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Last Update: 19 Mar 2009

WGStargate - Onboard Communications Solution


   

Objectives

The project aims to develop a product, the WGStargate Gateway, which will integrate the newest wireless technologies to access the Internet: UMTS/HSDPA/WIMAX/EvDo and Satellite.

This proposal will lead to the development of a communications system that will enable Internet Access for public use and private enterprise communications combining Satcom with terrestrial technology with cost optimization.

The WGStargate will enable cruise liners, public transportation vehicles, etc. to have high speed Internet access on the move and in remote places and to provide the Internet service to their clients through an intelligent bandwidth management algorithm that limits the bandwidth used by the clients and that assures bandwidth availability for enterprise communication at all times.


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Features

Nonius intends to develop the WGStargate On-board Communications Solution and to offer the Portuguese market an off-the-shelf, fully integrated data communications solution for river cruise liners, integrating Satcom communications technology with other terrestrial wireless access data communications technologies.

The solution's main component is the WGStargate Gateway, a Multi Service On-board Communications Gateway that is the development goal of this project. For the International market, the Gateway will be offered to Satcom Telecom Integrators and Operators to be used in their solutions deployment.

The WGStargate On-board Communications Solution will be composed by the following components:

  • WGStargate Multi Service On-board Communications Gateway;
  • TVRO Satellite Kit (used for DVB-RCT);
  • Wi-Fi Kit for access and Customer Hotspot (Optional);
  • GSM/GPRS/UMTS/HSDPA PCMCIA Card (For Return Channel)
  • EvDO USB Terminal (Optional);
  • Inmarsat Land Vehicle Terminal (Optional);
  • GlobalStar Terminal (Optional).

The WGStargate Gateway will have the following specifications:

  • Functionalities:
    • WGStargate Manager - Comprehensive Web Interface for System management;
    • Data communications Link Resiliency;
    • Intelligent Link Selection (Based on Cost, Measurements, Availability, SLA)
    • Multiple Link Controller;
    • Load Balancing and QoS;
    • Hotspot Manager;
    • Transparent Data Proxy;
    • Firewall; VPN; DHCP; NTP; AAA; WEB Server.
       
  • Interfaces:
    • Satcom PCI DVB IP receiver for RCT communications;
    • GSM/GPRS/UMTS/HSDPA PCMCIA Card;
    • 2 Ethernet 10/100 BaseT interfaces; 4xUSB2.0; 1xRS-232.
       
  • Software:
    • Embedded Linux Operating System;
    • Satcom DVB-IP RCT Driver; GSM/GPRS/UMTS/HSDPA Driver; EvDO Driver; Serial Driver; GPS Driver.
       
  • Hardware: 1U 19" rack module; x86 architecture; low power consumption; Hard-Disk.

Project Plan

The project is organized in 5 work packages:

  • WP0 - Project Inception/Launch (Feb/March 2007)
  • WP1 - Development of WGStargate Gateway (March 2007 - Jan 2008)
  • WP2 - System integration and testing (April 2007 - April 2008)
  • WP3 - Field Deployment and Testing (Feb - May 2008)
  • WP4 - Project Management

WP0 is divided into 2 tasks: gathering of project's parameters and creation of project's initial documentation.

WP1 includes all development activities for the WGStargate Gateway. This work package is subdivided into 7 sub-work packages: Gateway Design; Gateway Software Baseline; WGStargate Manager; Communication SATCOM drivers; Link Resiliency (Basic); Intelligent Link Selection; Packet Compression Evaluation. Each sub-work package is responsible for the development of the proposed functionalities.

WP2 is the system's integration and testing work package. All developed functionalities will be tested according to the previously defined test plans.

WP3 is the Field Deployment and Test work package. The WGStargate's solution will be deployed, in its beta versions, in a cruise liner boat at Douro river. The system will be thoroughly tested for a month, which corresponds to 4 complete trips.

Challenges

  • The WGStargate Manager will be the graphical configuration interface of the system.
  • An Intelligent Link Selection algorithm which is based on link availability (is a UMTS network available? Or Wi-Fi?), transmission cost per Megabyte, service level agreement and performance will decide which interface should be used at a given time. The goal is cost optimization.
  • Link resiliency: if a given link/network becomes unavailable at a given moment, the gateway will provide a resiliency mechanism, by switching communications service/link, that will try to keep always-on communication;
  • Packet compression algorithms will be evaluated and an evaluation report will be the outcome. The introduction of packet compression algorithms in the WGStargate's gateway will be done according to the evaluation results.

Benefits

Problem WG3G Solution WGStargate Solution
Lack of coverage No Internet Access until boat enters another covered area Checks the coverage of another networks and switches to an available network
Link’s quality degradation Bad service provided to customers Switches to a link with a better quality
Cost Keeps the same cost for communications at all times Always chooses the lowest cost/best performing access network
Performance The provided performance is dependent on the chosen access network Always chooses the lowest cost/best performing access network

The table compares a WG3G solution with a WGStargate solution. WG3G is a solution that only provides Internet Access via a 3rd. Generation cellular network.

Current Status (dated: 15 Oct 2008)

The WG Stargate project started on 1 December 2006 and was completed with the Final Review on October 15, 2008.

During this project, the following features have been developed for WGStargate v1.0:

  • Link classification
  • Link failover
  • Intelligent Link Selection
  • Traffic Measurements
  • Link Resiliency
  • Favourites pre-download

The field trials in the Douro Queen river boat have taken place in the months June/July/September 2008. As demonstrated at the Acceptance Review in September 2008, the system behaved as expected with all link selection algorithms working as designed. Traffic measurements have also been implemented.

The user can query these values via the WGStargate Manager web interface. This interface also allows the manual selection of access links, in case the client prefers a manual mode over an automatic mode.

The product is commercially available since November 2008. A first commercial installation has been done on a Madeira ferry implementing Internet services via TVRO (shore-to-ship) and 3G (ship-to-shore). The service is operational since July 2008.

From the testing and validation results further inputs for improvement of the system have been collected. Nonius Software is committed to evolve the operational product by implementing new features along with its commercialisation.

The list of identified elements for future developments is the following:

  • TCP and PPP Optimization
  • Push/Multicast services
  • Monitoring Server – Remote Management
  • Packet Compression
  • Development of Advanced Link Classification Mechanisms
  • Optimization of System Responsiveness
  • Antenna Rotator Controller


Last Update: 19 Mar 2009
 
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