Catherine: Paul, judging by your title, you wear a lot of hats! How would you describe the role you play at Globecomm and what part of the mobility business are you most passionate/curious about?
Paul: Hi Catherine. Having been at Globecomm for over 21 years I do indeed wear many hats. Besides being a key Globecomm Ambassador I think my main role revolves around developing and marketing forward-thinking solutions in the global marketplace. As such, the passion for the mobility industry typically revolves around how Globecomm can provide more bits/hertz/dollars in the most robust, end to end manner.
Catherine: Thinking bigger picture, what marketplace trends is Globecomm most focused on and what are the implications of these trends to Globecomm’s business?
Paul: The bigger picture for Globecomm certainly revolves around mobility and providing IoT and Cellular backhaul solutions to the marketplace. But it also revolves around the uptick in government and oil & gas communications requirements and how we are best suited to meet those needs.
Catherine: You recently moderated the highly attended ground system panel at SAT18. What were your key take-aways from the panel discussion?
Paul: The name of the panel was ‘New Antennas, New Opportunities’ and it was a discussion about the new electronically steered / scanned antennas (ESAs) that are exploding onto the marketplace. I had a great time moderating and it was certainly a panel of industry experts on a market disrupting topic which brought us standing room only attendance. The panel discussed the huge growth projections in the ESA market, including in consumer broadband. However, in order to achieve this growth, especially when considering consumer broadband, the ESA manufacturers have the challenge of getting to market quickly with fast-changing antenna elements which are continuously interoperable (amongst various satellite constellations) in a single unit while achieving the RoI of their business model. But their biggest challenge is achieving a commercially successful price point. Thus, ultimately, the old adage for the connectivity industry whether it be satellite or terrestrial remains the same – it’s all about making the solution commercially viable and driving down the cost/bits/hertz.
Catherine: Were there any questions you wished you’d asked the panelists but ran out of time?
Paul: It’s interesting you should ask. You see, although I am a lifetime engineer and technologist, I am less interested in the technology of ESAs than in their promise. I never intended to ask this question so it wasn’t a matter of running out of time but I would have been interested in taking a deeper dive into each company; however, in order to obtain a response, it probably would have required an NDA tied to the forfeiture of my first born. All kidding aside, I would have been curious to ask something like ‘How many units need to be sold per year to close the business model for each company?’
Catherine: As a service provider, what is your perspective on the emerging array of new terminal innovations and are you aligning with any one (or two) suppliers?
Paul: Globecomm’s virtue has always been to be supplier and technology agnostic. We will always address customers’ applications with the technically and commercially smartest solution to meet their needs. We’re excited about the emerging array of new terminal innovations as it gives us ‘more tools for our toolbox’ per se and, as such, rather than aligning with a specific supplier we will always provide the smartest solution to address the specific application and meet or exceed the customers’ needs.
Catherine: Let’s shift focus to IoT. Globecomm recently won MSUA’s top innovation award for your IoT platform. Please describe your innovation and explain how your technical approach differs from the other options in the market?
Paul: Globecomm’s IoT platform aggregates all operational satellite capabilities into one. Again, pointing to our agnostic nature, we aggregate all connectivity providers to present a single point of interface for the customers. Whether cellular, satellite, dual mode or low power connectivity, the platform provides global, multi-connectivity options. It combines several modules that build a uniquely robust and full IoT service delivery engine, through a single interface that allows prioritization of the best, most reliable, least cost connectivity option. This single console is required for total control of connectivity, provisioning, device management and billing—total control of all aspects for continuous connectivity. The online portal allows customers to uniquely segment and customize their connectivity to achieve results that are technologically and commercially suitable for their business models.
Catherine: How are you segmenting the IoT market and what sectors are you targeting for growth?
Paul: We see the IoT market spanning all our markets including government, telecom, maritime, oil & gas, enterprise and broadcast. You see, the Internet of Things may be newer-used terminology but it is truly an evolution of a term that was coined in the 1970s, SCADA (Supervisory control and data acquisition) systems. These are systems that provide for the gathering of data in real time from remote locations in order to control equipment and conditions.
Globecomm has been connecting companies via satellite for more than 20 years ultimately providing these type of SCADA systems. As our corporate customers have become more sophisticated and global in tracking and monitoring assets, they have asked Globecomm to propose innovative and reliable solutions. More recently, technology advances that link the Internet of Things to industry has created an avalanche of applications that need connectivity. In support of the burgeoning Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) there is a great need to connect a multitude of devices through various networks using a plethora of applications to achieve the viable outcome of continuous connectivity. So, in line with Globecomm’s legacy to provide the best solution for our customers’ needs, we provide IoT solutions to all our customers.
Catherine: As Globecomm’s solution offers a hybrid terrestrial/satellite approach, what recommendations do you have for others who are developing hybrid capabilities?
Paul: Obviously, I’d be giving away our secret source by answering this question (laughing). But realistically, to be able to provide hybrid connectivity companies need to have subject matter expertise in all the technologies they intend to apply. Not only this, those SMEs need to cross over to other technologies to understand how they will interoperate and be able to smoothly transition from one to another. Wrap that up with a solid understanding of ensuring the security and availability of the network to provide a robust solution.
Catherine: What market challenges do you face with your IoT business and what are you doing to overcome them?
Paul: Technically speaking, we’re engineers and I’m confident we can solve any technology issues the markets have to offer. Therefore, the biggest challenge is educating the customer to understand the value an IoT solution will bring to their respective companies. We do this by developing use cases and even applying them for proof of concept purposes so that value stands out. It’s about Big Data that is the result of the IoT and the voice, video and data content riding on our network and managing that Data and its subsequent analytics to provide greater efficiency, increased safety, cost savings and improved performance ultimately helping our customers to improve their profit margin.
Catherine: How important is system interoperability to your business and if important, what forms (e.g. frequency, altitudes, commands) are you providing or intend to offer customers?
Paul: As stated above, interoperability and being able to smoothly transition from one connectivity form to another is very important. It's all about being continuously connected utilizing a multitude of technologies and devices as discussed in Globecomm's white paper released last year. The only way the promises of the explosive growth in IoT come true is through continuous connectivity by integrating many pieces into what looks and acts like a seamless whole. There will be a day when we no longer talk about hybrid technologies or interoperability, we’ll simply be ‘connected’.
Catherine: If you were going to choose someone in the industry to be interviewed for Mobility News, who would it be and why?
Paul: I would recommend a Mobility News interview with Globecomm’s IoT partners at AT&T. They understand the value of a hybrid technology network to be able to achieve continuous connectivity anywhere, anytime to anyone.
Catherine: Last question, this time personal. Instead of satellite mobility, how about personal mobility? What’s your favorite recreational mobile mode (e.g. skateboarding, snowboarding, trail walking, etc.)?
Paul: (Laughing out loud) …for my personal mobility preference I think I lean toward something with two wheels; i.e. bicycles, motorcycles, etc.
Catherine: Well Paul, as always, it is great to connect with you. I appreciate your responses and the time you’ve taken to provide them. Best of times to you in business and on two wheels!