Kymeta, Comtech announce partnership to enhance satellite offerings
Kymeta and Comtech Telecommunications recently announced a technology and business-development partnership that will result with Comtech’s UHP-200 satellite router being embedded into Kymeta’s u8 flat-panel satellite terminal, according to a Kymeta official.
Bill Marks, Kymeta’s executive vice president and chief development officer, said the Comtech partnership will provide future u8-terminal customers will a new embedded-technology choice other than the iDirect modem currently embedded in the Kymeta products.
“We have a satellite terminal that has an embedded modem, and we have a satellite antenna that allows external modems to hook up to it to work,” Marks said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “This relationship with Comtech is going to actually create a second skew of our embedded technology. We’re taking their UHP-200, which is a TDMA technology and is more efficient that some of the satellite modem technologies in the market, and we’re embedding it.
“Customers still could buy a Kymeta antenna and plug other modems into it, including Comtech modems, if they already have that.
And the partnership’s development work does not stop at the u8 terminal, according to Marks.
“We’ve taken their UHP technology on the network side and now offer services for the customers that are running UHP modems,” he said. “Before, if we offered services, the customers had iDirect modems, and we ran it on an iDirect-centric network. Today, as a customer, you have a choice to run it on an iDirect network or a UHP network. Both are our networks, but there are different core technologies that support those networks.
“Customers that buy the UHP version can also buy the Kymeta Broadband service. Prior to that, you could only do it through iDirect. Now, you can choose different modem technologies and still be on our network.”
Current users of Comtech UHP-200 modems can plug them into the external port of the u8 antenna immediately, and a u8 terminal with an embedded UHP modem should be commercially available before the end of the year, Marks said. Pricing for the new UHP version of the u8 terminal is expected to be similar to the current u8 solution with an embedded iDirect modem, he said.
Marks said users will receive “almost identical” the data-throughput performance through the u8 platform, whether it is leveraging an iDirect or UHP-200 modem. In many cases, the technology choice is one of long-held preferences. In fact, a key driver of the Comtech-Kymeta partnership was the fact that the U.S. military—an extensive user of Comtech modems—became enamored with the u8 solution but did not want to switch to iDirect modems, he said.
“We’ve done the development work and are continuing to do development work for them to enable the military modems to be external and be part of our technology, as well,” Marks said. “There’s work going on to ultimately embed that military modem, as well, inside the terminal.
“So, the development partnership is not one thing, it’s many things, and we’ll continue to evolve over time.”
Vagan Shakhgildian, president of Comtech Satellite Network Technologies’ commercial group, echoed this sentiment.
“With end-markets for high-speed satellite-based networks growing, this partnership is a significant step in enhancing our solution offerings,” Shakhgildian said in a prepared statement. “We are thrilled to collaborate with a forward-thinking company like Kymeta to provide service to end users with the quality and reassurance they expect from our innovative companies.”
Marks said that working with companies like Comtech fits into the Kymeta business philosophy.
“We really want to be agnostic to these different types of modem technologies and different constellations that are in space, and this is just a step in that direction that says to the customer base, ‘If you want iDirect, you can have it. If you want UHP, you can have it. If you want Comtech modems, you can have it,’” Marks said. :We stay neutral to the waveform and the modem technology that’s used to deliver satellite connectivity.”
With this in mind, Marks indicated that the Comtech announcement will not be the last piece of partnership news from Kymeta.
“I think that you should expect to see more of things like this coming out in the near future.
“Our product’s pretty mature now, and it’s being widely adopted in the markets that we’ve targeted. Because of that, all of these disparate technologies are realizing that it’s probably wise to try to collaborate, so that they have an easier time selling their product.
“Because the flat-panel antenna—especially the electronically steerable ones like ours—is clearly the direction that the industry is going. You need this type of antenna for low-earth-orbit satellites.”
Resilience through versatility is a hallmark of the Kymeta u8, which is particularly important for mission-critical users, according to Marks.
“What makes our antenna unique is that we’re not only able to communicate with the low-earth-orbit [LEO] satellites, but we’re also able to communicate at the same time with satellites in geosynchronous orbit [GEOs],” he said.
“From a military point of view, that redundancy was really critical, because there’s a big fear in the industry and in the military that future wars and future problems might be fought in space, and satellites would be targeted. If you have an antenna like ours that can switch between any satellite in space in milliseconds, then you have a redundant communications backbone.”