Interview with Phil Emmel, Datasat CEO

Monday 23rd June 14

What do you think is driving the communications sector today?

Understanding our client’s business is our business goal. In the past, there has been a trend for communications service providers to focus on a single technology or small technology subset. It was often the case that technical requirements would come before business requirements thereby limiting the client’s business goal. Today we can offer a great deal more than this. Organisations are looking for service providers to deliver solutions that enable true business advantage for them, not just a communications pipe. Although delivering a complex communications solution still requires dedicated know-how the challenge is that clients need vendors to understand their pain points and help them find a solution that works for their business as well as budget.

Datasat Communications has been known as a satellite specialist. Is this no longer appropriate?

Datasat Communications has for delivering robust, secure, high quality, global satellite networks. However, Datasat has never been solely a satellite provider. The company has always taken time to understand customer needs and provide the network infrastructure that best meets those requirements. We provide intelligent networks in hard to reach places so it’s not surprising that, until recently, satellite has been a key enabling technology. But if you look at the networks we provide for government diplomatic services throughout the world, mining companies across Africa and Native American tribes, there's much more than satellite involved.

So, is satellite still relevant?

With the new generation of high throughput satellite delivering increasingly greater data rates and lower cost, satellite is perhaps more relevant for remote communications that it has ever been. However, Datasat is technology agnostic. Although we have our own earth station and fully equipped Network Operation Centre, we are not going to force an unsuitable infrastructure on our customers. Every project is a bespoke solution where we will select the best mix of technologies for that project. The emphasis has to be on the business solution first and last.

If Datasat Communications is technology independent, how does the wireless product range from Datasat Technologies fit into this picture?

Datasat Technologies, our wireless division, was created to design and deliver a range of intelligent wireless systems, particularly aimed at the outdoor market where rugged, reliable devices are needed for harsh environments. We developed these because we couldn’t find anything on the market that met the demands of our customer’s environments.  They are true layer three based products and we offer a full ecosystem of products to enable a complete wireless network design.  These devices currently sell through high end IT and Wireless distributors around the world and offer an entirely new way of handling data over a mesh network. 

Datasat Communications company, on the other hand, is a bespoke network solutions design and integration business that will use whatever communication technology is available on the market to achieve the best result for the client’s need.  Owning our very own wireless business helps greatly when clients are looking to distribute the landed satellite connection around their remote location.

You talk about business solutions and 'pain points'. What exactly do you mean?

This is the biggest change that has taken place at Datasat. Customers don't just need a communications link, they’re really trying to connect business applications, connect business data, connect business people. We work to solve our customer’s actual business need through innovative communication solutions, whether that’s reduced mobile phone roaming costs using our very own Datasat VoiP app or consolidating remote control and monitoring via our 24/7 Network Operation Centre.

Another example that is often at the forefront of our client’s mind is the security of people and assets on remote mine sites. Having created solutions to address this specific need we can deliver surveillance systems over the same network infrastructure as other site communications services. What's more, we enable extended coverage and improved performance while reducing the amount of equipment and management required. This is where Datasat can really make a difference.

We recognise that our strengths lie in the agility, speed and quality of our deployments, often the sort of things only possible through a smaller company that can operate more nimbly. As you might imagine our company was born from team of people with a real passion for the communications industry and our goal still remains to create an enabling difference to our client’s businesses.

That sounds great. But, don't customers want to deal with a single supplier?

Most of the organisations that we deal with wish to have a single contract with a single set of SLAs from a single supplier. Let's be honest, we're all happier when there's only one primary contact. Datasat Communications has spent the last quarter of a century building strong industry partnerships so that we are in a position to provide a single service to customers, which covers their global communications needs. They have the reassurance that when they contact the company they will get to speak with someone that has practical experience of their business and their network.

So, what's next?

Datasat is known as one of the best and most trustworthy communication companies around today.  We have grown steadily through a very simple formula: design and build robust, bespoke, highly engineered communications solutions for remote locations; solutions that are reliable and designed so that our client’s business objectives can be met, lower total cost of ownership achieved and higher return on investment across the lifetime of the network.