The Global VSAT Forum

 

was instrumental in forming the Global VSAT Forum in 1997. As respected independent consultants in the industry, our company organised the first meeting of the major players of the industry to discuss the formation of a non-profit organisation for the companies involved in the VSAT business. was also the only consultant to become a Founder Member of the GVF and, in recognition of this role, the original members of the GVF appointed Simon Bull as the first Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Forum.

 

You can go the the GVF directly at www.gvf.org.  David Hartshorn is the Secretary General of the GVF and contact details are as follows:

 

GVF Logo

David Hartshorn

Secretary General

Global VSAT Forum

Fountain Court, 2 Victoria Street

St Albans, Herts, AL1 3TF

United Kingdom

Tel: +44-1727-884739

Fax: +44-1727-884839

Email: david.hartshorn@gvf.org

Background to the Forum

On 4 June 1997 at the Ramada Hotel at London's Heathrow Airport 28 people met from 24 companies. These companies accounted for some of the largest manufacturers and operators of VSAT systems in the world as well as several smaller businesses. The objective, which had been discussed on and off for more than five months, was to initiate the formation of an industry association for everyone associated with the VSAT business.

Prior to the meeting, it was clear that any initiative of this type would encounter obstacles and disagreements between fierce competitors. The meeting was scheduled to start late to enable everyone to travel in and only a few hours were realistically available. It looked as though only preliminary conclusions could be reached before the participants would have to leave.

However, less than four hours later, all 24 companies had surprised even themselves with the level of agreement. The fact that few had really realised was that all had come to the meeting with a positive conclusion as their primary intention. At the conclusion of the meeting, the members had agreed:

  1. That the core aims should be:

    • The promotion and positioning of VSAT technology and services.

    • Lobbying activities against regulatory barriers.

    • Representation of the industry at international and regional forums.

  2. To commit initial funding to carry the initiative through to complete formation.

  3. To support the initiative with their own resources where they could and fully participate.

  4. To create the "Global VSAT Forum"


 

Some Reasons for the Forum

All realised that the industry had been fragmented for too long and that a single voice was needed to represent the interests of all parties. The promotion of the technology and the services it supports was also seen as an important role for the new organisation. Some examples of just how uninformed some are about the technology are as follows:

  • Some IT departments continue, even after considering the technology, to select leased line services rather than VSAT despite the fact that there is little doubt that a VSAT solution could provide tangible benefits at lower cost. The problem is that leased lines are a "safe" solution - known, tried and trusted - whereas VSAT is "non-mainstream" and therefore considered risky. In the "I can't risk my job" stakes, leased lines are attractive to a worried manager. However, if senior management were to be aware of the benefits offered by a VSAT service, perhaps this option would not be so attractive to the people responsible for new procurements because the fact that the safe option would be likely to cost the business several millions of dollars extra would be equally risky. To offer an example of a cost comparison, in the United States a large chain of over 1,000 locations selected a VSAT solution based on a comparison with Frame Relay services. Frame Relay was calculated at between $400 and $450 per site per month in comparison to the chosen VSAT equivalent which undercut this by between 250 and 300 per cent. The VSAT solution cost less than $150 per site per month and did not require additional routers/FRADs or other external devices. Not only that, but Frame Relay or DSL is not universally available across even the United States, but VSAT services are - even in the remoter areas of Alaska.

  • In the developing world by comparison, PTTs and dominant terrestrial operators often rubbish satellite solutions in general and VSAT in particular. Yet, on close examination, almost all of the major banks in the developing economies of Asia and Latin America now use VSAT service solutions because they are the only way by which they are able to support sophisticated IT platforms reliably and effectively. Whilst the PTTs and (sometimes) governments reject the technology, it is VSAT which holds together the very foundation of their economies.


Isn't this worth thinking about if you have a business with multiple locations in Western Europe, North America, Asia, Latin America or Africa? If you do and you currently deal with a variety of carriers and interconnection agreements, if you have to cope with wildly divergent levels of service quality, if you have to call two or more contacts to get a problem sorted out, if you are fed up with the huge jump in cost as you cross a border, perhaps you should be considering a VSAT solution.


For these reasons the Global VSAT Forum wants to see no licence fees - the industry already pays a licence fee via its space segment (satellite) costs. At present, high licence fees are primarily a defence against competition, not a cost-based or resource charge, and therefore hold back the development of VSAT services. More importantly, it is users which ultimately pay these charges and it is users which are forced on to inferior terrestrial links. Consequently, the Global VSAT Forum intends to actively recruit and encourage users to join with the industry to tear down these barriers.