PROSPECTS

FOR COMMERCIAL

SATELLITE

SERVICES AT Q- AND V-BANDS

J. V, Evans and A. Dissanayake COMSAT Corporation 6560 Rock Spring Drive Bethesda, MD 20817
ABSTRACT

Some 16 proposed new satellite systems operating at 36 to 46 GHz (Q-band) and 46 to 56 GHz (V-band) have been proposed to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission by U.S. companies, Of these, 14 are intended to provide global, or nearly global, service. One is intended for U.S. domestic service, and one is a package to provide additional store-and-forward capability on an earlier proposed “Little LEO” system. This paper provides a brief summary of the 14 global systems, which for the most part are designed to exploit the wide band offrequencies available for services such as multimedia distribution and Internet access. Systems are proposed that would use geostationary orbit, medium earth orbit, low earth orbit, and Molniya orbit satellites, and in some cases combinations of two of these orbits. Most of the new systems propose to employ new technologies such as multiple narrow spot-beam antennas, onboard demodulation and routing of trafic between beams, intersatellite links, and in some cases scanning beams to continuously illuminate the service area as the satellite flies by. Some of the difficulties involved infielding systems at these high frequencies arise from the propagation impairments that can be expected and the high cost of solid-state power devices for user terminals, which will drive up costs. It is concluded that, while the large amount of bandwidth (3 GHz) proposed by the FCC for these systems is attractive, few if any are likely to be built while spectrum remains available at Ku-band.
1. PROPOSED SYSTEMS

(GEO) remains the orbit of choice for most systems. Geostationary satellites require no tracking by earth station antennas, which greatly simplifies their cost, installation, and maintenance. This makes economic sense, given that most of the cost of a fully deployed system can be in the ground segment. Low-earth-orbiting (LEO) systems have been proposed (e.g., by Teledesic at Ka-band) out of concern for the half-second response time encountered over geostationary satellites, which can limit the speed of access to the Jnternet and hinder real-time applications such as teleconferencing. Two systems (Hughes Communications’ StarLynx system and TRW’s GESN) are hybrids employing both GEO and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites. Hughes took this approach because its business plan calls for providing service initially over North and South America via GEO satellites, and then launching the MEO system as the amount of traffic increases worldwide. TRW, on the other hand, has designed a system that exploits the advantages of both types of orbits, and one in which intersatellite links will be used to route traffic along all possible satellite-to-satellite paths. Additional information given in Table 2 includes the number of satellites to be deployed; the anticipated total satellite capacity (when fully loaded); whether intersatellite links will be used; the type of onboard routing contemplated; and overall projected capital cost. The latter usually includes the cost of the first year of operation. All of the 14 systems proposing to offer global or nearly global service employ some form of onboard routing. This is necessary because designers have had to exploit narrow spot beams in order to overcome propagation effects (as discussed below), and are then confronted with the problem of how to route traffic among the beams. Table 3 provides details of the RF portions of the payloads, including the number of beams to be used; their size; and Table 1. FrequenciesProposed for Q/V-bandSystems Downlink Uplink Orbit (GHz) (GHz) Geostationary Non-~eostationarv 37.5-40.5 37.5–38.5 47.2–50.2 48.2-49.2

In 1997, following applications by Motorola for a satellite system called M-Star, and Hughes for a system called Expressway, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened a Notice of Inquiry offering others the opportunity to propose systems operating at millimeter waves (Q and V-bands). The FCC-proposed frequencies for the Q/V-band systems are given in Table 1. Table 2 lists (alphabetically by company name) the 14 global Q/V-band satellite systems proposed to the FCC [1], Included in the table are the name of the system, some indication of its coverage, and the type of orbit(s) to be empIoyed. It can be seen that geostationary earth orbit

0-7803-4902-4/98/$10.00 (c) 1998 IEEE

3 545 17.Q/V-BAND PROPAGATION Propagation effects on satellite links have been studied by a number of groups employing satellite beacons and other methods. By exploiting Molniya orbits. Teledesic TRW 2? optical No Optical 3 Gb/s Optical 3 Gb/s 2 optical 5 optical 3 optical 2 radio 2 radio 27 radio 2 radio 2? radio 2 optical 4 optical 10 optical 4 optical GEO GEO & MEO GEO GEO LEO MEO GEO GEO LEO GEO & MEO MSM: Microwaveswitchmatrix. the number.2 -lo 4 -50 -70 Intersatellite Link No Onboard Switching MSM MSM MSM SSTDMA SSTDMA Baseband ATM baseband ATM baselmd MSM & SSTDMA MSM MSM SSTDMA & Baseband Baseband Baseband Capital Investment ($W 1.4 0. of Satellites 9 11 80 14 6 4 20 9 10 72 7 12 25 72 14 15 Global Global ~60° *50° Global Global Global +70° Company D enali Telwom.1 Gaseous Absorption Gaseous absorption depends on the frequency (Figure 1). There is little the satellite designer can do to avoid these effects other than to design a system that allows the earth station to view the satellites at a high elevation angle. Thus. Hughes Comm.9 3. The original plan for the Teledesic Ka-band system entailed the use of 840 satellites [5].9 3.00 (c) 1998 IEEE . the number of transponders and the number of power amplifiers are not necessarily the same (as is usually the case in simpler “bent pipe” satellites). Inc.S. This is best achieved with MEO satellites in polar or near-polar orbits. For example.9 4.75 1. Figure 2 shows the absorption as a ftmction of humidity for 40 and 50 GHz at an elevation of 20°. Hughes Comm.9 1. where all the amplifiers in the array may contribute some power to all the beams. the system design is too complex to fit neatly into this format. and the atmospheric humidity. can be encountered in the different wavebands. 2. In some instances. PanAmSat Spectrum Astro. bandwidthdefining portion of the payload) that are shared by a common power amplifier.9 3. the path length through the atmosphere. the system provides coverage of the more populous regions (northern hemisphere latitudes between 25”N and 85”N) at elevation angles above 40°.Table2. . for example. Hughes Comm.9 -3. see Allnutt [2] and Crane [31. System Pentriad GE*Star Plus GS-40 Expressway SpaceCast StarLynx QJV Band Cyberpath M-Star Orblink VStream Aster VBS GESN Orbit Molniya GEO LEO GEO Coverqe 25°N– 85°N Global *70° Limited global Limited global +80° Satellite Capacity (Gb/s) <36 -70 -1 -65 -@ <5. Ltd. and was driven by a decision to serve terminals only within 0° to 40° off the nadir of the satellite. Inc. Somewhat interesting in tiis regard is the Pentriad system (Table 2). 2. ProposedU.6 -75 <3. Lockheed Martin Loral Space& Comm. Q/V-bandSatellite Systems No..17 (for 4) 6. Inc. This is obviously an expensive and extreme solution. Inc.4 LLC GE Americom Glcbalstar L. It is evident that effects become more severe at shorter wavelengths.) Table 4 provides a simple checklist of the impairments that 0-7803-4902-4/98/$10. and the notion of a single power amplifier that excites a single beam no longer applies.P. a number of designs employ transponders (the frequency-changing.4 ? 3.9 <6.4 1. (For review. bandwidth. Motorola Orbital Sciences Corp. This is invariably the case where the onboard routing is performed via a static switch matrix.. Another example is the case of active phased arrays.7 2. and power of the transponders.5 2..

the ‘A’ regions are the driest.S.530 4.000 15.) Beam Size Earth-Space Transponders 80 12 Transponder Bandwidth (MHz)* 78 Pentnad 12W-band 40 V-band 9 Ku-baud GS-40 30 steered 20 V-band 8 Ku-band 40 V-band 16 Ku-band 40 GEO 32ME0 9 -0.4° 0.5 56 64. and the ‘P’ regions have the heaviest thundershower activity.0 77.120 9 15 15 20 8 spot 8 regional 2 steerable 5.800 1.6° 0. of Beams w v -Lmncl Satellite Systems TWA Power (W) 80 100 25 48 100 25 100 150 100 50 Active phased array 40 Active phased array 25 75 50 EIRP (CtB1’v) 73. 2.000 1. including rain attenuation and other impairments. H.000 3. which shows estimates for this effect.250 12.5 21-29 to MTSO 33-43 to cell site 62 60 60 66. The curves show that.5 15 15 15 12 15 400 16 30 20 8 40 16 40 32 48 user 8 gateway 100 104 Expressway SpaceCast StzuLynx Lockheed Martin Q/V Band Cyberpath M-Star 300 250 18/90 300 250 300 250 270 125 100 32 0.15° 0. Here.of System No.900 Dry Mass’ 0%) 1.30° 10 15 7.30° 1° x 3“ 2° 0. M.7 61. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) climate model is shown in Figure 4.42° -1.000 Active phased array * Defined here as the passband(s) of the frequency-changing portion(s) of the transponder.5° 0.000 1.15° 1° x 3° 0.000 4. ~-band No. Table4. PropagationFactors AffectingSatelliteLinks Propagation Factor GaseousAbso@ion CloudAttenuation RainAttenuation Rain/IceDepolarization TroposphericScintillation x x x x x Cband Kuband Kaband x x x x x Vband x x x x x function of the percentage of time for a station in Singapore operating at 20° elevation.000 15.500 VBS GESN 32 Up 40 down 32 GEO 48ME0 ? 32 48 63 1.500 3. Figure 5 shows model calculations for rain attenuation for five of these climatic regions (E.000 566 2. as a By far. This is illustrated in Figure 3.315 1.5° 1.000 15. which is responsible for the severest absorption events. K.268 -’5. the most severe problem facing the designers of Q/V-band satellite systems is rain attenuation.00 (c) 1998 IEEE .769 2.004 15 8 Orblink VStream Aster 100 -0.15° 1° x 3° 0.7 60.500 3.2 Rain Attenuation One consequence of operating the uplink (V-band) close to the molecular absorption line (shown in Figure 1) is that there can be a significant difference in the atmospheric attenuation between the two edges of the band.130 Life (Yr.000 375 470 spot 980 regional 4.1° 142 90 19. and P) for the V-band uplink frequency. Parametersof U.444 --5.700 15. attenuation cam exceed 4 dB at the uplink frequency and 2 dB at the dowrdink frequency.4 59 83 78 End-of-Life Power (m 6.707 7 15 300/ 3.Table3.7 gateway 77.50 spot 1° & 5° regional “small” 32 48 800 narrow 20 wide 80 18 50 1.2 user 62.500 4.000 3. This problem has been studied by various groups over a wide range of frequencies and climates. for 1 percent of the time.7 59 52 52 55 48 72 55 70.500 992 3. It can be seen that the design of 0-7803-4902-4/98/$10.500 15.

surface temperature = 20°C) [4] 60 401 20< n -0.1 I I I I 11111 1 I I I I 11111 10 T -r I 100 PERCENT TIME ORDINATE EXCEEDED Figure 3. Cumulative Distribution of Differential Attenuation Across the 3-GHz Band at Downlink Frequency (40 GHz) and Uplink Frequency (50 GHz) at Singapore (elevation angle = 20°) [6] 1IJ-2 I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I II 10 FREQUENCY (GFk) I 102 I I I I Figure 1. o 20 40 60 (Y. To achieve an availability of 99.—. Curve B: exponential water-vapor atmosphere of 7.) 80 100 I 00 80 - REIATIVE HUMIDITY Figure 2. the actual availability will vary with climate. ITU-R Rain Zones [7] .103 I I I 1111 I I I I I I I Ill I I I 1OJ 6i ~ 28 o & 3 fi6 & $4 $ K p2 ~ c1 – .5 g/m3 at ground level.5 percent in all regions requires an excess margin of approximately 55 dB on the uplink. provision of some services may be unacceptable once availability 10 1 PERCENT TIME ORDINATE EXCEEDED 100 Figure 5. Total Zenith Attenuation due to Gases. Curve A dry atmosphere. as a Function of Frequency (a = range of values. Scale height = 2 km) [4] 165° 135° 105° 75° 45” 15° o“ 15” 45” 75” 105” Figure 4.! I I I I 11111 I I I I 11111 I I I I 1111] – — o 0. Gaseous Absorption as a Function of Relative Humidity bath elevation angle = 20°.1 global systems operating at these frequencies becomes especially challenging.00 (c) 1998 IEEE . Since such large amounts of excess link margin are economically impractical. Rain Attenuation Cumulative Distributions in Different ITU Rain Zones at the Uplink Frequency (50 GHz) Using the DAH Model (elevation angle= 20°) [61 0-7803-4902-4/98/$10. In addition.

However. For the 14 global systems. is a mid-latitude station with a moderate rainfall climate (’K’ in Figure 4). high power may require an increase of 10 dB or more—perhaps requiring switching from a solid-state amplifier to a traveling wave tube-and is likely to be very expensive. and a simple switch to “high power” may suftice. one MEO. it may not be necessary to maintain the signal arriving at the satellite at a prescribed level.00 (c) 1998 IEEE . while five intend to switch at baseband. Clarksburg. l%o systems employ two of these schemes for routing. Maryland.e. 3. Q-. and six have beams of two different types. 3. since no one carrier can “steal” all o-fthe transponder power..1 I I I I 1111 1 10 100 PERCENT TIME ORDINATE EXCEEDED (b) Singapore Figure 6. Because of the onboard processing employed in some systems.e. so that marketing of the system’s capabilities may have to be carried out at a regional level. The best practice involves the use of concatenated coding [8]. The decision to go to high power can be made by command from the satellite. SYSTEM DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS Section 1 described a wide range of approaches taken in designing the Q/V-band systems that were filed with the FCC. using a static switch matrix). and a new universally recognized optimum approach to serving the data/ multimedia market has yet to emerge. TWOof the systems will employ time-division multiple access (TDMA) and use satellite-switched TDMA (SSTDMA) for routing (i.” Also. the elevation angle of 20° used in these calculations represents the worst situation likely to be encountered in any of the designs. The subsections that follow discuss some of the pros and cons of the design choices that were made. Three designs employ fixed antenna beams. It can be seen that the signal-to-noise ratio required to achieve a BER of 10-10has been decreased from about 13 dB to 5 dB. All of the systems share a few common design themes. [6]. A second approach that is contemplated for many of the designs is uplink power control. of the transmit beams in a cyclical fashion).drops below a certain level. but two allow beams to be selected (from a larger number of possible choices) after launch. The choice among routing schemes is equally varied. This entails raising the power of the uplink earth station during rain. Five systems employ scanning or steered beams. satellite links are currently designed with forward error correction protection. or autonomously by observing the strength of the received (40-GHz) signals. and two combinations of GEO and MEO. and when such coding is concatenated with an outer (ReedSolomon 208. according to a methodology proposed by Dissanayake et al. This approach will be a necessity for Q/V-band. Figure 7 shows the performance improvement achieved by using rate 3/4 convolutional coding/Viterbi decoding. three LEO. 10 103 PERCENT TIME ORDINATE EXCEEDED Maryland 150 1 I I I 11111 I I I I 111[1 I I I I 1111 120 90 – I 60 < 30 - n i). while Singapore has a tropical climate (’P’ in Figure 4) and represents a “worst case.3 Total Attenuation Figure 6 provides model calculations for the combined effects of all of the impairments cited in Table 4 at Ka-. ‘al (a) 1 Clarksburg. there are seven system designs that employ GEO satellites. This spread of design approaches reflects the fact that all of the systems represent fairly radical departures from current GEO bent-pipe satellite practice. To reduce the link margin required for good bit error ratio (BER) performance. one Molniya.1 Choice of Rain Fade Mitigation Scheme Most of the designs incorporate features to mitigate rain fade. briefly connect each receiving beam to some. and V-bands for two locations. Predicted Cumulative Distribution of Totat Attenuation (elevation angle = 20°) 0-7803-4902-4/98/$10. or all. 2. Six systems employ frequency-selective routing (i..188) block code. Achieving adequate link margins is of paramount importance in view of the propagation impairments discussed above.

.e. These large companies have the financial wherewithal and the technical ability to propose. at present there appears to be no such thing as an “inexpensive Q/Vband terminal. For receive applications. to a large number of the dowrdink beams. demodulate them. Given that for most of these systems the earth station equipment cost is likely to exceed the space segment cost. and launch systems qpite beyond the scale of the more cautious intergovernmental organizations (INTELSAT and Irunarsat) or regional investors. Lockheed Martin and Motorola intend to join them. and then route the packets (according to a header containing an address) via a baseband digital switch (in some filings called an “ATM switch”) to the appropriate port.188) Coding Concatenated With Convolutional Coding Satellite systems intended to serve a consumer market must be designed to operate with inexpensive terminals if they are to be commercially successful. using a phased array. P-HEMTs must again be used in the low-noise amplifiers and are capable of providing a noise figure of approximately 3 dB. an amplifier of approximately 1 W can be constructed. and results in the saturation of some pathways through the satellite. Unfortunately.2 Choice of Onboard Routing Approach All 14 of the global multimedia/data distribution systems discussed herein employ some form of onboard routing. Subdivide the traffic in each beam into several (e. manufacturers to enter the service business. Onboard routing can be implemented in one of three ways: 1. cyclically. The intentions of TRW and Boeing remain to be determined.. Theoretical Performance of QPSK Modulation (a) With No Coding. First to take this step was Hughes. and (c) For Reed-Solomon (RS208.g. Each approach has both advantages and disadvantages. Employ SSTDMA. Approach 1 is easiest to implement but not very flexible. this seems a particularly poor compromise. 4. using filters. and employ a static switch matrix in the IF stages of the transponders to crossstrap traffic streams in various beams. The telecommunications satellite industry has been transformed by the decisions of four major U. Absent a very large demand (in the millions). but that would be a mistake. This is necessary in order to route traffic from beam to beam. develop. Single devices are capable of generating up to approximately 200 mW of power and. it exacts severe cost and weight penalties. and in many cases from satellite to satellite.10-2 high power. remove any coding. Approach 3 appears to be the only credible approach where 10-4 K ~ 10-6 NO CODING 1o-8 : ~: the number of beams. this is not true of the outdoor unit. which now requires 0-7803-4902-4/98/$10. Demultiplex (i. (b) For Coding With Rate 3/4 Convolutional Coding and Viterbi Decoding. separate in frequency) each of the arriving carriers. Approach 2 forces users to employ TDMA and drives up the cost of the earth station equipment. While the indoor portion of the terminal can largely be constructed of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICS) at low cost. where the packets can be re-encoded and modulated onto a single carrier that serves the desired downlink beam. the only practical solid-state devices operating at 40 and 50 GHz are pseudomorphic high-electronmobility transistors (P-HEMTs). CONCLUDING REMARKS It is tempting to dismiss all of these systems as “paper satellites” that will never be built. and Loral has since followed suit. by combining devices. 3. the cost of these devices will remain high.” and this could be the most significant drawback in all of the systems proposed.3 Earth Terminal Technology Considerations R = y4 CODING CONCATENATED CODING . Currently. S. 3. Despite these advantages. in which each uplink beam is con- nected for a brief period. the absence of components for Q/V-band systems—combined with the severity of the rain 3. is large (creating n2possible routes). n. 10) channels. often while others are greatly underutilized. It also forces users to operate at one of the few standard rates and modulation methods the onboard processor is designed to support.00 (c) 1998 IEEE . 2. 0 5 Eb/No (dB) 10 15 Figure 7. via the intersatellite links. Above this level. the losses in the combining networks make further paralleling of amplifiers unattractive and it becomes more sensible to combine in space. however.

E.Pentriad System (NGSO) File No. diction Method That Combines Rain Attenuation and Ckher Propagation Impairments Along Earth-Satellite Paths. London: Peregrinus. pp. 1996. B. 10.” InternatiomdMobile Satellite Conference. [6] A. 1981. 1997.” IEEE TransactionsonAntennas andPropagation. – GE*StarPlus System (GSO) File Nos. and J. Proc..Radio Sector. J. Inc. 112 through 116-SAT-P/LA-97 — TRW-EHF Satellite Network [2] J. New York: John Wiley. 1995. “Architectureof the TeledesicSatellite System. [8] G.00 (c) 1998 IEEE . Cain. Clark. Haidara. Jr. – GS-40 System (80 NGSO satellites) (GSO) File Nos.StarLynx System (GSO/ – ORBLINKLLC – NGSO System File No. Allnutt. Ottawa. — Globalstar. 162 through 172-SAT-P/LA-97 Spectrum Astro. No. A. 157/158-SAT-P/LA-97 and 159-SAT-P/LA97(20) Motorola Global Communications. 1546-1558.and Ku-to Ka-band is likely to continue.Radio Sector. 157-SAT-P/LA-96(72).fade and atmospheric attenuation problems—are expected to delay the introduction of nearly all of the systems described here until the Ka-band spectrum is saturated. International ‘lrelecommunication Union . C. Inc. Dissanayake. 90-SAT-P/LA-97 (A) and 119 through 127SAT-PLA-97 — Hughes Communications.676. Allnutt. and F. 138-SAT-P/LA-97(7) File Nos. 160-SAT-P/LA-97(13) GE American Communications. Inc. “A Pre- [7] ITU Recommendation ITU-R P. – M-Star Systems (NGSO) File Nos. Inc. Inc. LLC . K. – SpaceCast System (GSO) File Nos.Aster Satellite System (GSO) File Nos. 139 through 147-SAT-P/LA-97 File Nos.837. with few companies venturing into Q~-bmd any time soon. Sturza. 29-SAT-AMEND-97. 1997. Satellite-to-GroundRadiowavePropagation. 1989. Federal Communications Commission. Error-CorrectionCoding for Digital CommunicationsSystems. [4] ITU Recommendation ITU-R P. – Denali Telecom. 173 through 177-SAT-P/LA-97 — PanAmSat Corporation . – Expressway Systems [5] M. Crane. . E. L. the orderly progression of C. 212-218. REFERENCES [1] FCC Filings. Inc. U.to Ku. 178-SAT-P/LA-97 File Nos. Geneva.S. pp. [31 R. Geneva. . 1997. ElectromagneticWavePropagationThrough Rain.VSTREAM System (GSO) – Teledesic File No. W.P. 0-7803-4902-4/98/$10. October 1997. 157/158-SAT-P/LA-97 — Hughes Communications. That is. International Telecommunication Union . AP45. New York: Plenum.Vol. 148 through 15l-SAT-P/LA-97 NGSO) File Nos. and 128-SAT-AMEND-97 — Hughes Communications..

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