ALL.SPACE CCO on Redefining the Ground Segment with Smarter, More Flexible, Multi-link Connectivity

ground segment

It’s no secret that the U.S. Department of Defense and allied coalition countries continue to face more capable space adversaries, underscoring the need for new ground capabilities to stay ahead of threats to critical satellite infrastructure.

One of the military’s industry partners working to define a new paradigm for satcom ground resiliency is ALL.SPACE, which is launching the world’s first full-performance multi-orbit, multi-link SMART terminal. Recently, Chief Commercial Officer Scott Sprague shared his thoughts on the military’s changing requirements and how ALL.SPACE is leading the charge for a more resilient and flexible ground segment.

Government Satellite Report (GSR): Can you tell our readers a bit about ALL.SPACE. What types of solutions does the company develop, and what markets does it serve?

Scott Sprague: We’re a pre-revenue deep tech company building a smart terminal specifically focused on supporting the warfighter. We offer a unique solution that has never been fielded before –  a terminal that communicates with multiple satellites in different constellations simultaneously. Our initial market focus is the defense market – specifically, the U.S. government, NATO, and Five Eyes countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States). As we evolve our technology from a volume and cost perspective, we’ll start to look at serving other commercially-defined markets.

GSR: What is a Smart Terminal? How is this technology different from the terminals and antennas that the military is currently utilizing?

Scott Sprague: Most of what the military has fielded today, other than at the very highest end of the market with large defense contractors, has been single-beam parabolic technology. Those antennas are very efficient at talking to a single geostationary satellite at one time, but do not support the US military’s desire to communicate with multiple satellites and orbits and across multiple bands simultaneously.

Our new SMART terminal allows us to have multiple, full-performance links so that when you turn on an additional link, it doesn’t affect the performance of the first link, and you can communicate with different satellite assets across different orbits simultaneously. That means the military can provide a very high level of resiliency across their communication paths.

If you think about what’s going on recently with the conflict in the Ukraine, where Russia has been able to jam and interrupt communication networks, or how China is utilizing technology to disable satellites in orbit, the ability to be able to communicate with multiple satellites over different orbital constellations provides a level of security that hasn’t been possible before.

GSR: We continue to hear the military talk about the need for multi-orbit and multi-band satellite communications. What trends and challenges are driving these requirements in the military today?

Scott Sprague: If you think about satellite industry over the last decade, it was predominantly GEO-based satellite assets – Ku, Ka, C, and some X-band. The only non-geostationary assets other than military assets were on SES’s O3b MEO constellation. So, the government had limited options to utilize multiple assets simultaneously to provide resiliency in their networks.

But over the last few years, with the launch of new constellations at LEO, and with SES’s new O3b mPOWER MEO satellites coming into play, the government is afforded a vast variety of satellite assets that they can utilize from a commercial perspective to augment what they have on the government side, both in LEO but also in GEO to provide a more resilient network for the warfighter.

But to do that, there needs to be changes on the ground segment on the terminal side. The military needs terminal assets that would allow them to use these different satellite constellations. That’s what had been lagging behind until the development of the ALL.SPACE SMART terminal range.

GSR: What would true multiband multi-orbit comms look like for the military? What kind of impact would it have on warfighters at the tip of the spear?

Scott Sprague: Today’s warfighter must field more pieces of equipment to communicate with all the constellations available to them over Ku and Ka-band. Theoretically, a deployment could have up to five or ten different satellite terminals in the field that would help them facilitate communication to multiple satellite assets. Or, they would have to switch out hardware in the field associated with a single parabolic.

A true multi-band, multi-beam terminal significantly simplifies what’s fielded to support resilient communications. That’s important because increasingly, enlisted soldiers, not trained communications specialists, must deploy these communication devices in the field. So, simplifying the ground side still allows organizations to quickly deploy technology and access multiple satellite assets.

This plug-and-play capability is critical to the seamless deployment of both multi-orbit multi-band satellite communication assets as well as ground infrastructure. And that really is the focus of ALL.SPACE and the ALL.SPACE SMART terminal: to facilitate that very quick and seamless deployment of a resilient satellite-based communication network.

GSR: What is needed to make this concept of multi-band, multi-orbit satellite communications a reality? Does it require changes in the ground segment? Space segment?

Scott Sprague: When you think of the goal of being able to access a multi-band, multi-orbit satellite communications network, the reality is that the satellites are there today, but by design, they do not talk to each other.. To be able to leverage those satellite assets, things needed to change on the ground with a terminal that would allow an end user to access those different satellite networks simultaneously, bringing that information back to a central device, and then consolidating and managing that information via the intelligence inherent in a smart terminal.

GSR: We’re seeing a proliferation of new satellite constellations and new orbits. Why are services like these exciting for the military and why would a service like O3b mPOWER be used for today’s military and the military’s modern requirements?

Scott Sprague: The proliferation of new constellations, including new non-geostationary constellations, brings a set of capabilities to the U.S. military that never existed before now. LEO networks have very low latency, high throughput, and mostly global coverage. Those satellites can support some of the evolving use cases that the warfighter has.

When you look at SES’s O3b mPOWER network, it combines both low latency and very high throughput. It also has extreme flexibility given the smart design of the O3b mPOWER satellites that allow end users to move capacity and coverage around on a case-by-case basis. With thousands of beams associated with the O3b mPOWER network, it provides unprecedented coverage and flexibility to warfighters.

Another unique feature of the O3b mPOWER network is you can go from terminal to terminal, and you don’t have to go back to a gateway. Why is that important? It adds resiliency and security into the network for the warfighter. Think about the ability to go ship to ship directly via an O3b mPOWER link. That kind of capability is extremely powerful for the US Navy. As previously mentioned, our focus at ALL.SPACE is to support the defense market first and foremost. Having a multi-orbit communication package that can be supported with a single ground terminal will allow communications across allied forces utilizing similar dispersed ground networks. When you look at O3b mPOWER, the ability to communicate from terminal to terminal definitely supports that type of inter-operational communication between allies.

GSR: Can ALL.SPACE terminals work with O3b mPOWER, and what advantages will the military receive from leveraging both our terminal and the O3b network?

Scott Sprague: The ALL.SPACE terminal is designed and configured to work with O3b mPOWER.  Our terminal’s advantage is when it’s coupled with the O3b mPOWER network, it can communicate directly with O3b mPOWER, while at the same time simultaneously being connected to a GEO satellite, whether that’s a commercial GEO satellite or over government-owned geostationary satellite like WGS. And again, that gives a tremendous amount of resiliency and end-user flexibility in choosing which satellite assets to use to support their missions.

With the O3b mPOWER network coming into play, our ALL.SPACE terminal is very easy to deploy on a global basis. So, whether our terminal is on board a ship or on top of a U.S. or allied vehicle, it’s very easy to deploy to give users immediate access to the O3b mPOWER network.

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