The Next Generation Platform for Escalating SATCOM Needs – Intelsat EpicNG

Global broadband requirements are expected to keep accelerating at a rapid pace. This increase is being driven by the globalization of business, the penetration of wireless communications and the need to be connected at all times. Broadband demand is also going up due to bandwidth-hungry mobility applications and the growing convergence of data and video.

This is causing a strain for government applications, because resilient, high capacity, on-the-move communications consume huge amounts of broadband capacity. The C4/ISR these applications power is the cornerstone of American in-theater superiority and a prerequisite for mission success.

Intelsat designed its next-generation platform, Intelsat EpicNG, a high throughput satellite series, to meet the demands of the new global broadband infrastructure. Intelsat EpicNG is designed to provide higher throughput and efficiency in an open architecture platform, providing highly reliable next-generation capabilities that build upon operators’ existing networks.

Intelsat EpicNG incorporates C, Ku and Ka spot beams in a high-performance platform that delivers significantly more capacity and more throughput per unit of spectrum, an important technical and economic benefit for service providers delivering solutions customized for specific regions or applications.

These new satellites provide four to five times more bandwidth capacity (in MHz) than our traditional satellites. This is a result of frequency reuse through spot beams. In addition, because of the higher power available per spot beam and a prudent design that minimizes RF interference between spots, the efficiency (number of bps per Hz) will be multiplied by two to three times. In total, the expected aggregate throughput on an Intelsat EpicNG satellite will vary according to application served and satellite but is anticipated to be in the range of 25-60 Gbps.

Whereas most high throughput satellites offer a best effort, contended Mbps using proprietary ground equipment, Intelsat EpicNG offers Committed Information Rate (CIR) MHz using customer-selected ground platforms. The use of spot beams provides two additional benefits that translate into improved spectral efficiency offered to customers; that is, the Mbps that can be achieved in a MHz of satellite bandwidth.

Both relate to the use of smaller beam size. One is the increase in receiver performance (higher G/T), and the second is the higher downlink power (EIRP) that can be provided.  The combination of increased MHz on Intelsat EpicNG with improved spectral efficiency enables service providers to achieve significantly higher throughputs (overall Mbps).

Intelsat EpicNG has been designed to support very high throughput fixed, transportable and mobile applications. As an example, a satellite with beam peak coverage can support 274 Mbps in a 100+ MHz transponder to an aero-mobile platform using less than a 1.5m antenna.  In scenarios where carrier in carrier technology can be employed, a 112 MHz transponder is even more efficient providing in excess of 500 Mbps in total throughput to a 90cm or 1.2m antenna.   The higher throughput and support for lower form factor transportable and mobile terminals is attributable to improved receiver performance in G/T and higher downlink power in EIRP associated with the innovative Intelsat multi-spot design.

Intelsat EpicNG will provide coverage in nearly all populated regions to accommodate service providers and customers. The new platform is fully integrated with Intelsat’s existing infrastructure — our fleet of more than 50 satellites and the IntelsatOne IP/MPLS-based terrestrial network. This provides an opportunity to leverage lower cost fiber connectivity in open or closed hybrid space / terrestrial networks as well as improved architectural resiliency.

As an open architecture, Intelsat EpicNG will allow customers to choose their hardware of choice so as to customize their service characteristics.  The satellites support full data path agility providing connectivity in common star, mesh and/or loopback topologies and well as frequency cross-banding that improves link availability in areas subject to potentially severe weather-related link attenuation.

The connectivity and open architecture also support Government “sanctuary” gateways / teleports and terrestrial connectivity. These new satellites have built-in flexibility to allow connectivity between beams, providing full adaptability to changing requirements and locations through time.

The Intelsat EpicNG design increases cost-effectiveness of the bandwidth, minimizes capital expenditures by providing backward compatibility with existing networks in legacy frequency bands and allows customers full control over the topology and management of their network.  This translates directly to better economics through lower total cost of ownership.

Intelsat plans to deploy Intelsat EpicNG at multiple orbital locations. Our initial deployment will be two satellites expected to be operational in the 2015-2016 period. Over time, Intelsat will progressively evolve its global satellite network, incorporating a series of next generation satellites to address customer requirements.