Intelsat aims to integrate satellite into a telco world

Intelsat’s SVP of Global Sales for Media & Networks Jean Philippe Gillet spoke at Fierce Wireless’ recent private wireless virtual event.

Intelsat likes to tout its ability to integrate satellite and terrestrial networks. And Gillet said, “The future for us is really to be integrated into a telco world.”

He talked about some of the high-profile activities Intelsat has announced recently.

For example, earlier this year Intelsat and Microsoft said they worked together to demonstrate a private wireless network. The demonstration was held at Intelsat’s office in McLean, Virginia. It established a reference architecture for deploying private LTE and 5G networks over satellite to enterprise locations around the world.

“What we have demonstrated with the Azure team is really around providing IoT connectivity locally,” said Gillet. “In that case, we did it in the U.S. So, we provided CBRS. But at the same time, you could provide a 5G private network extension. So, it's all about how you take the stuff that you have at HQ and how you are able to do that anywhere.”

Gillet also said that Intelsat is working on “next generation satellite,” which is a software-defined satellite service. “That means that we are able to allocate throughput wherever there is demand,” he said. “Before, we had fixed beams. And now, this is going to be a lot more flexible. But on top of this, this is going to be really integrated into a pure 5G network. That means lower cost to integrate and to roam with our services.”

He said by integrating Intelsat’s satellites with terrestrial 5G networks, there will “be seamless roaming between space-based services and the terrestrial services.” And this type of network is of interest to maritime and aviation enterprises, which often aren't connected to terrestrial networks.

In March, Intelsat said it was working with the vendor Marlink to offer increased Ku and C-band satellite connectivity to maritime customers in the cruise ship and merchant shipping sectors.

Intelsat is also working with Orange Mali to bring 3G and 4G connectivity to hard-to-reach areas in Mali, the eighth largest country in Africa.

Gillet said for countries such as Mali the problem is closing the digital divide where there isn’t much fixed infrastructure in far-flung places. “How do I expand in a quicker way?” he said. “A satellite link is deployed in a day or so, versus waiting for connectivity that would require either microwave or terrestrial solutions.”