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Last Update: 18 Feb 2008
User terminals

ALUSAT - Always Up Satellite Terminals


   

Objectives

ALUSAT aims to optimise the operation of 2-way satellite networks by enabling maintenance procedures which minimize operational costs caused by service failures. This will maximise network availability and end user satisfaction.

ALUSAT combines traditional equipment management with spectrum monitoring and measurement in a new way to accurately derive the SIT status and recover, under certain conditions, of out-of-service or service-degraded SITs.

Features

ALUSAT implements the key functionalities of a Network Management System for Broadband Satellite Networks. Deployed at the Networks Operation Center (NOC) site, it automatically checks the uplink and downlink health of the SIT population at radio level, collecting additionally relevant configuration and performance information.

Special attention is paid to the transmit capability of the SIT, which is much more prone to disarrangements than the receive one due to the higher precision required for antenna pointing in order to achieve the required link quality.

The primary networks targeted are low cost broadband satellite networks with sub-optimal terminal components (prone to disarrangements/ degradation), which are expected to support large subscriber communities with affordable services.

Particular attention will be paid to networks based on the DVB-RCS standard, of which the project is expected to influence, with contributions on network management issues delivered through the Satlabs Group (http://satlabs.org).
 


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ALUSAT is a fully open solution, based on programming, information and communication standards, COTS equipment (computing and instrumentation), and independent of hub/terminal manufacturer and satellite access method.

The key features of the system are:
  • Combination of terminal management and spectrum monitoring and measurement,
  • Automatic checking routine for fault-finding and accurate problem diagnosis, which enable guided procedures that allow minimum skilled/trained engineers intervention,
  • Powerful terminal recovery tools for network operators.

Project Plan

The work plan includes requirements definition, design, development and validation during the one year project duration. A suitable commercial strategy will be defined and refined in parallel to the development phase for the proper positioning of ALUSAT in the satellite broadband business.

In the specification phase, maintenance procedures from relevant network operators will be looked at, in order to analyze the capability to detect failing SITs, failure diagnosis accuracy, and fixing methods. Other aspects to consider are service expectations, outage tolerance, and associated costs.

First hand information will be obtained from Spanish network operator HISPASAT, who will also support validation by deploying the system on its DVB-RCS platform for functional and performance assessment. ALUSAT will thus be dimensioned for the current 3.000 terminal population HISPASAT DVB-RCS network.

Challenges

ALUSAT:

  • Allows the correlation and simultaneous monitoring of radio and terminal configuration parameters, providing relevant and prompt information for network management and SLA reporting,
  • Enables automatic and operator-handled fault-correction tools as a powerful capability to improve network performance and demonstrate to service providers the ability to minimize network outages and underperformance,
  • Exploits the possibilities for remote terminals recovery, avoiding unnecessary service maintenance visits,
  • Allows automatic resolution of a significant percentage of faults, allowing NOC engineers to focus on investigating and resolving more serious problems.

Benefits

Besides providing a valuable tool for the operations staff, ALUSAT brings a new added value to the network operator:
  • Achieves an effective increase of broadband sites Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF), enabling a direct benefit by avoiding unnecessary service maintenance visits,
  • Helps operators to achieve product differentiation now that satellite bandwidth has become a commodity and demand for broadband satellite is not growing as fast as expected,
  • Allows network operators the opportunity to provide an enhanced service offering to their customers (either broadband service providers or end users), constituting an indirect sales tool able to raise margins and to reduce churn,
  • The automation of network management procedures enabled by ALUSAT relaxes the need for highly-skilled network management staff. Besides, expert engineers have more time to investigate and resolve critical problems. The network operator can thus safely increase network size with no or a minimum increase in staff.

Current Status (dated: 20 Feb 2007)

According to the project plan the final review and acceptance took place in December. A first business success will be achieved when the system is deployed at Hispasat.


Last Update: 18 Feb 2008
 
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