10 Considerations for Choosing a Satellite
creating a communications-on the-move solution for maritime and airline operators. A typical service provider may be helping global enterprises extend their IP infrastructure to remote offices. The goal is to judge whether a specific platform will affordably prepare you for the range of opportunities you wish to pursue. and managing that diversity is the key to success. You need to examine a manufacturer’s overall communications platform – an integrated system of core and specialized capabilities that provides the underlying technology structure for a service business. topologies. partnering with cellular operators to backhaul voice and data traffic in rural locations. So when you choose a satellite technology provider. durability or mobility. while others need a TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) system capable of sharing bandwidth dynamically across multiple locations. Different networks require specific satellite bands. Some require a dedicated. or delivering core infrastructure to militaries and government organizations around the world. 1 . these considerations can make a critical difference to your immediate and long-term success. No matter what market you plan to enter or how large you want to grow your operations. you need to think in broad terms. The following guide outlines 10 considerations for choosing the right satellite communications platform for your business.Choosing the Right Technology The satellite broadband market is a growing industry – and one with an extremely diverse set of opportunities. point-to-point SCPC (Single Carrier per Channel) link. The bottom line is that satellite communications is highly characterized by diversity. The satellite network technology required to serve these customers is just as diverse. security standards or demand specialized functionality like portability.
while giving you enough core features to meet a wide range of customer needs. satellite bend or vertical market. there is a movement on the part of technology providers to support both SCPC and TDMA on the same platform. With line cards. instead of purchasing and managing multiple hubs. with demand. service providers did not have a single platform to support both SCPC and TDMA networks.air software upgrades when required. By contrast. For example. a satellite communications platform is defined by its core architecture. Consider a modular architecture design – specifically. Traditionally. Instead. These are known as universal systems and typically can support any satellite band. a hub chassis that can be loaded with line cards based on customer demand. These advances offer significant cost savings and better support customers with dynamic and growing bandwidth requirements. topology or application. A Flexible Core Architechture Star TDMA A universal platform that supports any topology. network capabilities are built into a more affordable and flexible hardware device. If a service provider wants to expand into that market. others are designed to support virtually any market requirement. it is more feasible and affordable to activate capabilities through software licensing rather than by investing in a specialized mobility platform or swapping out remote hardware. Consider a universal platform. SCPC Return Oil and Gas Network Mesh Mobility Application Internet Hub System 2 Teleport Maritime Network Military Network . SCPC systems provide point-to-point links for each site that transmits consistently high volumes of data. can share bandwidth across a service provider to start small and grow in line a group of sites based on changing bandwidth needs. Given the diverse customers that service providers support. Service providers can populate a hub one line card at a time. It’s a good idea to understand what advances providers have made in this area. Today.1: Flexible Core Architecture At the deepest level. 2: Modular Design for Scalability Launching a satellite communications network must be a measured venture. The goal is to begin earning revenue immediately and scale when it makes financial sense. core capabilities can be turned on through over-the. The concept of a universal platform has been recently advanced. essentially running two platforms inside the NOC. by contrast. A hub chassis and line card combination enables TDMA networks. Find a platform that minimizes your upfront capital and operating expenses. even if you plan to focus on a specialized industry. Service providers need to match investments in hardware infrastructure and space segment with market opportunity. The platform does not need to have all its capabilities activated. most of them manage both system types. gives service providers greater business flexibility. meeting varying markets and applications. mobility technologies are certainly not required to serve a majority of satellite communications customers. Some platforms are engineered to support a primary network configuration or a specific vertical market.
Yet. Once a VNO has established its business and has reached a desired customer base. The VNO is then given direct control of its satellite network through a distributed network management system (NMS). In addition. TDMA is a shared channel engineered for service providers that want to allocate a pool of bandwidth across multiple sites. SCPC is designed for sites that need a high-volume. This is an extremely efficient coding technique that provides maximum flexibility to satellite network Modular Design for Scalability With a hub chasis and line card system. platforms can have very different bandwidth efficiency capabilities that contribute to data efficiency. fixed. This can waste costly bandwidth. And as satellite communications becomes mainstream. it can then purchase and manage its own network infrastructure. next-generation DVB-S2 coding technology. TDMA can be configured when a network is initially launched and then be reconfigured to SCPC when a consistent traffic threshold is met. One of the challenges of sizing an SCPC link is that. it typically needs to be overdimensioned based on peak bandwidth demand.fully equipped hub with a capacity contract to match is warranted only if the business to support it already exit. more bandwidth intensive applications and more traffic in general crosses a network. A hub owner can lease line card space to a Virtual Network Operator (VNO). Another inbound technology to consider is 2D 16-State. a key development is the introduction of faster. Oil and Gas Customers Military Customers Hub System Line Cards Maritime Customers 3 . First of all. The advantage is that a network can run in TDMA mode when bandwidth is not at peak levels and then switch to SCPC mode when greater data throughput is required. which can improve bandwidth efficiency by upwards of 30% over legacy systems. This design also enables a service provider to lease instead of purchase network infrastructure for an even more affordable market entry strategy. on the inbound channel. a satellite router can adjust to changing weather and satellite spectrum conditions and may deliver an additional 50% efficiency improvement. Much of the industry has now moved to DVB-S2/ACM on the outbound channel. while ensuring reliable service quality. DVB-S2 efficiency can be expanded through a companion technology known as Adaptive Coding Modulation (ACM). service providers can build out infrastructure in line with customer demand. Let’s examine bandwidth efficiency on the outbound and inbound channels separately as the technologies differ for each. 3: Bandwidth Efficiency Another cost of running a satellite service is space segment or capacity. With ACM. as a fixed link. It’s the core unit of a satellite business. there are two main transmission modes for inbound connectivity: SCPC and TDMA. point-to-point link. On the outbound channel. Service providers need a way to lease the exact amount of capacity they need and allocate it across their total customer base as efficiently as possible. Look for a platform that supports both TDMA and SCPC over the same hardware.
Service providers need to be able to sort out with their customers which applications should be given priority over others and then code these criteria into the network and incorporate them into a customized service plan. This is especially important today as satellite networks support increasing traffic loads. 2D 16-State can provide a 10-20% increase over standard turbo codes for inbound IP throughput without sacrificing link performance. driven by diverse and dynamic applications. It’s likely that if all these applications are running simultaneously. Maximum and Committed Information Rates. By contrast. Look for a platform with advanced QoS capabilities that enable you to adjust data rates dynamically based on the widest possible range of network scenarios. Your ability to create highly flexible and customized service plans will enable you to make satellite connectivity more reliable and affordable for your customers.designs. data and video communications. 2 Mbps Bandwidth Pool 24 Mbps 3 Mbps Service Groups 18 Mbps 6 Mbps Customer 2 7 Mbps Hub System 2 Mbps 2 Mbps 4 1 Mbps 1 Mbps . Another key technology to understand is Adaptive TDMA. Let’s say an enterprise customer wants a service plan to support basic voice. which delivers benefits similar to DVB-S2/ACM to the inbound channel. local applications and other criteria. all of these technologies allow service providers to design highly efficient networks that adjust to dynamic conditions. it will result in network congestion. 4: Advanced Quality of Service A fundamental consideration when choosing a satellite technology platform is Quality of Service (QoS). With a basic platform. Advanced Quality of Service A platform with advanced Qos technology enables service providers to create SLAs based on individual sites. Together. a platform with advanced QoS enables service providers to engineer more granular plans and pricing models by introducing factors such as application prioritization and response to weather conditions. increase network availability and lower operating costs. you can segment bandwidth by customer network and end user sites to establish corresponding Minimum. It’s imperative that a satellite service provider be able to prioritize down to the application level. It also provides greater flexibility in network design with a more granular selection of block sizes and code rates.
authenticates and encrypts packets. TCP Acceleration can be performed. during file transfer. a platform that can support both TDMA and SCPC on the same router enables service providers to tailor a service plan based on time or volume conditions. 5: Data Security Commercial customers want the freedom to transmit sensitive information via broadband without the fear that this data will be intercepted or deciphered. military surveillance. IPSec (Internet Protocol Security). critical for realizing acceptable performance over a satellite link. For TDMA Mode Adaptive TDMA Mode SCPC Switching Mode TDMA mode efficiently transmits data and voice and supports video conferencing. All this can be done instantly from the network management system and without the need for a costly site visit to exchange hardware.A satellite platform that links QoS to ACM allows for additional service level categories based on how the end user wants to respond to a possible degradation of service due to weather. the router will use the smaller carrier size. Some encryption methods are not suited to this. IPSec encrypted packets cannot be read. Not only can advanced systems segment bandwidth by application and weather. they can upsell their customers to a dedicated SCPC return link. remote parts of the world. When customer sites grow larger. they can switch transmission modes based on changing bandwidth requirements. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) Acceleration software. the network adapts automatically to optimize the transmission for speed. For example. resulting in unacceptable degradation of performance. the service provider can continue to guarantee CIR on a per-remote or per-application basis. a customer can choose to tolerate a gradual degradation in CIR based on rain fade. This enables service providers to offer a premium service that will burst to a higher data throughput rate when traffic exceeds a current SLA – for example. Core Applications Bandwidth Intensive Applications Internet VoIP Technical Reports Video Seismic Data Under clear skies. all satellite traffic is encrypted concurrently. telemedicine and other applications. From a service provider’s perspective. Under heavy rain fade. availability or efficiency. Or. 6: Integration with Terrestrial Networks Organizations want broadband access and uniform applications for all of their corporate locations whether they are in major cities. Ultimately. However. At any time. As weather conditions change. Look for a platform that supports the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). or on vessels in the middle of the ocean. A satellite platform needs to provide encryption on par with terrestrial networks while respecting service level agreements and maintaining data throughput. for example. a satellite platform must seamlessly integrate with a terrestrial network. video. 5 . the router can use all carrier sizes dynamically. preventing any throughput issues. the router can temporarily switch to SCPC modeto efficiently send large data files that require higher. With AES. For example. even during a heavy downpour. it does not matter to these end users what type of network is carrying their traffic as long as the experience is consistent throughout and they have the assurance of business continuity in the face of a primary outage. data back-up. and thus cannot be accelerated. must be able to read and modify packets before they are transmitted. dedicated bandwidth. AES coupled with dynamic key exchange ensures even higher levels of security necessary to classify an offering as a “true” private network.
. keeping not only the addressing information intact. MPLS labels must map to VLAN tags on the satellite network to preserve data privacy. In addition. both need to be able to identify the QoS rules associated with each packet. but also any encryption data. To integrate properly. For example. SLA specifications on the terrestrial network must be mirrored by satellite QoS settings. For traffic with varying SLAs to be handed off from MPLS to satellite. For true integration. troubleshooting. Customers can be assured of end-to-end prioritization only if the satellite platform can offer guarantees identical to those of the terrestrial network. Constant Connectivity Satellite and MPLS terrestrial networks can be integrated to offer customers a single. One growing vertical market capability that must be Integration with Terrestrial Networks MPLS Core POP Router Hub System Teleport » MPLS labels map to VLAN tags » Network-wide QoS settings » OSS integration with NMS Integrating Satellite and Terrestrial Networking Systems BGP Terrestrial Router » Terrestrial SLA » Data security VoIP 6 Data Satellite Router » Satellite QoS » VLAN tagging Video Delivering Seamless. The same goes for QoS designations. many carriers are transitioning to next generation Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology. guaranteeing bandwidth. the satellite platform’s management system must sync with a carrier’s existing Operational Support Systems (OSS). In addition. this means withstanding heavy data traffic. This will improve monitoring. the network traffic from different sites is separated through the creation of Virtual Local Area Networks (VLAN). VLAN tags classify where data is to be sent. billing and service establishment. a satellite Network Management System (NMS) must sync with a carrier’s Operational Support Systems (OSS). and mirroring QoS protocols down to the application level. 7: Mobility Capabilities A versatile satellite platform should be able to tackle both core enterprise applications and emerging vertical solutions without requiring expensive hardware upgrades or new network management systems.starters. The tags must translate between MPLS and VSAT. A satellite platform must support these identifiers to segregate traffic in the same way an MPLS network does. global service plan as long as core capabilities on the terrestrial network are mirrored on the satellite leg. a satellite platform must support advanced routing protocols. Some additional points to consider: In a shared network environment. To accomplish seamless integration. where multiple VLANs can associate with one remote router. the satellite network must be deliberately engineered to match advances in terrestrial networking.
It should also meet military requirements. is what enables a service provider to run an efficient and profitable business. and ensure customer agreements are continually met. soldiers maintain contact with central operations. Another technology is Spread Spectrum. satellite capacity. ensuring a consistent connection as it passes through separate networks around the world. manage troubleshooting and ensure customer satisfaction.supported on a platform is mobility. which enables broadband to run efficiently over a small antenna. and airlines increase customer loyalty and revenue by offering in-flight connectivity. It’s the system service providers rely on to configure customer deployments. An IP satellite platform must address all three. Meeting the needs of COTM networks requires several specialized technologies. military defense and aviation. 7 . which enables a mobile unit to travel from one satellite network to another without the connection being dropped. Three industries are rapidly adopting satellite for communication-on-the-move (COTM): maritime. An Operations Support System. And finally. One of these is Automatic Beam Switching. maintaining seamless connectivity without the need for manual intervention by crew on board. service providers need a global system to manage remote IP routers as terminals move across beams. Rio de Janeiro A single Global Network Management System enables service providers to monitor and manage each ship’s remote. With satellite-based COTM networks. That means satellite equipment must be portable and compact enough to fit in a backpack and rugged enough to withstand the elements and rough terrain. or requiring technical personnel to manually adjust an antenna. 8: Operational Efficiency Mobility Capabilities Stockholm Baltimore Global Network Management System Automatic Beam Switching With Automatic Beam Switching vessels can travel across satellite footprints. measure network performance. teleports and continents. The overarching goal is to effectively manage a shared and expensive resource. or OSS. vessels become fully equipped stand-alone remote offices.
Is the name recognized by service providers as well as end users? What is the company known for? Researching this information could help you determine a company’s strengths. If performance does suffer. 10: Brand Recognition A company’s brand reputation goes a long way in the satellite industry.An OSS is an increasingly important part of a satellite platform and must be thoughtfully examined. if the brand is widely used by an industry or within a region. customers who know how they are consuming bandwidth can make more informed decisions about current and future capacity requirements. If customers can see what the service provider can see regarding the health of the system. Another requirement is managing mobility applications. respond to challenges rapidly and automate common trouble shooting tasks. For instance. A well respected brand typically signals a proven track record and an innovative culture. There are other considerations as well. This option provides the customer with access to the patterns and trends that affect their network. Look for an OSS that can track remotes anywhere on the planet through a single interface. Operational Efficiency and Customer Management An OSS needs to feature several key capabilities. or if you want a technology partner that will collaborate with you to make you more competitive. compare their ability to detect problems before they occur. When looking at different platforms. from basic network configuration and monitoring to rich data analytics. understanding where and why helps with the process of SLA reconciliation. This allows them to discover ways to fine-tune the network for peak performance. and advanced trouble shooting and customer management tools. there will be fewer interoperability issues should you need to partner with another provider. Operation Support System 8 9: Customer Management An OSS can serve another purpose: to build customer confidence in a satellite network. One of the growing requirements for an OSS today is to integrate and manage all of the network management technologies being utilized within a NOC. Does a company have competing interests? Does it provide satellite technology as well as offer satellite service? Consider whether you want to be selling against your technology partner. . they feel reassured that they are getting a premium service and that their SLAs are being delivered. This reduces technology complexity and lowers operating costs. which is a customized Web interface. Consider a customer portal. An OSS should also give service providers complete visibility into real-time and historical data so that network performance can be tracked and measured. Also. Technicians must also be able to proactively monitor and troubleshoot network challenges from within the NOC. It should also provide real-time information on weather and satellite spectrum conditions. help desk automation.
3. 4. Customer Management. Mobility Capabilities: A versatile platform should include advanced mobility capabilities to compete in the growing maritime. 10. that can position them to serve any geography or vertical market and that’s easy to manage. Operational Efficiency: An advanced network management solution is what enables a service provider to run an efficient. the company must have a proven track record and an innovative culture. Integration with Terrestrial Networks: Seamless integration means a satellite platform must withstand heavy data traffic. They need a platform that’s highly reliable. capturing revenue quickly and scaling in line with business demand. Bandwidth Efficiency: Understand your options beyond DVB-S2 to increase bandwidth efficiency on both the inbound and outbound channel. 2. Giving customers visibility to network data is critical to maintaining customer satisfaction and understanding and resolving performance issues. there’s a rich opportunity for broadband service providers and terrestrial and mobile carriers to grow their business through satellite services. differentiate their service and improve the end user experience. But a large part of their success comes down to choosing the right technology platform. military defense and aviation markets. 9. Ten Considerations for Choosing a Satellite Technology Platform 1. They need a technology they can invest in smartly – entering the market affordably. 9 .Conclusion Today. while respecting SLAs and maintaining data throughput. 7. 5. Advanced Quality of Service: The ability to tailor highly customized SLAs enables service providers to create new pricing models. guarantee bandwidth levels. 6. flexible options to craft a competitive adavantage and the ability to meet increasing customer demands. utilize QoS protocols down to the application level. reliable and profitable business. Modular Design for Scalability: Consider a hub chassis and line card combination to ease start up costs and grow with demand. Data Security: A satellite platform that utilizes the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) provides security that mirrors a terrestrial network. and stay in step with advances in terrestrial networking. And they require the advanced tools to run a tight operation. Flexible Core Architecture: A platform that supports multiple network technologies and works in any satellite band can serve a diverse array of satellite communications customers. 8. Brand Recognition: If a satellite brand is well respected by both service providers and end users.
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