How to get HTS Satellite to reach its full potential?

Over the last few years, with the emergence of High Throughput Satellites (HTS), the satellite market has changed significantly. HTS has proved significant advances in high bandwidth in digital satellite services, but has it reached its full potential? 

Due to the emergence of HTS satellites over the last two years, hardware manufacturers of satellite ground equipment were pushed to upgrade their equipment in order to support the higher bandwidth. Unfortunately, they have not gone far enough, given the escalating bandwidth demands, especially nowadays with the digitization change taking place, as a result of COVID – 19 reality.

Upgrading equipment such as, modems, antennas, and broadcasters was crucial to support this change, but the lack of a system that can integrate this equipment on the ground to a smart and automated service remains unsolved.

First, What are HTS satellites?

High Throughput Satellites (HTS) are powerful communication satellites that typically provide 20-times the throughput of a conventional Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) satellite.

As a result of the increased throughput, these satellites offer large broadband-based services, including:

  • 4G and 5G services to cellular service providers
  • 8K-based video services
  • OTT streaming services, such as VoD(AppleTV and Netflix)
  • Never-ending streaming demands of social networks, including Facebook, Google, and WhatsApp

The implication is clear. HTS allows these types of services to be delivered anywhere in the world.

The adoption of new ground services

While HTS satellites have the capacity to transmit large amounts of data, the resources on the ground leave something to be desired. Certainly, we’ve seen significant upgrades, and the equipment used to receive data can handle large bandwidths. Modems connected to HTS satellites can connect at speeds up to 1 gigabit.

This high-speed connectivity has been great for consumers, providing affordable high-bandwidth internet in areas where fiber or other land connection options aren’t available.

However, the satellite world continues to lag behind other technologies. Fiber connectivity, for example, offers symmetrical, 2-way connectivity. One Megabit of fiber is actually two Megabits, with 1 Megabit going in each direction.

In Sub Sahara Africa for example, customers using HTS services only use satellite connectivity for downloading; uploading data goes fiber or microwave connectivity (where ever fiber is available of course). The download to upload ratio is typically 1:10, meaning they can upload only one megabit of data for every ten megabits that are downloading.

The result is an asymmetric network, as downloads move through HTS satellites while uploads send data through fiber or Microwave.

Additionally, satellite technology relies on RF communications, which can be unstable during inclement weather on the 8000/36000 kilometers transmissions to MEO and GEO satellites.

It’s also why satellite service providers need to develop a smarter service, one which can intelligently route traffic in both directions.

So what is the key for a system that makes sense?

1.    Building a Better 2-Directional System

As with other technologies, the service provider’s goal is to create a system that can efficiently deliver broadband speeds without wasting resources, all while reducing overhead.

So how can we deal with these issues?

  • Significant increases in bandwidth
  • Asymmetric traffic
  • Dynamic changes in quality of service due to weather or other disruption

The key to creating a system that makes sense is to take a holistic view of the IP involved. However, IP alone isn’t enough to create the intelligence and automation required by the system.

The system must include the following elements:

  1. Capability to dynamically manage bandwidth
  2. Automate change based on existing conditions (machine learning)
  3. two-way traffic(download via satellite and upload via Fiber(Mw))
  4. Reduce overhead
  5. Optimized user experience

Most communication devices on the market today can’t fully support these requirements. Routers, firewalls, and optimization systems are unable to use automation or provide the smart capabilities required in satellite networks.

2.    Utilizing Machine Learning capabilities that will automatically manage the traffic over the network

To deal with these issues, GILAT Telecom has developed SDWAN MAX – a unique solution that allows satellite service providers to control bandwidth, deal with dynamic network changes, by using smart tools that can manage the system automatically.

By utilizing an automation solution, the satellite can communicate with satellite modems, directing it to update bandwidth changes or make other adjustments based on need. Additionally, through smart management tools, SDWAN MAX can provide customers with the level of service that they are paying for.

The system can intelligently manage traffic, so each customer receives the right level of bandwidth. It doesn’t require routing overhead, which allows it to deal with the issue of asymmetric routes, and helps the system manage its application traffic.

SDWAN MAX also provides the satellite service providers a unique solution, that reduces the high cost of this expensive equipment.

In conclusion, if you ask me, I believe that the next step in the HTS satellite era is finding an integrated SDWAN solution with automatic network management that will take the HTS satellite forward to reach its full potential and make it the best solution for higher bandwidth with maximum results.

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