Why Satellite for SD-WAN?

Why Satellite for SD-WAN?

Adding the critical layer for network resilience

A Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a virtual WAN architecture that allows enterprises to leverage any combination of transport services – including MPLS, LTE and broadband internet services – to securely connect users to applications. The responsibility of network architects is always to balance cost, business risks and network performance, yet in recent times the pressure on cost reduction is forcing architects to accept dangerously low network availability risks. Yet this does not need to be – satellite services can add network resilience and keep costs low.

But does satellite even work on SD-WAN?

This is the expected 1st response, and the answer is simply YES. Recently business satellite services solutions such as Twoobii provides seamless integration with SD-WAN solutions.

To further underline this consider Amazon’s announcement that its AWS Ground Station program is now integrated with ground stations from Atlas Space Operations, a company that offers “satellite communications” as a service. Also, Microsoft announced a partnership with Ball Aerospace in September. In a demonstration for the U.S. Air Force, Microsoft showed how Azure ExpressRoute, which brings private broadband satellite connections into Microsoft’s Azure SDWAN cloud, might connect to a planned constellation of small satellites for military use.

While these examples refer more to what can be expected in the cloud space it truly underlines the new horizons coming for satellite technologies.

Who uses satellite for SD-WAN?

The 2018 Frost & Sullivan SD-WAN end-user survey indicated that 10% of the respondents currently use satellite in their WAN networks and 25% want or plan to use satellite. It is expected that this will increase as the deployment of current HTS satellite services increase and also with the expected LEO and MEO services.

The role of satellite in SD-WAN?

The fundamental advantages of satellite services remain applicable – even more so for SD-WAN applications – i.e. satellite is ultra-reliable and provides ubiquitous signal coverage.

In SD-WAN applications this means satellite can provide the layer to implement high availability and almost eliminate the business continuity risk.

With regards to data rates, satellite services for enterprise deployments can be used up to 20Mbps and in some cases even further.

Installing a high-throughput Twoobii satellite terminal provides end-users and network architects with a very reliable back-up service. The Twoobii service is not affected by tower power failures or any regional cable theft risks, making it an ideal independent alternative communication medium. Twoobii also supports SD-WAN network architectures to simplify network integration and network management requirements.

Key advantages of satellite for SD-WAN

The Twoobii HTS satellite services offer the following advantages to the SD-WAN solutions.

High Availability

With 99,99% uptime, this is the undisputed option to ensure business continuity at all times regardless of loadshedding or any other terrestrial impact. What must be noted is that the cost-saving promoted by SD-WAN architects mostly realises by replacing MPLS links with multiple broadband links – and this is great. What is much less promoted is at what risk to service availability this comes in a country with less reliable broadband service options.

Cost Saving

Unexpectedly the flexible billing options offered and “pay-per-use” options available actually result in this high availability advantage being available at lower cost points. Remember satellite is a point-to-multipoint architecture with no fixed per-link costs.

Speed of Deployment

SD-WAN solution should really only be deployed when multiple links can be integrated to add up to overall service uptime. This means alternative links must be implemented fast to ensure business operation while possibly waiting for fibre or microwave link installations. Twoobii sites can be installed by the Q-KON project team within 3 days anywhere in South Africa.


While SD-WAN solutions promote a promising cost-saving alternative to end the hidden disadvantage and business risks due to poor network availability, it is difficult to calculate and is often excluded in management reviews. HTS satellite services such as Twoobii is an elegant solution to eliminate this risk. It offers a seamless integration with SD-WAN networks adding exceptional network reliability with minimal operational cost increase.


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