprise and mobility applications and packaged in desktop, board level and rack-mount form factors that will be introduced over the next 12 months. The first iQ remote will be a desktop version that features a multi-core processor and dual GigE VLAN-aware networking ports in a very small form factor.
The iQ Desktop remote enables service providers to address a number of use cases with the same physical remote, but with different software capabilities enabled. It is designed to meet the needs of both fixed and mobility clients within a wide range of performance scenarios.
Recent over-the-air testing confirmed the iQ remote can operate in excess of 350Mbps. These same tests also confirmed efficiencies that netted almost six bits per Hertz through the support of 256ASPK modulation and five percent roll-off – matching the highest rate of any remote to date.
“iDirect has always been known as the standard for mobility, network management and Quality of Service (QoS),” states Greg Quiggle, Vice President, Emerging Products, iDirect. “With the iQ Series, we have renewed our focus on speed and packets per second performance. We plan to continue pushing the performance curve, ensuring the capabilities of future satellites are easily met.”
Gateway to Growth
All this innovation on the remote is positive, but it only works if you keep pace with innovation within the gateway. If you have 100, 1,000 or 10,000+ remotes all operating at a higher throughput rate, you only start to immediately push the bottlenecks to the hub.
To address this, we’ve developed the iDirect Intelligent Gateway, which leverages blade-based compute and virtualization techniques to support the very high throughput and processing required for DVB-S2X operations.
Featuring powerful processing blades in a fully redundant configuration, the iDirect Intelligent Gateway supports the same throughput as dozens of protocol processors, while future-proofing the gateway infrastructure for large-scale network growth. The greatly improved density results in a massive footprint reduction, decreasing cooling and IT management expenses, while vastly improving the performance you can expect over a given satellite link.
“The Intelligent Gateway enables our customers to grow their networks to a level they had not previously envisioned,” states Steen. “When they come across an opportunity that requires a very large-scale or high throughput network to be deployed, they can confidently do that. They gain a higher degree of elasticity to ramp up their capabilities at the teleport and do it cost effectively and quickly.”
Adapting to Future Satellite Architectures
With DVB-S2X, satellite operators are designing next-generation architectures with features like beam hopping and time slicing that enable satellites to adjust their payloads based on real-time demand on the ground. For these payload features to work, the satellite, ground segment and teleport need to communicate with each other to have a precise view of how they want to manage resources on the satellite.
In anticipation of this, iDirect took the approach of supporting the entire DVB-S2X standard on our ASIC chipset. We built the capabilities of supporting super frames and beam hopping natively into our first implementation. When the next wave of satellites come online, our partners will be able to leverage these capabilities right away without purchasing new hardware.
“The programmable ASIC chipset took us time to develop, but now our customers have a whole new level of flexibility to capture expanding opportunity,” explains Haubner. “If they need more bandwidth on a remote, they can license that. If they want to switch to a new class of satellites, they’re ready to take advantage of new features that will make an immediate impact on their business.”
The Intelligent Path Forward
Today, satellite innovation moves at a much more rapid pace. It’s no longer about incremental fluctuations, but sweeping changes that span new satellite architectures, breakthroughs in ground infrastructure and the constant need to serve dynamic customer environments.
iDirect’s technology strategy enables our customers to deliver the highest speed and the greatest efficiency over HTS, scale their networks cost-effectively to manage growth and be ready to operate over future satellite architectures.
We are taking our partners well beyond the first wave of DVB-S2X through the next several generations of HTS. Our partners can rely on a proven platform that protects and maximizes their investment. It’s all about smart, rapid access to innovation whenever and wherever it’s needed.
“We want our customers to choose the opportunities they find most lucrative and know that our platform is going to be there to support them — both today and tomorrow as they continue to grow,” concludes Steen. – Satellite Today