In an interview with Defenseworld.net, Howard Farr, Vice President, Government/NGO, Signalhorn talks about the company's range of military communications solutions and the contracts they are currently fulfilling.
DW : Can you give us an overview of Signalhorn's presence in the defense sector?
Howard Farr: Signalhorn provides government and NGO customers secure, flexible, and reliable solutions, including encrypted videoconferencing, VoIP, video monitoring, data transfer, secure networks, and Internet access. Signalhorn’s on-site equipment offerings and ease-of-use solutions are designed to have communications up and running quickly. Through secure Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which can be rapidly established on demand, Signalhorn links to any site in the world to deliver any type of secure communications. Signalhorn’s solutions enhance inter-agency communications and provide vital connections to outside networks from remote locations. Signalhorn has developed a range of mobile networks in conjunction with service partners and government and NGO customers. These flexible and easy-to-deploy solutions include tactical mobile and transportable satellite systems on a variety of vehicles, such as field communications shelters, trucks, trailers, and sea-going vessels. Flexibility of field deployment provides immediate and effective command and control between operational units and headquarters during maneuvers or disaster response. Key advantages include: • Secure and redundant single-source provider • Dedicated bandwidth and leased lines • Secure co-location facilities • Strategic global partnerships providing in-country support • Flexibility for changing missions • Real-time data transfer enables remote decision making • On-site service in remote locations The mobility and ease-of-deployment of Signalhorn networks are ideal for comms-on-the-move, remote location, and disaster response operations. Signalhorn also understands the importance of customer-managed networks where classified information is constantly handled and can support the autonomous operation of customer networks in the field. Signalhorn can also provide redundancy through back-up hubs, networks and operations, either within a standalone network environment or integrated within a wider global network
DW : Can you elaborate on the agreement you recently signed with Poland? Can you tell us about the testing laboratory you will be setting up with WZL, a Polish Government Subsidiary?
Howard Farr: After more than two decades of producing advanced military command and control field operation communication units for the Polish Ministry of Defense, Signalhorn and WZL will now be in a position to offer these complex communication units worldwide. A component of the expansion includes the creation of Nuclear Electro Magnetic Pulse (NEMP) testing laboratory for communication equipment allowing Signalhorn and WZL to certify and produce communication solutions that will withstand Electro Magnetic Shock in the event of a nuclear event. Such certified equipment is in demand by a number of defense and government agencies around the world.
DW : Can you tell us more about your presence in Europe and the current contracts you are fulfilling?
Howard Farr: Signalhorn has its genesis in the Swiss PTT- earth station, whichwas established over 40 years ago in Leuk, Switzerland. That facility today is one of two Signalhorn state-of-the-art technical centers delivering global turnkey satellite communications solutions for blue-chip corporate, government, NGO and vertical market customers. Signalhorn was founded in February 2012 when Robert Kubbernus acquired the Satlynx Group of Companies from GE Capital. Now a private holding company, Signalhorn is comprised of three entities: SignalhornSARL, Signalhorn AG, and Signalhorn Trusted Networks GmbH. Mr. Kubbernus serves as Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer. Through the intervening decades the company underwent several management and name changes stemming from mergers and acquisitions. Satlynx in 2002 as a JV between SES, Gilat and Alcatel.Satlynx GE in 2007 and GESatcom in 2010. We manage a network of some 8,000 remote units – primarily in Europe, Scandinavia, Middle East and Africa – but also in other parts of the world too. We also provide services for the Energy Sector, Enterprise Business and of course Government and NGOs, and we have a small but active Maritime sector.
DW : What kind of joint ventures does your company intend to pursue in the future? Can you tell us a bit about your existing partnerships?
Howard Farr: Signalhorn is well accustomed to working with partners. We enjoy the collaboration of around 60 fully qualified and certified Service Partners worldwide; in addition, we work closely with a number of the world’s leading telecommunications providers in order to enable the extension of their networks to meet their own customers’ demands. The future for Signalhorn is all about collaboration and partnership. It’s no longer acceptable to provide core teleport services only and customers really want to service providers to provide everything from the core to the edge of their networks.
DW : Signalhorn was recently selected to continue the operation and management of a pan-African network for one of the world’s leading providers of offshore service vessels to the global energy industry. Can you tell us more about this?
Howard Farr: This 600KEuro contract is exciting news for Signalhorn. However, many of our larger customers do not wish to be named in press articles or even customer presentations. This is understandable, but frustrating from a marketing and sales perspective as you can imagine.
DW : Could you explain how Signalhorn's “hybrid, technology-agnostic network” works? Who are the primary maritime customers for the project?
Howard Farr: Governments and businesses everywhere are demanding the right technology mix to meet their current and expansion business requirements, with the ultimate goal of 100% service uptime. Satellite, fiber and Wi-Fi and 3G/4G are fully complementary. Where network failure is not an option and redundancy is required, hybrid solutions that marry the best of each technology will always win the day. This is where Signalhorn delivers solutions that others cannot. Signalhorn’s Xtend service, for example, is primarily targeted at the Enterprise sector, for those customers that cannot afford to lose connectivity for even a short while. Signalhorn developed the concept of the 100% SLA, based on using hybrid technology. This means that two or more separate and diverse network technologies will be used at each location with fully automated switching between the two networks based on the current network status. This provides a better and more efficient way to guarantee 100% availability than improving the robustness of one single technology. Our Xtend solution is based on the same components as the back-up solution, but in this case,we also provide the primary connection and assume full responsibility for the whole corporate network. The modular design and standardization of components allows for any combination of network technologies at each location and within the whole corporate network. This way Signalhorn provides a unified interface to the customer at each location, while the underlying network is a hybrid combination of various technologies that are seamlessly integrated by Signalhorn. The solution is offered as "technology-agnostic",meaning the customer does not need to know or worry about which network technology is being used. The customer simply wants the network to stay operational, to help them carry out their important work without interruption. Signalhorn markets its 100% SLA service primarily to enterprise and retail customers to ensure that they can always process Point of Sale (POS) transactions. This level of availability is particularly important for retail businesses with extended opening hours or 24/7 operations, such as petrol stations.
DW : Could you tell us a bit about your R&D efforts?
Howard Farr: Although Signalhorn is not necessarily an R&D center, our engineers and technicians often find themselves working very closely with manufacturers and network operators – and customers – to de-bug or develop services. This was particularly notable with the development of the Xtend service, which has already been deployed to some 600 customer sites since its introduction.Signalhorn also offers training courses – especially relevant for some of our Defense customers.