Q&A: Bob Dunbar, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Broadcast and Network
Bob Dunbar recently celebrated 33 years with USSI Global. With his extensive experience in the satellite industry, we wanted to know what he thinks about some of the recent changes taking place…
Q: Why is the satellite industry changing?
A: In a word, momentum. In the next decade, tens of thousands of satellites are going to be launched into space. As a comparison, when I started in the business back in the 1980s, maybe a couple hundred satellites had been launched. The industry is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, with velocity in every satellite vertical.
Q: How is USSI Global support impacted by all these satellites?
A: USSI Global is focused on ground stations, which provide the platform to translate the satellite signals into the user-defined format of data and video. Our philosophy has always been to let satellite operators, programmers and broadcasters do what they do, which is create content and capacity. We handle the distribution solutions, from origination to the end user. As more use cases are established, our role will grow incrementally as part of the New Ground Track ecosystem.
Q: Why do you need a ground station? Can’t you just point your satellite dish and retrieve your data stream?
A: The “set it and forget” approach to satellite dishes only works for a certain group of satellites. The Clark Belt is 22,236 miles above sea level, and it’s the only place where a satellite can maintain a geosynchronous orbit. That means you can always find those satellites in the same place in the sky. But there’s a limit to how many satellites can be positioned on the Clark Belt, so bandwidth is an expensive commodity.
What we’re seeing more of now are MEO (medium Earth orbit) and LEO (low Earth orbit) satellites. These satellites are constantly moving around the planet. They are closer to the planet than geostationary satellites, so they have less latency, but they are not always in the same place in the sky. You need a ground station with the capability to track those satellites as they move.
Q: What does this momentum mean for USSI Global?
A: This is a really exciting time for us because there’s never been a bigger boom in the satellite industry. The next big satellite evolution is on the ground, and no one else has the market presence we have. More satellites equates to more capacity, and we’re able to provide logistics, construction, deployment, and maintenance of ground stations to help satellite providers deliver more services to their customers.
USSI Global is also helping to redefine the future of ground stations. Software-based solutions allow more people to have access to services of integrated satellite and terrestrial capacity. For example, in remote areas, where it’s simply impractical to run fiber or even coax, our ground stations can provide access to high-speed broadband data. With the future of phased array and flat panel antenna technology, along with minimal COTS hardware and the right software, USSI Global will deliver affordable ground station solutions anywhere in the world.