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A DVB-RCS Satellite Access Network

by Dirk Breynaert, Newtec

Brussels - 23 September 2003


The article describes a DVB-RCS compliant Satellite Access Network-concept called

"2Way-Sat". After describing the different players in the Business Model, an overview
of the total Network Architecture is given, with more details on the heart of the HUB
station : "The Carrier Blade". Several examples of services offered to end customers
are provided. With Satellite Bandwidth being quite expensive, adequate bandwidth
shaping and QoS-prioritisation is realised. Bench marking is foreseen in order to
verify the end performance.
Finally, some implementation aspects are described, for all elements of the Network.

- a set of services, which are offered
Newtec is active in DVB-RCS since 1998 and (e.g. Internet Access, Pre-fetching,
delivered its first fully commercial network in Web Caching, Software Download,
2002. During 2003, more networks are being etc…)
delivered worldwide. - traffic volume (average, maximum, …)
Today, many end-customers have a daily real - quality of service (priority, bandwidth,
broadband experience on our DVB-RCS availability)
Satellite Access Networks. - number of terminals.

(ii) ISPs
DVB-RCS : "The Open Standard" The Internet Service Providers (or
equivalent distributors) will sell Internet
Access and / or other Value Added
Services to End Customers.
The ISP will guarantee performance /
price for these End Customers and act as
a single point of contact to manage their
In 1999, the DVB-RCS was standardised [1], SIT (Satellite Interactive terminal).
[2] and complemented in 2003 by a new
standard for the Forward Link called DVB-S2 (iii) End-customers
[3]. The DVB standardisation process is now These are usually SMEs (Small and
adopted by a large number of manufacturers, Medium-sized Enterprises), Internet
operators, users and research institutes Cafés and SOHOs which are in need of a
assembled in the Satlabs Group [4] and the broadband return link (upload).
DVB-RCS interoperability process is ongoing. DVB-RCS will be most attractive for those
Satlabs certification procedures are being upload users who need a combination of
developed. The standard has been field a high peak and a low-to-medium average
proven in a commercial environment [5]. return rate, since in that case the
statistical multiplexing of the satellite is
most effective.
2 Way-Sat Business Model
(iv) SIT-installers
The main players in the business model are : Install SITs at the End-Customer on
behalf of the ISPs.
(i) SAP
The Satellite Access Provider usually (v) Network Supplier
sells transponder capacity and operates Delivers the HUB to the SAP.
the HUB. The SAP will guarantee a
certain performance / price for multiple (vi) SIT Supplier
ISPs like : Supplies SITs to the ISP. These SITs are
approved by the Network Supplier before
introduction into the Network.

The Network Architecture - POP Router

A typical 2 Way-Sat Network consists of the

following elements (see Figure 1) :

(i) Satellite
For non-mass-market networks, Ku-band
has the advantage that existing satellites
can be used.
For the Forward-Link (“FW”), often the 13
GHz band is used in single or dual carrier Allowing remote software updates via
per transponder operation (low gain - ALC the HUB and a series of services,
activated). such as :
For the Return-Link (“RT”), mainly the
• DNS Caching
14.0 - 14.25 GHz VSAT band is used in
• HTTP Services (with Pre-fetching
multi-carrier, high-gain operation.
and TCP acceleration)
For mass-market networks (for example 1
• Web Caching
Million users) Ka-band satellites with
multi-spot beams are recommended. • E-mail relay
This will certainly require the realisation of • NAT (Network Address Translation)
adaptive modulation and coding the FW-
link, as has been standardised in DVB- And Value Added Services, such as :
S2. • DHCP (to automatically assign
an IP address to a host on the
customer’s LAN)
(ii) SIT (Satellite Interactive Terminal) • Firewall
A generic SIT consists of the following
elements : - Optionally, a VPN Router can be
- Outdoor Unit provided by the End-customer.


(iii) HUB-station

Consisting of a reflector (antenna), a

masthead and a front-end (amplifier,
LNA, up- and down-converter). In
absence of interference from adjacent A SIT will be assigned to one FW carrier,
satellites at 2 Degree offset , reflector and will return data to the HUB over a
diameters as small as 75 cm can be pool of RT-carriers using MF-TDMA.
used ; else 90, 120 or 180 cm are The HUB is realised in a modular way and
required. consists of the following parts :
High peak RT rates (e.g. 600 to 1000 - an RF Subsystem : which usually
kbps) can already be achieved with 2 consists of a large Antenna, a
Watt front-ends. Tracking SS (Sub-System), an HPA
SS and LNB SS.
- Indoor Unit - a Carrier Blade SS, which realises in
the FW-Link and corresponding RT -
Links :
- statistical multiplexing in FW & RT
- bandwidth shaping & prioritisation
of value added services specific to
Satellite Access, like HTTP Pre-
fetching & Acceleration and Web
Note that during the HUB & SIT
Consisting of a Demodulator (DVB-S lifetime, there will be constant
or DVB-S2), a Burst Modulator and a evolution in features (e.g. DVB-S2).
DVB-RCS processor, which maps IP The Carrier Blades will support
packets (over Ethernet) to and from upcoming features over the years to
the DVB-RCS air interface. come.
The Indoor Unit is managed via the
POP Router.

- a Common SS with functionalities for (iii) IP Value Added Services
all Carrier Blades : such as Time & To minimise the effect of satellite delay,
Frequency Generation, Satellite which is very annoying when browsing
Position Tracking, Customer multi-object pages, a combination of HPS
Configuration Management, POP (HTTP Pre-fetching Server), TCP
Management, etc… . enhancement and WCS (Web Caching
- an Internet Edge Router, performing Server) is realised. For reasons of
terrestrial interconnection to the scalability, this is done in each Carrier
Internet Backbone, is usually Blade and not in the Common SS.
provided by the SAP.
(iv) Management Services
Include following parts :
Carrier Blade Architecture - The SEMS (Satellite Earth Station
Management) handles possible fault
The general block diagram of a Carrier Blade management of each element of each
SS is shown in Figure 2. Carrier Blade and configures the RF
layer equipment, as well as the
(i) The FW-Link is consisting of following Access Equipment (except FLE and
elements : Scheduler).
- the SLR (Satellite Link Router), which - SDR (SIT Drive)
performs bandwidth shaping and QoS The SDR collects performance data
prioritisation (DiffServ) in combination from the BDM-bank and generates a
with access services like HPS (HTTP correlation with the scheduled burst
Pre-fetching Server) and WCS (Web time plan it receives from the RLP.
Caching Server). This quasi-real time SIT & RLP
- The FLE ( Forward Link Combiner & performance data is sent to the PMT
IP Encapsulator) will combine the FW for further management.
traffic from the SLR and signalling - PMT (Performance Monitor Tool)
information from the RLP-Scheduler The PMT collects performance data
and encapsulate both into a DVB-S from several elements (SDR, PMS,
stream. etc..) in the Carrier Blade (the
- the FW_MOD (Forward Modulator), Common part of the PMT functionality
will combine the encapsulated data will be hosted in the CCMT).
with NCR (Network Clock Reference) - PMS (POP Management Server)
information and modulate the FW The PMS performs fault &
carrier according DVB-S(2). Accurate configuration management of the SITs
time information is also sent to the and sends performance data to the
BDMs (Burst Demodulators) in the PMT for further processing.
Return Link via an ASI-signal. - CCMT (Customer Configuration
Management Tool)
(ii) The RT-Link is consisting of : This unit is located in the
- the BDM-bank (Burst Demodulator) in Common_SS only.
an N+1 redundancy configuration. A The CCMT performs configuration,
pool of RT carriers (in MF-TDMA) are service and resource management
sent to the SLR via ATM-AAL5-OC3. tasks like e.g. enabling and disabling
An ATM_MUX is required to combine SITs, FW & RT bandwidth selection,
several BDMs. The capacity requests etc; in interaction with a Customer
from the SITs are sent by the BDM- Configuration Centre (CCC).
bank to an RLP-bank (Return Link
Processor) via Ethernet. Note that the
BDMs are outperforming competition
in link budget performance. User Access Service Examples
- the RLP-bank will calculate the
optimum RT-burst time every (i) DHCP service
superframe (around 140 msec), and PCs connected to the Customer’s LAN
sends this to all SITs via the FLE. The can automatically obtain an IP address, a
RLP-Statistical Multiplexing algorithms DNS server address and a default
are very performing and suitable for a Gateway address (of the POP Router).
mix of bursty traffic (like HTTP) and
real-time constant traffic (like VoIP (ii) DNS Cache service
and Video Conference). The POP Router has an integrated DNS
The RLP will realise bandwidth Proxy Server, which communicates with
Shaping & QoS prioritisation in the the DNS Server at the HUB (located at
Return Link. PMS).
- the SLR will realise ATM-AAL5
termination for the Return Link).

(iii) E-mail transfer service (iv) The RT bandwidth, configurable for each
The End-Customer's outgoing mails are SIT in the RLP.
forwarded to the Mail Transfer Server Prioritisation in RT is possible via DiffServ
located at the Internet. Incoming mails mechanism in the POP Router, which is
are forwarded to the Mail Server of the mapped to DVB-RCS allocation classes in
End-Customer. the RLP, like VBDC (Volume Based
Dynamic Capacity) and CRA (Constant
(iv) Firewall service Rate Assignment).
Default Firewall rules can be enabled.
(v) To increase the RT-availability in regions
(v) VPN transparent service with large fading, ACM (Adaptive Coding
Creation of virtual private networks by & Modulation) is realised ; whereby the
opening the ports and protocols of the SIT will dynamically change between
POP Router (PPTP or IPsec) is allowed. carrier pools to maintain a quasi-error-free
This can be used in combination with a RT-link.
customer provided VPN Router.
Bench Marking of Satellite Access
(vi) BW reservation service Performance
The SAP can reserve a bandwidth on FW
& RT link for real-time traffic. (This type (i) End-Customer Experience
of traffic has highest priority). One of the success factors of 2Way-Sat is
the real Broadband experience the
(vii) Static Multicast service customers must feel. It is well known that
This allows End-Customers to join an the satellite delay (250 msec one-way)
active multicast session via their web- results in a throughput limit up to around
browser. 300 kbps for typical TCP connections.
TCP accelerators help to overcome this
(viii) Video Conference service effect and increase throughput speed,
This allows End-Customers to connect a however a non-Broadband response
Video Conference client box to their LAN experience (e.g. 40 sec) is normally felt
and get access to the Video Conference when multi-object pages have to be
Servers connected to the HUB (future downloaded. A typical example of such a
service). page is "", with appr.
50 objects and around 200 Kbytes of
(ix) VoIP service contents to transfer. To solve this
By providing one or more connection problem, an HPS (HTTP Pre-fetching
points to the local PSTN network via a Server) in installed in the HUB.
SIT and a Media Gateway, cost effective When a user downloads this page, the
international phone calls can be realized HPS will “fetch” it over the IP Backbone
(future service). (very wideband and low delay) and when
it is complete, it will push it over the
Access Network to the end customer.
Bandwidth Shaping & QoS prioritisation The typical result is that in 50% of the
cases, the download time is below 6 sec,
Each end-user will experience the following in 90% below 10 sec, in 99% below 15
QoS performance, based on : sec. For this typical page a cumulative
histogram of the HTTP Download test can
(i) The FW-pool to which he has been easily be made over several access
assigned. The FW capacity is split into networks. Another important Broadband
several pools. In each pool, a certain Experience is how fast files can be
peak and average bandwidth is uploaded. A typical example is an FTP
guaranteed, with fair sharing by all users upload of a 1 MByte file. In case of a
in the same pool. maximum RT-speed of 400 kbps, this
upload will be minimum around 20 sec.
(ii) The HPS (HTTP–Pre-fetching Server)
class, to which it has been assigned. Pre- Performance in case of low load is shown
fetching will use push technology at in Table 1 hereafter.
certain rates.
Probability HTTP FTP
(iii) The FW-SIT bandwidth is configurable for Download Upload
each SIT/POP Router. "" (1 MByte )
50% 7 sec 20 sec
90% 11 sec 24 sec
99% 13 sec 28 sec

Table 1 : Bench marking performance of

2Way-Sat (under low load condition)

When the load is increasing, the response Carrier Blade and a max. of 1000 SITs.
time will increase also ; for example when 2Way-Sat Light cannot grow over 1000
the load increases from 0 to “full forward SITs without rewiring and reconfiguration
carrier capacity”, the mean download time of the HUB.
“” increases from 7 seconds
to 9 seconds. A third implementation will be a 2Way-
When at this load, the number of users Sat.Consumer version. It will require
would be doubled, the response time further development of adaptive
would also be doubled to 18 seconds. modulation and coding in the FW link, as
So, by monitoring the mean download presently foreseen in the DVB-S2
time, the virtual requesting load can be standard. It is expected to be
measured. commercially deployed from 2005
The response time increase limits are to onwards.
be decided by each ISP.
(ii) SIT Implementation
(ii) ISP Experience - For professional End-Customers (cfr.
The ISP of course is also interested in the 2Way-Sat.Plus), the most successful
End Customer Broadband Experience, networks [5] are using Ku-band, since
but he also has to pay the SAP for HUB many satellites are available and
use and satellite bandwidth consumption. antenna sizes can be as small as 75
So “price experience” will be very cm. However, depending on the
important. The SAP cost is mainly satellite contours and potential
relative to the traffic volume and not that interference from and to adjacent
much to bandwidth experience (on satellites, 90 cm - 120 cm and even 180
condition that enough clients are present cm could be required.
to allow the use of an efficient statistical
multiplexing). - Presently, 2 front-ends are available :
one non-integrated front-end, where
For example : Feed, OMT, Block Up Converter and
LNB are separate units ; and an
SAP cost = integrated front-end, where OMT, BUC
X1 x (GByte-FW) + X2 x (Gbyte -RT) and LNB are mechanically integrated.
e.g. X1 = 60 Euro/GByte - FW The integrated version is suitable for
X2 = 90 Euro/GByte - RT networks using a large volume of
identical outdoor units.
The challenge of the 2Way-Sat design The IDU and POP Router are
has been to realise a good compromise separately housed units. In specific
between efficient transponder usage and cases (higher volumes, same
still good End-Customer Broadband applications), it will be possible to have
Experience. both integrated.

The transmission efficiency can be - It is possible to install SITs on ships, by

measured by logging the total FW & RT using conventionally 3-axis stabilised
traffic every day and compare it to the antennas, or on transportable platforms.
transponder limits. In general, it is This however requires the permanent
expected that the transmission limits will update of the SIT position (via local
be updated every month in order to follow GPS), and calculation of the changing
the measured growing traffic. transmit time.
An example is shown hereafter in Fig. 3.
- Interoperability with other SIT
2Way-Sat Implementation Aspects manufacturers is progressing quite well
and reporting of this activity is given via
(i) HUB Implementations the SATLABS organisation.
The basic implementation is a 2Way-
Sat.Plus version, which supports max. 8 (iii) Satellites
Carrier Blades and up to max. 32000 It is not required that the HUB receives its
SITs. own FW link signal or accurate Satellite
Being a scalable system, it means that Position Tables from the Satellite
the satellite bandwidth and number of Provider, since it will track the Satellite
terminals can grow by simply adding more Position itself.
equipment, without interrupting the normal In general, satellites stay within a 0.1
operation of the network. Note that for degree variation box. Larger variations
such operational systems, full automatic can be allowed as long as the satellite
redundancy is foreseen, resulting into an stays within the beam-width of the SIT
availability better than 99.99%. antennas.
A simpler implementation is the 2Way-
Sat.Light version, which supports only 1

Security Aspects References

The system has built-in security like "Static [1] DVB-RCS Standard : EN 301790 V131
Routing & Firewalls". However for those End- Mar-03
Customers, accessing the is not
a too big issue. [2] DVB-RCS Guideline : TR 101790 v121
When business clients are communicating with Jan-03
each other, often VPNs are created. 2Way-Sat
has the possibility to realise a solution whereby [3] DVB-S2 DRAFT Next Generation Satellite
security (VPN & IPsec, controlled by ISP) and Modulation / Coding Standard TM2860
broadband experience (acceleration) are
combined. However, those clients, who want [4] Satlabs Group
to have full control over the security part, can
do this outside the 2Way-Sat domain. Due to → Special Internet groups → Satlabs
the satellite delay, they should combine
security and acceleration (or even Pre-fetching) [5]

List of Acronyms About Newtec and the author

ACM : Adaptive Coding & Modulation Newtec is a leading SATCOM supplier for
ALC : Automatic Level Control Broadband Access Networks, for Professional
BDM : Burst Demodulator SATCOM systems and for iTV Solutions.
BUC : Block Up Converter Dirk Breynaert is one of the founders and CEO
CCC : Customer Care Centre of Newtec Cy.
CCMT : Customer Configuration
Management Tool Contact information :
CPE : Customer Premises Equipment Tel : +32 3 780 65 00
CRA : Constant Rate Assignment Fax : +32 3 780 65 49
web :
DHCP : Dynamic Host Configuration
DNS : Domain Name Server
DVB : Digital Video Broadcast
FLE : FW Combiner & IP Encapsulator
FW : Forward (Link)
GPS : General Positioning System
HPS : HTTP Pre-fetching Server
HTTP : Hyper Text Transfer protocol
IP : Internet Protocol
ISP : Internet Service Provider
LNA : Low Noise Amplifier
LNB : Low Noise Block Converter
MF-TDMA : Multi Frequency-Time Division
Multiple Access
NAT : Network Address Translation
NCR : Network Clock Reference
OMT : Ortho Mode Transducer
PMS : POP Management Server
PMT : Performance Monitor Tool
QoS : Quality of Service
RCS : Return Channel by Satellite
RLP : Return Link Processor
RT : Return (Link)
SAP : Satellite Access Provider
SDR : Sit Drive
SIT : Satellite Interactive Terminal
SLR : Satellite LInk Router
SME : Small-Medium-Sized Enterprise
SOHO : Small Office Home Office
TCP : Transmission Control Protocol
VBDC : Volume Based Dynamic Capacity
VPN : Virtual Private Network
VSAT : Very Small Aperture Terminal
WCS : Web Caching Server



Outdoor Outdoor Outdoor

Common SS RF SS
Unit Unit Unit

Blade SS1
Indoor Indoor Indoor
Carrier Unit Unit Unit
Box Box Box

Carrier Optional Optional Optional

Blade SS8 VPN Router VPN Router VPN Router


Router PC1 PCn PC1 PCn PC1 PCn



Figure 1 : 2Way-Sat Network Architecture

Incl.NCR Inserter
Edge SLR 1 SLR 2 ASI
Router SDR RLP
HPS ETH BDM-Bank Rx from RF SS


CCMT ( in Common SS)

Figure 2 : Carrier Blade SS Architecture

Transponder Loading- FW.CAR1 & RT.RLP1.1 (Yearly)
January February March April May June July August September October November December
Average over 1 day (kbps)

12000 Forward
10000 (kbps)
8000 Return
6000 (kbps)
4000 FWlimit
2000 (kbps)
1 31 61 91 121 151 181 211 241 271 301 331
Day of the Year

Figure 3 : Typical example of yearly traffic growth