During CABSAT 2021, Telecom Review secured an exclusive with Dr. Vagan Shakhgildian, president of Comtech Satellite Network Technologies, commercial group. He elaborated on the company’s role in the growth of satellite communications, their latest and upcoming product lines, and the key drivers of reliable, robust, and far-reaching satellite services.
Comtech unveiled the merged capabilities of EF Data and Xicom as a one-stop provider. Can you share the motivation and purpose behind this? What are the benefits for the end user?
Comtech Satellite Network Technologies was formed in June 2021 through the union of the renowned business groups Comtech EF Data, Comtech XICOM Technologies, AHA, Memotec and UHP Networks.
Through this reorganization, we are able to leverage the strengths of all five groups. Our goal is to provide more complete end-to-end solutions – and the word Comtech Satellite Network Technologies really says it all. By scaling up in size, we are able to provide better service and support to our customers for our solutions. Acting as one company with one procurement and manufacturing group, we are able to gain efficiencies throughout our production facilities and get better terms and availability of components from our suppliers. These are all cost savings we pass on to our customers.
Both EF Data and Xicom have been part of the same cooperation — Comtech Telecommunications, a public company listed on NASDAQ for the last 13 years. The time has come to formally merge those two companies into a single corporation to create a single, unified powerhouse with efficient and agile processes. We merged the two RF product lines to take advantage of the best technical and manufacturing capabilities of both divisions. We offer a comprehensive line of TWTAs, SSPAs, BUCs, converters, and redundancy systems.
We don't want to confuse our customers with different brands. There's only one brand and it's Comtech — one brand, one logo, and then, of course, still several product lines: Comtech EF Data, Comtech XICOM Technologies, AHA, Memotec, and UHP.
Satellite communications has been evolving. How would Comtech play a major role in this growth?
Comtech is one of the better-established companies in terms of its background in the industry. We have been doing what we're doing now for over 50 years. In fact, this year, we have celebrated the 30-year anniversary of Xicom’s operation in Santa Clara, California, located at the heart of the Silicon Valley.
In their case, it's 30 years of glorious history of remarkable achievements, lots of industry-firsts innovation in business, manufacturing, and design of leading RF products. Going forward, we are capable of riding the crest wave of the modern trends. As everyone knows these days, constellations in advanced bands such as Ka, Ku, Q/V are in the game and we’re very much part of that story.
Comtech is among the leading suppliers in many of these global constellation builders or companies launching those huge satellite constellations. We’re supplying our antennas with XY pedestals, our Ku, Ka, Q/V-band solid-state RF, and our baseband systems. We have the dominant market share in new frequency bands that are ideally suited for LEO and MEO constellations.
Thus, with cloud-based solutions, virtualized satellite infrastructure, and leading RF solutions within different bands, we’re very well-positioned for future growth and for the benefit of our customers.
Do you have any partnerships in the MEA region? How do you plan to expand your presence and offerings?
Regarding our expansion, Comtech recently announced a $100 million dollar investment from one of the leading financial organizations in the United States. The proceeds will be for expanding our production facilities, moving to a new, exciting, much larger, equipped, state-of-the-art, cutting-edge manufacturing facility in Chandler, Arizona. This is one of our main vectors of expansion as far as operation capabilities are concerned. We're also expanding our presence in Canada and adding to our international sales and sales support teams.
On the other hand, for partnerships in the Middle East region, being a very well-established company, we also have a number of well-established partners such as system integrators, resellers, and end-users. We have been serving the leading players in this market such as STC, Omantel, Yahsat, and Etisalat. We are proud and privileged to work with leading satellite and network operators in the region.
What is Comtech showcasing in CABSAT this year?
This is probably the first full-blown trade show with a physical presence in the region for almost two years. We're very excited to be here and grateful to the organizer of the show that despite various risks and concerns, they had and organized such a great show.
A lot has happened in the two years gap since the last show. We have made a lot of progress. We were not sitting still. As a result, we're showcasing our latest products and talking about our roadmap.
We have our latest RF products, with leading SWAP (size, weight and power) characteristics. We are showcasing our CDM-780, the fastest modem on the market now, with 2.6 gigabits per second throughput, which is hard to believe, but true. It has other unique features such as a dual demodulator, ideally suited for trunking high-speed links that are operating over LEO and MEO constellations.
Apart from that, we are also talking about some roadmap items that are still yet to be released. Here, I should mention our new Comtech Elevate product line, which combines the best features of our two existing product lines for VSAT networks, such as Comtech Heights and Comtech UHP.
In your perspective, what are the key drivers of ensuring that satellite services are reliable, robust, and far-reaching for the next generation?
I think this mainly relies on innovation that is something we have certainly been very busy with over the last two years. New architectures, virtualization, moving a lot of the functions into the cloud which is inherently more reliable and low cost. In other words, innovation results in more robust, fault-tolerant, distributed architectures with flexible and adaptable performance that scales with the needs of the end user and traffic demands.
The second one is cost leadership that will retain and strengthen the ability of satellite systems to compete as and when required.