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Robert Demers, Vice President for Government Services at Thuraya, outlines how the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) industry is adapting product offerings for government communications and responding to emerging BYOD trends

What are the main communications challenges facing government end-users today? And how is the MSS industry responding to these challenges?

Demers: A number of things are happening simultaneously. With the global economy still in a slow recovery mode, government budgets will remain constrained. At the same time, governments have to ensure that their ICT infrastructure deployed for national interests is properly secured. Correspondingly, the government sector also needs to leverage the rise of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). This shift towards an interconnected network of devices, which will enable users to “control” devices from other devices, will further drive up security requirements for government users.

For government organizations, the ability to stay connected is mission-critical. MSS operators therefore need to develop practical, cost-effective and secure solutions to help governments work around constraints and respond to emerging challenges — solutions that are compatible with dynamic markets and architectures. Increasingly, the MSS industry has an important role to play in enabling government users to address “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) demands, by empowering end-users to use their own smartphones, apps and address book for work-related purposes over a satellite network. With this type of technology end-users are able to employ a familiar communications device in a new and efficient manner, enabling them to focus on their work tasks and increasing their effectiveness in conducting their primary mission.

Indeed, the hot topic at the moment is the impact of BYOD on the government sector. What kind of role does a MSS operator play in facilitating the use of personal devices in, say, remote deployment and harsh environments?

Demers: BYOD appears to be here to stay. It is important for MSS operators to ensure that their service offerings are compatible with government users’ requirements, architectures and BYOD policies — and then, innovate around devices that users depend on and are familiar with in their daily lives. For government users, the key here is that the devices being used are interoperable with other devices and end-user architectures without them having to change their Concept of Operations (CONOP).

There is great potential for MSS operators to play a more proactive role in customizing new, value-added solutions for government use, as well as enable BYOD devices for multi-modal use: native networks, satellite, and mixed use.

Thuraya is focused on collaborating with our government customers, developers and distribution channels to gain a deeper understanding of evolving user requirements, and ensuring our products are compatible with their communication needs. This is reflected in how we developed the Thuraya SatSleeve, a satellite adaptor that pioneered the BYOD concept in the satellite industry. Today, the SatSleeve is increasingly used by government organizations and was recently deployed in aiding humanitarian relief operations during Typhoon Haiyan. This unique technology allowed first responders to utilize effective, interoperable field communications, and concentrate on their relief mission. Satellite technology became more than a tool: it became a real enabler.

A critical concern when it comes to government communications is security. Can you update us on how the mobile satellite sector can help ensure secure networks to facilitate BYOD for government users?

Demers: Government users require assured, secure, and reliable mobile satellite communications to connect to their headquarters and communicate safely within closed user groups. As such, MSS operators need to employ a high level of communications security across their networks to ensure that the s

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