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An Interview with Alexander Mueller-Gastell, ND SATCOM CEO: ‘Our Goal is to Create the World’s Largest Satellite Communication Company Supporting Customers with Critical Operations Anywhere in the World’


“We develop innovative modem technology and integrated solutions to serve our customers worldwide by designing, installing and servicing their communication needs.”

Today’s operations demand robust and flexible network-centric communication solutions for reliable information flow between frontline troops, support personnel and commanders, both for operational control and situational awareness. The availability of IP connectivity anywhere/anytime via fixed, transportable and on-the-move terminals is now essential.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present ND SatCom GmbH, known under its brand: ND SATCOM.

ND SATCOM offers satellite communication equipment systems and solutions. The company offers satellite routers, antenna systems, RF equipment, control equipment, software, and mobile terminals/military equipment. It also provides customer services and support, and RF test services. The company’s products and solutions are used in various transnational networks in government, military, broadcast and media, telecom and enterprise, and IT sectors.

ND SATCOM was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Immenstaad am Bodensee, Germany. It has additional office locations in Beijing, China; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Alexander Mueller-Gastell, ND SATCOMCEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up? How did you select the vertical and decide to be a part of the global platform?

ND SATCOM started its activities initially as a business division of the former Dornier GmbH. The European Space Agency (ESA), as well as diverse research institutes, were its first clients among others. Through the deregulation of satellite transmission in the 80s, ND SATCOM supplied companies such as the German Federal Post Office and broadcasting corporations with fixed and mobile earth stations
(so-called ground stations).

In 1989, Dornier GmbH merged with Deutsche Aerospace AG (DASA) which was founded as a subsidiary of the Daimler-Benz group. The ground stations segment was integrated into DASA’s field of “satellite communications” (satcom) which contributed greatly in the set-up of satellite-supported communication infrastructure in East Germany at the end of the 90s.

With the establishment of Nortel DASA in 1995, DASA’s entire ground station activities were merged with the satcom division of the company known as Nortel Networks. At the time of founding Nortel DASA, a new market segment developed for satcom in Germany: the military satellite communication.

In July 2000, ND SATCOM emerged as a separate company from the Nortel DASA. Two years later, the conversion to a public limited company took place. Shareholders were AUGUSTA Technologie AG (Frankfurt/Main), a listed financial investor, and SES ASTRA in Luxembourg which supports more than 117 million satellite and cable households all over Europe.

In 2003, ND SATCOM started its international expansion with the opening of their branch in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), the founding of ND SatCom, Inc. in Dallas (USA) as well as an office in Beijing (China).In 2006, SES ASTRA expanded its shares in ND SATCOM to 100 percent. In the same year, ND SATCOM expanded to Turkey where the company in the meantime installed the largest satellite-based communication network of the country which connects 5200 schools in remote areas of South and East Turkey with the Internet. In 2008, the company achieved a milestone in the US military market with an IDIQ contract of the US Navy: the official recognition as a supplier in the fast-growing US defence sector.

Today, ND SATCOM is the premier supplier of and integrator for innovative satellite communication equipment systems and solutions to support customers with critical operations anywhere in the world. Customers in more than 130 countries have chosen ND SATCOM as a trusted and reliable source of high-quality and secure turnkey and custom system-engineered communication solutions. The company’s products and solutions are used in more than 200 transnational networks in government, military, telecom and broadcast environments, as mentioned above.

ND SATCOM’s flagship product, the SKYWAN platform, enables international users to communicate securely, effectively and quickly over satellite.

Q. 2018 was a busy year for ND SATCOM. What can you tell us about the highlights and key milestones achieved over the year?

We’ve achieved a lot in all three of our business sections. We are very active in the defence market, the broadcast sector, and the government and enterprise market.

In the defence market, we finalised the modification of terminals for the German armed forces, and we’ve been awarded a contract for the Polish Army. In the government market, we’ve rolled out two significant Air Traffic Control (ATC) networks, one in Bolivia via Thales, and one with Atech/Brazil. In the broadcast sector, meanwhile, we’ve been happy to deliver our satcom on-the-move system to 10 video news vehicles for SABC, which are transmitting all types of services.

Q. In a rapidly-changing industry, geographic and end-user markets are being impacted significantly. How have ND SATCOM’s key markets been developing?

We think there is a big demand for mobile satellite communications, especially in Africa and Latin America. The reason for that demand is that they have poor terrestrial connectivity. It’s different in Europe, where we need to concentrate more on the broadcast market, which is also rapidly changing, and where we’re seeing more Ka-band transmissions. We’re still building our SNG trucks, so this is something we need to react to. We’re also now trying to focus on the Asian market.

We have a lot of capability in the broadcast market, such as our Ka2Go terminal, which is very well-known in the market. There’s still a very strong demand for SNG and uplink stations, and we’re establishing better pick-up stations for the broadcast markets which increases reliability and signal availability. The newer IP and OTT markets are bringing in a great deal of change for broadcasters, and we’re reacting to that with our SKYWAN 5G modem, which transmits any service over IP in one hop to the destination. We clearly see that DTH is falling and OTT is going up.

Defence is our strongest business sector where we have long-term contracts with different military institutions, including the German armed forces and much of the rest of Europe.

Our reach in the governmental markets is mostly around ATC networks, but we also see now through the satcom on-the-move business possibilities in the first responder and police market. We’ve been performing demonstrations for this market; we did one in April in South Africa and another one in May in Australia, where we have welcomed several companies and institutions, including the police and military police, to witness a live demonstration. The attendees were convinced that our system is excellent for their needs, especially in situations where reliable service is a must.

Q. What do you feel are the reasons behind your consistent growth as an organization?

More than 35 years of providing highly secure, tailor-engineered solutions have made us a trusted and reliable partner in satellite communications.

Q. How does your company contribute to the global IT platform and society?

We provide reliable communication networks with our rooftop-to-rooftop technology enabling secure and safe communication solutions for enterprises, NGOs or government organisations that have no other choices for building a reliable network. With ND SATCOM solutions immediate connectivity for disaster recovery teams by quick deployable last-mile solutions like LTE cells via SKYWAN enable medical teams to immediately help where other communication infrastructure was destroyed or is not available. Exploration or drilling teams benefit from seamless connectivity to corporate cloud data centres and at the same time use our technology for private Internet and voice communication at leisure time.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be rolled out into the market?

There are new features and capabilities of our SKYWAN 5G modem that we are developing with respect to mobile and the mobility area. We already released LTE enhancements and encryption modules for SKYWAN. Now, beam switching for mobile terminals in meshed networks using HTS satellites is available for first responders, police forces, special forces, and homeland security customers that bring their own mobile cells.

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

Over the years, ND SATCOM has successfully established itself as a premium supplier of modem technology being the world market leader in the ATC business and the provisioning of services to highly demanding customers in the defence and governmental sector.

This is the basis that we build on – ND SATCOM is more than just a modem supplier – we are a solution provider that has the ability to expand its current portfolio in adjacent markets and regions to diversify our offering.

The journey is far from over and we continue to grow. We are now in the process of expansion with an aim to double in size in the near future. The goal is to create the world’s largest satellite communication company supporting customers with critical operations anywhere in the world.

We are mainly focusing on the continuation and extension of our current areas. We’re also trying to strengthen our regional sales, and to enhance our product portfolio with solutions as an independent group.

"With over three decades of experience, ND SATCOM has become the premier supplier of and integrator for innovative satellite communication equipment systems and solutions to support customers with critical operations anywhere in the world.”