Globecomm Business Evolves With Technology
[Satellite News – 4-15-08] In the month since the World Teleport Association (WTA) named Globecomm Systems President Kenneth Miller Teleport Executive of the Year, the company has been awarded more than $16 million in contracts by the U.S. government.
Over the past year, Globecomm has entered the mobile solutions market with SatCell, a service providing IP-based mobile backhaul and hosted switching for low-density rural markets and acquired the GlobalSat division of Lyman Brothers, which deepened Globecomm’s penetration into the U.S. government market. In October, Globecomm was named a tier-one subcontractor on the U.S. Department of State’s Hybrid Information Technology Services for State program, which aims to provide management of the Department’s information resources around the globe. The company also was awarded a contract from the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service for the Weather Radio Improvement Program to design, develop and build a network prototype that will use voice and text notification via satellite and terrestrial broadcast equipment of weather forecasts as well as watches, warnings and advisories for hazardous weather.
In an interview with Satellite News News Editor Jessica Pearce, Miller talked about the last year for Globecomm and what 2008 holds.
Satellite News: How have the core competencies of your business changed since you first entered the satellite market?
Miller: Mobile solutions are now a core competency of Globecomm. Over the past 10 years we have developed tremendous capability in the engineering of mobile communications systems that have a little bit of satellite. Ten years ago we implemented the first GSM network using a satellite backhaul for the connection from base station to the switch. Working with the switching manufacturer to make the satellite link compatible with the protocols is where Globecomm brought value. Starting in 1997, we started developing expertise in integrating mobile networks where satellite communications was part of the network. More recently we have gone into service provision, so offering our own host services, our own switching, billing and back office functions here at Globecomm. We have implemented services we can offer where we do all the switching functions, and then via satellite we can remote the signaling to base stations anywhere in the world. We have taken the know-how that’s been developed over the last ten years and implemented it in our services. Although when the company started our focus was on satellite communications, over the past ten years we have developed a very significant capability in mobile communications. That is part of our go forward strategy, to move more into that arena because we do bring a lot of value in making all the elements of a multi-technology network play, plus we bring value in the network services we can offer in order to provide an end to end solution.
Satellite News: What does Globecomm bring to the market that makes your offer compelling versus everything else on the market?
Miller: We believe that we have a number of layers of expertise that allow us to really do an end-to-end solution. We are experts in satellite link optimization. There are a lot of people that can do satellite link optimization, but we believe we have a special expertise in getting the most out of the satellite bandwidth that is available. The next layer, we have capability in protocol optimization, understanding how all the protocols between the satellite have to be optimized in order to most efficiently pass IP packets through a network and meet at QOS. At the networking level, we believe we have special expertise in that area. Then the next layer is the application layer, where we believe we have expertise in all the back office functions, whether it’s a billing function or the switching functions or different roaming agreements and all the applications that go with it. In the mobile communications world, in the content delivery world, they both have to deal with acquiring content and managing the content and distributing content, so we go from the expertise in the satellite link and satellite network optimization all the way to the application layer expertise. We think having that full set of capabilities is unique.
Satellite News: How much deeper is your government penetration? What does the acquisition of GlobalSat give you that you did not have before?
Miller: We have a contract to develop the next generation of weather radio. Today, there is a system called NOAA weather radio in operation that provides weather alerts across the country. Any resident of the United States can have local emergency radio weather warnings, the weather status and forecast all coming from NOAA weather radio system. We won a contract to develop the next generation of that system. That is very significant because this is a very important and very high profile national system that we are working on developing, naturally we have hopes to be involved for a long time beyond the development.
We started building our government business about 1999, before that it was mainly a commercial business. We set out that strategy to provide some diversification. We knew we had expertise that had been demonstrated in government space before. We knew that [expertise] could be brought to government customers in the areas of satellite terminals, control monitor systems, network services, all these capabilities that we were developing could be used in the government market. We knew that Globecomm’s quality standards have always been to be a tier 1 common carrier class provider of hardware and services for commercial industry and commercial customers. The government was a natural fit because they have very high standards. So our intent was to bring our capabilities to the government market where we felt they would really appreciate the kind of quality, the kind of engineering, and the kind of products and services we could offer. It has worked very well. We have very significant U.S. and foreign government business that is based on our high level of engineering capability, and the high level of quality of our products and services.
Satellite News: What does Globecomm get from co-locating and running the Showtime Network Broadcast center?
Miller: The Showtime Network Broadcast Center is co-located at our facility and we provide support services and engineering service, but they actually operate it. The relationship with Showtime provides us capabilities to offer services cooperatively with Showtime. The fact that we were able to win the contract to design and build this facility for Showtime and co-locate it at our facility, and the fact that we have a long-term relationship with them to operate it and provide all the uplink facility, means this is a great reference for Globecomm. There are definitely opportunities that are developing that relate to the fact that we have such a prestigious customer and having such a tier 1 broadcast facility. It definitely provides Globecomm additional credibility in the broadcast market.
Satellite News: What business has this attracted already?
Miller: If you look at the kind of customers and the level of complexity, you see that customers would be drawn to a company who can design and deliver something like this Showtime Broadcast Center and be able to deliver the kinds of services that go along with something at that tier one level. You can see that provides a tremendous reference and credibility for larger and more complex projects. Under one roof we have the ability to design, build, implement, install, test complex networks anywhere in the world, and then we have the ability to support them with life cycle support systems.
Satellite News: You posted record revenues in the second quarter of this year. How do you see the rest of the year going for you? Do you expect to see greater growth in your commercial or your government businesses?
Miller: Our government business is actually volume-wise the biggest part of the business right now, more than 50 percent of our revenues. We will look to do something similar next year. We are definitely pushing both areas. A lot of the time it depends on global conditions as to which area is going to grow more. In general we see 50 to 60 percent government, which is reasonable for us. We like to keep a balance, for a number of reasons. We like the diversity. Commercial tends to move faster than government, so we can bring solutions that are state-of-the-art. We can keep our knowledge and our competitive position strong in the commercial and bring a lot of that to the government. We believe it’s a good strategy to have both. Being diverse in that way provides us resiliency.