Talking satellite

09 July 2021

Martin Jarrold, chief of international programme development, GVF

Martin Jarrold, chief of international programme development, GVF

10,000 viewers & counting

Pandemic… It is with us still, affecting everyday activities, impacting everyday decisions, circumscribing the scope of our endeavours. It has changed us; what we choose to do, what we can do, and what we are permitted to do.

Like many people since March last year, I have been doing a lot of workrelated “Zooming”. Virtual space has replaced aerospace and I have come to appreciate that webinars do have certain advantages. Of course, whilst there is something of an urge to return to real events, and to having human interaction with satellite industry colleagues and partners again, this will not be a return to “normal”. We cannot yet grasp what the climb out of successive lockdowns might be like; the progress of global vaccines distribution and availability is far from equitable; and, the world won’t be “normal”.

The GVF-Satellite Evolution Group (SEG) webinar series actually began in May 2020. Pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions had come to necessitate that the satellite industry, just like other communities of interest, gather only virtually. Meeting had to be online, and in response GVF and SEG forged this new, regular and frequent series of connections in the Zoom ecosphere.

The advantage of webinars is that with them being saved to the Cloud, their content has longevity, extending their potential audience over distance and over time for as long as the themes of their dialogues have continuing relevance, and an interested audience. As I’ve noted here before, the GVF-SEG series has proven to be a noteworthy success.

After the 25 March 2021 webinar in the series, ‘Satellite Networks Solutions: Development & Evolution of Capability & Performance’, which attracted 328 registrations from 70 countries, we received the following comment from an audience member in the Czech Republic, “Thanks to GVF for this unique webinar series.” This was just one of many complimentary responses received since the series started. In another example of responses to the series we have people dialling-in all around the clock. Over the Zoom Chat function at the start of ‘Satellite Networks Solutions’ (3PM in London) we received this message – “Hello, this is Timor-Leste. It is 12AM here.”

That webinar brought the total of our series viewers to well over 10,000 located in at least 141 countries, and we greatly appreciate the support of the diverse range of global audience members who have been joining us on Zoom since May last year. During this period the series has featured 28 broadcasts, including programmes for third party virtual conference organisers and in association with satellite industry companies. A visit to https://gvf.org/ webinars/ will reveal the complete video archive as well as details of future online events which will build on the success achieved so far.

Reflecting the demand for coverage of more current satellite industry topics, and requests for further opportunities to sponsor events, the webinar series will continue for the forseeable future, and as at the time of writing we have just completed a short series produced in partnership with Intelsat. Like the rest of the GVF-SEG series, the below noted events have been recorded so you can catch up at https://gvf.org/webinars/.

Boosting Africa’s communications network infrastructure requires a new roadmap to affordable and reliable connectivity, supporting the continent’s digital transformation and enabling greater economic growth and meeting the growing need for shared prosperity. Broadband, fully integrated hybrid networks, smart device penetration, new business models and creative partnerships are the priority foundation to radical socio-economic advance, and it is the solutions to meet this objective that were examined in ‘Connecting Africa to Broadband – Where You Need It, When You Need It’ on 20 April.

On 22 April the focus was on how to ‘Enable High-performance Network Coverage in Europe & MENA’. Driving the next wave of enterprise services innovation and transformation is the adoption of hybrid cloud and connectivity models to optimise the performance and resilience of current services at lower-cost. The transformation of satellite solutions for enterprises, and supporting applications in a secure, reliable, and cost-effective manner across EMENA comprised the foundation to this online dialogue.

More recently still, on 18 May, we presented Enable High-performance Network Coverage in Africa in partnership with both Intelsat and Liquid Intelligent Technologies Satellite. This programme featured, mbora, a customer end-user and wealth creation platform that establishes market gardens with groups of women smallholder farmers, and follows up by building a satellite connected Wi-Fi Hotspot hub with each cluster of market gardens to enable low-cost convenient access to financial services, a clinic, and digital channels for content and education, using internet connections. It is a prime example of what is being achieved through partnerships for connectivity.

For readers in south Asia this information may not seem of direct interest, but there are parallels in, for example, India, where 5,000 remote villages across 15 states get internet connectivity at speeds of 2-20Mbps from a partnership of Hughes India (a subsidiary of Hughes Network Systems) and ISRO. The Organisation’s communications satellites, GSAT-19 and GSAT-11, and Hughes’ Jupiter system, were contracted by Bharat Broadband Nigam Ltd (BBNL) – a special purpose vehicle created to implement the government of India’s BharatNet network project – to provide affordable high-speed broadband access to rural citizens and institutions.

Our next significant, and geographically broader, Asia focus will be what is now called Asia Tech X 2021 (the virtual incarnation of what has in recent years been known as ConnecTechAsia 2021), which is scheduled for 14-16 July 2021… prevailing Covid-19 circumstances permitting. GVF will be providing virtual conference content in the form of a short series of webinars to explore the themes of ‘Planes, Trains, Automobiles & Ships: Satcoms-on-theMove’; ‘Bridging the Divide: Enabling Affordable Business & Community Digital Connectivity’; and, ‘Natural Disasters: Preparation & Response via Satellite’. A final thought. Wherever you are whilst reading these words… Keep well, stay safe.