Expanding Market Opportunities with New functionality (EMON)

Status date

The ESA-funded project EMON has been conducted at Nera over the period of one year, from spring 2005 to spring 2006. This project has been an evolution of the DVB-RCS product portfolio at Nera, with the aim of "Expanding Market Opportunities with New functionality", EMON. The main add-ons in this project have been based on three main development lines:

  • Scaling the Nera SatLink gateway,
  • Mobile SatLink terminals,
  • Next generation return link subsystem in the Nera SatLink Gateway, the multicarrier receiver.

The scaling activity has primarily been linked to the increase in number of terminals possible to include in a SatLink network. The aim was to increase this from a couple of thousands to several thousands. With only this as an aim, solutions based on optimised software, new hardware, or combinations of the two are candidates. The picture becomes more complicated when new functionality is introduced at the same time, and the redundancy requirements are still to be met. Especially the introduction of new QoS classes proved to be a challenge.


Concerning the mobile terminals two new terminal solutions were developed, the Flyaway solution and the Deploy solution, both member of the Nera Hot Zone terminal family. The Mobile product family is targeted for markets where mobility, ease of deployment, effective resource utilisation (cost/benefit) and rapid link establishment are crucial. Such market segments exist within defence, humanitarian organisations and media. Two new products are being introduced into a new market, based on existing Nera equipment with some adjustments. The two products are based on the SatLink 1910M IDU as the basic building block. The IDU was adapted for nomadic use by software, hardware and mechanical adaptation. The necessary new software is for automatic position update from an external GPS and IDU/ODU power regulation.


Finally, the Multicarrier Receiver (MCR) product was developed from a prototype stadium (partially the output of the previous ESA-funded project, LSD DVB-RCS) to a commercial product within this project. The Nera MCR (SatLink 8500) is a general purpose QPSK burst demodulator especially suited for DVB-RCS Gateways. The SatLink 8500 makes use of the latest technological advances in the field of signal processing. The compact, 19 single rack-unit (1 RU) operates at 140 MHz IF and can support simultaneous demodulation of up to 12 carriers within a 40 MHz frequency band. It replaces, or operates together with, the first generation SatLink Return Link Subsystem (RLS) based on VME technology.


The key issues for the three field of development within the EMON project were as follows:

  1. Scaling of the SatLink gateway:
    • Increase the number of terminals that a SatLink gateway is able to handle,
    • Solve redundancy issues in a cost effective way, e.g. not only duplicate hardware,
    • The scaling objective shall be met with increasing functionality at the same time, especially the introduction of 4 QoS classes has to be handled in the scaled gateway.
  2. Mobile terminals:
    • The mobile terminals shall be based on existing SatLink terminal hardware,
    • Appropriate antennas must be provided,
    • Appropriate mechanical solutions must be found coping with rougher environmental conditions,
    • Appropriate power supply must be found,
    • GPS updating is necessary.
  3. Multicarrier receiver (MCR):
    • The MCR RLS (2nd generation Return Link Sub-system) solution shall be based on existing SatLink terminal hardware and VME RLS (1st generation Return Link Sub-system) software,
    • The MCR RLS shall at least cover the same functionality as the VME RLS,
    • The MCR shall provide better configuration flexibility than VME RLS,
    • The MCR shall provide better stability than VME RLS,
    • The MCR shall be scalable,
    • The MCR shall be cost effective.

The performed development has been necessary to keep the Nera position in the DVB-RCS volume market. We have succeeded in keeping the budgeted sales volumes towards our main customers.

The Nera SatLink Flyaway is one product in the Nera Hotzone Family, comprising a 1.2 meter antenna with a tripod base mount and the Nera SatLink 1960 communication equipment case. Nera SatLink 1960 is a 19" rack mount, shock and vibration resistant case. Inside the 1960 are as standard mounted a SatLink 1910M DVB-RCS modem, WLAN Access point, VoIP switch with analogue lines and a server for IP services (VPN, IPSec, HTTP pre-fetch and caching).

Picture 1: The Nera SatLink Flyaway terminal product with the tripod antenna.

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Delivering total data rates up to 8 Mbps in a compact travel case, the Nera SatLink Deploy is tailored to the demands of field workers on assignments in challenging conditions. The Nera SatLink Deploy is designed specifically for staff moving into inhospitable locations at an hours notice, yet entirely dependent upon reliable and powerful communications within minutes of arriving on site. Combining Nera's advanced DVB-RCS broadband communications technology with SWE-DISH' state-of-the-art folding antenna steering technology (IPT Suitcase), the Nera SatLink Deploy provides this segment with unrivalled cost efficiency and performance. Finally, video conferencing, broadcasting, telemedicine, voice and a host of data applications can travel anywhere, just like any other carry-on luggage.


Picture 2: The Nera SatLink Deploy terminal product with the Swe-dish antenna.

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The Nera SatLink 8500 is a general purpose QPSK burst demodulator especially suited for DVB-RCS Gateways. The Nera SatLink 8500 makes use of the latest technology advances in the signal processing field. An input band of up to 40 MHz is converted from the analogue to digital domain directly at 140 MHz using a single analogue to digital converter for all carriers to be received. Thereafter, all frequency down-conversion, channel filtering, burst demodulation, FEC decoding, and IP reassembly is performed in programmable logic or software that can be reprogrammed in the field, making the Nera SatLink 8500 a true software radio making it easy to add new features via software upgrades.


The compact, 19" single rack-unit (1RU) can support simultaneous demodulation of up to 12 carriers. Management is supported via SNMP and Command Line Interface (CLI) on a dedicated 100 Mbps Ethernet port.

Picture 3: The Multicarrier Receiver commercial product, Nera SatLink 8500.

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The identification of the limiting factors for the traffic handling subsystem in the Nera SatLink Gateway has been based on analysis, testing and internal and external reports on experienced limitations. It included the following activities:

  • Test the existing GW with the Traffic Load Simulator (TLS) developed in the ESA LSD project, in order to detect limitations linked to the following parameters:
    • Number of terminals on one NCC
    • Traffic load
    • Type of traffic
    • Signalling load
    • Superframe configuration
  • Collect information from customers on traffic and user patterns
  • Collect information from customers on scenarios introducing instability or congestion

The expansion of the Radio Resource Management (RRM) was the main challenge within the scaling process. The limitations encountered in today's system had to be overcome with an increasing number of terminals, at the same time as the system functionality was expanding, primarily by increasing the number of QoS classes.


Concerning the hardware, a new and flexible solution was developed based on the latest available servers on the market, and offering N:I redundancy (NeI, NÎ{1,2...}, IÎ{0,1,...}). The optimisation was primarily performed on signalling exchanges and process separation. In addition, for example new compilers proved to give an important contribution.

See Expected main Benefits below for more information.


The scaled system was intended for delivery to customers early 2006, a date which has been met.


Both the Mobile Terminals and the Multricarrier Receiver were to be launched as commercial products towards the end of the EMON project. This objective has also been met.

Current status

The Final Review with ESA was successfully finalised the 27th of April 2006.