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Data Service Growth Drives...A year of change and SATCOM innovation
By Dr. Thomas Fröhlich, Chief Executive Officer, WORK Microwave


During 2018, the satellite industry continued its evolution as today’s operators are delivering higher quality broadcast and high-speed broadband offerings over constrained networks. To drive continued success, they need flexible, scalable and future-proof SATCOM solutions in order to achieve those goals.

The past year was exciting for WORK Microwave. The company experienced strong growth in SATCOM sales, building on the success of several major customer wins over the last three years.

In 2018, WORK Microwave was awarded the largest single order in the company’s history by a key system integrator. The firm’s ground station equipment will be used within teleports to support a high-speed satellite network that features a wide range of next-generation technology advancements, including higher frequency bands such as Q/V band, more powerful solid-state amplifiers and more efficient antenna designs, allowing 500 Gbps throughput.

Looking beyond the 2018 successes, here are four key takeaways about the company believes the SATCOM industry is headed in the future and how WORK Microwave is helping operators address the challenges they face today.

Pivotal Roles
As mentioned earlier, change is rampant in the satellite industry and that will continue during 2019. The company is witnessing significant growth in data services and that is causing frequencies to go higher and bandwidth to increase. This creates new business opportunities as well as challenges for satellite operators.

Whether operators respond with GEO, MEO, or LEO, they have multiple options to fulfill the demand for more data. HTS (High Throughput Satellite), UHTS (Ultra High Throughput Satellite), UHDS (Ultra High Density Satellite), and mega LEO constellations may provide the most efficiencies and cost savings.

WORK Microwave is helping operators address this trend through the firm’s multi-band converters. The company shipped more than 1,000 frequency converters in 2018. That massive number demonstrates that the industry is tackling growth in data services and is continuously exploring higher frequencies.

Satellite performance is improving and that, in turn, requires superior quality ground equipment to enhance factors, such as phase noise, group delay, and stability. WORK Microwave’s SATCOM analog and digital solutions meet these challenges head on, helping teleport operators, satellite operators and service providers realize their business objectives, including the critical need for flexibility, scalability, and a future-proof infrastructure.

One of the ways operators are being enabled is to adapt to future requirements for data services through the company’s end-to-end solution for wideband applications. WORK Microwave’s AX-80 Series of FPGA-based satellite modem, modulator, and demodulator platform supports the DVB-S2X standard for ultra-wideband transponders up to full 256APSK and 500 Msps. Through an all-IP structure, the platform supports native network operation as well as data streaming over IP, providing satellite operators with the flexibility that is critical in today’s fast-changing connected world. WORK Microwave offers the first commercially available, end-to-end wideband solution.

Q and V-Bands Heating Up
Operators are looking more and more at Q- and - band, going beyond the capabilities of Ka-band platforms. Recently, WORK Microwave introduced the industry’s first V-band block upconverter as an available product to help operators keep pace with this important requirement.

The company believes Q and V bands will shape the blueprint of future broadband communications systems, as these bands will significantly enhance the performance of the next generation of high throughput satellite programs. Moreover, they will make more bandwidth available for users in Ka-band and will also reduce the number of hubs required. This, in turn, will help drive down cost per bit. WORK Microwave’s Q- and V-band technology has been successfully deployed by operators around the world for more than four years.

Navigation Simulators in High Demand
Today there is a growing need for multi-frequency/multi-RF simulators in high-end market applications. During 2019, the company will further invest in the professional navigation simulators business. With more than 30 years of SATCOM expertise in analog, RF and digital design, WORK Microwave knows what it takes to optimize professional navigation simulators.

An RF-based GNSS signal simulator is the definitive tool to validate the performance of GNSS receivers and systems for research and development, manufacturing, and system integration testing. With 12 years of experience in the navigation field, enhancements to the firm’s Multi-GNSS RF Navigation simulator will be completed. The focus will be in developing high-quality RF features that support users to realize scenarios which meet the challenges of today’s global navigation needs.

Some highlights that are currently being addressed include realistic multi-path simulations, intentional and non-intentional interference as well as support for regulated services. This is another example of the continuous innovation and synergy across product teams happening at WORK Microwave. 

Customized Engineering Services = Innovation
Given the changes and growth in the SATCOM industry, the expectation is that there will be significant technology innovation in 2019, especially in the areas of digital, IP and FPGA solutions.

Innovation occurs when there is collaboration. WORK Microwave launched an engineering services program to help other businesses with everything from design and development to consultancy, prototyping, and small series production. What makes the firm’s engineering services unique is that complete end-to-end product development and production processes are offered, with electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, manufacturing and testing expertise all under one roof, enabling the company to resolve any design challenge.

In the future, the demand for higher quality broadcast and data services will continue to grow. Satellite operators can respond by partnering with bold and innovative technology providers that support higher throughput, higher frequency bands, and offer engineering service expertise.

Thomas Fröhlich has more than 20 years of professional experience in space and security systems. Prior to leading WORK Microwave, he held engineering, project management, and executive positions for the Airbus Group in Germany and France. He has a degree in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in engineering from the Technical University of Munich.