Ab­so­lute Mo­bil­ity

For a decade, Glob­al­star has toiled to make af­ford­able de­vices smaller, lighter, with greater func­tion­al­ity for those work­ing in re­mote lo­ca­tions world­wide.

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Great prod­ucts need a great price to help drive up­take and be­come suc­cess­ful. Jay Mon­roe, CEO at Glob­al­star is some­one that clearly ap­pre­ci­ates this. His com­pany has grown six- fold since 2004, by en­abling cost- ef­fec­tive, con­nected prod­ucts for re­mote users.

OCN: So what ex­actly does Glob­al­star of­fer com­pa­nies work­ing out of re­mote lo­ca­tions?

JM: Op­er­at­ing satel­lites at 14,000 kilo­me­ters, in­stead of 32,000 km high, means that Glob­al­star is char­ac­ter­ized by ab­so­lute mo­bil­ity. We have made our way by de­liv­er­ing in­ex­pen­sive so­lu­tions for ev­ery­one ~ as op­posed to very ex­pen­sive op­tions avail­able to just a few. That’s been our bias since the early 2000s. If our cus­tomers can af­ford it, they’ll use more of it. So our busi­ness is to drive down the cost of the equip­ment, drive down the cost of air­time, and have peo­ple think of our re­mote comms en­able­ment more like us­ing a cell phone. We were also the first to cre­ate bun­dled plans. Users can now buy, for ex­am­ple, a thou­sand min­utes a month ~ which is a fixed cost to Glob­al­star and one that is rel­a­tively low. “If our cus­tomers can af­ford it, they’ll use more of it.” Fur­ther, across the en­tire suite of Glob­al­star prod­ucts, we wanted to in­crease the func­tion­al­ity. Con­fig­ur­ing ser­vices from our ground in­fra­struc­ture, we brought out a se­ries of prod­ucts for track­ing and emer­gency sce­nar­ios. Our high­est pro­file prod­uct is SPOT which en­ables the track­ing of a per­son or an as­set. It also has a global SOS but­ton so that, should an emer­gency arise, our dis­patch cen­tre calls the clos­est lo­cal res­cue or­ga­ni­za­tion to as­sist. In fact, SPOT has saved 3,500 peo­ple to date. We don’t care if you fell off of a rig or off a week­end fish­ing- trip boat; push that but­ton and we’re com­ing to get you. And it only costs US$ 100.

OCN: That must be very com­fort­ing for those in ex­treme en­vi­ron­ments. What about for as­sets?

JM: We have an­other prod­uct in the US$ 100 class, called Trace. When a Trace- en­abled as­set is sta­tion­ary it doesn’t trans­mit. As soon as it moves trans­mis­sion starts. So, for those with re­mote as­sets ~ like stored gen­er­a­tors for ex­am­ple ~ that sud­denly start mov­ing, you can an­tic­i­pate that it’s ei­ther headed to a job­site or be­ing stolen. The thing is, in a ter­res­trial wire­less sce­nario, th­ese de­vices are ubiq­ui­tous be­cause they’re in­ex­pen­sive and rel­a­tively avail­able and you can mon­i­tor such ac­tiv­ity with an iPhone. But you can’t do that so well re­motely, or eco­nom­i­cally, ex­cept via Glob­al­star. Ac­count­ing for the oceans, about 90% of the planet has no ter­res­trial wire­less or other cov­er­age at all, that’s a big mar­ket.

OCN: How do you trans­port that in­for­ma­tion?

JM: Okay so those track­ing de­vices are en­tirely in­ter­net- ac­ti­vated and in­ter­net- in­for­ma­tion de­liv­ered. For small- bit in­for­ma­tion, such as M2M data or emer­gency in­for­ma­tion, the beep goes up in the North Sea, bounces off a satel­lite and then goes to our gate­way in France. From there it’s trans­mit­ted across a pro­pri­etary net­work that con­nects all of our gate­ways, 25 of them more or less, around

“In 2004 we had 100,000 cus­tomers. To­day we have about 700,000 cus­tomers. If you con­sider how that hap­pened, against the back­drop of all the satel­lite con­stel­la­tion prob­lems that were only reme­died in 2013, it’s stag­ger­ing. It’s an amaz­ing for­ward- march.”

the world. That in­for­ma­tion goes through a se­cure and pri­vate net­work and gets de­liv­ered as nec­es­sary. Tele­phone calls go the same way, from the North Sea up to the satel­lite down to the French gate­way. From there it is ei­ther dropped into the public switch net­work and de­liv­ered to the re­ceiver; or, more of­ten, once that call ar­rives at our gate­way we ter­mi­nate it via VoIP, like Skype, and then de­liver it to Manila or Ran­goon or wher­ever ~ with­out in­volv­ing the lo­cal telco. When you do it this way, the cost of that minute might drop from a dollar to a cent, which cir­cles back to our core be­lief that if you make the prod­uct and the ser­vice much less ex­pen­sive, more peo­ple will be able to avail them­selves to it.

OCN: As we ven­ture to drill in deeper wa­ters, more re­mote land lo­ca­tions, and deeper down mines do you think tech­nol­ogy will change?

JM: Ab­so­lutely. More and more data will be de­liv­ered over satel­lite, pe­riod. Canada is a great ex­am­ple for this: 10% of it is cov­ered by cel­lu­lar net­works. That’s all, just 10%. While that cov­ers al­most ev­ery­one in Canada, as most live in ma­jor cities close to the US bor­der, it doesn’t take care of industrial ac­tiv­ity in terms of ex­trac­tion, forestry, oil and gas, min­ing and be­yond. All of that takes place in the 90% of the coun­try that doesn’t have cel­lu­lar cov­er­age. Fur­ther, when you get to the so­phis­ti­cated, ex­pen­sive equip­ment to mine or drill to­day, those as­sets need to be mon­i­tored back at HQ. Mis­takes can be ex­pen­sive ~ as well as danger­ous ~ so there’s a mas­sive amount of data go­ing back and forth. When you then con­sider those driv­ing thou­sands of miles to mon­i­tor, say, 200 sites a day and stay­ing in overnight camps dur­ing the process, they need a mo­bil­ity op­tion for voice, small- bit data, and track­ing. That’s where Glob­al­star makes its en­tire living.

OCN: What sep­a­rates Glob­al­star in terms of its of­fer­ing?

JM: I be­lieve that we’re dif­fer­ent be­cause we of­fer the to­tal pack­age. Many other com­pa­nies are providers of the band­width that oth­ers build prod­ucts for. We op­er­ate both ways, and that is to say we op­er­ate by build­ing and designing and ini­ti­at­ing our own prod­ucts. As a re­sult, we can quickly adapt to what­ever the mar­ket needs. I want to share one such ex­am­ple with you, be­cause in the world of mo­bil­ity and in the world of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, I re­ally truly be­lieve that what I’m about to de­scribe fun­da­men­tally al­ters com­mu­ni­ca­tions on the planet.

OCN: That’s a big state­ment, please do tell us more.

JM: It’s a de­vice called Sat- Fi 2, which won’t be re­leased un­til the be­gin­ning of 2016 when our new ground in­fra­struc­ture can see it. And that will hap­pen thanks to new chip ar­chi­tec­ture, amongst other el­e­ments. It’s about the size of a com­puter mouse and will turn any­body’s cell phone, lap­top, tablet, in fact any de­vice that has WiFi in it, into a satel­lite phone. Imag­ine a lit­tle town on a tiny is­land in In­done­sia where any­body, with a smart­phone and this new de­vice, will be able to com­mu­ni­cate for the first time over satel­lite where no ter­res­trial net­work ex­ists. You can fun­da­men­tally al­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tions on the planet with that. It’s a log­i­cal pro­gres­sion ~ and an amaz­ing one.

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