[Satellite News 07-24-12] FSS operator Intelsat has recently received two noteworthy endorsements of its EpicNG satellite platform through capacity agreements signed with Panasonic Avionics and Harris CapRock Communications. Both customers will take up significant Ku-band capacity on multiple satellites of the Intelsat EpicNG platform to expand service offerings.
Panasonic will use capacity on two satellites within Intelsat’s Ku-band global broadband mobility platform, complemented by Ku-band capacity on Intelsat 29e, the first of the Intelsat EpicNG satellites, when the platform launches in 2015. The agreement also includes Intelsat 29e service on a wide Ku-band overlay beam for efficient broadcast of live television to Panasonic’s airline customers. The deal with Harris CapRock soon followed in the maritime sector, granting the customer Ku-band capacity on the Intelsat EpicNG platform to expand its service offerings and offer new applications to its own global customers across the energy, maritime and government markets.
Satellite News spoke with Intelsat Vice President of Global Accounts and Strategic Sales Jay Yass, who discussed not only the Intelsat EpicNG deals with Panasonic and Harris CapRock, but also the wide variety of markets that the operator is targeting with its new offering.
Satellite News: How did Intelsat’s business relationship with Panasonic Avionics come about?
Yass: Panasonic began collaborating with Intelsat to understand the space and ground segment requirements, the technology and the entire ecosystem that makes up a successful technical and business model. Panasonic looked at the situation from a holistic approach. So through our discussions with Panasonic, Intelsat developed our new space assets, specifically the mobility beams on our satellite fleet, which will be complete by early 2013, with Panasonic in mind. Finally, about three years ago, Panasonic landed a contract with Lufthansa. With that deal, the Panasonic service became live.
Satellite News: How did you introduce the Intelsat Epic platform to Panasonic as a way of meeting their needs?
Yass: We were providing [continental U.S.] CONUS capacity to Panasonic’s sub-teleport and then, a little more than two years ago, our design for the platform developed and Panasonic found that it really matched their requirements. We had capacity over the North Atlantic, which is the densest air route on the globe. We will offer good connectivity over the rest of the Atlantic, from CONUS and throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Asia and South Asia with our Intelsat EpicNG platform. We presented the offering to Panasonic a little more than a year ago, and expressed our belief that this was the direction that they needed to focus on. Panasonic stated that our Intelsat EpicNG platform would give them the price performance, price-per-bit and scalability that they needed. Intelsat EpicNG is also a truly global offering. It’s not just a one-off, it’s part of Intelsat’s global mobility fabric. Panasonic is leveraging our Intelsat EpicNG and non- Intelsat EpicNG satellites, teleports and IntelsatONE fiber connectivity service.
Satellite News: With so much invested in the development of Ka-band for the in-flight market, how does Ku-band compare in performance?
Yass: At Intelsat, we believe that Ku-band is a sweet spot for mobility for corporate networking, maritime and aero applications. Ku-band balances performance availability and provides the proper beam spot sizes needed for adequate throughput. If you look at Inmarsat’s I-5 design, for example, they made their spots much larger in order to be global, thus reducing throughput and performance. With Ku-band, we’re able to make smaller spots. We’re not going to cover the whole Earth, because planes are not flying everywhere on the globe. That’s not to say Intelsat is against Ka-band. In fact, we will have Ka-band frequencies available on the Intelsat EpicNG platform. But since we have all these frequencies at our disposal, we will match the appropriate frequency spectrum with the application.
Satellite News: How did the Harris CapRock deal come to fruition?
Yass: The aggregation of Harris, Arrowhead and Schlumberger, which is now Harris CapRock, provided the market with a brilliant acquisition by Harris Corp. in terms of synergies and scale. Harris began to talk to the industry to see what new innovations they could develop from those discussions. We had our dialogue with Harris last year, and they told us that they believed Intelsat EpicNG was an innovative and creative solution that could meet their requirements, which were quite substantial. They wanted more efficiency, scalability, predictability and a reduced total cost of ownership. This is why Intelsat EpicNG is the perfect solution for their needs.
Satellite News: Do you expect to attract similar customers in this market?
Yass: The Intelsat EpicNG platform was clearly built for growth and diversity. The Harris CapRock deal shows potential in not only the maritime and oil and gas sectors, but also the verticals associated with those sectors. The operations of customers in the maritime and energy sectors are considered mission critical. The interruption of service and connectivity downtime can cost these customers significant amounts of money. Therefore, they need to have the most robust and resilient solutions, like Intelsat EpicNG.