IP via satellite
by Eduardo Aspesi, President, Hispamar Satélites
IP via satellite - over VSAT - is quickly becoming a cost-effective option for broadband ac-
cess for business, government and even personal use in remote areas. The open DVB-RCS
standard, Digital Video Broadcast-Return Channel Satellite, has greatly reduced costs and
simpliﬁed equipment interoperability issues. In Brazil, VSAT/IP is often used for corporate
communications, in mobile environments, for distance learning and even video-surveillance.
IP via satellite holds great promise for the 50 per cent of Brazilʼs municipalities that do not yet
have broadband access.
Eduardo Aspesi is the President of Hispamar Satélites. He came to Hispamar from the Telemar Group, where he implemented its retail
unit. Previously, he directed the strategic and ﬁnancial planning of the RBS Group (Radio, TV and Newspapers) and was the General
Director of RBS Direct. He served as the Director of Marketing and other businesses at Net Sul, a cable TV operator, until the company
Eduardo Aspesi is an Economist, Business Administrator; he completed his post-graduate studies in Finances, Marketing and Strategic
Management at INSEAD.
A new sort of IP-based, Internet Protocol-
based, businesses using VSAT, very small “Because of the great, structural, connectivity deﬁcit in
aperture terminal, technology is revolution- Latin-America, this is one of the most dynamic regions of the
izing the IP via satellite business. The open world for IP services.”
DVB-RCS standard, Digital Video Broad-
cast-Return Channel Satellite, is changing the America and has been welcomed by the mar- have the greatest deﬁcit in telecommunica-
traditional model for Internet connections that ket. tions; this is what makes them a great market
used one VSAT connection for every three or for this type of technology.
four computers, so that VSATs are now used as Because of the great, structural, connectivity
IP services platforms. Under the new scheme, deﬁcit in Latin America, this is one of the most Even in these regions, which are the least eco-
VSAT is handling the trafﬁc for various pio- dynamic regions of the world for IP services. nomically developed, the cost/beneﬁt relation-
neering projects that provide access to wide To deal with regional needs, the companies of ship of IP services via satellite is still worth-
band Internet connectivity for virtual private the satellite communications sector must use while; it is just necessary to equate carefully
networks, VoIP and even IP-based mobile te- creativity and inventiveness and constantly the usersʼ needs to the products offered.
lephony. experiment with new solutions in order to
meet the needs of a constantly more demand- The need to channel the products to each seg-
In Brazil, a wide range of services based upon ing market with highly speciﬁc needs. ment according to their needs is critical. De-
IP, beyond the usual voice and Internet ac- veloped countries, for the most part, demand
cesses, is available. There are now specialized Although it is a growing market with excellent products that are more sophisticated; develop-
applications for corporate needs, education at companies offering their services, the satellite ing countries demand simpler - and cheaper
a distance, sea transport and residential use, segment is still quite focused on the traditional - products. Although there are a number of
among many others. VSAT/IP is frequently services that have already reached throughout potential markets for satellite services, includ-
used in mobile environments, such as ships, Brazil - mainly corporate Internet access. Still, ing for video, IPTV and IP telephony, there are
boats and road vehicles. Since the technology there is a great opportunity to expand in mar- no products, as of yet, to support the needs of
is constantly evolving, what makes the differ- ket niches. these markets.
ence in this market, and contributes to the con-
solidation of the new model, is the know-how Regarding regional reach, the North and IP technology via satellite opens up the pos-
of companies that operate these technologies. Northeast of Brazil are areas that basically sibility of getting into new niches, such as the
This innovative business model is already do not have much satellite service support. It virtual education - distance learning - seg-
in use in Brazil and other countries of Latin is exactly in these regions, however, that we ment, for example. This area is quite recent,
Issue 2006 39
cheap solutions; these would, undoubtedly, art services or Internet service providers, ISP,
promote massive market growth. located in remote places. IP via satellite is also
of great interest to VoIP and cable TV compa-
Another promising possibility is to develop nies that provide Internet access, and to audio-
specialised, cost effective, technology to meet visual content providers interested in distribut-
the needs of speciﬁc market segments, such ing video over IP.
but has great growth potential in many parts as for global coverage for commercial planes,
of the world. The companies that currently for ships and mobile environments. We might As we broaden the range of services available
lead in these new niches are the ones that have even be able, one day, to talk about VoIP via over IP via satellite, the clientsʼ proﬁles have
sufﬁcient available bandwidth to meet the de- satellite for cars. changed as a result. We see this especially in
mand. To differentiate themselves, satellite IP large countries where there are many remote
service suppliers have added value to existing Another important opportunity is the corpo- regions that are not served by traditional tele-
technology by establishing partnerships with rate segment where companies require safety communications networks. At the start, such
software development companies. In the case and redundancy for their communications and clients tend to request no more than the basic,
of virtual education, they have developed pro- need to work with more than one link. The standard services, such as Internet access. In
grammes to manage virtual classes that enable back-ups in these cases are often via satellite. time, however, they become more demand-
total, controlled interactivity between students Businesses also have many other functional ing, just as in the cities. In cities, not so long
and teachers. requirements that can be well served by IP ago, dial-up Internet access was the rule; to-
via satellite, such as videoconferencing, voice day, users are increasingly demanding faster
We talk more and more about more speciﬁc, and image communication to remote branches, broadband connections; now rural areas are
less generic, solutions to our usersʼ needs; al- tele-control and video-surveillance. undergoing the same sort of evolution and are
though many businesses might need a solution beginning to make demands that go beyond a
for the same problem, each company wants a simple increase in connection.
solution tailored to its own internal require-
ments. The service providerʼs task - not neces- New signal distribution technologies, such as
sarily the satellite operatorʼs - is to develop a WiFi and WiMAX, will play a very important
portfolio of robust products that can be readily role in facing the challenge of bringing access
adapted to deal with the clientʼs demands for in the most effective way possible to ever more
manageable input to his own systems. distant regions. Because these new technolo-
gies cost substantially less than the traditional
DVB-RCS sets the standards for equipment alternatives, they hold out hope for the digital
compatibility. By following this standard, inclusion of a great number of otherwise eco-
equipment from any manufacturer will func- nomically un-reachable people.
tion with the equipment of any other. This
makes the consolidation of this new IP via sat- Over 50 per cent of Brazilʼs 15,000 Brazil-
ellite businesses model possible. The certiﬁca- ian municipalities have no broadband access.
tion of the companies that produce the DVB- Given the continuing reductions in the cost of
RCS equipment, as well as certiﬁcation by the IP via satellite, IP via satellite is becoming an
Dutch institution Satlabs, guarantees that any increasingly viable way to provide broadband
certiﬁed equipment will work together with access needed to connect the countryʼs remot-
the equipment of any other manufacturer that It is also possible to use IP connectivity via est regions with the rest of the world.
is also certiﬁed. This has brought free choice satellite to meet the needs of governments. For
to the market, increased competition among example, in some countries of Latin America In this sort of scenario, hybrid networks, which
equipment suppliers, reduced equipment pric- where public security is a serious issue, a great combine various technologies that communi-
es and decreased market entry barriers. Today, many robberies take place within the public cate among themselves, are commonly used to
several American, European and Iranian com- transport systems. Aiming to reduce this, some provide low cost access to a variety of loca-
panies are homologated. governments have, as a security measure, ad- tions under difﬁcult and varying conditions.
opted the precaution of ﬁlming passengers at Inclusion programmes that combine a variety
There has been a great leap in the traditional bus stops with VHS cameras, recording all the of different technologies are needed to meet
VSAT business model. The most important people who embark on public transport. To- the differing needs of cities of all kinds and
progress made by the IP via satellite segment, day, this procedure requires recording in loco sizes. The satellite is a vital part of the digital
however, is seen in the new IP services now and then transporting the tapes to a produc- inclusion solution, not only in Brazil but in all
available rather than in the VSAT technology tion centre before one can begin to examine countries of Latin America.
itself. Now that we can transmit video via IP, the material. With IP via satellite technology,
for example, the technology automatically fos- it would be possible to use an IP camera - a
ters the development of new services and new webcam - with a satellite connection to the
business models. The changes in this market security system. This would enable real time
are continuous and dynamic. Each new solu- data transmission and monitoring - a much
tion that technology brings, especially for more efﬁcient and secure way of dealing with
connectivity, opens the doors to new market a critical problem.
niches. Economics, of course, plays a major
role in market development. In the USA, for At present, the use of IP via satellite is of in-
example, there is a growing demand for really terest not only to telecommunication operators
that choose this solution to offer state-of- the-
40 Issue 2006