Home INTERVIEWS Hasan Hüseyin ERTOK, CEO of Türksat: “As an important player within Turkish defence and aerospace industry, we plan to increase our activities further in 2023, with 6 satellites covering a very significant area and international partnerships.”

Hasan Hüseyin ERTOK, CEO of Türksat: “As an important player within Turkish defence and aerospace industry, we plan to increase our activities further in 2023, with 6 satellites covering a very significant area and international partnerships.”

by MSI

Ümit BAYRAKTAR / ubayraktar@milscint.com

Türksat is a crucial stakeholder in defence and aerospace industry with its satellite fleet and satellite communication and various information technology services it offers. Hasan Hüseyin Ertok, CEO of Türksat explained the company’s recent activities and its future plans for MSI TDR readers.

MSI TDR: In Türksat’s agenda, there are a number of satellite projects. How will Türksat 5A, launched on 8 January, and Türksat 5B, launched on 19 December, contribute to Türksat’s development?

Hasan Hüseyin ERTOK: I can sum up the answer with just two sentences: It will make us much stronger. We have expanded our satellite fleet with those two new satellites.

On 28 June we put Türksat 5A into service with the attendance of our President and started offering services at 31° East orbit with our own satellite again. As such, we increased Türksat’s space capabilities by offering satcom services from three different orbits. With Türksat 5A we increased our current Ku-Band communications throughput and we started to utilise the new Ku-Band frequency as it has only recently been rolled out. Our aims with this satellite are increasing our sales numbers, especially in foreign markets, and contribute to the export figures of our country.

As for Türksat 5B, launched on 19 December by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, it definitely is a milestone for us. It will be the flagship of Türksat’s satellite fleet and the strongest satellite we have for communication. It will enter service on the 42° East orbit and cover a very wide area, including all Middle East, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, North and East Africa, Nigeria, South Africa, and their close neighbours. It is in the High Throughput Satellite (HTS) class, able to handle at least twenty times the throughput of Fixed Service Satellite (FSS) class satellites. With the satellite’s Ka-Band payload, utilising frequency reuse and multiple beam coverage concepts, more than 55 Gbps data throughput will be achieved, giving us more than 18 times of our current throughput in the Ka-Band. We predict this increased throughput will be important in increasing our activities in commercial sectors, especially shipping. Furthermore, with the Türksat 5B’s high data capacity, the areas that are currently out of coverage will stay out no longer, giving us an opportunity to set up internet infrastructure in hard-to-reach areas. The satellite will offer commercial services for a significant part of the world’s population in a very wide area.

Turkey’s strongest satellite so far by payload, Türksat 5B, has a 4.5-ton launch weight and 15 kW power capacity, in addition to a new generation electrical propulsion system. After the satellite is put into service, Türksat 3A and 4A, serving in that same orbit and carrying the heaviest burden of broadcasting, will have a capable back-up and our Ku-Band throughput will increase. With its expected lifecycle of over 35 years, it will ensure the protection of the frequency and orbital usage rights of Turkey on the 42° East orbit. Türksat 5B will meet the satcom needs of our country for years to come, with its more than 55 Gbps Ka-Band data throughput.

Domestic Communications Satellite Türksat 6A project, one of Turkey’s most important, is going full steam ahead. This project is crucial to our country’s future in the space. We are developing the subsystems, the ground station, and the software of the satellite with our national resources.

MSI TDR: Can you elaborate on Türksat 6A, Turkey’s first completely domestic communications satellite? What kind of market share will Turkey claim in the international satellite sector after this project is completed?

Hasan Hüseyin ERTOK: Domestic Communications Satellite Türksat 6A project, one of Turkey’s most important, is going full steam ahead. This project is crucial to our country’s future in the space. We are developing the subsystems, the ground station, and the software of the satellite with our national resources. With the contributions of Türksat engineers who received training through technology transfer programmes of Türksat 3A, Türksat 4A and Türksat 4B satellites, Türksat 6A is being produced with the highest domestic production ratio possible.

Integration of the Engineering Model of Türksat 6A satellite has been completed in April in the Space Systems Assembly Integration and Test Centre (AIT), and its systems-level satellite environment tests has commenced. Some of these tests are Thermal Test, Acoustic Vibration and Sinusoidal Vibration Tests, Centre of Mass Measurements, and Static Load Tests. Flight Model integration activities are being done in AIT Centre as well. The project led to domestic development of 29 various equipment with our national resources, and this fact alone is one of the most important achievements of the project, and their production and testing processes were completed successfully as well. Production and testing processes continue for the equipment that will be used for Flight Model. As the developed equipment are produced in line with international standards, we will have marketable products for the satellite projects in the international market.

Our aim is to send our satellite to space in the first half of 2023 and make Turkey one of the few countries that produce their own communication satellites. With Türksat 6A project, our production capabilities for space systems will be considered as mature, and our country will be exporting space technologies.

Türksat 6A satellite will expand Türksat’s satellite service area, with its Eastern coverage area that includes India. It will also bring our company’s most important orbits, 42° East, and the satellites currently serving in that orbit redundancy and an important capacity increase.

Türksat 5A

Service Quality Built Over 30 Years of Experience

MSI TDR: Türksat is among the important stakeholders for the defence and aerospace industry, especially with its satellites. What kinds of solutions does Türksat provide for the sector?

Hasan Hüseyin ERTOK: Türksat has been founded to meet all satcom needs of Turkey, both civilian and military, and is working very closely with the relevant organisations. With our 30 years of experience in satellite activities, we are working tirelessly to meet the needs of all of our stakeholders which receive our satellite services, as quickly as possible at the highest quality. When we plan for new satellites, we consider the future needs of our country as priority, and we invest with that in mind. When we take a closer look at Türksat 5B satellite’s Ka-Band coverage area, we see that important steps have been taken to meet the increasing broadband demands in certain areas. As mobility increases every day, we predict Türksat 5B will play a very important role in providing broadband satcom services to ships and aircraft.

As Türksat we continue and increase our investments for ground systems, a crucial part of satellite communications, in addition to satellites. The SATCOM on the Move (SOTM) system we developed under our PeycON brand brings mobility to fixed satellite communication applications. PeycON HidrON and PeycON TerrON SOTM antennas we developed for both civilian and military applications gave us the capability to offer satcom services with Türksat branded antennas.

We also started a project with ASELSAN to domestically develop a Ka-Band HUB system and modems to further augment the peer-to-peer services. With this project, we will develop Ka-Band satcom HUB system, currently offered by a handful of manufacturers, in Turkey, and offer all peer-to-peer services with our domestic systems.

As for aerospace, we are increasing the Ku- and Ka-Band satcom capacity we provide to aerial vehicles. We accelerated our development efforts of Ka-Band Internet of Things (IoT) antenna to include satcom technology in IoT, as it is one of the important technology concepts of the near future. Türksat is increasing its investments every day to provide its satellite services peer-to-peer with turnkey products and services.

Türksat 5A was launched on 8 January with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral spaceport in Florida, USA.

Wide Service Array in IT

MSI TDR: When we look at Türksat’s efforts in IT, we see plenty of important topics such as data centre management, cyber security, and geographic information systems. Has any of your IT efforts utilised in defence and aerospace industry? What kind of activities do you have in this matter?

Hasan Hüseyin ERTOK: In geographic information technologies field, we provide Satellite Imaging Delivery and Processing, Geographic Information Systems and Development of Geographic Software, Positioning Based Systems and Mobile Mapping (LIDAR and 360-degree panoramic imaging) services to public organisations and institutions, local governments, and private sector.

Delivery, processing, and end-user licensing of satellite images in various resolutions, developing value added products with these images, and archiving, storing, and presenting these images are among the services we provide since 2007 as Türksat to many sectors, especially agriculture, forestry, environment, smart cities, and defence.

As for our cyber security services, we are performing various operations to protect our critical infrastructure, especially e-Government Gateway, our satellite infrastructure, Türksat cable network, and our IT projects. With our experience we gained with our past projects and intra-organisational processes, we have product development activities that we consider to opening to public organisations and institutions, private sector, and abroad. These products will be aimed at not only the defence and aerospace industry, but to health, banking, communications, and other sectors.

On the other hand, we offer physical and virtual storage, Disaster Recovery Centre (DRC) and business sustainability services to public organisations and institutions in our data centre. Furthermore, to those public organisations and institutions we also offer services such as setting up data centre buildings compatible with TIER standards along with container data centres, procurement and installation of server, network and backup equipment, uninterrupted transfer of current systems to new data centres, and maintenance of current active and passive devices.

In addition to the activities I have mentioned, we also analyse the needs of public organisations and institutions, we determine the right solutions for every organisation, and offer relevant services for cyber security, as it is one of the keystones of digital transformation. As such, we ensure the procurement of what is exactly required for said public organisations and institutions without dead-end investments, keeping costs down. We also plan to offer the most effective cyber security infrastructure possible. We work together with our sub-contractors for our services and solutions, contributing to Cyber Security Ecosystem organised under Presidency of Defence Industries.

As Türksat we continue and increase our investments for ground systems, a crucial part of satellite communications, in addition to satellites. The SATCOM on the Move (SOTM) system we developed under our PeycON brand brings mobility to fixed satellite communication applications. PeycON HidrON and PeycON TerrON SOTM antennas we developed for both civilian and military applications gave us the capability to offer satcom services with Türksat branded antennas.

MSI TDR: Türksat also manages an internet and TV infrastructure that serves a significant portion of Turkish population. Can you give us some information on your recent customer numbers? What kind of future services do you plan to provide?

Hasan Hüseyin ERTOK: Today, we offer high quality, fast and reliable to 1,396,000 Cable TV and 1,166,000 CableNet customers through our developed infrastructure covering 24 provinces and more than 4.8 million houses.

We continuously invest in our infrastructure to both renew and expand it, and we increase the investment amount every year. Our most important infrastructure target is to make our fibre optic infrastructure as widespread as possible. Our CableNet platform, providing the fastest internet service in Turkey, grew by 29 percent by revenue in 2020. In the future, we aim to increase the houses we reach, further diversify our products and services, add to our user base, and increase internet speeds, and our efforts continue to develop more cooperation projects for these aims.

Production and testing processes of Türksat 5B were executed in Airbus installations.

MSI TDR: Can you share the latest developments regarding e-Government Gateway?

Hasan Hüseyin ERTOK: Türksat not only provides uninterrupted communication services with its communication infrastructure and satellites all around the world, but also accelerates Turkey’s IT services with the e-Government Gateway it operates. We are happy to bring public services 24/7 to our citizens with e-Government Gateway, with its 56 million strong userbase. Our people do not need to wait in lines to get the documents they need anymore, they can apply to public services, get the information they need, and more whenever they find convenient.

2020 was a very eventful year, bringing the pandemic to the top of the world’s agenda. With the new conditions we found ourselves in, perhaps unimagined by any government or organisation, unexperienced by anyone, we had to perform extraordinarily in 2020. We had to meet many of our needs from home, and this showed us how crucial the e-Government Gateway services were for our country. In 2019, with 5,827 public services from 804 public organisations, we had a monthly average of 319 million operations in e-Government Gateway system. This number rose to 477 million in 2020. During this period, our citizens were able to access public services in the comfort of their homes. Our yearly total was 3.8 billion operations for 2019, and with the effect of the pandemic this number reached more than 5.7 billion operations in 2020. Many services our citizens needed in pandemic conditions were quickly integrated into e-Government Gateway. In this period, the new Pandemic Social Support Application saw around 176 million uses, HES Code Generation and Listing saw 137 million, Short Working Allowance Application saw 1.16 million and Restructuring of Social Security Debts saw around 10.7 million uses.

In the survey we had, 95 percent of our citizens using e-Government Gateway expressed they were satisfied with the services we provide, and 91.5 percent of the users expressed they could access the services 24/7.

Türksat 6A is planned for a 2023 launch.

MSI TDR: Could you please inform us about your evaluations about the future targets of Türksat?

Hasan Hüseyin ERTOK: Türksat has been founded with public capital and operates as a corporation, and it continues in its path to be a leading company in communications and IT. Our company has been leading the technologic developments in satellite, cable, and information services, contributing to Turkey as a whole, in addition to acting with social responsibility.

In 2020, Türksat’s responsibilities have seen an increase as the IT and communication services became even more important in our daily lives, especially since pandemic conditions forced us to stay at home for a significant portion of the year. Our homes became offices for us, schools for our children, and socialisation was limited to our families in this period, and as such, internet demand greatly increased. Our total internet traffic was 965 Gbit at the start of 2020 but surpassed 1,600 Gbit at the end of the year. Türksat, contributing to our country with communication and information technologies, continued its growth trend with 40.7 percent in 2020. We increased our total sales to ₺2,495,000,000 in that year.

Türksat also has been investing every year, developing its satellite and cable infrastructure. In 2020 alone the company invested around ₺1.6 billion, and it aims to further consolidate its status as the IT centre of the public sector with a number of R&D projects. Türksat is a vanguard in space and satellite technologies, and with our expert staff, we bring many important projects into life. We successfully completed 90 projects last year and commenced a further 98 in this year. We aim to contribute to our e-transformation of our country. In addition, a professional product compatible with all relevant standards, BELGENET, has acquired 382,000 users in 77 organisations.

We are a dynamic company that takes quick and correct decisions with our meticulous, expert, and trustworthy staff, chasing information and innovative technologies and providing flexible solutions in fields we operate in. Our past and current aim is to be the rising and reliable figure of communications, publishing, and e-transformation where “space” and “communication” are brought together with more mobile, more diversified, more efficient, and more economic solutions. In addition, as an important player within Turkish defence and aerospace industry, we plan to increase our activities further in 2023, with 6 satellites covering a very significant area and international partnerships.

We would like to thank Hasan Hüseyin ERTOK, CEO of Türksat for taking the time to answer our questions, and for providing us with such valuable information.

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