European Space Agency

User-friendly Bandwidth on Demand

Collaborative Network Technologies together with Telesat Canada have successfully completed their ESA Telecom funded project to bring Bandwidth-on-Demand software with advance booking improvements and easier user interface to commercialisation.

Efficient Bandwidth-on-Demand (BoD) faces a number of problems. Currently, satcom suppliers lack sufficient control of BoD facilities; while administrators lack the ability to track data for planning and billing; and in the event of an emergency Central Operations need to be able to override existing programs to avoid users from interfering with each other.

Similarly, the huge geographic size of Canada (roughly 6% of the total global land mass) means that users are widely scattered, even across different time zones, forcing them to make connections via a sometimes over-committed shared network infrastructure (terrestrial, satellite, wireless). Users must further contend with the laborious task of booking and operating their own services.

To solve these and more problems CollaBoD was developed under ESA Telecom's Start-up Projects Initiative (see related links at right). Canada's Collaborative Network Technologies (ColabNet) worked together with Telesat Canada, using their infrastructure in support of Industry Canada's 'Smart Communities Initiative'.

Advanced booking
The successful completion of CollaBoD means that now users in remote sites can book their own satellite sessions on a satellite network and see which sessions are currently booked (for both point to point and multipoint connections). The project put effort into using terminology that reflected the user's understanding of the network by allowing a user to select a medical video consult session rather than having to know the specific amount of bandwidth needed for an IP-video session.

A number of benefits are offered to a satellite provider's network operations centre. Monitoring of existing and requested program bookings can be made, and programming can be overridden in order to resolve conflicts over shared resources in real time. Furthermore, the operations centre can interact directly with program operators and technical support personnel.

click for larger image

Progress has also been made in the way in which advanced bookings are done. A web-based interface (image left) lets them browse current scheduling and booking sessions by selecting the community sites to be connected such as a health clinic to a regional hospital and the type of session they require.

The booking coordinator handles requests for scheduled services and acts as the primary liaison with the end user group prior to the scheduled event. The CollaBoD engine is configured with a summary of the network infrastructure and also compares booking engine requests against scheduled programming and available capacity before confirming.

Since 1999, ColabNet has worked closely with Telesat Canada to create broadband services such as video-based medical consultations using BoD satellite technologies. These initiatives proved the viability of BoD as a tool for allowing remote communities to affordably share expensive satellite facilities.

In 2001 the SmartLabrador project saw the deployment of thirteen new satellite-based community networking sites supporting a range of services including video-conferencing, tele-health, and tele-justice, the latter as part of a larger 23-community network that blended satellite and terrestrial facilities into a single network.

As the network was deployed it became clear that better tools were needed to manage and schedule the BoD satellite resources, with the desire to allow the community users to take on the bulk of the scheduling and management tasks (as opposed to the traditional model of these services being provided by the satellite operators Network Operations Centre).

A recent case study conducted with SmartLabrador involved 12 BoD gateways and 12 terrestrial frame relay gateways with each gateway servicing between one and three video-conferencing rooms and 25 communities in 2 time zones.

The updated version of the technology is now in production with SmartLabrador, and CollaBoD has been operational with the SmartLabrador service for the past 18 months. ColabNet has already begun commercializing the technology under the product name Equidistant.

To read more about CollaBoD click under related links on the right of this page.

Event Date

19 November 2004
Published 25 November 2004
Last updated at 25 November 2004 - 00:00