Interoperability is a priority for satellite connectivity leaders

Satellites Space

According to connectivity experts participating at Satellite 2021 conference on September 8, more industry collaborations will be critical for decreasing costs and providing customers with a terrestrial-like encounter with satellite broadband. “Probably no one will be able to invest enough resources to have the optimal system,” said Steve Collar, CEO of satellite operator SES, who video phoned the panel from Luxembourg due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. And what it implies is that we need to learn from telco and from what happened when mobile operators, together with fiber as well as other telecoms businesses, “went out and started investing money in a large way.” Collar stated that mobile operators’ initial tendency was to spend their way through autonomous deployments before moving in recent times toward sharing the network infrastructure to more efficiently extend services.

“And I don’t think we’ve learned anything from it in satellite. I believe there have been some efforts, and I would say that we at SES are thinking about it.” SES, according to Collar, tries to avoid being “tied into any single technology” in order to keep its architecture as transparent as possible, which allows it to be part of a wider telecoms’ ecosystem.

“And I believe that satellite has become an island for far too long, and the cloud is an extraordinarily critical supporting technology… the more we can be able to make ourselves appear like a cloud extension for a number of our customers, the better.” SES is a member of the Digital Interface Standards (DIS) working group, which issued an open letter on September 1 pushing for an interoperability standard for satellite modems and outdoor units.

ST Engineering iDirect, a provider of satellite network equipment, also signed the letter, and its Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Steen, spoke on the panel. Interoperability, according to Steen, will be important for providing satellite-activated cloud services to all network endpoints. “It’s vital to figure out the digital interface if you are going to ensure that cloud-enablement to bring services and orchestration to an endpoint is not blocked,” he said.

“That’s a fantastic example. Yes, it is going to be a financial commitment. Yes, it will alter our architecture, but you must join them and become a part of them, as well as adopt them and use them in the way which everyone should for the purpose of interoperability — so that you aren’t proprietary or closed — so that one can allow those services and take part in a much wider system than you could ever take part in if you don’t. So that’s how things should and will proceed.”

If the satellite sector does not work together to become more interoperable, terrestrial telcos, as well as other connectivity ecosystem clients, will “pick someone else or find out how to do it themselves,” according to Steen.

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