Shape shift­ing in the satel­lite sec­tor

The story con­tin­ues

OffComm News - - CONTENTS -

Com­pa­nies con­sider their of­fer­ings in prepa­ra­tion for the sat­com era

The up­take of satel­lite con­nec­tiv­ity has forced some ma­jor move­ment. While not much changed for decades, some of the main play­ers have gone through re­brand­ing ex­er­cises and other strate­gic moves to up the ante in re­cent months.

Air­bus De­fence and Space took some hard de­ci­sions with its cur­rent port­fo­lio of­fer­ings ( see our web­site for more news on this); EMC and ITC Global moved into Scot­land; and Level 3 Com­mu­ni­ca­tions re­cently re­vealed plans for its ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment team pend­ing its ac­qui­si­tion of tw tele­com. Another company re­defin­ing it­self, to bet­ter ad­dress the cur­rent chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties in the re­mote com­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket, is Spire. Ear­lier this year, a satel­lite- pow­ered data company called Nanosat­isfi, raised $ 25 mil­lion and set to on a brand­ing over­haul. Ini­tially in­cu­bated by hard­ware ac­cel­er­a­tor Lem­nos Labs, the company went from con­cept to outer space in just 12 months. It has a grow­ing cus­tomer base across North Amer­ica, Europe and Asia ~ along with fa­cil­i­ta­tion from the Sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ment. Now known as Spire, new fund­ing will help the company to keep pace with cus­tomer de­mand, ex­tend its satel­lite net­work and data in­fra­struc­ture, and ex­pand its team.

“Chang­ing the satel­lite in­dus­try stan­dard for in­no­va­tion, mea­sur­ing satel­lite de­sign and de­vel­op­ment time in weeks as op­posed to years,” Russ Muz­zolini, Spire.

In­no­va­tion vs. In­ven­tion

To date, Spire has de­ployed four of its small form fac­tor satel­lites into space. The satel­lites use off- the- shelf tech­nolo­gies where pos­si­ble, rather than ex­pen­sive, pro­pri­etary, sin­gle- use tech­nolo­gies tra­di­tion­ally as­so­ci­ated with space. This al­ter­na­tive ap­proach, one of ‘ in­no­va­tion ver­sus in­ven­tion’, is cen­tral to Spire’s cul­ture where em­ploy­ees are reg­u­larly en­cour­aged to ap­ply proven tech­nolo­gies in smart ways to cre­ate new re­sults. Russ Muz­zolini, Spire CTO, said: “We ap­ply best prac­tices from soft­ware de­vel­op­ment to space hard­ware. The agility in our ap­proach to de­vel­op­ment through rapid it­er­a­tion cy­cles has sig­nif­i­cantly ac­cel­er­ated our learn­ing, and sub­se­quently en­hanced our abil­ity to grow. And it shows. We are chang­ing the satel­lite in­dus­try stan­dard for in­no­va­tion, mea­sur­ing satel­lite de­sign and de­vel­op­ment time in weeks as op­posed to years.”

What brought about the decision to re­brand?

Chris Wake, ( pic­tured), the company’s di­rec­tor of business op­er­a­tions re­vealed a bit more about the decision to re­brand as Spire. “As we con­sid­ered the en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm that we put into our tech­nol­ogy, and the re­la­tion­ships that we have de­vel­oped with our cus­tomers, we re­alised that the brand - and largely the orig­i­nal name of our company - had been out­grown. “Our orig­i­nal name em­bod­ied a clas­sic trade- off in launch­ing a new company. Specif­i­cally, the trade- off be­tween brand at­tributes ( such as the company name) and de­liv­er­ing on a brand prom­ise ( e. g. de­liv­er­ing value from a prod­uct or ser­vice). We rightly chose to fo­cus our early time and at­ten­tion on the lat­ter, de­liv­er­ing two satel­lites to or­bit within 12- months of our found­ing, a then un­ri­valled achieve­ment in the his­tory of man’s space ex­plo­rations.”

Spire has plans to launch a con­stel­la­tion of more than 50 satel­lites in the fore­see­able fu­ture, and is scal­ing fast to meet in­creas­ing cus­tomer de­mand.

Where is Spire to­day?

“There is an in­cred­i­ble amount of power and value in be­ing able to lis­ten to the ¾ of the Earth that is ne­glected by tra­di­tional re­mote sens­ing, and to be able to do it on an hourly ba­sis. Ours is a so­lu­tion built to mon­i­tor and em­power truly global sys­tems; from shipping to air travel to weather; the op­por­tu­ni­ties are ex­ten­sive and we are ex­cited to put that power into mea­sur­able ac­tion for our cus­tomers. “For in­stance, with the fastest and most com­pre­hen­sive au­to­matic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem in the in­dus­try, we of­fer the de­fin­i­tive so­lu­tion for global ship track­ing. The im­pact from such a so­lu­tion will be felt across mar­itime do­main aware­ness, trade mon­i­tor­ing, il­le­gal fish­ing, piracy, in­surance, and many other key ar­eas rel­e­vant for those in the off­shore com­mu­nity. In ad­di­tion, our satel­lites are highly mod­u­lar and the ad­vent of new sen­sors is reg­u­larly bring­ing new ap­pli­ca­tions to light.”

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