|Issue:||Asia-Pacific III 2001|
|Topic:||VSAT Networks Solve Asia’s Communications Challenges|
|Title:||Vice-President and General Manager for Asia|
|Organisation:||Gilat Satellite Networks|
Markets for broadband satellite communications networks based on Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) technology are expanding in Asia. Corporations and SMEs are adopting VSAT networks because they provide a reliable, high-performance alternative to terrestrial networks for compelling value. VSAT delivers the Web and other IP-centric applications at reasonable speeds anywhere in a given country. Here Erez Antebi, Vice-President and General Manager for Asia, Africa and the Pacific Rim for Gilat, provides examples of leading Asian corporations using VSAT networks.
For decision-makers in Asia’s public and private sectors, telecommunications challenges have become very well defined. They include bringing broadband Internet connectivity to consumers, bringing high-speed interactive data services to corporations and Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and bringing essential voice communications to rural populations. Satellite networks based on Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) technology are established as a preferred solution for meeting these diverse communications needs. Asia is proving to be fertile ground for VSAT networking in the broadband Internet, enterprise networking and public telephony markets. With large Internet-savvy populations and rapidly growing economies, Asia has a surging demand for broadband connectivity. VSATs create an instant infrastructure-a cost-effective and immediate solution that provides connectivity across Asia’s thousands of islands and remote population centres. Over the past 20 years, hundreds of thousands of VSAT sites have been installed worldwide. VSATs are Natural Fit for Public Telephony Market Many parts of the world, no matter how developed, lack telephone access. Many government agencies face an ongoing challenge to provide basic telephony services throughout their countries. To meet this challenge, many governments worldwide have turned to VSAT networks for a low-cost, reliable public telephony solution. VSAT networks represent the most cost-effective solution for communities in areas where public services telephone network (PSTN) services are unavailable, overloaded or too expensive. Quick to install and easy to manage, VSAT networks are ideal for meeting Universal Service Obligations (USOs) and replacing outdated infrastructure. Public Call Offices (PCOs) and payphones can be established in any location. It is well known that prior to choosing a VSAT network to meet their rural telephony requirements, many governments also consider other satellite-based technologies such as Iridium or ASIS. However, the cost per minute of those services, measured in tens of cents or even dollars, is often deemed too high. The cost per minute of a VSAT public telephony network is only two cents. That low cost allows even poor citizens to use the phones. Governments making investments to ensure their USOs are met are gratified to see that the services are used frequently. Once VSAT satellite telephony networks are in place, citizens who use them often begin demanding high-speed Internet service. As citizens become more Internet savvy, the prospect of high-speed Internet access becomes more appealing-to allow downloading of media-rich content and use of more complex applications. VSAT terminals support multiple telephone channels and an Ethernet port for personal computer (PC) connection. Delivering toll-quality voice and IP transmission, these VSAT networks represent an ideal solution for small office/home office users (SOHO), and Internet Café services. Satellite public telephony networks have been deployed worldwide by telecomm-unications carriers such as Telkom South Africa (3,000 sites), Colombia’s Compartel (4,500 sites), Peru’s Telerep (2,000 sites) and Mexico’s Telmex. As you can see, many Latin American governments have provided the subsidies required for major telcos to fund these public telephony networks. In Asia, governments have lagged behind in providing these subsidies, but are now beginning to pick up the pace. Recently, the Xinjiang Uygur Posts and Telecommunications Administration deployed China’s first, large-scale satellite public telephony network. The network encompasses PCOs in more than 1,000 villages-enabling on-demand voice and fax services to an area the size of Western Europe. Also, Mitratel recently deployed a satellite public telephony network incorporating high-speed Internet access for citizens in rural Kalimantan. The Goal: Broadband for Everyone The introduction of broadband Internet Protocol (IP) technology benefits everyone in the global communications equation. While the rollout of broadband-enabled infrastructure in major markets may be proceeding at a frantic pace, millions of homes and small businesses will remain out of the loop for years to come. VSAT providers are spearheading the drive to eliminate this ‘digital divide’ by offering two-way Internet connectivity that can be delivered now. VSAT technology presents an exciting platform for launching the era of broadband. At many times the speed of standard modems, satellite’s innate multicasting infrastructure is ideal for downloading content-rich media, upgrading business applications and facilitating a two-way stream of interactivity. It enables businesses that have come to depend on the web in all facets of conducting their daily affairs to leverage the full benefits of basic dedicated connectivity-meaning no more busy signals and no more phone lines monopolised for Internet use. Best of all, transmission via satellite is ubiquitous, guaranteeing that the broadband revolution delivers digital information uniformly to all users and all locations. Securing the benefits of a high-speed, ‘always-on’ connection to the Internet is especially important to consumers and small businesses in areas that may not be served by terrestrial broadband technology. Broadband, two-way satellite Internet services have already been launched successfully in the United States (StarBand Communications), Brazil (StarOne), Europe (Tiscali), Australia (Cable & Wireless Optus) and India (Bharti Broadband). In China, VSAT technology is being used by Shanghai Jianhua Satellite Network Company to provide high-speed Internet access to consumers in the Shanghai area. VSATs are also being used by Jingxin Hero to bring broadband Internet connectivity to businesses throughout China. In Japan, VSAT systems are helping bring Internet access to schools throughout the country. In a programme of the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, the VSATs are enabling schools to provide safe, high-speed delivery of educational web content, as well as video conferencing. In the future, that VSAT network will likely be used for digital content distribution via IP multicasting. VSATs Meet Complex Needs of Enterprise Market Over the past two decades, many of the world’s largest retailers, petroleum marketers, auto makers and financial services firms have made VSAT networks their platform of choice for a wide range of interactive data, audio and video applications. Over time, the focus has expanded to include not only traditional point-of-sale applications, but also IP networking and broadband applications. Perhaps the most compelling example of the need for broadband connectivity is in the retailing sector, encompassing restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, traditional retailers and automotive dealerships. The most progressive companies in this sector are migrating their legacy applications to a web-based environment. They require secure, persistent and reliable broadband Internet access across broad geographic regions-including many areas not served by terrestrial broadband technologies. Some examples of the innovative companies in this sector deploying VSAT networks include: the U.S. Postal Service VSAT network, now at 10,000 sites with potential to exceed 30,000 sites; a 2,000-site network for the Holiday Inn hotel chain; and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. All of these enterprises are using VSAT networks to secure the high bandwidth and IP support needed to deploy mission-critical store polling, inventory manage-ment, credit authorisation, intranet, and enterprise-wide e-mail applications. VSAT also provides these companies with a ready platform to support any emerging broadband applications-such as video, streaming media and other rich content delivery-that they may wish to implement in the future. Unique among VSAT network providers, we have recently incorporated new technologies into our products that optimise Internet traffic over satellite-making IP-based applications such as file delivery and web surfing considerably faster than most terrestrial connections will allow, with greater reliability. As a broadcast medium, VSAT networks are also inherently superior platforms for applications that require the distribution of bandwidth-intensive content from a single source to a large number of remote sites. Only satellite IP multicasting technology can do this at broadband speed with complete ubiquity. Terrestrial unicast networks must send multiple separate copies of the same information to reach these multiple recipients. VSAT networks can multicast a single copy of a given file to a virtually unlimited number of end-user sites simultaneously-using the same bandwidth for 1,000 end-user sites as would normally be assigned to one site. This more efficient use of network and server resources frees up valuable bandwidth, allowing customers to do more with their current infrastructure and avoid costly upgrades. In the Asian enterprise market, some of the most noteworthy uses of VSAT networks are in the Indian financial services market. One of the best-known examples is the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE), a fully automated trading system that differs dramatically from the conventional, floor-based, open-outcry system. Because VSAT technology enabled NSE to implement the country’s first online stock exchange, the demand for NSE’s services has increased tremendously. As a result, the NSE VSAT network has grown to 3,000 sites in more than 20 cities-making it Asia’s largest VSAT network. In Taiwan, hundreds of petroleum marketers are poised to benefit from the versatility of VSAT networks. GigaXtend Inform-ation Service Centre, a provider of outsourced automated services, expects to provide VSAT networking to several hundred gas station/convenience stores throughout the island to help them increase business efficiency. Among the long list of features available to these petroleum marketers are fast credit authorisation and pay-at-the-pump services, automatic teller machines (ATMs), advertising and e-commerce applications, and online fuel tank monitoring. VSAT networks are also now used in the Philippines by telecommunications leaders PLDT and Textron-for a wide range of interactive data applications and enterprise-wide Internet access. In the consumer broadband, enterprise and public telephony markets, the role of VSAT networks is expected to expand throughout the world-enabling every-one, everywhere to participate in the information revolution.