[Satellite News 03-27-12] Israel’s Novelsat burst onto the satellite bandwidth optimization market last year in a quest to improve the spectral efficiency of DVB-S2 with its NS3T satellite transmission modulation technology. While the company faced a considerable coalition of skeptical industry experts and engineers that believed it was not possible to have a new modulation for satellite transmission that was higher in efficiency than DVB-S2, Novelsat enjoyed an extremely successful year since its NS3T solution for modems and modulators was made public.
NovelSat’s third-generation NS3 satellite transmission technology aims to increase satellite bandwidth capacity by 20 percent to 55 percent more than current DVB-S2 and DVB-S standards. NS3 is based on a combination of signal processing techniques and a mix of algorithms that normally cancel each other out.
Since unveiling the new technology, Novelsat has completed several test trials, the results of which earned the company endorsements from Intelsat, SES, SatLink and U.K. data services provider Satellite Mediaport Services (SMS). FSS operator Intelsat announced last month that it authorized NovelSat’s NS1000 modulators and NS2000 demodulators for use on Intelsat satellite transponders. Most recently, the company was awarded the World Teleport Association’s (WTA) Teleport Technology of the Year award at the SATELLITE 2012 conference.
Satellite News spoke with NovelSat Co-Chairman David Furstenberg in a two-part interview reflecting on his company’s surprising first year of business.
Satellite News: When we spoke a year ago, you told us that Novelsat was prepared to face considerable skepticism regarding your NS3 technology. Now that you’ve received some high-level endorsements in the industry, do you feel that you’ve convinced your critics otherwise?
Furstenberg: There was almost a religious disbelief and skepticism regarding our technology from the moment we started. There were many critics that thought our solution wouldn’t work. Now, with several similar solutions being forwarded by those very same critics, we see it is a total confession that our ideas were valid and that they work.
Our assumption from the outset was that we would see high resistance to our technology, but also that the acceptance would be higher than normal if we broke that resistance. I have a story that shows an example of resistance and acceptance. About a year ago, on the first day we were displaying the technology, we wanted a gentleman from a very large corporation in the United Kingdom to come out to the demonstration. We tried to get in touch with him, but he was not answering phone calls or emails. Out of desperation, we called his CEO and we invited him to the demonstration. That CEO told this employee that he had to come out and see our technology.
So, he came to our booth and immediately said, “I’m not going to buy anything from you because I don’t believe that what you have will work for us. So, show me the damn thing and then don’t call me again.” When I heard this, I knew I had a good customer and that person became exactly that. It is a great feeling when a reasonable person comes to you with such strong convictions and you can show that person that they were wrong in a convincing way. The secret is not to establish overblown claims and to be conservative with your abilities. It is much better to exceed expectations.
Satellite News: How important was it for you to win the WTA award for best teleport technology?
Furstenberg: Typically, I will not boast about awards, but the customers and members of the WTA who are buying our technology gave this specific award to us. The fact that the customer voted on it indicates to us that this disbelief is over and that, because we’ve gone through so many trials, people are ready to put their money where their beliefs are.
Satellite News: You concluded several test trials for NS3 from last June through November. What did you learn from these trials?
Furstenberg: The testing was a blessing in disguise specifically because of how much we learned from those trials. The results that we received from those trials were much better than what we initially claimed. We originally said that the NS3 technology could provide up to a 20 percent capacity boost and the results that we received during the trials were typically around a 28 percent capacity boost, with some extreme cases reaching as high as 78 percent. We also received a lot of praise for the maturity and the stability of the product from the firms that tested it.
Satellite News: Besides the capacity boost, what other improvements did your testers find with NS3?
Furstenberg: A majority of the improvements we provided came in two areas: the first were the parameters that we added to the interfaces of existing products, which gives flexibility to the service provider; and the second was the ability to handle and address the weaknesses of the existing equipment in the market. For example, many of the receivers and IRDs in the marketplace today were designed to assume the amount of traffic they would receive through their input. If that amount of input changes over time, it will be unable to handle the traffic. Our equipment adds modern mechanisms to these systems to allow them to handle these increases.
Satellite News: Has the success in testing translated to profits now that you’ve entered the sales market?
Furstenberg: We started to sell our technology at the beginning of November. I cannot reveal our most recent quarter results, as we are not quite finished with the period, but I can say we succeeded to close a very impressive number of customer agreements in different groups of initial orders and total commitments to replace older network technology with ours. We have one agreement with a very large European sports broadcaster to replace their entire network. This particular network stretches over more than 80 countries. This customer will come out with an announcement very soon. We also see a lot of interest on the satellite newsgathering side of the market, but also on the defense side.
Satellite News: Are you surprised by this initial acceptance?
Furstenberg: To be candid, I am quite amazed by our sales figures. I have been in the high tech business for many years. Typically, what you see with new companies coming out with new technologies in any professional business market is a three-year period, or ‘proof-of-concept’ phase, where they will sell only $100,000 to $300,000 in equipment to a small group of customers and expand from there. Novelsat, on the other hand, has already received approximately $2 million in orders in its first year. By the end of this year, we expect to have tens of millions of dollars in sales.