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TRENDS IN SATELLITE COMMUNICATION & ITS

RELEVANCE TO INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

S Pal
Group Director
Communication Systems Group
ISRO Satellite Centre
Bangalore 560 017
INDIA

SEPTEMBER 1999
SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS

∗ Everyday we manage to bounce radio waves off “Artificial


repeater” that we have put into space at around 36000 kms height
over the Earth. It is no magic that all these “Artificial Radio
Repeaters” termed as “Communication Satellites” are found at
that altitude. For at that distance from Earth, these objects orbit this
planet with an orbital period of 24 hours, precisely matching the
rotation of the Earth and these objects appear fixed over a single
spot on the Equator. It is this aspect due to that we term these
objects as geosynchronous or geostationary satellites.
∗ With these satellites in one spot, the reception and transmission was a
great feat in itself and done using large ground stations with antenna
diameters ranging from 30M to 10M. This was needed to get the
telephone/TV or any other signal around the globe or to large
distances. In such cases the users never come in direct contact with
the satellite.
∗ The situation changed considerably in eighties and the
communications requirements became really nerve-racking.
Imagine the transmission reception of signals to satellites from:
∗ A ship pitching and rolling on the high seas

∗ An aeroplane flying at a speed of >800kms per hour

∗ An orbiting space vehicle/satellite with speeds >7 to 8 kms per


second
∗ An aeroplane or a ship in distress

∗ A mountaineer/A trekker/A forest guard/An elephant/A tiger/A bird/ A


turtle/a dolphin.
∗ A man always on move/A motor vehicle
If using satellites to communicate is a great marvel, doing the
same without stopping or even slowing down is almost miracle.
VARIOUS SATELLITE COMMUNICATION SERVICES
∗ Telephony/TV Broadcasting/Data reception and distribution/Direct
Television broadcasting/Disaster warning/Continuous weather
monitoring/Spacecraft Vehicle Tracking and Commanding/
Intersatellite links/ Mail transmission
∗ Position (GPS) and time determination / Moving motor vehicle
tracking etc.
MOBILE PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS

∗ A user to exchange various kinds of information e.g.: voice, data,


video and image with any one, any time and anywhere. The
envisaged key element that forms the basis of this mobility is a
small inexpensive handheld communicator with a single telephone
number independent of location and geopolitical boundaries.
The main requirement is every conceivable degree of freedom for
the user.

∗ One can draw a conclusion that the future communication will be


dominated by the MOBILE PERSONAL COMMUNICATION
SERVICES and the overall system design will be done around the
main dictating factor: spacecraft G/T. The ground stations which
are becoming smaller and smaller day by day will be of pocket size
calculator.
In the foreseable future new equipments and techniques will be used
in satellite technology which will extend and improve the
possibilities of satellite communications beyond our present
imaginations.

∗ Greater Transmit power and more complex antennas on the satellites


will make operations possible with a large number of very small Earth
stations.

∗ Efficient signal processors and switching equipment will enable signal


processing to be performed onboard right down to operations similar
to switching in exchanges.

∗ Direct connections between satellites will shorten the transmission


routes.

∗ The use of higher frequency bands will enlarge the available bandwidths
and thus the transmission capacity.

∗ Miniaturization of electronics
With the emergence of optical communications the majority of
the existing satellite communication services burden will be taken
over by the optical links and the tasks to be performed by future
satellites will be:
∗ Tasks for which it will only be essential to use the satellites to limited
basis (Transmission of Telephones and TV to inaccessible places or
thin traffic routes etc).
∗ Tasks for which it will remain advantageous to use satellites (New
services with different requirements with respect to BW, partner
stations, transmission times. This could include Data Collection
and Distribution over a large area, mobile radio services to
inaccessible areas, ship, aircrafts, Mobile communication/PCS).
FUTURE SATELLITES

∗ The future Telecommunication spacecrafts will be developed from


transmission in to Information Satellites (INFOSAT). They will
be given many of the properties of terrestrial telephone exchanges
and signal processing equipments and it will be possible to integrate
them directly in to future global networks. They will thus permit
immediate applications of many existing and future services.
Because of their inherent built up flexibility, these satellites will be
able to support and speed up the initial construction phase of many
new services before their trial on terrestrial networks. These type of
satellites will enable new services to be tried out over a large area
before being launched on to market and optimally adapted to suit
the most appropriate transmission medium.
∗ The future INFOSATS will be of three type:
∗ National/Regional

∗ International

∗ Relay
Future technologies will enable the construction of an INFOSAT
network in which the above three will be connected to each other.
The onboard processors will ensure that the signals to be exchanged
between the satellites and the terrestrial subscribers are combined
using TD and SD multiplexing techniques and distributed in
accordance with the user requirements. Special coding techniques
will ensure the security of transmissions.
DESIGN OF INFOSAT
∗ The satellite platform will have multiple reconfigurable
antennas/transmitters with dynamic power sharing / Receivers in
various frequency ranges / large reconfigurable switching matrices
at baseband and at RF level / intersatellite links permitting signals
to be exchanged between satellites according to changing
requirements / complex and efficient analog / optical / digital signal
processors / New modulation technique and multiple access
techniques.

∗ The satellites besides their autonomous control and power generation


equipment will have sensors to observe the earth’s atmosphere and
pass the data to an appropriate station after processing.
Such a system will obviously have Geo synchronous spacecrafts
with some orbiting satellites to take care of North/South pole
regions.
The INFOSAT Network is to be an integral component of the
planned world-wide broadband telecommunication network.
Therefore it will be necessary for planning of the satellite
network and the terrestrial network to be closely coordinated.
Until now satellites have connected the terrestrial network to be
closely coordinated. Until now satellites have connected the
terrestrial networks of various countries and organizations.
SERVICES TO BE OFFERED BY INFOSAT
∗ Radio and data distribution services to many users which are spread
over a large area.
∗ Data collection services for large areas with many data transmitter
stations (multi point-to-point operation : weather, oil, electricity &
water meter reading etc.).
∗ Telecommunication services for thin routes

∗ Telecommunication services with ships, aeroplanes, space vehicles,


etc).
∗ In the area of business communications demand is growing for broad
band communication facilities which can be applied flexibly using
satellites.
∗ Worldwide Radio paging

∗ Video conferencing and high resolution TV broadcast trials.

∗ Mobile radio services can be combined with location finding services


and be used for automatically locating subscribers.
∗ Earth observation with special warning mechanism and
environmental protection services in close coordination with
terrestrial sensors.
By integrating INFOSAT into terrestrial network, it will be
possible to supply all the subscribers of a future global network
with all essential information. This will make the location of the
user quite irrelevant.
OPTICAL FIBRE VS SPACE COMMUNICATIONS
∗ Much is talked about the competition between satellites and optical
fibre technology. A closer examination of the specific properties of
each transmission medium shows that they could complement each
other very well and future world wide terrestrial networks will need
to be complemented by a satellite network.
∗ The TV and heavy traffic trunk routes will be taken over by optical
fibre.
∗ The satellites will serve: thin traffic routes extremely large
distances/inaccessible areas/weather monitoring/disaster warning /
Data collection and Distribution etc.