With the aim of enhancing satellite competitiveness, two groups of companies are defining and demonstrating new architectures for end-to-end integrated communications scenarios, representing a major step forward for DVB-RCS networks.
As broadband via DVB-RCS becomes a more serious contender there is an expected increase in the amount of traffic it will carry over the Internet. Currently, major competition comes from terrestrial networks and the present main goal of DVB-RCS is to become a realistic alternative.
The obvious advantages of satellite technology over terrestrial make enhancing broadband access via DVB-RCS more important than ever. One major step to ensuring this is a further integration of satellite networks with terrestrial ones and will go a long way in maintaining DVB-RCS's competitive edge. Two ESA Telecom funded projects under the name 'Integrated QoS and Resources Management in DVB-RCS Networks' are working towards this.
The first project is from a team led by Alcatel Space of France along with BT of the United Kingdom and EMS Technology from Canada. Just recently completed, this team proposed a new QoS architecture. Inspired by the DSL solution, this architecture aims to improve the service differentiation between different types of traffic such as VOIP and basic browsers. Furthermore they propose important improvements to make the resource management flexible and dynamic especially in the critical area of bandwidth allocation.
Such an architecture will alter the way in which Access Providers (satellite owners), Service Providers and Customers relate to each other by offering much more flexibility than current satellite systems have been able to do so far. The Alcatel team proposes an architecture that is connection-oriented. This would allow full control between applications crossing the network and the amount of resources allocated to applications.
In this way over-provisioning of bandwidth can be avoided and billing would be triggered only when applications are really using the network. What this means for Access Providers, Service Providers and Customers is that new business models will need to be established as reflected in SLA's (Service Level Agreements).
Alcatel is already quite advanced in promoting this architecture to ETSI and intends to support this it in their next DVB-RCS product.
The architecture, which will be proposed by a team headed by Alenia Spazio of Italy with DLR of Germany and The University of Tor Vergata also in Italy is similar but different. Using an existing testbed from European Commission projects, the Alenia Spazio team has built a demonstrator for mapping on DVB-RCS. Much of the focus of this project was on mapping, as this is a missing piece in current network capabilities of integrated terrestrial and satellite systems.
Already much work has been accomplished in the form of measurements of the core functions for the interworking between DVB-RCS and IP and future enhancements for regenerative satellite are already being put forward. This project is expected to be completed in October 2004.
Both teams will present their architectures to the SatLabs Group later this year. The SatLabs Group is an international, not-for-profit association whose members are committed to bringing the deployment of the DVB-RCS standard to large-scale adoption. The main goal of the SatLabs Group is to ensure interoperability between DVB-RCS terminals and systems and to achieve low-cost solutions.
The European Space Agency plans to encourage the standardisation process and hopes that it can be implemented into a proof of concept soon. An ITT will also come out in the near future to check the degree of performance that can be achieved on the satellite side.
To read more about the individual projects on 'Integrated QoS and Resources Management in DVB-RCS Networks' just click on the links on the right-side of this page.