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Marine Electronics & Communications

Marine Electronics & Communications

Platform technology drives a new generation of VSAT solutions

Tue 16 May 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

Platform technology drives a new generation of VSAT solutions
iDirect's DVB-S2X standard significantly extends the capabilities of VSAT

Developments in platform technology from VT iDirect and Comtech EF Data will increase efficiency and improve the performance of VSAT services to maritime

Operators of the new high throughput satellites have successfully tested VT iDirect’s latest technology and remote terminals (remotes). Inmarsat has tested the new standards and terminal modems on its Global Xpress Ka-band network and Intelsat has done so over its EpicNG spot beam Ku-band network.

iDirect developed its new DVB-S2X standards technology for digital video broadcasting over the S2X generation of satellites. This enables video conferencing and other high bandwidth applications on ships via VSAT infrastructure. It will also drive further development in high throughput satellites and encourage more investment in VSAT infrastructure.

iDirect president and chief executive Kevin Steen said the introduction of DVB-S2X proved that the company remained on the leading edge of innovation to meet the ever-increasing critical needs of the satellite industry. “It shows we can re-engineer the core elements of ground infrastructure for new levels of performance, scale and agility,” he said.

“The demand for satellite connectivity has reached unprecedented levels and continues unabated. We want our customers [satellite operators] to have the flexibility to choose from the opportunities they find most lucrative and to know that their investment in our platform will support them across any opportunity they pursue.”

"The demand for satellite connectivity has reached unprecedented levels and continues unabated"

The DVB-S2X standard is based on a customised application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chipset that iDirect said would deliver “revolutionary” gains in data throughput. This will power a new line of DVB-S2 and DVB-S2X remotes called the iQ Series.

The DVB-S2X standard significantly extends the capabilities of the original 2005 DVB-S2 standard that has been in use for more than 10 years and aligns better with the latest high throughput satellites. iDirect said the DVB-S2X standard:

  • enables the use of high throughput transponders
  • provides higher hub processing capabilities
  • enables carrier support of up to 125 MHz
  • improves spectral efficiency by up to 15 per cent
  • enables the virtualisation of core gateway components
  • provides finer granularity within the current S2 range
  • makes existing radio frequency and antennas more efficient
  • enables almost twice the efficiency at peak capabilities
  • provides a framework for the future use of very small antennas for the internet of things

iDirect has also successfully tested the iQ Series remotes, which will use the DVB-S2X technology, over high throughput satellite networks. It said these modems can be continually reprogrammed remotely to increase network capabilities and throughput levels.

The iQ Series remotes and DVB-S2X standard were tested over the EpicNG Intelsat 29e satellite in October 2016. This resulted in a throughput rate of 5.71 bps/Hz, which was a 330 per cent efficiency performance gain on the Intelsat EpicNG platform.

At that time, Intelsat senior vice president for operations Mike DeMarco called the test a milestone in higher performance VSAT. He added: “With the iQ remote technology and EpicNG capacity, service providers can transition onto our high performance network while leveraging their existing investment in hub infrastructure. This is an important achievement in enabling our customers to expand their businesses into new applications and geographies and realise their future growth objectives.”

In January this year, Inmarsat successfully tested the iQ Series modems and DVB-S2X technology over its Global Xpress constellation. Inmarsat recorded a forward channel throughput rate of 330 Mbps over one of these satellites. Inmarsat and iDirect will gradually introduce these enhanced capabilities to the Global Xpress network and maritime users from 2018. This could involve replacing modems with more advanced models.

The DVB-S2X technology will be fully utilised for Inmarsat’s sixth generation of Global Xpress satellites that are due to launch around the end of this decade. This should boost available throughput rates to more than 500 Mbps, Inmarsat said.

Comtech Telecommunications Corp subsidiary Comtech EF Data has made its new Heights Dynamic Network Access (H-DNA) technology available for VSAT services. It said this will significantly improve the quality of experience for users of online, voice and data applications over VSAT.

H-DNA was designed for the Heights networking platform’s return links. This platform incorporates the latest advanced technologies to minimise latency and jitter. Comtech said the network access development is a culmination of new waveforms, enhanced bandwidth management algorithms and robust multi-layer quality of service. H-DNA can automatically react to real-time traffic demand, providing best fit solutions that are based on users’ service level agreements and network policies.

“H-DNA will deliver true benefits to our customers, including service differentiation, superior quality of experience and increased profitability”

Comtech said H-DNA adapts to changing environments and provides sub-second reaction time to changing user demand and link conditions, without introducing excessive jitter and latency. It uses Comtech’s Advanced VersaFEC-2 high performance waveform, adaptive coding and modulation, dynamic power control and IP optimisation, said the company.

H-DNA instantly assigns capacity based on network-wide demand and intelligently utilises total network bandwidth at all times, said Comtech senior vice president for engineering and product management Louis Dubin. “H-DNA will deliver true benefits to our customers, including service differentiation, superior quality of experience and increased profitability,” he commented.

“It ensures that bandwidth is instantly made available to users and sites across the network as demand changes. It also allocates all available bandwidth per user demand and configured service level agreements ensuring that all capacity is used at all times, providing both maximum performance and the best possible monetisation opportunities.”


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