Category Archives: Why SatCom Is Cool

“There is no such thing as luck”

Star Wars fans know this quote.

Non Star Wars fans: Obi-Wan Kenobi says this to Hans Solo after Luke uses his light saber to block the sparring orb’s shots while wearing a helmet with the blast shield down. The quote is actually prefaced with, ‘In my experience…’ That adds a different dimension. There may be luck, but in Obi-Wan’s experience there isn’t.  

Contrast that idea with Samuel Goldwyn’s famous quote, ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.” I don’t want to disagree with one of the most successful movie studio executives ever but, it is not luck, it is preparation, determination, perspiration, manifestation, serendipity, call it what you will. Or maybe we do agree.  All of those things are hard work.  But luck? Sorry, not for Obi-Wan, and not for me.

Was Malcolm Butler’s interception that sealed the Patriot’s Super Bowl win luck? Or was it preparation, training, reflexes, skill, ‘wanting it more’, as we used to say when I played? It was all of that and more. In an interview right after, Butler said he had a vision making that play, breaking on the ball and taking it away from the receiver. And guess what: He did. Is that luck? Some might even call it planning. Or grit. Or hustle.  Luck is for leprechauns. 

Much of this holds true for business continuity, disaster and emergency planning and response. Anyone who works in those arenas knows you don’t really get ‘lucky’. You plan, you prepare and you train, acquiring skill sets that you really never want to use. However when you do, you are ready! That is not luck; that is preparation. Which reminds me of this New England phrase:

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

You may not have heard this phrase but I assure you that if you are in the emergency preparedness/planning/response profession, you abide this phrase all the time. And SatCom is critical in helping you be effective, helping you provide excellent performance.

Satellite phones are a tool that you use when you need to, and having them available, ready to go, tested and staff trained is one of the best ways to be ‘lucky’ (according to Goldwyn). I would instead say that you are prepared, which is highly commendable and please invite everyone you meet in the industry to join you in this kind of preparation. Luck may not show up when crisis hits and you are called into action. Preparation and practice and panning will ALL show up. 

Obi-Wan would agree. Make sure you have a plan and that plan includes satellite phones.

Thanks for reading.

Does Your SatCom Provider Earn Accolades?

My role in the SatCom industry is to raise the awareness and knowledge regarding satellite communications. I do this so people can make good buying decisions.  People want objective education and information, not sales pitches, so it is rare that I will write such a self-serving blog as I am today.  But here’s the thing: I received the following from a client and it speaks volumes for not only what we do at GlobaFone, but how ALL clients deserve to be treated.  One of our clients e-mailed this:

“Thanks for your help. The instructions were a big help. I did get all my ISAT phones updated to the new 5.3.0 version. It’s the people there that keep me recommending GlobaFone.”

‘It’s the people there that keep me recommending GlobaFone.’  I recognized long ago that we sell a commodity product – all phones are made in the same factory, offer the same basic service and work in all the same places.  So what makes the difference in this highly competitive business?   Well….price is one differentiator.   Google ‘satellite phone’ and you will see 20 companies with the best price.  So what?  Do their people keep clients recommending them?  Low price buys you no or low service. We receive dozens of calls a year with stories of ‘my provider won’t call me back or respond’.  Well, you get what you pay for.

Back to my self-serving point:  The statement ‘It’s the people that keep me recommending GlobaFone’, bring with it several important implications:

  • ‘The people’.  We provide such great service that the client is complimenting everyone at GlobaFone.  That is a great win.
  • ‘Keep me’.  This means the client has recommended us before and will continue to do so.  Unsolicited referrals.  Is there a better testament to how this client trusts us?
  • ‘Recommending,’  Wow, the client is so impressed that we are recommended, not just mentioned in passing.  You understand the difference right?  “Hey Joe I need satellite phones, who do you use?”  Joe says, “Call Acme.”  Compared to, “I recommend you call GlobaFone.’  That probably includes an additional comment lauding us.  And by golly, we deserve it. (Told you this was self serving).  So here is the point:

Think about your satellite phone provider (or a provider of any service).  Do they deserve your accolades?  Or are they just ‘okay’?  Do you continuously recommend them?  Or do you just share their name?  ‘This is our provider,’ vs. “I recommend these guys- they are great!”  A recent editorial in the Financial Times discussed the deterioration of customer loyalty programs because people just aren’t feeling the love.  Consider this: Are you a ‘customer’ or a ‘client’?  Customer denotes transaction, client denotes relationship, something more than just moving boxes.  Which do you want to be?

If you are not as happy with your satellite provider as our client is, I say it is time for you to review your situation.  If you’re not thrilled with them, why bother working with them?  Low price?  Is it worth it?

It’s up to you but I know where I stand. Accolades are earned with great work and great care.

Thanks for reading.

Your phone will be a satellite phone. Really.

The value proposition for satellite phones used to be pretty simple: voice and data solutions where there was no terrestrial network.  You bought a phone and subscribed to service and made your calls and sent your data – usually painfully slow or fast and expensive.  This has all has changed.

Iridium broke the ice with AxcessPoint a couple of years ago; pair your device to this Wi-Fi hotspot and texting and internet/e-mail were all yours.  Then Thuraya introduced Sat Sleeve, an ingenious little device that snapped around your iPhone, effectively making it a satellite phone.  I recall Iridium CEO Matt Desch publically congratulating Samer Halawi (Thuraya CEO) at the Satellite conference last year.

Last week Globalstar announced SAT-FI, a Wi-Fi device that allows you to pair to your smart phone data service but also calls.  That’s right you will now be able to make phone calls from YOUR phone over a satellite network using the device and an app.  SAT-FI will be available second quarter this year.

This week Iridium announced Iridium Go, also a Wi-Fi device that enables voice and data over your Smartphone, connected to the Iridium network.  With Iridium GO you can connect up to five devices supporting a range of functions including voice and data, GPS and SOS services.  Iridium Go will also be available second quarter this year.

This is what really jazzes me about this industry; the innovation, the thinking that solves problems, the way that technology can solve more problems and, in the SatCom space, keep us connected anywhere – truly anywhere.  This means the global boundaries are no more: you will be able to take your Smartphone literally anywhere in the world and make and recieve calls and data.  How cool is that?

So as we progress down the road of continued development, just imagine what we will be doing next year, or in two years.  And we’re not even into the real Gen2 services that are on the horizon.

This industry just gets better and better….

Thanks for reading.

Free Webinar: ‘SatCom Solutions 101’ July 31, 2013

Contact:
Tiffany Roberts
Marketing Communications
GlobaFone
1950 Lafayette Rd. Suite 207
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 433-7232
t.roberts@globafone.com
www.globafone.com

 

Free Webinar – SatCom Solutions 101

Join GlobaFone CEO, Lou Altman as he unravels the myths and mysteries surrounding satellite communications.  ‘SatCom Solutions 101’ provides a big picture look at SatCom – What it is, How it works, Available solutions and Current functionality.

 

After this Webinar, you will:

 

  • ·                  Understand how and why the major satellite networks operate
  • ·                  Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each solution
  • ·                  Possess insight into which solutions will work best for your situation

 

This webinar is perfect for a diverse range of attendees, including:

 

  • ·                  Telecom Managers
  • ·                  Satellite Program Managers
  • ·                  Field end users
  • ·                  IT  Staff
  • ·                  Anyone who needs SatCom, or supports SatCom

 

This engaging presentation will help you to better realize your organization’s needs.  It will also enable you to make intelligent decisions when it is time for YOU to choose a SatCom solution.

 

This webinar will be approximately 45 minutes and will include a Q&A segment at the end. This webinar has proven to be popular. So, don’t wait! Be sure to sign up now!

 

Title: SatCom Solutions

 

Date: Wednesday, July 31, 2013

 

Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST

 

https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/161825423

 

ABOUT GLOBAFONE:
GlobaFone of Portsmouth, NH is an award-winning, leading service provider of satellite voice and data solutions to Federal, State and Local Governments, and corporate clients. GlobaFone solutions include five brands of satellite communications – Iridium, Inmarsat, Globalstar, Thuraya and VSAT.  GlobaFone provides cellular service for rent or lease with coverage across the planet.

The $2,000 Phone Call

We had a client in today, he’s a commercial fisherman – a hardworking life for sure.  Fish stocks are down, restrictions are in place, limited catches – not too appealing, and it can be hazardous work.   This is a recipe for fiscal conservancy out of necessity, not just choice.

Spending $1,200 plus service for a satellite phone is a very serious consideration for him.  But what are his options?  How far will his cell phone really work out to sea?  He had to ask some substantive questions and carefully consider the financial implications before spending the kind of money it takes to buy a satellite phone.  He made the choice and became a subscriber.

 While he was in our office he relayed the story of a recent trip; fueled up ($4.00+/gallon for marine diesel), bait, meals, crew  – all ready for a few days fishing.  He was on his way out – about 120 miles each way – and passed the limit of his cell phone.  His satellite phone was on….  It rang and one of his buddies told him not to waste his time making the trip – no fish.   He turned around and fished in close, caught two big keepers and cashed in.  He said it would have taken 500 gallons of fuel to get out (just out!), not to mention bait, crew time, food, time away, and the ever-present risk.  October weather can pose a significant threat in New England.   Do the math – that is a lot of money to bust. 

He got the call on his satellite phone and it saved him a ton of money, time, resources and most importantly, risk.  The next time you are considering the value of a satellite phone, be sure to look past the actual cost; take a closer look at the value the phone can provide for you.  It is easy to count the dollars spent.  It may not be so easy to count what is saved.

Thanks for reading!

Gold Medals, Politics and the Future

I commented to my wife the other day that after competing in London, all of the athletes can forever call themselves “Olympic Athletes”.  Just think about the gravity of that proclamation: Olympic Athlete.  That is just so cool!  The commitment and dedication of time, money, resources and support is astounding.  Olympic athlete – the best in the world.  The athleticism is phenomenal, each athlete in their own right for their sport.  I don’t think I’ve seen rhythmic gymnastics in the past because – WOW – is that impressive!  The precision of the divers and gymnasts, volleyball – both indoor and beach is amazing to see.  The pure strength and power of weightlifters and shot-putters and the speed and endurance and resilience (running with a broken leg?).  It’s so refreshing to see the optimism, the hope, determination, guts and glory; going for gold has been a lifetime pursuit for these young athletes.

On the other hand as we head into America’s most important presidential election…well, not as refreshing, to say the least. The misinterpreted comments that reach the news desk, the out-of-context statements used for political gain, the nastiness that has become American politics is disheartening.  Our government is broken and it needs to be fixed.  So far our elected officials have simply stalled and put things off and passed the buck.  The unpleasant reality is that we all – everyone, no exceptions here – need to help pay for the damage of the past 30-40 years.  Spending money we didn’t have (and still don’t have) has become an addiction.  Here’s the tough question: Do we have the backbone to face up to the fiscal mess in which we are embroiled, or do we just shrug it off  as ‘that’s life’ and get back to our lattes, unlimited texting, facebook updates and on-demand video services?  Will we pay as much attention to the political games as we did to the Olympic games?

So what’s the tie into Satcom?  Threefold:

1) Satcom was used extensively during the London Games

2) Satcom will be used extensively during the upcoming political season and

3) Whether you are an optimist or cynic about the Satcom space, there is plenty to discuss.  Between Inmarsat’s channel conflicts and pricing adventures, Globalstar’s litigation with various providers, the guys who are still ‘selling’ Terrestar knowing there is no network; one could easily be a pessimist. However, look at Iridium’s tie into the future ATC system, hosted payloads, the storied success of Globalstar’s SPoT and the revolutionary functionality of BGAN and KVH’s increasing presence and one may conclude Satcom’s best days are still ahead of us.

It just depends on your perspective.  What perspective do you think the athletes who participated in London would have regarding Satcom’s future?  Please feel free to e-mail me with your view.

Thanks for reading!

Of Chicken Hats and Satellites

I admit it – I have a chicken hat.  I’ve not had it long so I haven’t worn it much (yet!). There is a connection to my chicken hat and Satcom.

I got my chicken hat because I am a volunteer at the FIRST Robotics Championship that took place last weekend in St. Louis. MO.  I served as the Pit Announcer, letting the teams know about logistical information, spare parts requests and even signing the teams out of the Pit at night (the Pit is where the teams work on their robots before and after competitive matches).  First of all (bad pun), you have to go to www.usfirst.org and check out the amazing world of robotics competitions.  Dean Kamen founded FIRST Robotics 20 years ago – FIRST stands for: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and the annual robotics competition draws hundreds of teams from around the world.  Teams that attend have won a regional competition or another award.  Call it the “brain-i-ac” Olympics where teams help each other before they compete against each other (called Co-Operation) and the winners are an alliance of three teams where ‘gracious professionalism, safety and fun’ are the ruling mantras.  You’ve never seen anything like a FIRST Robotics competition, I promise, and I urge you to get your kids involved.  Not so coincidentally, GlobaFone sponsors Team 131 CHAOS from Central High School in Manchester, NH.  So back to my chicken hat….

Team 3932, the Cockadoodle Dominators from Chickasha, OK gave me one of their special chicken hats.  You can see a story about the team here.

Okay, FIRST Robotics is really cool and I have a chicken hat.  So how is this related to Satcom?  Simple.

Satellites are small tin cans, or big tin cans flying around the planet making communications available where there is no terrestrial infrastructure.  That is amazing.  FIRST Robotics is amazing.  But that is not the point.  One must wonder, which parts of the Satcom infrastructure and ecosystem were born of a ‘what if?’ moment by a brilliant mind, such that you find within the FIRST teams?  FIRST alumni go on to do all kinds of great work and Satcom systems are the brainchildren of such lofty thinking.  In addition, some of the major FIRST Robotics sponsors include Boeing, BAE systems, NASA, SAIC, Intel, the Air Force and other high tech leaders.  Is there a connection?  You bet!  These organizations understand that these kids – FIRST Robotics alumni – are the among the pioneers of the technology of the future.  While their organizations will benefit from having FIRST Alumni as employees, we all benefit from those types of relationships.  I have no specific way to know, but I would argue that developments in Satcom are a result of the brain-i-ac genre –  ‘What If?’, or as I call it “let’s find out’ thinking.

So all hail FIRST Robotics, Chicken Hats and Satcom.  All three are amazing and speak to the ingenuity of innovative thinking.

Really? THAT’S driving the market?

We live in a pixelated world, really we do. Think about the last time you went 20 minutes without some sort of glowing screen in your face; computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, TV, even the coffee machine in our office has a touch screen!

There was a recent article in the Boston Globe that discussed the negative correlation between ‘screen’ time and family time. We seem to want to text, post, tweet, update and surf more and more and from anywhere and everywhere we travel. And I’m not just talking about ‘tweens and teens who need to – OMG – update my Facebook status to my BFF and that joke made me ROFLMAO. Businesses are demanding increased abilities when sending and receiving data and the user’s location is irrelevant – we want our data now!

THIS is what is helping to drive the Satcom market. We’re seeing functionality being built for increased bandwidth and applications. I had been contacted by a mobile company a few years back and they wanted me to sell their games to the
Satcom networks. Games? To satellite networks? Now, back then I was pretty sure that nobody using a satellite phone would want to play games on their phone.  Today, into the future……well, now I’m not so sure.

Between Inmarsat’s Global Xpress, Iridium’s NEXT and Globalstar’s second generation of  satellites, bandwidth is the driver and mobile apps seem to be making inroads to the Satcom community. I personally have never understood the need to stay connected 24/7/365 no matter what, where, why or how (which may seem ironic, given the business I lead), however, I know there are those who absolutely have to upload that picture they just took 200 miles offshore. Whatever you want, the industry will make it work for you. And that is the nature of business; identify a need, fulfill it and charge money for it.

Satcom is a great business; life-saving solutions, business communications from anywhere, picture updates on your terms and connectivity for all.  This is what the market wants so this is what the market gets, and will get mor of into the future as bandwidth increases.

Just don’t expect MY status updates when I’m in the middle of nowhere.