Nicole Robinson is no stranger to the benefits of transforming satellite bandwidth into highly applicable services. Her background in serving the US Government is all about customising solutions to meet rigorous and varied demands. With the launch of SES Plus, she sees satellite services provision as we know it today taking a radical and much needed turn, to benefit both the data and the government worlds. She shares her thoughts.
Can you tell us how SES Plus came about?
SES Plus originated from SES’s recognition that the nature of satellite data connectivity has changed completely. In particular, the explosion of data over the past couple of years has driven demand to an all-time high. What’s more, different industries have different needs, and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach no longer works.
SES Plus brings together our upcoming GEO High Throughput Satellite (HTS) architecture, our GEO widebeams and the O3b system, together with new product development in ways that are customised to the needs of customers. We’re able to harmonise all of that and bring collective value to them, whether for the commercial or the government segment in a fully integrated and seamless solution.
What do you find most exciting about SES Plus?
I’ve seen how government customers differ from traditional businesses in a few unique ways. For instance, government networks typically cover much wider geographical areas – with many sites located in remote regions - , and involve stringent security to enable connectivity in vehicles or for soldiers in the field, and also for more permanent installations like military bases. These require highly customised solutions, not just bandwidth, to suit unique mission specifications.
So I found the concept of SES Plus very refreshing, even before it got its name, because of what it represents and how well-aligned it is in enabling real solutions.
In some remote areas of Africa, you could provide raw megahertz to governments for free, but without the right capabilities – or “plus” factors, if you will – they wouldn’t know what to do with it. And that’s what’s so exciting about SES Plus: it’s the services and capabilities that really help to unlock the full potential of connectivity.
Can you tell us more about the new SES Plus ground infrastructure?
SES currently operates a vast and diverse base of ground terminals as well as an extensive network of teleports and hub assets around the world, interconnected by a broadband network of MPLS and fibre. Our first three HTS satellites will be launched in 2017, and this high throughput technology requires a complementary ground segment. The same is true for O3b which requires handing off from one satellite to the next at Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO). Additional enhancements on ground infrastructures are required to fully leverage our space assets.
SES is taking a sharp look at the types of applications users demand, and figuring out how to help transition our customers’ ground and terminal infrastructures so that they can take full advantage of the SES suite of offerings.
How is SES Plus unprecedented compared to what’s currently available?
SES Plus is unprecedented, in that it combines for the very first time the best of our GEO, MEO and HTS offerings with product and application development, tailored to key market segments: enterprise, aeronautical, maritime and government.
By bringing all of these components together, our customers enjoy a massive step-up in both flexibility and scalability. This flexibility allows them to pay only for what they require, thus reducing their capital expenditures; while allowing them to scale up quickly as their needs grow.
SES has a unique proposition for service providers. We have HTS for additional capability and the wide beam to back them up. This added layer of resiliency and redundancy makes SES Plus a multidimensional service, which customers recognise. They select SES because they know the value of this architecture.
So do you think SES Plus is going to be a game changer?
Absolutely. Somebody asked me recently, “Who are your competitors?” to which my response was: “In this market, I don’t see any true competitor delivering such a vast suite of highly customized solutions with a unique layer of both resiliency and redundancy, at such a highly customised level and not with this degree of enhanced space-based capability.”
Do you have any insights into the upcoming SES Plus products?
We are now building a suite of products for governments and some will be available by year-end. There’s one we affectionately refer to internally as the “Plus truck”, a vehicle that’s configurable for different services, including the O3b suite. It can also pull with it an aerostat: a “balloon” that flies about a thousand feet off the ground for intelligence and surveillance. This is really useful in providing enhanced mobile security capabilities on short notice, like surveillance at special events.
We’re now working with several customers to customise the specifications of their very own “Plus trucks”, to be delivered by the end of the year.