Hunter and L3 3Di

Hunter and L3 3Di:   a case study in improbable solutions

Hunter found the competitive advantage to displace a long-standing incumbent.

The Challenge

During the height of the Afghan conflict, L3 requested Hunter’s assistance on a proposal for a US Government project connecting 43 remote stations spread throughout the country.  The network was operational on a particular satellite with an incumbent service provider who in many ways enjoyed a high barrier-to-entry situation:  all 43 sites were positioned within mountainous terrain and pointed to a particular satellite to the west-south-west direction; limited time was available to complete a network re-design; and due to the sensitive nature of the site locations and limited time, it was impossible to visit the locations for site surveys.

After evaluating the network, Hunter determined that providing a bid with the same satellite would give no competitive advantage to L3.  An alternate satellite was required and of the available options, one or two satellites positioned in the eastern arc of the Indian Ocean region could provide greater value in terms of cost per Mbps.  The challenge was that such a move would require a nearly 70 degree swing of all remote antennas to see Hunter’s preferred satellite option.  Without the benefit of a site survey for each remote site, neither the end-client nor L3 would risk proposing such a solution, as it would be uncertain as to whether the terrain would physically block access to the satellite for some of the sites.  Adding a further complication: for security reasons the end-client could only provide the latitude/longitude of the locations within an accuracy of two miles.

The positive news was that these same challenges would likely prevent other service providers from offering such a risky proposal of moving these sites to an alternate satellite.

The Solution

Hunter engaged in a process that took the antenna location for each site within the two mile radius (a possible location of 12.5 square miles), and used topographical software to analyze the probability of being physically blocked to our proposed satellite.  This process required approximately four days of setup and an additional two days of data analysis using specialized software on high-end processing computers.  The result was an analysis that provided a topographical map of each 12.5 square mile location for each of the 43 sites, giving a total probability of physical blockage.  The results were surprisingly positive given the mountainous terrain.  Of the 43 locations, only seven had any possibility of blockage and of those only three had a greater than 5% chance of blockage.  To validate these results, Hunter repeated the process using a second set of topographical data from an alternate source – which mirrored the initial results.

Armed with the analysis showing a 3D representation of each 12.5 square mile area, overlaid on a Google Earth imaging file, L3 was convinced of the merits and submitted a proposal that included the recommended satellite of choice at a cost reduction of greater than 40% compared to the incumbent satellite.  This cost reduction amounted to several tens of millions of dollars to the client and ultimately for the US taxpayer, and provided L3 with a material advantage for their bid.  Perhaps most importantly, the proposal allowed the end-client an interactive tool within the Google Earth app, to view the proof behind the analysis – a key factor in providing the necessary confidence for such a network change.

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