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9th May 2017

The HTS Advantage for Connectivity at Sea

With a number of satellites scheduled for launch in 2017, and users increasingly pushing the limits of satellite networks with high speed data demands, we take a closer look at High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and the benefits they will bring to maritime connectivity.

What is a High Throughput Satellite?

A HTS delivers many times the throughput of a traditional Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) or Mobile Satellite Service (MSS), for the same amount of allocated spectrum in orbit. They take advantage of frequency reuse and multiple spot beams to increase the throughput or delivery speed of information. Together, the increased throughput with no additional spectrum requirement results in a significantly reduced cost-per-bit.

What benefits will HTS bring?

According to iDirect, HTS will fundamentally change the economy of satellite communications delivering high data rates, launching a new era of performance and affordability for end users. For providers like Satcom Global, the fact that the cost-per-bit delivered by HTS is ultimately reduced means that additional value can be built into VSAT propositions.

Looking specifically at the maritime industry, HTS will support access to a range of new high bandwidth applications that can improve operations, on-board productivity and crew welfare.  According to market analysts Comsys, bandwidth hungry applications such as route planning, engine diagnostics and weather applications, are all in high demand. Increased bandwidth and performance also serves to eliminate the need to compromise on allocation of resources for business and crew; with increased capacity there is more than enough data at required speeds to support all business needs, as well as the ideal BYOD environment for crew to keep them connected with life onshore.

Are HTS ready to go?

There are already networks with HTS in orbit, and the majority of the large satellite operators are preparing for launches over the next few years, resulting in high throughput capability across the globe.

Leading satellite network operator SES is gearing up for launch of their three hybrid satellites with both wide beams and HTS payloads throughout 2017. SES-15 will launch in May, to initially bring HTS multi-spot beam connectivity to North America, Latin America and the Caribbean for aero customers and traffic intensive data applications.  Following in the second half of the year is SES-14, covering the Americas and North Atlantic, and SES-12 covering the Asia-Pacific region.

SES anticipates that unique advantages of both wide beam coverage and high powered spot beams of the HTS will be integral in meeting the fast growing demand for data and serving specific application needs across markets and key congested geographies. Multiple vessels sailing on densely-travelled maritime routes will continue to enjoy high-speed broadband connectivity thanks to the HTS payload, and switch to wide beam coverage while traversing across the oceans, thus bringing about bandwidth and cost efficiency to the industry through services such as Satcom Global Aura.

Last year, satellite operator Intelsat, launched the first two satellites; IS-29e and IS-33e, of their next generation constellation. Performance tests of the satellites, which cover the Americas, Asia and EMEA regions, have shown an impressive 3 to 5 times more capacity, and 10 times more throughput per satellite, than the traditional Intelsat fleet. Results other satellite operators will be keen to follow up and share. Intelsat also launched the IS-32e satellite in February, with the next couple of years bringing more activity and partnerships on ventures such as Horizons 3e.

Horizons 3e is a collaboration between Intelsat and leading Asian satellite network operator SKY Perfect JSAT. Scheduled for launch in 2018, Horizons 3e will bring high throughput Ku-Band connectivity as well as optimised C-Band to the Asia Pacific region, increasing maritime mobility, corporate enterprise and government communications.  In February of this year, JSAT announced that they will follow up this collaborative launch, with that of JCSAT-18, to further strengthen capability over the Asia Pacific for both Ku and Ka-band services.

Eutelsat is another satellite network leading the charge with new high throughput satellite technology. Later this month they are due to launch EUTELSAT 172B, a new high capacity satellite with three distinct payloads including; C-Band, regular Ku-Band and HTS Ku-Band designed specifically for inflight broadband, serving densely-used Asia-Pacific flight paths. EUTELSAT 172B breaks new ground as the first high-power satellite in the 3 tonne class. The satellite combines electric power of 13 kW with a launch weight of only 3,500 kg.

Finally, Telesat, the Canadian headquartered global satellite operator is anticipating the launch of two HTS this year, following the initial launch of Telstar 12 VANTAGE in November, connecting the Americas to Europe and the Middle East. The impending Telstar 19 VANTAGE, scheduled for launch next year, will strengthen coverage of the Americas with high capacity Ka coverage over Northern Canada, the Caribbean and North Atlantic, and high throughput Ku over Brazil, the Andean region and the North Atlantic. The Telstar 18 VANTAGE is also expected to launch in 2018 expanding coverage in the growing satellite service markets of China, Mongolia, South East Asia and the Pacific Ocean.

Should I be considering HTS now?

For maritime professionals currently assessing VSAT service options and providers for their vessel communications, our advice is to consider how well prepared a provider is for the emergence of HTS technology, in being equipped to take advantage of the benefits.

Satcom Global Aura VSAT is a global service built with flexibility and scalability at the heart of the offering. It provides access to a wide range of competitively priced, mix and match bandwidth and hardware options designed to meet the varying needs of maritime users such as commercial shipping operators, the fishing industry and yacht owners. 

Satcom Global Aura is supported by satellites operated by SES, Intelsat and JSAT, and will take advantage of HTS technology later this year.  Satcom Global planned for HTS implementation from its inception, by providing every Aura customer with an iDirect x7 modem, ensuring they had a futureproof setup and a seamless transition onto the Velocity platform.

The other advantage of Satcom Global Aura and the iDirect platform is that they support a wide range of VSAT terminals. Current users of VSAT who are looking to improve the coverage and performance of their service, have the opportunity to switch to Aura without an additional outlay for new hardware. Although we recommend Intellian hardware for performance, reliability and value, we can assess existing VSAT hardware or look at other options for VSAT antenna manufacturers as and when required.

It’s an exciting time to be working in the satellite industry with technology advancing quickly. We at Satcom Global would be happy to guide you through options available to ensure you select a communications solution that not only meets your needs now, but is capable of growing with the times and your requirements.

Please contact us to register your interest and one of our friendly experts will get back to you.


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High throughput satellite
HTS will fundamentally change the economy of satellite communications delivering high data rates, launching a new era of performance and affordability for end users."