White paper ten considerations for chosing a satellite technology platform_i_directpdf


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Overview of what satellite service providers should be looking for when they choose a technology platform

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White paper ten considerations for chosing a satellite technology platform_i_directpdf

  1. 1. 1 10 Considerations for Choosing a Satellite Technology Platform
  2. 2. 11 The satellite broadband market is a growing industry – and one with an extremely diverse set of opportunities. A typical service provider may be helping global enterprises extend their IP infrastructure to remote offices, partnering with cellular operators to backhaul voice and data traffic in rural locations, creating a communications-on the-move solution for maritime and airline operators, or delivering core infrastructure to militaries and government organizations around the world. The satellite network technology required to serve these customers is just as diverse. Some require a dedicated, point-to-point SCPC (Single Carrier per Channel) link, while others need aTDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) system capable of sharing bandwidth dynamically across multiple locations. Different networks require specific satellite bands, topologies, security standards or demand specialized functionality like portability, durability or mobility. The bottom line is that satellite communications is highly characterized by diversity, and managing that diversity is the key to success. So when you choose a satellite technology provider, you need to think in broad terms.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.The goal is to judge whether a specific platform will affordably prepare you for the range of opportunities you wish to pursue. The following guide outlines 10 considerations for choosing the right satellite communications platform for your business. No matter what market you plan to enter or how large you want to grow your operations, these considerations can make a critical difference to your immediate and long-term success. Choosing the Right Technology
  3. 3. 2 1: Flexible Core Architecture At the deepest level, a satellite communications platform is defined by its core architecture. Some platforms are engineered to support a primary network configuration or a specific vertical market. By contrast, others are designed to support virtually any market requirement. These are known as universal systems and typically can support any satellite band, topology or application. Consider a universal platform, even if you plan to focus on a specialized industry.The platform does not need to have all its capabilities activated. Instead, core capabilities can be turned on through over-the- air software upgrades when required. For example, mobility technologies are certainly not required to serve a majority of satellite communications customers. If a service provider wants to expand into that market, 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. The concept of a universal platform has been recently advanced.Traditionally, service providers did not have a single platform to support both SCPC andTDMA networks. SCPC systems provide point-to-point links for each site that transmits consistently high volumes of data. TDMA networks, by contrast, can share bandwidth across a group of sites based on changing bandwidth needs. Given the diverse customers that service providers support, most of them manage both system types, essentially running two platforms inside the NOC.Today, there is a movement on the part of technology providers to support both SCPC andTDMA on the same platform. These advances offer significant cost savings and better support customers with dynamic and growing bandwidth requirements. It’s a good idea to understand what advances providers have made in this area. 2: Modular Design for Scalability Launching a satellite communications network must be a measured venture. Service providers need to match investments in hardware infrastructure and space segment with market opportunity. Find a platform that minimizes your upfront capital and operating expenses, while giving you enough core features to meet a wide range of customer needs. Consider a modular architecture design – specifically, a hub chassis that can be loaded with line cards based on customer demand.With line cards, network capabilities are built into a more affordable and flexible hardware device. Service providers can populate a hub one line card at a time, meeting varying markets and applications, instead of purchasing and managing multiple hubs. A hub chassis and line card combination enables a service provider to start small and grow in line with demand.The goal is to begin earning revenue immediately and scale when it makes financial sense. A Flexible Core Architechture A universal platform that supports any topology, satellite bend or vertical market, gives service providers greater business flexibility. Hub System Internet Teleport Maritime Network Military Network Oil and Gas Network Mobility Application Mesh SCPC Return StarTDMA
  4. 4. 3 fully equipped hub with a capacity contract to match is warranted only if the business to support it already exit. This design also enables a service provider to lease instead of purchase network infrastructure for an even more affordable market entry strategy. A hub owner can lease line card space to aVirtual Network Operator (VNO).The VNO is then given direct control of its satellite network through a distributed network management system (NMS). Once aVNO has established its business and has reached a desired customer base, it can then purchase and manage its own network infrastructure. 3: Bandwidth Efficiency Another cost of running a satellite service is space segment or capacity. It’s the core unit of a satellite business. And as satellite communications becomes mainstream, more bandwidth intensive applications and more traffic in general crosses a network. 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, while ensuring reliable service quality. Let’s examine bandwidth efficiency on the outbound and inbound channels separately as the technologies differ for each. On the outbound channel, a key development is the introduction of faster, next-generation DVB-S2 coding technology, which can improve bandwidth efficiency by upwards of 30% over legacy systems. DVB-S2 efficiency can be expanded through a companion technology known as Adaptive Coding Modulation (ACM).With ACM, 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.Yet, on the inbound channel, platforms can have very different bandwidth efficiency capabilities that contribute to data efficiency. First of all, there are two main transmission modes for inbound connectivity: SCPC andTDMA. SCPC is designed for sites that need a high-volume, fixed, point-to-point link.TDMA is a shared channel engineered for service providers that want to allocate a pool of bandwidth across multiple sites. One of the challenges of sizing an SCPC link is that, as a fixed link, it typically needs to be over- dimensioned based on peak bandwidth demand.This can waste costly bandwidth. Look for a platform that supports bothTDMA and SCPC over the same hardware.The advantage is that a network can run inTDMA mode when bandwidth is not at peak levels and then switch to SCPC mode when greater data throughput is required. In addition,TDMA can be configured when a network is initially launched and then be reconfigured to SCPC when a consistent traffic threshold is met. Another inbound technology to consider is 2D 16-State. 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, service providers can build out infrastructure in line with customer demand. Hub System Line Cards Military Customers Oil and Gas Customers Maritime Customers
  5. 5. 4 designs. 2D 16-State can provide a 10-20% increase over standard turbo codes for inbound IP throughput without sacrificing link performance. It also provides greater flexibility in network design with a more granular selection of block sizes and code rates. Another key technology to understand is AdaptiveTDMA, which delivers benefits similar to DVB-S2/ACM to the inbound channel.Together, all of these technologies allow service providers to design highly efficient networks that adjust to dynamic conditions, increase network availability and lower operating costs. 4: Advanced Quality of Service A fundamental consideration when choosing a satellite technology platform is Quality of Service (QoS).This is especially important today as satellite networks support increasing traffic loads, driven by diverse and dynamic applications.Your ability to create highly flexible and customized service plans will enable you to make satellite connectivity more reliable and affordable for your customers. 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.With a basic platform, you can segment bandwidth by customer network and end user sites to establish corresponding Minimum, Maximum and Committed Information Rates. By contrast, 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. It’s imperative that a satellite service provider be able to prioritize down to the application level. Let’s say an enterprise customer wants a service plan to support basic voice, data and video communications. It’s likely that if all these applications are running simultaneously, it will result in network congestion. 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. A platform with advanced Qos technology enables service providers to create SLAs based on individual sites, local applications and other criteria. Bandwidth Pool 24 Mbps Service Groups 6 Mbps 18 Mbps Advanced Quality of Service Customer 2 2 Mbps 3 Mbps 7 Mbps 2 Mbps 2 Mbps 1 Mbps 1 Mbps Hub System
  6. 6. 5 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. For example, a customer can choose to tolerate a gradual degradation in CIR based on rain fade. Or, the service provider can continue to guarantee CIR on a per-remote or per-application basis, even during a heavy downpour. Not only can advanced systems segment bandwidth by application and weather, they can switch transmission modes based on changing bandwidth requirements. For example, a platform that can support bothTDMA and SCPC on the same router enables service providers to tailor a service plan based on time or volume conditions. 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, during file transfer, data back-up, video, military surveillance, telemedicine and other applications.When customer sites grow larger, they can upsell their customers to a dedicated SCPC return link. All this can be done instantly from the network management system and without the need for a costly site visit to exchange hardware. 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. A satellite platform needs to provide encryption on par with terrestrial networks while respecting service level agreements and maintaining data throughput. Some encryption methods are not suited to this.  IPSec (Internet Protocol Security), for example, authenticates and encrypts packets.  However, Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) Acceleration software, critical for realizing acceptable performance over a satellite link, must be able to read and modify packets before they are transmitted.  IPSec encrypted packets cannot be read, and thus cannot be accelerated, resulting in unacceptable degradation of performance. Look for a platform that supports the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). With AES, all satellite traffic is encrypted concurrently. TCP Acceleration can be performed, preventing any throughput issues. AES coupled with dynamic key exchange ensures even higher levels of security necessary to classify an offering as a“true”private network. 6: Integration with Terrestrial Networks Organizations want broadband access and uniform applications for all of their corporate locations whether they are in major cities, remote parts of the world, or on vessels in the middle of the ocean. Ultimately, 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. From a service provider’s perspective, a satellite platform must seamlessly integrate with a terrestrial network. For TDMA Mode SCPC Switching ModeAdaptiveTDMA Mode TDMA mode efficiently transmits data and voice and supports video conferencing. At any time, the router can temporarily switch to SCPC modeto efficiently send large data files that require higher, dedicated bandwidth. As weather conditions change, the network adapts automatically to optimize the transmission for speed, availability or efficiency. Internet VoIP Video Core Applications Bandwidth Intensive Applications Technical Reports Seismic Data Under clear skies, the router can use all carrier sizes dynamically. Under heavy rain fade, the router will use the smaller carrier size.
  7. 7. 6 starters, this means withstanding heavy data traffic, guaranteeing bandwidth, and mirroring QoS protocols down to the application level. In addition, the satellite network must be deliberately engineered to match advances in terrestrial networking. For example, many carriers are transitioning to next generation Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology.To integrate properly, a satellite platform must support advanced routing protocols. Some additional points to consider: In a shared network environment, the network traffic from different sites is separated through the creation ofVirtual Local Area Networks (VLAN).VLAN tags classify where data is to be sent. A satellite platform must support these identifiers to segregate traffic in the same way an MPLS network does, where multipleVLANs can associate with one remote router.The tags must translate between MPLS andVSAT, keeping not only the addressing information intact, but also any encryption data. The same goes for QoS designations. Customers can be assured of end-to-end prioritization only if the satellite platform can offer guarantees identical to those of the terrestrial network. For traffic with varying SLAs to be handed off from MPLS to satellite, both need to be able to identify the QoS rules associated with each packet. For true integration, the satellite platform’s management system must sync with a carrier’s existing Operational Support Systems (OSS). This will improve monitoring, troubleshooting, billing and service establishment. 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. One growing vertical market capability that must be BGP VoIP Satellite Router » Satellite QoS »VLAN tagging Terrestrial Router »Terrestrial SLA » Data security Data Video Delivering Seamless, Constant Connectivity Satellite and MPLS terrestrial networks can be integrated to offer customers a single, global service plan as long as core capabilities on the terrestrial network are mirrored on the satellite leg. Integrating Satellite andTerrestrial Networking Systems To accomplish seamless integration, MPLS labels must map toVLAN tags on the satellite network to preserve data privacy. SLA specifications on the terrestrial network must be mirrored by satellite QoS settings. In addition, a satellite Network Manage- ment System (NMS) must sync with a carrier’s Operational Support Systems (OSS). POP Router Hub System Teleport MPLS Core » MPLS labels map toVLAN tags » Network-wide QoS settings » OSS integration with NMS Integration withTerrestrial Networks
  8. 8. 7 supported on a platform is mobility. Three industries are rapidly adopting satellite for communication-on-the-move (COTM): maritime, military defense and aviation. With satellite-based COTM networks, vessels become fully equipped stand-alone remote offices, soldiers maintain contact with central operations, and airlines increase customer loyalty and revenue by offering in-flight connectivity. Meeting the needs of COTM networks requires several specialized technologies. One of these is Automatic Beam Switching, which enables a mobile unit to travel from one satellite network to another without the connection being dropped, or requiring technical personnel to manually adjust an antenna. Another technology is Spread Spectrum, which enables broadband to run efficiently over a small antenna. And finally, service providers need a global system to manage remote IP routers as terminals move across beams, teleports and continents. An IP satellite platform must address all three. It should also meet military requirements.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. 8: Operational Efficiency An Operations Support System, or OSS, is what enables a service provider to run an efficient and profitable business. It’s the system service providers rely on to configure customer deployments, measure network performance, manage troubleshooting and ensure customer satisfaction.The overarching goal is to effectively manage a shared and expensive resource, satellite capacity, and ensure customer agreements are continually met. Stockholm Baltimore Rio de Janeiro Mobility Capabilities Automatic Beam Switching With Automatic Beam Switching vessels can travel across satellite footprints, maintaining seamless connectivity without the need for manual intervention by crew on board. Global Network Management System A single Global Network Management System enables service providers to monitor and manage each ship’s remote, ensuring a consistent connection as it passes through separate networks around the world.
  9. 9. 8 An OSS is an increasingly important part of a satellite platform and must be thoughtfully examined. 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.This reduces technology complexity and lowers operating costs. Another requirement is managing mobility applications. Look for an OSS that can track remotes anywhere on the planet through a single interface. It should also provide real-time information on weather and satellite spectrum conditions. Technicians must also be able to proactively monitor and troubleshoot network challenges from within the NOC.When looking at different platforms, compare their ability to detect problems before they occur, respond to challenges rapidly and automate common trouble shooting tasks. An OSS should also give service providers complete visibility into real-time and historical data so that network performance can be tracked and measured.This allows them to discover ways to fine-tune the network for peak performance. 9: Customer Management An OSS can serve another purpose: to build customer confidence in a satellite network. If customers can see what the service provider can see regarding the health of the system, they feel reassured that they are getting a premium service and that their SLAs are being delivered. Consider a customer portal, which is a customizedWeb interface.This option provides the customer with access to the patterns and trends that affect their network. If performance does suffer, understanding where and why helps with the process of SLA reconciliation. Also, customers who know how they are consuming bandwidth can make more informed decisions about current and future capacity requirements. 10: Brand Recognition A company’s brand reputation goes a long way in the satellite industry. A well respected brand typically signals a proven track record and an innovative culture. 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. There are other considerations as well. For instance, if the brand is widely used by an industry or within a region, there will be fewer interoperability issues should you need to partner with another provider. 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, or if you want a technology partner that will collaborate with you to make you more competitive. An OSS needs to feature several key capabilities, from basic network configuration and monitoring to rich data analytics, help desk automation, and advanced trouble shooting and customer management tools. Operational Efficiency and Customer Management Operation Support System
  10. 10. 9 Conclusion Today, there’s a rich opportunity for broadband service providers and terrestrial and mobile carriers to grow their business through satellite services. But a large part of their success comes down to choosing the right technology platform. They need a platform that’s highly reliable, that can position them to serve any geography or vertical market and that’s easy to manage. They need a technology they can invest in smartly – entering the market affordably, capturing revenue quickly and scaling in line with business demand. And they require the advanced tools to run a tight operation, flexible options to craft a competitive adavantage and the ability to meet increasing customer demands. Ten Considerations for Choosing a Satellite Technology Platform 1. 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. 2. Modular Design for Scalability: Consider a hub chassis and line card combination to ease start up costs and grow with demand. 3. Bandwidth Efficiency: Understand your options beyond DVB-S2 to increase bandwidth efficiency on both the inbound and outbound channel. 4. Advanced Quality of Service: The ability to tailor highly customized SLAs enables service providers to create new pricing models, differentiate their service and improve the end user experience. 5. Data Security: A satellite platform that utilizes the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) provides security that mirrors a terrestrial network, while respecting SLAs and maintaining data throughput. 6. Integration with Terrestrial Networks: Seamless integration means a satellite platform must withstand heavy data traffic, guarantee bandwidth levels, utilize QoS protocols down to the application level, and stay in step with advances in terrestrial networking. 7. Mobility Capabilities: A versatile platform should include advanced mobility capabilities to compete in the growing maritime, military defense and aviation markets. 8. Operational Efficiency: An advanced network management solution is what enables a service provider to run an efficient, reliable and profitable business. 9. Customer Management. Giving customers visibility to network data is critical to maintaining customer satisfaction and understanding and resolving performance issues. 10. Brand Recognition: If a satellite brand is well respected by both service providers and end users, the company must have a proven track record and an innovative culture.
  11. 11. iDirect 13865 Sunrise Valley Drive Herndon, VA 20171 +1 703.648.8000 +1 866.345.0983 www.idirect.net Advancing a Connected World