Inexpensive Satellite Bandwidth under Development

A team of researchers funded by the European Union has developed methods for optimizing satellite bandwidth, potentially dropping the combined cost of satellite phone, television, and internet services to as little as 50 Euros a month. The Integrated Multi-layer Optimization in broadband DVB-S.2 Satellite Networks (IMOSAN) project focuses on getting the most out of existing resources and creating a wireless interface to the satellite network in order to distribute the satellite bandwidth to the largest number of consumers possible.
 Architectural overview of IMOSAN satellite system (Credit: IMOSAN)
Architectural overview of IMOSAN
satellite system (Credit: IMOSAN)

Key elements of the new system include a Satellite Resource Management System (SRMS), a Bandwidth Manager and Multiplexer (BWMM), and hardware and software encoders for various audio and video formats (including SD MPEG-4/AVC / H.264 analog and HDTV video).

The SRMS is designed for integrated management of all elements of a satellite network including the physical equipment, service layer, and the network itself. The SRMS will ensure the maximum use of the full satellite spectrum and account for relative positions of satellites over time as well as changes caused by weather and other intermittent issues.

The BWMM serves two purposes. First, it regulates the bit rate of the satellite output, ensuring a constant bit rate regardless of the incoming bit rate of the various feeds. Secondly, it encapsulates data into the proper IP protocols (either DVP-MPE or DVP-ULE) and any of their associated standard options (including things like providing a checksum or CRC, different sized segments of data packets, and toggling the use of LLC/SNAP headers on or off) and manages its dissemination among the various available Ethernet ports.

The terrestrial access network consists of a combination of 802.16 (WiMAX) and 802.11 (WiFi) connections and a gateway to control data flow through both. There are several potential usage scenarios for this system, but researchers anticipate one common usage pattern will be having a central satellite receiver in a remote village that distributes phone, television, and internet services to the rest of the village through WiMAX.

The IMOSAN team includes ten companies from five different European countries. Some partners work specifically on the technical design and implementation of a single element of the system while others are responsible for integrating the individual elements or managing the project as a whole. A large scale field trial of this system is planned and will cover several cities and towns throughout Europe including Toulouse (France), Paris (France), Athens (Greece), Heraklion (Greece), and Cluj (Romania). The final deliverable of the IMOSAN project is a business plan for commercial applications which will hopefully lead to wider adoption of the new satellite system assuming the trial results are positive.

TFOT has previously reported on other new and upcoming networking technologies including the possible use of high radio frequencies for gigabit wireless networking, a new switch that could make networks as much as 60 times faster, and a new file sharing system combining traditional ISP access with peer-to-peer networks in order to increase speed and make better use of available bandwidth.