HTS Bandwidth Management: Can A Satellite Change Its Spots?

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect

Having the right amount of satellite capacity available in the right place is critical to the success of Service Providers and Satellite Operators leveraging High Throughput Satellites (HTS).

As discussed in previous blogs, I expect to see Service Providers deploy a blended portfolio of different business models. That means they will use managed services in some geographical regions, but then also deploy their own infrastructure on other satellites. At the same time we will see satellite operators coming down from space, and offering Mbps service due to the economics of multi-spot beam HTS. Service Providers will leverage these products as well, with terminals roaming from their own network infrastructure onto the satellite operator networks based on the geographical locations the services require.

Managing Bandwidth Across Multiple Spot Beams

Maintaining Service Level Agreements (SLAs) across the entire customer network requires managing the combined bandwidth from the multiple spot beams dedicated to that service as one single bandwidth pool. In traditional wide-beam satellites, a regional network was often covered by a single beam. In a multi spot-beam environment, however, covering a similar region means managing bandwidth across multiple spot beams and networks.

Mobility

HTS planning issues become acute when you have mobile terminals. Imagine you want to cover a large geographic area, for example, North America; some HTS satellites need 50 spot beams to cover such an area. Now consider a service provider that offers an SLA to provide 1 Mbps to each terminal over this region; as terminals move around from beam-to-beam some spot beams could be empty, while others would have many terminals.

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One option for the Service Provider is to buy a service based on Mbps rather than MHz from the Satellite Operator. Service Providers would do this if they did not have enough traffic in each beam to justify building their own network. However, that would then push the problem onto the Satellite Operator.

How do Satellite Operators give a commitment that all the Service Providers can achieve SLAs while the demand moves around? This requires a specialized bandwidth management system. It must support Quality of Service (QoS), with management and bandwidth partitioning into multiple service tiers across the entire payload, and managing contention among Service Providers globally. It must also support load balancing of remotes moving across the multiple spot beams.

Why is this important?

The problem with HTS satellites is that they are typically configured mostly with fixed beams, but the situation on the ground is changing over time. The multiple spot beam configuration in HTSs has made this challenge of demand planning even more complex. Satellite Operators need to plan for higher throughput terminals moving at a high speed from beam-to-beam, such as ISR platforms, or commercial aircraft with in-flight entertainment systems. It is difficult to plan for capacity demands over the lifetime of the satellite. It is also going to be difficult to plan for the next event that will trigger surges in demand from any region.

In her next blog, my colleague Nikola Kromer, Senior Director of Product Marketing, will cover how the iDirect Velocity™ Global Bandwidth Management feature is built to resolve these challenges for Satellite Operators.

Join in the discussion using the hashtag #BringHTStoMarket.

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