Industry Speakers

Industry Talks on Low-Earth Orbit Satellite Networks

Apurv Mehra

Apurv Mehra

Senior Product Manager, Emerging Markets, Microsoft

Talk Title: BlendNet: Assisted Last-Mile Digital Content Delivery Platform

Talk Abstract: India has millions of digital native users who own smartphones but still face several barriers in realizing full potential of internet and the associated digital economy. The key barriers can be classified under language, digital and financial literacy, and data availability. BlendNet attempts to provide digital content and services at the last mile with a combination of human (micro-retailers) and hardware (edge device). While the intelligent edge device can receive bulk digital content via satellites which can be transferred locally without using data the micro-retailers assist last mile underserved users in overcoming the other barriers. Microsoft is partnering with SES, Novopay and CloudPoint to pilot this platform at scale in the Indian states of UP, Bihar and Jharkhand. The platform currently supports the use cases of entertainment, education and jobs and skilling. The current deployment leverages SES’s GEO satellites for providing reliable downlink of bulk data in rural and remote regions and relies on intermittent cellular connectivity for uplink of telemetry and analytics. We are also exploring usage of LEO satellites for providing uplink functionality in regions of no connectivity.

Bio: Apurv Mehra is currently a Senior Product Manager in the Emerging Market Group (EMG), Microsoft India. His current focus is to launch a new product which helps deliver content and digital services to the last mile underserved consumers in an assisted manner via neighbourhood 'Kirana' stores. He was previously a Research Engineer in the Technology for Emerging Markets group (TEM) at Microsoft Research India. His research involved designing complex socio-technical systems to cater to the needs of users in emerging markets.He is also the Co-Founder and CTO of Three Wheels United, a data-driven lending company which focuses on providing credit to purchase electric vehicles to low income users who are typically excluded for formal banking sector, thereby serving dual purpose of financial inclusion and reducing carbon emissions.


Kiruthika Devaraj

Kiruthika Devaraj

Sr. Director of Engineering, Planet Labs PBC

Talk Title: Planet's Radio Communication Network

Talk Abstract: In this talk, I will start with providing an overview of Planet Labs, our founding mission, and a summary of what Planet has built to-date to serve the Earth Observation/Geospatial community. In the second part of the talk, I will focus on the satellite communication network reliability and the throughput requirements that are needed to meet a mission as large as Planet's. I will follow that with discussing how Planet has effectively tackled these objectives by using the agile aerospace philosophy of rapid prototyping and iterative design. By continuously improving the satellite radios, building and upgrading a large, flexible, ground station network, and having a fully automated mission control system, Planet has achieved the following:
1. Drastically fast and reliable commanding and tasking ability with our satellites. Today, we are able to successfully make first contact with 50+ satellites within a single orbit when we launch them as a large constellation as well as finish commissioning our satellites within 10 days after first contact. This is enabled by our low speed transceiver (LST) which is an open source project.
2. Extremely high download capability. Today, Planet is able to reliably downlink 30TB of imagery from our satellites per day with the high speed radio and ground network.


Bio: Dr. Kiruthika Devaraj is a Sr. Director of Engineering at Planet Labs PBC. She leads the spacecraft design groups to design and manufacture the avionics, power, and communications systems for Planet’s satellites. Planet builds and operates the world’s largest constellation of remote sensing satellites to image the Earth on a daily basis and make change visible, accessible, and actionable. A recent notable project includes the architecture and development of Planet’s high speed downlink radio and antenna that achieved 1.7 Gbps data throughput from a 3U form-factor CubeSat. Prior to Planet, Kiruthika was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Kavli Institute of Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at Stanford University where she built microwave and millimeter-wave instruments to study star formation processes. One of the instruments she built, Argus a 16-pixel W-band focal plane array is commissioned at the Green Bank Telescope. She has a M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. At Georgia Tech, she worked on the NASA mission Juno, building a laboratory analog of Jupiter’s atmosphere and studying the microwave properties of gases in the Jovian atmosphere.


Gint Atkinson

Gint Atkinson

VP, Network Strategy and Digital Architecture, SES

Talk Title: TBA

Bio: Gint Atkinson is the Vice President Network Strategy and Architecture at SES Networks, a provider of global managed data services. He leads the transformation for SES Networks’ 5G, virtualization, cloud, and network platform architectures that unify multiple satellite constellations and deliver 5G services from the edge to the cloud.
Prior to SES Networks, he served as the head of technology for Colt where he pioneered and launched the first large scale SDN, SD-WAN, and global Datacenter Interconnect services in 2012 offering on-demand elastic terabit services across 100 datacenters in Asia Pacific.
Mr. Atkinson has worked in the networking, mobile, and emerging media industries over 32 years as a serial entrepreneur and innovator for start-ups and large service providers including T-Mobile, NTT DOCOMO, AT&T, KDDI, Virgin Media and others, where he has led the development and first to market launch of industry changing technologies and services.


Debopam Bhattacherjee

Debopam Bhattacherjee (HOST)

Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research – India

Bio: Debopam recently joined Microsoft Research - India as a Senior Researcher after receiving his PhD in computer networks from ETH Zurich. His research focuses on “new space” satellite networks, low latency terrestrial networks, and Internet architecture. His research work has received multiple awards in the past -- IRTF’s Applied Networking Research Prize 2020, a Best Paper Award at IMC 2020, and a best dataset award at PAM 2020. Debopam earned his masters degree from KTH Royal Institute of Technology. He earned his bachelors degree in computer science from Jadavpur University.