CEO at ETL Systems
Awarded with a PhD following his study at King's College, University of London, Dr Esen Bayar has over 30 years’ experience in satellite communication systems and hardware design and development. Esen joined ETL via a management buy-in in June 2003. He is engaged in developing ETL's operational procedures and technologies, which have played a pivotal role in transforming ETL into a global leader in RF engineering.
Prior to ETL, Esen took on engineering and engineering management roles working for Marconi Space and Defence Systems (now known as Airbus), Com Dev (now part of Honeywell) and Radiant Broadband Wireless Systems. He has a number of technical publications in the fields of RF and microwave design, as well as satellite and broadband wireless communications, and holds many patents.
Hi Esen, could you please tell us about ETL’s history, growth and current operations?
ETL’s heritage is in designing satellite signal routing solutions for broadcasters, who need extremely high levels of RF performance, as well as redundancy and resilience. Over time, our range has expanded to cover applications for government, defence, marine, and private VSAT networks, as well as global satellite operators.
Set up in 1984, ETL has a long and rich RF engineering history, but a key turning point for the business was in 2003, when my business partner and I acquired the company. Our vision was to make ETL a truly international company.
We introduced innovative, high-tech automated manufacturing, and elevated our product to the highest quality. We formed partnerships with our customers, which enabled us to understand the challenges they have and steer our growth along those lines. We also grew our engineering capabilities with significant investment in manufacturing, which has given us a great competitive advantage over the years, enabling us to get to market fast, retain greater control and allow innovation to flourish. We have also invested in our people throughout, which has been integral to our growth.
Fast-forward to now and ETL has 155 employees and, as well as our headquarters in Herefordshire, we have an R&D centre just north of London and sales offices in Dubai and Washington DC.
Could you give us an outline of ETL’s current range of products and services?
We design a broad range of RF equipment to serve the satellite communication sector, which is a multi-billion-dollar industry that continues to see year-on-year growth. Broadcasters rely on it, and us, to deliver high-quality content to billions of people around the world.
The beauty of satellite communication is that it doesn’t matter where you are, we can get a signal to you – while also integrating seamlessly with the terrestrial network.
What broadcasters want and need to transport has of course evolved over the years; our equipment used to send and receive lots of audio and video content, whereas now the vast majority is data.
Regardless of what is being transported, the use of satellites by broadcasters continues to be an integral piece of the jigsaw, enabling the reliable high-quality glitch-free coverage of sports, news and events the consumer has come to expect.
ETL’s main function is to develop and provide the necessary equipment and technology for transporting data from broadcast end-users to the satellite dishes, and then on to the satellites themselves. On the return, we pick up the data and transport it for the end user/operator.
In order to achieve this, the signal frequency needs to be increased and modulated - and with the satellite networks themselves becoming smarter and capable of greater throughput, technology in the ground segment has advanced and moved forward. Over time, our innovations are enabling us to help broadcasters to transport data via satellite networks at a lower cost without compromising on redundancy or performance.
What new products are we seeing coming to the market?
Research and development is central to our success and we often supersede our own products ourselves. We are always aiming to fulfil new requirements. I'm a strong believer in the power of teamwork and having a multidisciplinary skill-set in-house. At ETL, we’ve brought together expertise in RF and electronics, mechanical & thermal design, software, RF over fibre and all aspects of high-tech product design & manufacturing.
A major milestone this year has been the development of a new high-density large matrix called Havoc, which enables routing for up to 256 x 256 input and output feeds – the world’s first single chassis RF router of this capacity. These products are over a metre tall and can carry an amazing amount of data. This is the largest and most advanced device of its kind and enables the operator to cut down on modems and modulators and significantly reduce capital expenditure.
We have also launched a series of products called Genus, which is a completely new concept. We are not an “us too” company and this range demonstrates that. It is a flexible and intelligent habitat, great for combining lots of functional building blocks - power supplies, amplifiers, matrices, frequency converters, RF over fibre – in one unit. It’s not the conventional way of thinking about things. We’ve redesigned and reengineered it from the ground up to enable much more flexibility.
For example, the power supply normally has a five-year lifespan, while an amplifier has 15 years. Before the power supply goes down, Genus would send a notification to the end-user to remind them to replace it. The aim with all of this is to future-proof the equipment, add flexibility, and all while continue to deliver the best performance and redundancy.
Are there any projects you are particularly proud of?
There are many, including the two I have already mentioned. I am tremendously proud of the high-density, high-tech H-series matrices we’ve developed, including Havoc. Also developing Genus, a completely novel technology, from scratch.
Aside from these, we also introduced a new set of products for RF over fibre applications about five years ago. These are now responsible for about a fifth of our total sales, which has been absolutely incredible growth.
More recently, we launched a range of frequency converters, a first for us coming up against a number of established competitors. In a short timeframe, many large global operators have already begun adopting our technology. We are serving both indoor and outdoor applications.
Why do your customers continue to choose you over your competitors?
I think I can distill this down to three basic points.
In no specific order, the first is the quality and performance of our products; the second is our passion and customer empathy; and the third is our partnership with customers from concept to delivery, from beginning to end.
These are the three fundamental points that ensure our customers are satisfied when they choose us.
What’s next for ETL Systems?
Our product development is never ending. Our mission is always to come up with better, more intelligent and highly reliable products.
Perhaps the most promising new technology we are working on, which we expect to realise and begin commercial manufacture of in 2022, is digital IF for the satellite ground segment. This new technology, which we are working on alongside the European Space Agency, will enable us to convert ground infrastructure transmissions from analogue to digital, with many very interesting benefits for end-users.
This is highly exciting, but equally challenging. We have been working on this since 2019, and at times we were left scratching our heads and had to go back to the drawing board. But we thrive on these challenges. We’ve got a winning formula now and I believe in time it will have tremendous applications and implications for broadcasters. Watch this space!
Find out more here: https://www.etlsystems.com/.