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Talking Satellite Technology with C-COM: Interview

Portable Satellite Antenna

Portable Satellite Antenna Feature Article

September 15, 2009

Talking Satellite Technology with C-COM: Interview

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Analysts in recent weeks have touted the Asia-Pacific region as the fastest-growing area in the world in terms of broadband subscription growth.
One report from Frost & Sullivan calls for annual growth of 14.1 percent over the next five years, saying the region will hit about 343 million subscriptions by the end of 2014. Undoubtedly, much of the fuel behind the trend is driven by mobile services. A separate report says that the mobile subscriber base in five northern Asia nations grew 10 percent year-over-year in 2008, to 878 million users, and is predicting 15 percent growth, to more than one billion users by the end of this calendar year.

It only makes sense, then, that a throng of technology companies that deliver broadband services are leading a charge of IT segments targeting the region – and among those is one Ottawa-based developer of mobile satellite-based technology, C-COM Satellite Systems.
The company focuses on delivering two-way high-speed Internet services into vehicles or other mobile structures, through its iNetVu-brand antenna systems, and is a service provider of two-way high-speed broadband satellite based Internet services.
According to the company’s president and CEO, Dr. Leslie Klein, C-COM’s (News - Alert) expansion three years ago into the Asia-Pacific region is now paying off major dividends.
“More than 95 percent of our revenues from Q2 came from these regions, where our technology is considered the preferred solution by Telco’s as well as satellite service providers and government agencies,” Klein told TMCnet in an interview, printed in full below.
During our exchange, Klein also discussed what vertical markets C-COM is targeting, the future of satellite technology and some emerging technology from the company that makes it possible to use and monetize less expensive, end-of-life satellites which have no more fuel and so cannot be controlled in terms of their movement.
Our interview follows.
TMCnet: C-COM Satellite Systems recently reported that revenues for the second quarter grew 78 percent year-over-year. To what does the company attribute that growth? How can C- COM explain that kind of success in this down economy, and what is the company doing to continue moving in that direction?
Dr. Leslie Klein: C-COM embarked on an expansion into regions such as the Asia-Pacific three years ago. This expansion is now paying dividends big time, as most of our revenues are flowing from that region. This is an area with the fastest-growing broadband demand, and we are there providing the technology that they are looking for.
We are continuing our expansion into these regions by signing up new resellers there. Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines are countries where we have now established presence and many are starting to order systems from us from these regions. We have a very strong presence and a good customer base in India, Malaysia, China and Australia as well.
TMCnet: Talk to us a little about your iNetVu-brand mobile antenna systems. In which vertical markets is C- COM seeing an uptick in interest for the products? What verticals is C- COM targeting for next year? Which regions of the world are seeing the steepest growth in terms of iNet-Vu sales?
LK: The iNetVus are selling into a large number of vertical markets. Our primary markets are Oil and Gas exploration but we have now many systems with the military (Russia, US, China, Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland, NATO and so on.) We are also a leading provider of systems for Disaster Management and Emergency, Health Protection, State Security (Police), Telco’s Satellite News Gathering, Cell Phone Service Providers as well as to Educational institutions and many government agencies world wide.
The most active regions are China, India and Russia for our products. We are also seeing a steady increase of orders from Europe and from the United States. Our next biggest markets will be in South America followed by Africa where we also have a number of systems deployed with banks (mobile ATM machines) and the Police as well as with Oil and Gas exploration companies
TMCnet: TMCnet’s Amy Tierney reported recently on how C- COM’s systems are helping news agencies take advantage of broadband technologies to deliver media services. How does C- COM see its products serving the news-gathering market in the future?
LK: C-COM is addressing the satellite news gathering market with a highly reliable and low cost iNetVu satellite antenna system that allows a reporter to stream video from a site, but can also be used for Internet access and email. A reporter can drive a vehicle with our antenna on the roof to a site and be operational in 2 minutes and ready to stream video over satellite right into the studio for live broadcast without knowing anything about satellite technology.
Once the report is complete, they can drive away and repeat the process from another location. The iNetVu makes this possible at a fraction of the cost using small vehicles and allows a TV station to buy 5 or more iNetVu antennas for the price of one SNG truck they are presently using, thus allowing more reporters to be more efficient and cost effective as the vehicles used are also less expensive and smaller and able to get into areas where larger SNG vehicles can not go to due to there size.
TMCnet: Tell us a little more, generally, about the future of satellite systems technology. Where do you see it going? What’s going to surprise people about mobile antenna systems in five years?
LK: We expect to see the satellite antenna systems to become smaller and more powerful over time. This will make it possible to also deliver full broadband connectivity to passengers in the vehicle while in full motion and hopefully make it also affordable. It is quite possible that in addition to TV in the back seat of cars you will have high speed broadband over satellite and be able to travel practically anywhere in the world and be connected much the same way you are connected in some of the airplanes and in your home today.
TMCnet: Recently, your company developed a way to help C- COM customers use “inclined orbit satellites” for their space segments needs. Can you tell us what that means, in layman’s terms?
LK: Inclined orbit satellites are end of life satellites that have used up all their maneuvering fuel and are not possible to control and managed in the prescribed 60Km zone (square box area) in which they are kept geostationary. This is a requirement to make them stationary to the observer on the ground (these satellites are positioned above the equator and rotate with the rotation of the earth so they appear stationary and cover a particular spot on the globe).
Once the satellite is out of fuel it starts moving in an elliptical (like a number 8) path thus no longer being stationary to the observer on the ground. C-COM has developed a mathematical algorithm that allows our antenna to track this elliptical path and remain always in touch with the satellite and continue receiving and transmitting to it regardless of its instability.
These satellites can no longer be used as other geostationary satellites are used as they are no longer stationary, however they may have a useful life of up to 3 years or more so they are a resource that can be resold at much lower cost and used rather than leaving them unused in space. So there is a large pool of these satellites one can take advantage off and provide a cost effective solution to those who can live with the shorter life span of these satellites. Many of our customers will take advantage of this and our inclined orbit solution makes this possible.

Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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