SP: Please provide a high level overview of the Global VSAT Forum (GVF): Mission and goals, presence, current undertakings.
Hartshorn: The Global VSAT Forum is a non-profit, international industry association, which was established to represent the interests of VSAT system and service providers, as well as end users. Since its inception, GVF has become the single and unified voice of the global satellite communications industry, bringing together organizations engaged in the delivery of advanced broadband and narrowband satellite services to consumers, and commercial and government enterprises worldwide.
We currently have more than 200 members representing every sector of the satellite industry, including fixed and mobile satellite operators, satellite network operators, teleports, satellite earth station manufacturers, system integrators, value added and enhanced service providers, telecom carriers, consultants, law firms, and end users.
SP: The GVF is actively involved in industry initiatives about interference avoidance and best practices for satcom operation. Could you please elaborate on the main initiatives being taken worldwide to deal with the important issue of satellite carrier interference and how GVF is involved?
Hartshorn: GVF has been extremely active in the satellite interference mitigation initiatives. We are working closely with other groups engaged in interference mitigation to jointly resolve these issues. Our focus is very much on the proactive measures, aimed at promoting best practices and therefore reducing errors and instances of interference. It has been proven that a large proportion of interference is indeed due to human error and / or equipment failure We have two major initiatives which we are promoting worldwide:
- Quality Products initiative – GVF’s Mutual Recognition Arrangement Working Group (MRA-WG) provides type-approvals testing and earth-station characterizations for industry. The GVF Satcom Products Catalogue enables the global user community to cross-reference which products have been authorized.
- Training – We work with training partners across the globe to deliver our Training and Certification program, which is the global standard for satellite communications training.
This year we have made a number of important milestones for these initiatives. One of the biggest milestones this year was with the broadcast community and thanks to a collaboration with the RFI-EUI, launching a two-prong effort to improve the quality of satellite newsgathering services worldwide. The first phase of a program tested operators of satellite newsgathering systems on the skills necessary to reduce the occurrence of SNG-based interference.
Another key milestone related to users was the issue of a new document defining the applicable performance requirements and test procedures for GVF Type Approval of “Comms on the Move” mobile satellite communications antenna systems (GVF105). Of course, this is also particularly relevant to SNG trucks, but also many other user groups, using mobile equipment, such as the military and maritime. The document is intended to serve as a best-practices guide for interpreting international regulatory specifications for the purpose of GVF type approval of Communications On The Move (COTM) VSAT terminals. It adds guidance for testing parameters that are unique to COTM terminals, and should greatly improve the process and understanding for those involved. GVF is also in coordination with DOD regarding COTM earth station testing and approvals.
SP: Being interference such an important topic for the industry, do you envision that the proliferation of high throughput satellites worldwide will require even more emphasis, and perhaps more complex and systematic processes or technologies to deal with interference issues?
Hartshorn: High Throughput Satellites are already setup in such a way that minimizes interference. Naturally, it depends on the source of interference, but generally speaking because you have spot beams serving any given sight when a source within that spot beam is generating interference, it is not going to impact other spot beams on that platform in the same way other services have experienced. Further, the HTS services rolling out have an inherent architecture whereby the satellite operator is aware of each site coming live in the network, and as such is more able to track carriers and readily identify the interference and resolve it. So industry through these types of services is taking huge steps in addressing interference issue.
SP: C-band has been eyed for years by the mobile sector as a potential new source of spectrum. Can you please tell us how real the threat to C band is? What steps do you think the satellite industry needs to take to educate regulators, international organizations and telecom operators about how critical and diverse services that rely on satellite C band are?
Hartshorn: The spectrum battle is a huge issue currently and I am heading up a group working to secure that all-important spectrum. 2011 revenue from satellite networks operating in the C-bands was $3.1 billion  . WRC-15 Agenda Item 1.1 puts C band and other satellite bands on the table as candidate bands for expansion for International Mobile Telephony (IMT). The terrestrial wireless industry has again identified satellite C-band spectrum as a priority for their services, but they are also pursuing most other satellite bands. They are lobbying governments now, and they have learned from their losses at WRC-2007.
It is critical that a global Satellite Spectrum Campaign be co-ordinated immediately to more forcefully address the broadband wireless industry efforts being made in preparation for WRC-15. The urgency of this requirement has been underlined recently. For example:
- Satellite services are being severely disrupted by interference from terrestrial wireless services in the “extended” and standard C-band frequencies.
- Yvon Henri, Chief, Space Services Department, Radiocommunications Bureau of the ITU, told an audience at the 2012 CASBAA Conference that our industry would need “courage” to address the wireless industry’s challenge at WRC-15 which, compared with WRC-07, would be “terrible”.
- Wireless sharing with satellite services is being considered — and opposed by the GVF Regulatory Working Group — at C, Ku, Ka and V-band in national regulatory proceedings in every major region of the world.
To address these challenges, GVF has revived and is escalating activities of the Satellite Spectrum Initiative (www.satellite-spectrum-initiative.com), which was originally formed in preparation for WRC-07. This global Satellite Spectrum Campaign is leading and co-ordinating efforts of the regional associations, as well as national-level allies that GVF works with in Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, China, Russia, U.A.E., and the U.S., among others. User groups, like broadcasters, military, the UN, civil aviation and other allied organizations are also being engaged at an unprecedented level.
A best-effort response is already underway through GVF and its allies. Leading industry stakeholders are providing support that is being applied to strengthen GVF’s role as the central point of coordination for the global Satellite Spectrum Campaign, while regional partners garner further support at the local level. The campaign’s regional and national-level allies — e.g. APSCC, CASBAA, ESOA, SIA, ASSI, ASISAT, NASC, BSSPF, VSAI, etc. — are being funded separately to conduct complementary work in their respective regions or nations. Effective leveraging of local presence, expertise and resources are being co-ordinated through GVF’s global Campaign.
HTS London Roundtable
SP: The GVF will be hosting an HTS roundtable with key players in London. Could you please tell us what will be the focus of this roundtable and the kind of questions that you expect the expert panels will be able to shed light on?
Hartshorn: The roundtable, “The Game Changer in Action,” will explore a wide range of issues pertaining to the massive growth opportunities for the market for satellite-based broadband solutions. It includes speakers from all cross sections of the industry, including operators, manufacturers, users, and regulators. We will be addressing a wide range of key issues, including:
- How high is High Throughput?
- How high can High Throughput go?
- Is HTS another example of evolution in the satellite industry, or a game-changing revolution?
- Is all High Throughput alike?
- Are operators taking only the Ka band route to new services delivery?
- Is there a single uniform, global geography and marketplace?
- How are regional market variations being reflected in the offerings?
- Why are hybrid technology solutions to be positioned?
- What do the users need from HTS?
For further information, please visit http://www.uk-emp.co.uk/emp-home/current-events/hts-london-roundtable-2013/
 Satellite Industry Concerns About the Future of C Band (3400 – 4200 MHz): Satellite Industry Association, September 2012
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