The satellite industry is ready to transform amid its adoption of terrestrial network technologies like 5G, cloud and network function virtualization.
Cloud technology enables improved resiliency with remote management and automated failover, Sean Yarborough, vice president of product management at integrator ST Engineering iDirect, said Thursday during the webinar “Satellite and Cloud Computing,” co-hosted by satellite trade association GVF and Connectivity Business News.
The cloud also promises to ease deployment. Intelsat and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) cloud service, Microsoft Azure, earlier this year demonstrated a proof-of-concept 5G network, which aims to speed delivery of services to its customers. In the past, operators had to configure hardware before shipping it, Albie Bester, market development manager at Intelsat, said during the webinar, adding that any device can be reconfigured remotely with 5G and edge computing technologies.
The adoption of technologies such as cloud computing and 5G makes it easier to integrate satellite and terrestrial networks, Karl Horne, vice president of Telco, MNO and cloud solutions at SES (EPA:SESG), said during the webinar. As a result, SES is playing a greater role in the provision of critical infrastructure services to the U.S. government and to the 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, he said.
Enhancing network integration
The satellite industry is adopting the Digital IF Interoperability (DIFI) standard, 5G and 3GPP, as well as standards promulgated by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF). This will “stop the stovepipes” and enable greater integration between networks, Stuart Daughtbridge, vice president of advanced technology and business development at technology developer Kratos (NASDAQ:KTOS) and chairman of the board at DIFI Consortium, said during the webinar.
These new standards will also help the satellite industry take advantage of the pace of development of terrestrial technology. For example, Kratos has been building software modems running on the Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) x86 chipset, Daughtbridge said, noting that when Intel released its latest chipset, the performance of the software modems improved 40%.
“It took effort on our part, no effort on our customers’ part. It was all based off the [research and development] of Intel and the other chip manufacturers,” he added. “What’s really exciting about that is they update those chipsets about every 12 to 18 months.”
Meanwhile, SES and Microsoft are working together on the Satellite Communications Virtualization program, which aims to speed the adoption of standards, the cloud and virtualization in ground systems, SES’ Horne noted.
Integrating technologies will ease the delivery of a multi-orbit future, Intelsat’s Bester said, “to our … constellation or perhaps high-altitude platform systems (HAPS), all of those will be integrated into a single network.”
The next webinar co-hosted by GVF and Connectivity Business News will be “New Space: Will the Bubble Burst?” on October 26.