The Internet penetration growth curve is still on the steep side: people require more and more affordable and faster connections to the Internet, independent from where they are. The key characteristics of what is expected from an Internet connection are speed, affordability and reliability.
Through the recently launched European telecommunication satellites that use Ka-band technology, Internet via satellite with high bandwidth and low cost is becoming a reality. On the other side, competition from terrestrial solutions is also increasing through technologies such as WiMax, Hiperlan and LTE. To keep a competitive advantage, satellite based systems have to be able to provide service packages that can be easily understood by the customers, with characteristics that are close and directly comparable to the ones available in terrestrial offers, such as ADSL.
In this sense the Lift Off Project tries to further the innovation of recent satellites, investigating how DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) can be introduced by a Satellite Service Provider. The scope of this innovative “next step” on top of the KA-SAT is to optimize the existing services and to generate innovative market offers for satellite internet connectivity, maximizing the user experience while improving the ratio cost/performances.
The Lift Off project is identifying and implementing a solution based on the Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) of the IP traffic on the KA-SAT network, to enable a “flat” profile offering for applications such as Web browsing and email in a market context (Satellite Broadband) where such offering does not exist nowadays. Objective of the project is to evaluate the behaviour of the end users when operating in the new “flat” commercial proposition and to validate the performance of the system with the proposed solution.
More specifically the activities proposed in the Lift Off project are the following:
The project is dedicated to realize a new class of satellite internet profiles that, combined with the new generation Ka-band satellites, can compete with terrestrial Broadband connections in terms of pricing, performance and customization. It allows a lot of citizens to gain access to web based services and boost the economy in digital divide areas.
The high level system architecture is depicted in the figure below:
The main network elements are:
During the project the following additional development, integration and validation activities are implemented:
The high level architecture of both simulator and emulator is presented in the figure below:
An existing simulator for DVB-RCS based on the satellite network extensions of the Network Simulator (ns-2) will be tailored to the requirements of the project (DPI, KASAT, etc).
The simulator architecture is shown in the next figure, where the elements to be developed during the project are indicated in yellow.
The final version of the Simulator will:
Emulation activities are performed on a Satellite Network Emulation Platform (SNEP), with specific modules added to match the target system specifications. The SNEP is a cluster of PCs, where real applications and traffic can run.
The project started in October 2012 for a duration of 13 months.
The first part of the project is to collect user requirements and define the system architecture of the pilot network and of the simulator/emulator platform. During this period Network Performance and Metrics (NMP) User Performance and Metrics (UPM) will be identified.
The last part of the project is the pilot stage with real customers, which is dedicated to understand the behaviour and experience of the end users, gathering their feedback on the operational service.
The Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT) milestone was successful. All the equipment is up and running. Extensive Simulations and Emulations have been performed to define the rules to be used by the DPI.
Such rules have been now configured on the machine; it will be the starting point to profile the service for the pilot customers. The next step of the project will be dedicated to collect users for the project pilot phase.