SatCom-EASY aims to highly simplify system integration and service provisioning for IP via satellite services.
It combines and integrates performance enhancements and comprehensive supporting functionality in just a single software system.
The solution is designed to allow flexible use within devices of different vendors and to match a wide variety of usage scenarios. SatCom-EASY supports typical point-to-point, star based, as well as fully meshed communication networks, and reaches even further by providing high efficiency for challenging satellite communication scenarios including mobile usage and highly disruptive satellite channels.
Traditionally vendors, integrators, and service providers would be required to combine whole sets of IP communication and enhancement modules. Many of these modules might use different interfaces, own configurations, some might not be available for a selected operating system, and potentially various different (software) vendors would need to be dealt with. SatCom-EASY eliminates this system complexity by offering a flexible, integrated solution.
Furthermore SatCom-EASY and the resulting “AirPEP” software are designed to support not only a single class of satellite communication. Instead, the chosen mechanisms aim to flexibly adapt to the underlying networks characteristics. Thereby supporting point-to-point, star-based, and (fully) meshed topologies, as well as mobile satellite usage, multi-hop networks and hybrid/re-distribution networks.
The SatCom-EASY project provides performance enhancements (e.g., for TCP and HTTP), abating the typical effects of high delay satellite communication. In parallel SatCom-EASY aims to increase satellite bandwidth efficiency by applying user data compression, considering header overheads of its protocols, and targets to significantly decrease the number of individual IP packets being transmitted.
The implementation focuses on flexible configuration options, relies on standard IP related functionality only, and keeps additional (e.g., satellite terminal specific) interfaces as an option. Integration flexibility is increased by keeping the software footprint relatively small – thus even allowing an operation within embedded devices.
Following its design, the developed AirPEP software provides significant performance enhancements compared to using unenhanced Internet protocols via satellite.
As example Fig. C compares the performance of TCP with the AirPEP I-PEP implementation (LQ-IPEP) and the even more performant AirPEP LQ-TCPe enhancement protocol.
Fig. D demonstrates the significant throughput enhancement of the AirPEP disruption tolerance protocol LQ-DT in the presence of multiple 30 sec. disruptions.
By considering various satellite network topologies, including challenged mobile, multi-hop, and hybrid networks, the SatCom-EASY software might even allow integrators or vendors to more easily reuse their network/project specific setups or even devices without (or with significantly smaller) modifications within other network scenarios.
SatCom-EASY provides flexible configuration options and allows integration into various devices that form part of a Satcom network, from special accelerator units that are employed at satellite hubs, to satellite terminals, to accelerating routers attached to satellite terminals, to devices further removed from the core satellite equipment. The technical interfaces needed by manufacturers and integrators using SatCom-EASY are highly simplified by the fact that the whole project results operate above (only partly at) the IP layer. This allows an easy integration with virtually any IP-enabled hub and terminal equipment.
The SatCom-EASY architecture feature set and resulting enhancements include:
- Performance enhancement including a set of traditional TCP and HTTP enhancement functionality (LQ-TCPe, LQ-HTTPe);
- Efficiency when using the available communication channels;
- Support for point-to-point, star based, as well as (fully) meshed network architectures;
- Allow multi-hop satellite networks and combinations of satellite and other wireless networks;
- Provide a high level of end user seamless service perception even in the presence of disruptions (LQ-DT);
- Offer performance enhancement to applications based on standardised protocol interfacing;
- Maintaining compatibility with existing client and server applications; and
- Supporting ESA/SatLabs I-PEP to take a further step towards (software) vendor interoperability (LQ-IPEP).
Operating as distributed performance enhancing proxy (see Fig. B), SatCom-EASY improves the end-user service perception (Quality of Experience) while easing the overall setup and integration of satellite equipment and services.
The project completed an extensive user requirement definition and system architecture phase – incorporating input from multiple user partners (including a satellite system integrator, a manufacturer, and a service provider), which was reviewed and even further extended by ESA/ESTEC. This resulted in a comprehensive SatCom-EASY enhancement architecture and a large set of features for the “AirPEP” software. The identified core features, as well as many of the optional features, could already be implemented and evaluated during the project.
Starting in April 2009 the project was successfully completed in January 2011 – after carrying out the final evaluation phase for the developed software (in laboratory environments, as well as via operational satellite links) and proved to result in the expected significant performance enhancements, as well as high flexibility and compatibility.