Mobile Satellite Users Association October 1,  2018
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The Ocean Cleanup chooses Iridium
PRNewswire; September 25, 2018

Iridium Enters Extensive IoT Service Partnership with Amazon
Via Satellite, Jeffrey Hill; September 27, 2018 

Phasor progressing with next-gen ESA antenna
Get Connected; September 27, 2018

Speedcast International Ltd (ASX:SDA) Announces Pricing of $175 Million Incremental Term Loan
Talk Satellite ; September 27, 2018 
Speedcast Honored with Service Provider of the Year Award at VSAT Global 2018
PRNewswire; September 26, 2018
Speedcast and In Aria! Networks Form Exclusive Partnership
PRNewswire; September 26, 2018

Speedcast Receives 3 Global Certifications in Safety, Quality, Environment
Via Satellite, Annamarie Nyirady; September 28, 2018
World Teleport Association Certifies COMSAT Top Level Tier 4 at Two U.S. Teleports
Satnews Daily; September 23, 2018
Comsat and Avanti Communications Enter 7-Year MDA
Via satellite, Annamarie Nyirady; August 28, 2018
How Cultural Change Brings the Promise of Satcom Innovation
Via Satellite,  Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch, Inmarsat; September 21, 2018 
Aeromexico Chooses Viasat for IFC Services
Via Satellite, Annamarie Nyirady; September 24, 2018
Hughes Deploys 260-Site Global Managed IP Network
Via Satellite, Jeffrey Hill; September 27, 2018 
Building Tomorrow's Science and Tech Leaders is the Goal of Hughes Support for 4-H
September 23, 2018; Satnews Daily
Allocation of C-band to the wireless industry: Satellite operators debate
SatellitePro Middle East, Vijaya Cherian; September 24, 2018  
Navarino adds Iridium Certus to its portfolio
Satellite Evolution Group; September 21, 2018
Tieup Billed As Tectonic Shift In Connectivity Market
Aviation Week & Space Technology,  Kerry Reals; September 25, 2018 
Thales reveals plan for global, high-capacity Ka inflight connectivity
Runway Girl Network, Mary Kirby; September 25, 2018
Thales to offer UTM capabilities to NUAIR
Air Traffic; September 25, 2018
American Airlines selects Thales for AVANT IFE
Get Connected; September 25, 2018
Panasonic Avionics Unveils Five Wellness Launch Suite Products
Apex Media, Ari Magnusson; September 25, 2018
Panasonic Avionics Announces EGYPTAIR A320neo IFEC Deal
Avionics Pros; September 26, 2018
Panasonic partners with Uzbekistan Airways on IFEC
Get Connected; September 26, 2018
Intelsat celebrates successful satellite launches
DigitalTV Europe, Andy Fry; September 26, 2018
ThinKom Solutions demonstrates first aero terminal connectivity with SES' O3b MEO satellites
Satellite Evolution Group; September 25, 2018
Globalsat Group Presented The Iridium Certus Solutions At Andicom 2018
GlobalSat Pres Release; September 26, 2018
Marlink Signs Pact with SES Networks
MarineLink, Shailaja A. Lakshmi September 23, 2018
Global Mobile Satellite Phone Market 2018-2025 | Key Players- Inmarsat, Globalstar, BYOD Devices and Iridium
The Newsman, Stefen Marwa;  September 26, 2018
Digital tech helps combine operators be more productive
Future Farming; September 25, 2018

MSUA Featured Sections: 

Workshop: Monday 8 October 2018; 8:30 am – 12:00 pm
Topic:  Developments in Mobile Satellite Markets

Briefing:  Thursday 11 October 2018; 10:45 am
Topic:  The Emergence of IOT

Use registration code MSUA and receive a 20% conference discount. 
Register Here. 

MSUA Moderated Panel:

Panel:  Changing Roles of Content Distribution; Wednesday, 17 October 2018;  12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.  

MSUA Member Blogs


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**********This Week's Featured Article*********** 

Google/Alphabet Loon LLC, now a full-fledged company, seeks satellite partnerships

by Peter B. de Selding | Sep 24, 2018

LONDON — Six years after emerging as a Google X project, stratospheric-balloon-connectivity provider Loon this year became a full-fledged company with its own management and balance sheet.

Loon LLC has won its first commercial contract, with Telkom Kenya, a geographically friendly inauguration of long-duration telecom coverage from a fleet of balloons at between 15 and 20 kilometers in altitude.

Max Kamenetsky, senior project manager at Loon, outlined the Loon business case and the lessons learned over six years about stratospheric winds that enable Loon to sign service-level agreements (SLAs) with customers.

Kamenetsky said satellite service providers should consider Loon as a potential partner to offer low- latency, high-capacity connectivity in small geographic areas within a satellite’s broader footprint.

Kamenetsky described Loon and addressed questions Sept. 19 at the VSAT Global and Next- Generation Satellite Applications conference organized by Informa’s tmt knect 365. Here are excerpts from his remarks:


Loon Senior Project Manager Max Kamenetsky puts the Loon High-Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) program in a satellite context.

Loon’s history

The first experiments, about six years ago, were to put a router on a balloon and see what happens. We used a $200 weather balloon. And the answer is: It flies. It bursts after about two hours.

Fast-forward a number of years. Google parent is called Alphabet. And under that parent corp. There are a number of LLCs. Google is the most well-known one. One was X, an incubator focused on looking at large problems that may have a technological solution.

Project Loon found a home in X. And the objective of X is actually not to develop projects, but to quickly figure out if there’s a way to kill projects.

Project Loon went through exactly the same phases as all the other projects go within X, and we didn’t get killed. Actually, the opposite happened – we graduated. A couple months ago we announced that Loon is now an independent company within Alphabet. We’re a sister company to Google. But we have our own CEO, we have our own CFO, we have our own business plan, we have our own P&L.

Signing with Telkom Kenya

The second milestone is we signed our first commercial agreement to provide telecommunication services in Kenya to a global network operator called Telecom Kenya.

Alphabet really believes in this idea, really believes in the technology, in the business plan, and they really expect us to succeed.

We had previously proposed connectivity, but the work we had done so far had all been focused on temporary solutions for disaster recovery. What we’re doing in Kenya is longer term.

‘We all love GEO satellites, but...’

We all love GEO satellites. They’re great at providing coverage, they are great if you want to also have a regional solution. You can target specific countries.

Of course, they have some challenges in terms of latency, in terms of capacity density. By this I mean the number of bits you can deliver per square kilometer. This is why people started looking at lower- altitude solutions. Constellations in jMEO, LEO, and in some cases even BLEO — very low-Earth-orbit constellations.

Those are great at improving latency and capacity density, but you have a tradeoff. The coverage decreases, and at some point it becomes very difficult to deploy a regional solution.


Each Loon balloon flies at 15-20 km and has a footprint of 5,000 square km, with a direct LTE link to user terminals.

We think about Loon as basically a high-altitude pseudo satellite. The ITU [International Telecommunication Union] calls it High-Altitude Platform Station. The concept is that by flying a lot closer to the ground, and at approximately 20 km as opposed to at least 200-300 km for satellites, we’re able to have low-latency, very good capacity density and we’re able to deploy a regional solution.

For us to have global coverage, obviously we would need to have a very large number of balloons. But if we start by looking at this one country at a time, this is the more realistic.

‘The launch vehicle’

To relate this to the satellite industry, I’m going to try to use satellite technology.

We have a launch vehicle. It has side doors that you can roll down, it has wheels at the bottom, you can orient it so that we’re always downwind.

We built the structure because otherwise, launching balloons is difficult. It requires a lot of people, waiting for a time when the winds are quiet. With this kind of structure we can launch basically at will, and we can launch a balloon in less than 30 minutes.

‘Satellite bus and payload’

We have orbit-raising, and we have a thruster — a balloon. The outer dimensions of the balloon are about 15 meters by 12 meters. It’s composed of two envelopes — a wet gas inside and there’s air. By changing the amount of air inside the balloon, we’re able to change the altitude. So we’re able to go up and down.

We have a satellite bus and a payload. Our satellite bus looks very similar to what you’d find on a typical satellite. We have solar panels, avionics systems, batteries. We have controls. The controls are a way to pump air into the balloon or release air out of the balloon. And a way to orient the solar


Loon’s Kamenetsky was kind enough before a satellite audience to use satellite terminology in describing Loon. Here’s “de-orbiting.”

panels and antennas such that the solar panels are tracking the sun and the antennas are pointing in the direction we’re interested in.

The payload is again similar to a satellite payload. We have backhaul links that we use to establish communications with other balloons as well as communications down to our ground stations. For user links we’re flying LTE.

Today on average a balloon can spend three to four months flying in the stratosphere, although we have had flights of approximately 200 days and we believe that average is going to keep on increasing. End-of-life for us means that once we detect the balloon is ready to come down, we navigate it to a recovery region. We have a number of such regions around the world. We send a command to pierce the envelope. The lift gas is released, a parachute is deployed, the balloon comes down, is recovered, it’s recycled and reused as soon as possible.

Navigating in the stratosphere

We navigate. This is where we are a bit different from satellites. A satellite has a very predictable plane of orbit.

We navigate only by using the wind. The principle here is that in the stratosphere at different altitudes – we fly approximately from 15-20km altitude – the winds blow in different directions. You can imagine these different wind vectors pointing in all sorts of directions.

If you knew where the wind vector was pointing at each altitude, right now, and if you had a prediction of what would be happening in the future, then you could utilize that to navigate where you want to go, and to try to stay in one place. And the way you do this is simply by going up and down in altitude.

This requires a knowledge of where the winds are blowing. That’s a fairly complex problem. And people have looked a lot at weather, but typically they look at weather where people live, where airplanes fly.

We’re twice as high as commercial aircraft. So the amount of data for that kind of altitude is somewhat sparse. So we leverage the best third-party data we can find, but we also integrate our own data from flying in the stratosphere to be able to predict wind patterns.

We have two launch locations right now, our primary commercial launch location is in Puerto Rico. And in this case the service region is in Peru. We were providing services in Peru after some pretty serious floods there last year. So in this case you can see the balloon in Puerto Rico. It takes about 12 days to transit to the surface region. Ultimately it stays 98 days. It doesn’t stay perfectly still. It moves around, but it navigates back. Ultimately it went south and it was recovered in a region we have in southern Peru.

Selling a service, not a fleet of balloons

We don’t sell individual balloons or a service from individual balloons. We use clusters of balloons to provide services. Each individual balloon doesn’t stay in place. It might navigate around. But if you have a cluster of balloons and you’re able to control them as a fleet, then you can provide continuity of service. And from the perspective of the user, it doesn’t matter which specific balloon is providing service to that user at any given time, as long as we have control over the fleet.

Another thing that’s extremely important to us is the concept of mesh networking — using millimeter- wave technology. The reason this is important is because we are trying extend as far beyond existing fiber infrastructure as we can. We want to minimize the amount of additional ground infrastructure we have to put in place to deploy our services.

We were able to demonstrate a link with several balloons. Basically having hop-to-hop transmissions in this network. The total span was 1,000 km. The distance between the individual links that we demonstrated was over 600 km.

You can imagine that the way we provide services is by having balloon-to-balloon, inter-HAPS or inter- satellite in terms of technology link, and by having each balloon that also light up coverage area underneath.

The services we have been providing to date are infrastructure- or network-as-a-service to our telco, or mobile network operator partners. The typical scenario is there is a telecommunications provider who is trying to extend the reach of his network. And trying to cover places that are otherwise a little bit too remote for them, maybe the terrain is a little too rugged, the population density is a little lower than they would prefer it to be.

Loom connectivity is provided directly to the user’s handset. We’re using LTE. There is nothing a user needs to do to connect to a Loon. In the same way that you don’t know which cell tower you’re connected to, users within Loon don’t know which balloon. In fact they don’t know they’re in a Loon- based network.

The signal from there traverses our mesh of balloon-to-balloon hops. It terminates at ground stations that we have, from which there are IP set tunnels connecting back. We look very much like a roving tower partner, which they’re very familiar with.

A combined satellite-Loon network

One thing we’re exploring is: Can balloons provide services together with satellite connectivity? So here’s a hypothetical scenario. Right now let’s say you’re deploying coverage using satellite. This


Loon LLC wants to work with satellite fleet operators on hybrid networks.

could be a satellite constellation, could be a GEO satellite but there are places where you may not have sufficient coverage, there are places where you may not have sufficient capacity. You’ve got to envision a scenario where Loon works together as a solution with satellites. We’re able to extend this extremely high-data-rate point-to-point mix — over a gigabit per second of links to date. And that’s going to be increasing.

We also have extremely low latency, which is difficult, and in GEO obviously it’s just not possible. But you don’t have the same availability as a satellite system, simply because the balloons move around. So you can envision a surface where the balloons provide very-high-data-rate, point-to-point links and there’s a satellite service backing it up, such as you always have some amount of capacity.

Well, we have the network control system as well. There’s another area where we are actually very ??? doing an aerospace network, and specifically a non-geostationary aerospace network. When you think about mobility typically people think about mobility at the access layer. That means a user is moving, a plane is moving, a ship is moving. Mobility in networks is much more difficult when it’s happening at the backhaul layer. The balloons are moving and the network typology is changing, but the same thing is happening in non-geostationary satellite constellations.

There were a couple other projects we had. One was a satellite constellation pocket that’s not with us anymore. We were also working on other high altitude platforms at the time. We decided to solve the problem in a very general way. How can we orchestrate networks not just of balloons but with all kinds of flying, moving things together with terrestrial nodes?


European Space Imaging Awarded €20 Million Maritime Contract
Directions Magazine; September 24, 2018
Autonomous Navigation along Inland Waterways
Maritime Executive, Harry Valentine; September  22, 2018
Faster connectivity coming for Pacific shipping
Marine Electronics & Communications, Martyn Wingrove; September 27, 2018
The case for airlines taking control of inflight connectivity
Satellite Finance, Jason Rainbow; September 27, 2018

Avanti announces 7-yr, $84-million capacity lease to unnamed operator
Space Intel Report, Peter B. de Selding; September 24, 2018 
Aer Lingus to roll out new brand in early 2019
FlightGlobal, Jon Hemmerdinger; September 24, 2018
Saudia readies for near-term launch of new hybrid inflight connectivity
Runway Girl Network, Mary Kirby; September 26, 2018 
Gogo Rolls Out Satellite IFC Service on New Air France Jets
Via Satellite, Jeffrey Hill; September 27, 2018
SITAONAIR says GX Aviation IFC proving its worth
Get Connected; September 27, 2018
Blue Sky Networks Acquires Applied Satellite Engineering
Satnews Daily; September 27, 2018
UHP Networks' 'Stellar Award' ... Wins 2018 Best Ground Segment Technology Award
Satnews Daily; September 26, 2018
USDA Invests $600 Million In Rural Broadband, But Farmers Still Struggle To Connect
Forbes, Jenny Splitter; September 24, 2018

Comtech: $20-million satellite Earth station deal signals market acceptance of V-band
Space Intel Report, Peter B. de Selding; September 28, 2018

Insight-As-A-Service For Satellite Networks

L3 again goes to sea with another unmanned deal
Washington Technology, Ross Wilkers; September 24, 2018
Airbus successfully tests stratospheric 4G/5G defence communications with balloon demonstration
Satellite Evolution Group; September 25, 2018

Northrop Grumman Awarded (Maximum) $500 Million HELIOS Contract by the Defense Intelligence Agency
SatNews Daily , September 27, 2018

BSNL inks deal with Softbank, NTT to roll out 5G, IoT service
Press Trust of India, September 24, 2018
Smallsats to accelerate M2M/IoT satcom market
Satellite Evolution Group; September 25, 2018
Shortwave radio evolves into an IoT network
Marine Electronics & Communications, Martyn Wingrove; September 25, 2018
Facebook follows SpaceX and OneWeb into high-speed satellite broadband
Canton Caller; September 27, 2018 
Four Heavy Duty Satellites to Provide Broadband Connectivity of Over 100 Gbps by 2019 ,Kanimozhi Sudhakar; September 24, 2018 10:29
Google/Alphabet Loon LLC, now a full-fledged company, seeks satellite partnerships
Space Intel Report, Peter B. de Selding; September 24, 2018 
ICoast eyes better online access with satellite broadband
Agence-France Presse; September 24, 2018,
Broadband in a backpack at the top of the world
Satellite Evolution Group; September 24, 2018
RascomStar-interSat launch partnership to offer affordable broadband satellite services across Africa
Open PR; September 25, 2018


Teleport operators ready to embrace 5G as video and IoT opportunities loom
Satellite Finance, Craig Barne; September 27, 2018 
New WTA Report, “Factoring 5G into the Future,” assesses its likely impact on the teleport and satellite business
Satellite Evolution Group; September 25, 2018
The real 5G ‘race’ is to serve all Americans
Brookings,Tom Wheeler;  September 25, 2018
5G paves the way for new business opportunities, competitive threats
RCRWireless News,Tracy Currie; September 24, 2018

Has 5G Hype Outpaced Reality?
Government Technology Magazine, Kaye Patrick,September 28, 2018 

FCC Faces Crucial Vote on 5G Infrastructure Policy
Via Satellite, Jeffrey Hill; September 24, 2018 
FCC approves new rules aimed at speeding deployment of small cells and 5G
FierceWireless, Mike Dano; September 26, 2018 
NASA: Large satellite constellations will add to debris problem unless they go beyond regulatory requirements
Space Intel Report, Peter B. de Selding; September 25, 2018  
Ericsson Receives FCC Certification for CBRS Shared Spectrum
Via Satellite, Annamarie Nyirady; September 25, 2018
Former OneWeb Satellites CEO joins Akash Systems
SpaceNews, Caleb Henry; September 27, 2018 
New ThinkRF Spectrum Analyzer Covers 27 Ghz Frequency Range
Via Satellite, Annamarie Nyirady; September 26, 2018
Port of San Diego suffers cyber-attack, second port in a week after Barcelona
ZDNet, Catalin Cimpanu; September 27, 2018
Interworking Between LTE & LMR Systems is Essential for Critical Communications, Says ETELM
ECN; September 24, 2018
Neutral Connect Networks and Sky Packets Announce a New Joint Venture to Address the Changing Wireless Needs of Cities
PRNewwire; September 27, 2018
Quortus strengthens Executive Board with new CEO for future growth
RealWire; September 25, 208
Back From The East
LandMobile, Sam Fenwick; September 26, 2018
Ergen takes 20% of new Yahsat j-v
Advanced Television, Chris Forrester; September 24, 2018    

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