Scaling To New Heights With HTS

By Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect

Denis SutherlandStaying in sync with the exciting innovation in space is one of our primary objectives at iDirect. When developing products and solutions, we consider the current and future environments in which they will operate, along with the challenges our operators may face.

Here’s what we are seeing:

High throughput satellite (HTS) services will be delivered through a technology ecosystem where all the elements are being challenged in terms of scale. Satellites are rapidly growing in terms size and capability, thus the ground infrastructure needs to be scalable. Consider the recent announcements from satellite operators SES, Telenor, Telesat, among the examples. Looking in particular at the Intelsat EpicNG platform, it will provide three- to-five times more capacity than Intelsat Broadbeam satellites. The expected throughput is 25-60 Gbps, typically 10 times more than traditional Ku-band GEO satellites.

It’s useful to analyze HTS characteristics that are increasing in scale in greater detail, and the impact it has on VSAT ground infrastructure requirements.

Larger Transponder Sizes
Not so long ago, 36 or 72Mhz transponders were so common on satellites that industry consultants used this as a standard unit to measure the growth in capacity available in the market. Now we are seeing satellites with transponders from 100MHz all the way up to 500MHz!  Satellite operators see gains in terms of the power being used to enable larger amounts of spectrum. This increases the demand on the inbound line cards to support higher symbol rates, and number of carriers. It also drives the need for capabilities to support awider ranges of frequencies. On the outbound, from hub to terminals, it means much larger symbol rate carriers are requested.

Frequency Re-use (Multi Spot)
As we know, HTS delivers higher aggregate throughput for the same amount of allocated frequency in orbit. This frequency re-use is the process of using the same spectrum across multiple beams within a network – resulting in the ground infrastructure needing to enable many more carriers. For every spot beam, an outbound modulator and multiple inbound carriers are needed. To do this, the hub infrastructure must be scalable, in terms of number of carriers enabled as the satellite fills. This increase is much higher than a traditional satellite: if you have 10 times more capacity roughly 10 times more infrastructure is needed to enable it.

HTS pic with hashtag

Beam Performance
Transponder performance is increasing in terms of transmit power and receive sensitivity. This leads satellite service providers to offer higher throughput levels. To take advantage of these enhancements, the “remote” side needs to have higher IP throughput capabilities.  This also drives higher bit rates, requiring advances in performance, better modulation and coding techniques, and support for higher symbol rates. To leverage such impressive beam performance, the satellite industry is looking at adopting:

  • Select DVB-S2 enhancements with a view to DVB-Sx
  • Support for larger return carriers and higher order MODCODs

Network Operations
HTS encourages a consolidation of infrastructure, with less flexibility available in terms of hub locations. These factors will result in networks with more remotes per network and a larger overall bandwidth pool to manage. This has a direct impact on the scalability of the hub infrastructure.

These new HTS networks will bring more complexity to the network operation center (NOC), more complex satellites: HTS/ broadbeam/ Hybrids, much larger networks, and remotes supporting higher throughputs with more business grade applications. Thus, there will be an increased need for real-time monitoring of network performance, especially to ensure that larger volumes of bandwidth running across the network are fully optimized.

Further, operating in an HTS environment demands a seamless interface between network and business operations. An open, yet secure Web Service API technology plays a key role here. It enables the NMS to connect with other Operation Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS). This further streamlines NOC operations by synchronizing multiple independent systems and reducing human error.

The Impact Ahead
In analyzing the manner in which HTS characteristics are increasing in scale and the impact it has on VSAT ground infrastructure requirements, it is important to understand the considerations ahead. My colleague Nikola Kromer, iDirect’s Sr. Director of Product Marketing, will dive into this topic in greater detail in her next post as she examines the HTS impact on performance, scale and reliability and how we at iDirect are responding.

Join in the discussion using the hashtag #BringHTStoMarket.

Download the Bringing HTS to Market.