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C, Ku or Ka-band…… it is not about the technology

March 12, 2013 • Opinion

With the launch of Ka-band satellites the debate of C versus Ku-band versus Ka-band has come to the fore, with varying opinions of the advantages of each technology against that of another. These considerations are valid and, in terms of a pure technology debate, very critical to consider.

Dawie de Wet, CEO, Q-KON

However, more importantly, to some extent, is the relative business aspects of these technologies. Whereas the technology debate is focused more on the translation of satellite bandwidth measured in MHz to data throughput measured in Mbps, the business debate extends the domain from MHz all the way to profit & loss.

In order to have a quantified discussion of the advantages of C vs Ku vs Ka-band it is necessary to model and capture the specific relationship that translates MHz to profit & loss.

Modeling this relationship requires that all business and technical parameters are included such as market demand predictions, price elasticity, satellite link budget engineering, operational cost models and equipment price influences.

Such a business model that integrates the market, technology and business domain was developed by Q-KON and provides an effective quantified scenario to determine the optimum intersection point of these three domains.  To our knowledge this business model is the first of its kind available and offers service providers an unequalled opportunity to evaluate different technology and business scenarios.

Using this business model and the integrated systems, various simulations can readily be evaluated by service providers. This will quantify the different advantages of C, Ku and Ka-band in relation to a specific market sector and market demand scenarios. Through calculation of such various analyses, it is possible to make much more informed decisions regarding the relative strengths of the different technologies and the specific market suitability.

Harris CapRock has recently completed research work that has resulted in the definition of a business model and business simulator that translates MHz to profit. In any evaluation of satellite infrastructure and performance of systems, the issue of spectrum warrants closer attention.

According to the work done by Harris CapRock, one of the advantages of Ku-band satellite services is that the spectrum is relatively unused – whereas lower frequency satellite bands are, as the Paper states, “heavily subscribed”.

We also note that smaller wavelength and higher frequency of Ka-band make links more susceptible to weather and other external or atmospheric interference. This means it is more expensive and more challenging to provide high availability and reliable services using Ka-band.

In conclusion, we share the sentiments expressed by Harris CapRock that the type of HTS system to use to supply a service is heavily dependent on the environment and requirements of the recipient. Ku-band will add advantage within environments that require high volume communications and extra bandwidth, whilst Ka-band is competitive in smaller, less intensive environments.

Service Providers and end users should take care to consider and review technologies in perspective to the business model and not purely based on the technology perceptions. By using advanced business model simulations, many of the risks and uncertainties can be quantified to offer executives different scenarios as reference for decision making.

Dawie de Wet, PhD Electronic Engineering, CEO, Q-KON

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