HTS (High Throughput Satellite) Systems – Closed vs Open Architecture

All HTS systems share similar characteristics, however, not all HTS systems are the same. When choosing an HTS system, it is important to understand the architecture behind the technology. Choosing the right architecture defines the user experience and directly impacts the ability to meet service expectations and support customers in the most demanding environments.

Closed Architecture
Unlike traditional satellites whose design has always been open, many HTS systems are vertically integrated and follow a closed architecture approach that prevents service providers to tailor their network to their customer’s needs. Closed architecture locks service providers into a standardised, undifferentiated third-party solution:

• No flexibility. Closed HTS systems have hardwired gateways in fixed locations that require providers to use the satellite operator gateway and abandon their current investments, infrastructure or favourite teleport.

• No technology choices. Closed HTS systems are typically designed and optimised for one specific application, restricting the ability to adapt to changing customer demands and expansion opportunities.

• No differentiation. Closed HTS systems are typically designed and optimised for one specific application, restricting the ability to adapt to changing customer demands and expansion opportunities.

• No operational freedom. The increased dependency on the satellite operator transforms network providers into mere distributors of a standard, third-party solution that cannot keep pace with innovation. You can only improve technology if/when an operator gets it.

Closed systems require service providers to make a long-term investment in a single technology and gamble that a single company can out-innovate the rest of the industry.

Open Architecture
Service providers who offer technology-agnostic solutions based on an open architecture are part of an evolving ecosystem of satellite communications and antenna providers. In an open-architecture environment, each component of the system (e.g. satellite, modem and antenna) can be upgraded independently.

Open platforms allow service providers to build services that are optimised in terms of performance, coverage, cost and quality of service for the particular needs of their customers. An open HTS platform gives service providers unprecedented choice, control and consistent levels of service at a much lower total cost of ownership.

In an open-architecture environment, service providers can build and scale their services as part of a well-executed digital strategy:

• No lock in. Remain independent from technology and satellite vendors.

• Backward compatibility. Choose modem technology that best suits applications and is best adapted to their business.

• Leverage current customer install base. Take advantage of C- and Ku-band HTS to continue to grow their market with premier spectrum.

• Use preferred teleports. Locate desired hubs and uplink from any beam in any band.

• Efficiently deliver more throughput to the user. Increase throughput with higher performance at the same capital expenditures (CAPEX) investments.

• Continue to innovate. Keep pace with technology improvements and capitalise on the ability to configure their own service packages.

The result is a modular system that can integrate new technologies as they become available, without requiring a complete overhaul. Modularity is critical in environments where:

• Installation costs are high
• Technological evolution is rapid and constant
• The provider needs to be agile and incorporate new innovations

Not sure how to choose an HTS provider? Check out these key considerations.

(Article supplied by our contributor Intelsat)


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Telemedicine is not mandatory as part of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) for seafarers’ rights. But it should be.

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Key considerations when selecting a HTS provider

The high throughput satellite (HTS) provider you choose can make or break your ability to capitalise on the growing demands and customised, differentiated solutions required by your end-users. As you evaluate your solution options, it is important to consider the following:

Expansion support: Make sure your provider can give you the reach and support you need as part of an enterprise-grade managed service. Consider a solution built on an open-architecture network, which is modular by design and backwards and forwards compatible, so that you do not have to retrofit or replace your current investments to take advantage of new innovations.

Guaranteed availability: Relying on a single satellite for a given region carries significant risk in the event of outages or demand increases. Ensure your provider offers multiple layers of capacity to address spikes in demand. Ideally, your provider should deliver wide beam coverage as well as continually add HTS spot beams to address high-traffic areas.

Ability to scale and shift capacity: The last thing you want is to get stuck paying for capacity you do not use. Make sure the provider you choose offers a guaranteed volume of Mbps within the region of your choice and that the bandwidth you purchase has portability to meet changing geographic requirements and real-world demand.

Accommodations for unpredictable traffic: When end terminals are on the move, contracting capacity across mobile users in the right locations and quantity to maintain Committed Information Rates (CIR’s) or Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) can be challenging. Depending on the sector, needs can be unpredictable and service commitments for these applications can create financial risk, especially with irregular beam utilisation. Find out how your prospective provider addresses less predictable or volatile traffic and ask about guaranteed CIR’s and SLA’s within predefined zones made up of wide beams and spot beams.

Network and risk management: Depending on your business, the applications served and seasonality, you may be faced with an ever-more-complex inventory of bandwidth that may sit idle at times. That can be a complicated – not to mention risk – proposition to manage. Ask your prospective provider about how they simplify network management and minimise the risk that comes with maintaining an inventory of bandwidth that may be difficult to monetise if end-users all show up in certain beams and vacate others.

Network security: The weakest link in your security chain puts your entire network at risk, so it is critical to partner with a satellite operator who can offer third-party validation of its security posture. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you understand how security is factored into your provider’s solution, from the technology design and engineering all the way through to customer support.