From the Top
Intelsat-OneWeb Merger: Enhanced Connections for Government Users
At the recent Satellite 2017 conference in Washington, DC, we heard a number of predictions – some of them perhaps literally “pie in the sky” — of how the half-dozen or so proposed low-earth orbit (LEO) constellations are going to change global communications. But the most important project, and the one most experts consider the most viable, is that proposed by OneWeb. And from our perspective, because Intelsat and OneWeb have announced plans to merge, we believe this LEO constellation will greatly benefit IGC’s customers.
OneWeb plans to launch 684 satellites that will circle the earth at an altitude of about 750 miles (1,200 km) to provide broadband service to users anywhere on the globe. OneWeb terminals and satellites will use the Ku-band frequency spectrum and will complement Intelsat’s global fleet of geo-synchronous orbit (GEO) satellites.
Because the OneWeb satellites are in LEO orbit, far closer to earth than GEO spacecraft, users will be able to connect using very small terminals that are now in development. For our government customers, the combined Intelsat-OneWeb network will provide a wide range of new communications capabilities.
For example, the Army has announced plans to use technology to establish expeditionary command posts using Wi-Fi hotspots to communicate with soldiers and vehicles. With reach-back via the Intelsat-OneWeb network, these Army hotspots would have a global, quick deploy solution. In any terrain, in any location, commanders and soldiers could establish Wi-Fi networks with Internet access. These networks could be scaled to suit the size of the tactical operation in the field.
Another possible application is OneWeb support to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations over the Arctic, an area recently opened to maritime lanes but beyond the reach of GEO satellites. The Group III UAS, such as Insitu’s ScanEagle, have flown in higher latitudes but have been limited to line-of-sight only. Group 4 and 5 UAS (Predator and Global Hawk) have also been limited by the look angle to GEO satellites in these higher latitudes. OneWeb, with orbits crossing the polar caps, will be virtually overhead of these UAS, and the satellites’ high throughput will support military operations, rescue assistance and general surveillance.
Humanitarian efforts in remote areas could also be enhanced by OneWeb’s capabilities, either through the use of hotspots that broadcast Wi-Fi signals or through direct connections to the satellites themselves with small user terminals. Such networks could provide non-government organizations operating in austere environments the broadband connectivity they need to do their jobs.
First responders could also benefit from OneWeb connectivity. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 10,000 separate and incompatible land-mobile radio networks serving police, fire and other emergency responders. Congress has appropriated money to establish a nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. The network is years from completion and can only be used by devices with special chipsets in them. OneWeb offers an affordable alternative that would allow first responders to leverage existing devices and investments.
The operation of the OneWeb network is a couple of years away, but we are already planning how it will deliver needed communications to a range of government and civil agencies around the world.
Commercial Space Innovation Needs More Government Certainty
During the recent presidential election, the Trump campaign sent a strong message of support for the burgeoning commercial space sector. After the election, the early signals from the Trump transition and beachhead teams across the various departments and agencies involved in space activities largely echoed that same message of support. However, at least two of the recent decisions made by the Trump White House put in place policies that, as currently formulated, could hinder continued growth in commercial space.
Over the last decade, there has been a revolution in the commercial space sector. The revolution is based on a potent combination of Moore’s Law, spin-in technologies from the information technology sector, and cloud computing that together have enabled small satellite technology to change the price/performance ratio. These drivers have spurred the creation of dozens of new American space companies and a rekindling of competitive spirit in many legacy companies. The result has been an infusion of fresh ideas, new approaches, increased innovation, and renewed excitement in the space world.
CDC Relies on Intelsat Network for African Field Offices
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has operations in more than 50 countries, but in recent years, Africa has emerged as a central area of focus following efforts to contain the West African Ebola virus epidemic that began in late 2013 and to prevent another outbreak. The agency has 14 field offices in 13 African countries, and all are connected to the global communications network that moves voice, video and data about disease outbreaks to and from its Atlanta headquarters and other locations.
Since 2010, Intelsat General has provided satellite connectivity to the CDC’s African field locations as a backup to sometimes-unreliable terrestrial networks. The rugged terrain and low population densities of many countries make it uneconomic to provide reliable electricity to rural areas so that sometimes even terrestrial networks fail. The African Development Bank estimates that 70 percent of sub-Saharan Africans do not have access to electricity, yet crowding, poverty and tropical weather combine to create conditions ripe for the incubation and spread of communicable diseases.
Randy Gigante, Senior Program Manager at IGC, said that in any given month, 5 of the 14 CDC sites have to switch over to the satellite connection because of problems with local broadband service. IGC works with local service providers in each country to handle installation of equipment upgrades and maintenance issues at the ground facilities. Gigante said the African contractors usually respond to a problem at a CDC site within 24 hours of notification.
The Intelsat satellite network connection gives the CDC field workers and researchers a means of delivering data to the Atlanta headquarters for analysis and also a means of promoting health throughout the African nations by disseminating disease prevention and treatment information.
Intelsat General serves all of the CDC sites with the Intelsat IS-25 satellite, located over the Atlantic Ocean at 328.5 degrees East, with a downlink connection to the company’s Mountainside, MD, teleport. The IntelsatONE ground network connects the teleport to the CDC headquarters in Atlanta.
A key advantage to the CDC of using a single satellite is that all of the African offices can share the downstream broadcast, making it more efficient for CDC scientists to share information. The arrangement also allows the CDC to allocate bandwidth to countries where data demand is highest at any given time.
Intelsat, Kymeta Partner on Small Antennas for DoD Coms
Intelsat is introducing two small, flat-panel antennas that automatically lock onto satellites to support US Department of Defense (DoD) communications. The mTenna developed by Kymeta is a metamaterial, electrically scanned, satellite antenna intended for government maritime applications that require a low-profile antenna. Kymeta’s mTenna 70 cm variant will enter production in 2017.
“With the 70 cm antenna you can get high data rates. These are applications where [government customers] are looking to get 8-10 megabits per second off of [vessels], which is significant,” Mark Daniels, vice president of new technology and service for Intelsat General told Jane’s.
Military Not Taking Advantage of New Commercial Satellites
The commercial satellite industry, which the U.S. military relies heavily upon to communicate with its global forces, is launching systems that have throughputs that are orders of magnitude higher than any previous spacecraft.
The Pentagon and the armed services, however, are unprepared to take advantage of the advances, both in the technology and in its business practices, industry representatives say.
Airbus Adds Intelsat General as Skynet Partner
Intelsat General has become the newest company to join Airbus Defence and Space’s channel partner programme for Skynet 5 military satellite communication services, Airbus announced on 8 March.
Under a new channel partner agreement, Intelsat General will offer Skynet X-band and UHF services as part of its mobile and fly-away communications portfolio to the US government. The partnership programme is designed to boost Skynet military satellite communication services to the Asia Pacific region. Since the move of Skynet 5A from 6° East to 95° East in September 2015, Airbus Defence and Space has signed nine channel partner agreements with companies in the region and in the US.
Experts Weigh in on What a Bigger Pentagon Budget Should Mean for Space
U.S. President Donald Trump promised “a great rebuilding of the armed services” when he spoke at the Pentagon in January, ordering newly sworn-in Defense Secretary James Mattis to work with the White House Office of Management and Budget on a “military readiness emergency budget amendment” for boosting defense spending this year.
Trump gave Mattis and OMB until the end of April to thoroughly revise the Pentagon’s 2018 budget proposal, which was drafted under a different commander-in-chief.
During his campaign, Trump called for more airplanes, more ships and more soldiers, but said little about bolstering the space capabilities these forces rely upon.
Air Force Charts Wideband Global Satellite Future
The Air Force has embarked upon a formal Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) to determine a path for its constellation of Wideband Global Satellites(WGS) – a course which could result in wider use of existing commercial technologies or an effort to engineer and build a new dedicated constellation of satellites, Air Force and industry officials said.
The first group of WGS is expected to begin coming to the end of its service life in coming decades, spurring a need for a modernization strategy for the technology.
Air Force officials told Defense Systems the AoA will evaluate alternatives spanning air, space, cyberspace, and ground systems to address the required wideband communications capabilities in both benign and contested environments.
Chris Tully, Vice President, Sales, Marketing, and Business Development
Chris Tully joined Intelsat General in November 2016, bringing more than 30 years of customer experience to his new role as Vice President, Sales, Marketing, and Business Development. Tully is responsible for all aspects of the company’s global sales to government and commercial customers, as well as for a range of marketing initiatives and the development of new business opportunities in the satellite sector. He leads a team of sales and business development specialists who help Intelsat General customers determine the best mix of satellite connectivity and network support to meet their mission needs.
Tully joined Intelsat General after three years of operating his own revenue-acceleration consulting business focusing on go-to-market planning, partner and channel development, sales force optimization, and business development services for mid-sized growth companies in the technology sector.
Tully grew up in the Washington, DC, area and earned his degree at Georgetown University before moving to Houston, TX, in 1979 to begin a career as an application support analyst in the energy sector of Control Data Corp. He joined Xerox Corp. in 1982, and spent 16 years at the company, first in the Houston sales office and later in Rochester, NY, and Farmington, CT, in sales and marketing leadership roles. He left Xerox in 1998 as the Vice President, Worldwide Digital Office Marketing to take a position with Dell at the company’s headquarters in Round Rock TX, where he led Dell’s two fastest growing and most profitable segments.
In 2002, Tully returned to the Washington area, and over the next eight years led sales efforts for three different companies before coming to the satellite industry in 2010 to lead GeoEye’s global sales team. When DigitalGlobe acquired GeoEye in early 2013, Chris stayed on for about six months to complete the integration of the sales teams of the two commercial satellite imagery companies.
Tully and his wife Susan live in Potomac Falls, VA. They have two grown children, and a 10-month old grandson, which he says “eliminates any time for other hobbies!”
Where to Find Us
In the coming months, Intelsat General Corp. will be exhibiting and participating in the following conference and events:
33rd Space Symposium, April 3 – 6 2017, Colorado Springs.
Speaker: Skot Butler, President
Shadow Warrior Expo, April 4 – 6, 2017, Ft. Bragg, NC.
AFCEA Spring Intelligence Symposium, April 26 – 27, 2017, Springfield, VA
Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, May 15 – 18, 2017, Tampa, FL
DoDISS Worldwide, August 13 – 16, 2017, St. Louis, MO
2017 Intelligence & National Security Summit, September 6 – 7, 2017,
2017 NRO Industry Day, September 28, 2017, Chantilly, VA
Global MilsatCom, November 7 – 9, 2017, London, UK.
Speaker: Skot Butler, President
7900 Tysons One Place, 12th Floor
McLean, VA 22102-5972