Northern Sky Research

Comtech EF Data and Intellian Enhance SatComs at Sea

Nov 16th, 2011 by Jose Del Rosario   More from this Analyst | Profile

Comtech EF Data and antenna manufacturer Intellian Technologies announced in September 2011 the technology integration of the v-Series antennas and the ROSS Open Antenna Management (ROAM) protocol.  The integration is designed to enable satellite VSAT antenna systems on maritime vessels to globally roam across multiple satellite beams, maintaining connectivity moving through different satellite footprints and enhancing communication capabilities at sea.  

Although the announcement did not point to or identify a specific application, the solution outlined above appears positioned to tap wireless backhaul in the maritime sector. Indeed, Comtech is the leader in wireless backhaul via satellite equipment where the market is expected to show steady growth within a 10-year period. In considering where the best opportunities for expansion lie, or in looking at the market’s roadmap, the solution mix shows steady growth levels for most systems currently being used.  In NSR’s view, however, the clearest wireless backhaul opportunities, or the best prospects, reside in Mobility Platforms.

NSR expects Mobility Platform in-service units to outpace Fixed Land Tower installations by the 2015-2016 timeframe and grow at more robust levels until 2020. Comtech’s partnership with Intellian appears to be coming at the right time in terms of preparing for the eventual realization of this market development.

In NSR’s view, Comtech is addressing the maritime market since this is the most logical in terms of all other mobile assets that can be tapped. For one, interviews from NSR’s Wireless Backhaul via Satellite, 5th Edition study indicated that SCPC has historically been implemented in cruise ships and large passenger vessels. Among the other early options available are trains in the land-based market and commercial airlines in the aeronautical segment that can be targeted as well.  

Comtech’s presence in the maritime market has been challenged where TDMA is now the fastest growing solution or is becoming a preferred platform due to its value proposition of lower CAPEX compared to SCPC as well as growing bandwidth efficiency. In our view, the reason for Comtech’s targeting of the maritime sector is to protect its installed base from churn towards TDMA as well as to gain further inroads in the Mobility Platform segment over time.

The battle lines for winning the cruise ship and large passenger vessel market are certainly being drawn.  Bandwidth requirements for future applications will continue to grow exponentially for the data and video needs of high paying passengers demanding large volumes of bandwidth to support applications that reside in their smart phones, laptops and tablet PCs. And here, CAPEX and OPEX considerations will determine the eventual winner.

Bottom Line
For the moment, Comtech’s beam roaming feature is a way of improving its Mobility Platform offering, which may or may not considerably improve its standing against TDMA in the wireless backhaul sector since the solution can and will likely be implemented in TDMA systems as well. In the end, Comtech’s partnership or initiative with Intellian is probably just the beginning in a series of initiatives to improve its market position in the Mobility Platform segment.

Information for this article was extracted from NSR's report Wireless Backhaul via Satellite, 5th Edition