By Caleb Henry | March 22, 2016 | Feature, North America, Regional, Satellite TODAY News Feed, Telecom
Global Data Systems (GDS) is planning to continue growing its satellite services footprint around the world to serve customers, particularly in oil and gas, despite the downturn in the energy sector. The company, ranked by the World Teleport Association (WTA) as the second-fastest growing teleport operator in the world, provides connectivity and network services to oil and gas sites, remote facilities and maritime vessels as a large portion of its business.
Satellite constitutes roughly half of the company’s data transport business, according to Chris Vincent, president of GDS. Vincent told Via Satellite that GDS’ satellite business has slowed due to the steep decline in oil prices over 2015 and into 2016, but continues to remain a growth opportunity.
“With the market conditions we are going to trend up a little bit this year, but not nearly as much as we have in the past,” he said. “We continue to expand our offerings and expand our geographical service footprint. A lot of what is driving that growth is all the content delivery mechanisms we are putting around it.”
Vincent said GDS focuses on combining satellite services with other telecoms infrastructure, such as LTE and the company’s Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network, to deliver services such as video conferencing, safety training and other content. He added that GDS has held its ground in the oil and gas sector by not only providing connectivity, but also network services, and by ensuring remote facilities get the same Service Level Agreements (SLAs) as corporate facilities.
“A lot of our competitors will go to a drilling company and focus strictly on the drilling rigs. What we come in and do is take a holistic approach to the corporate facilities, remote facilities and the drilling rig to build one infrastructure with one SLA that allows the customer to feel comfortable and trust what they are buying,” he said.
Customers in this market are still bandwidth hungry, according to Vincent, and have newfound demand coming from an increasing number of applications getting pushed out to the edge. Vincent said remote sites’ appetite for video, along with other services, is driving demand for Ku-band capacity, even in weakened market conditions.
“Those remotes are getting larger and larger,” he explained. “We used to sell 512 Kbps by 512 Kbps; now we are selling 3 Mbps by 1 Mbps. That is driving capacity, availability and the demand for more speed.”
This, in turn, is driving GDS to add capacity.
“We are already working on some contracts for later in the year, and we already have some antennas that are stood up that we want to get some traffic on. We are evaluating different capacity availabilities, geographic reach, footprints — I have a whole team working on that right now. We are going to be adding footprints for our geography reach,” he said.
GDS currently has extensive coverage of the Western Hemisphere. In the future, Vincent said the company intends to push toward the Eastern Hemisphere. Much of this effort will involve opening new service centers to bring equipment and satellite professionals in closer reach to customers. Vincent expects future capacity will help GDS continue to expand internationally.
“It plays a huge role in giving us larger reach. When we look at delivering in remote areas, it is getting easier to gain copper access in a variety of areas, which can give us shore-based access. But as far as stretching the geography footprint for a large vessel, a drill ship, and [Floating Production, Storage and Offloading facilities] FPSOs of that nature, satellite really is the medium to deliver that on a worldwide basis,” he said.