An Open Letter from the Digital Interface Standards Working Group to the SATCOM Industry

An Open Letter from the Digital Interface Standards Working Group to the SATCOM Industry urging the development of an open standard to replace L-band IF, paving the way for interoperability, improved performance and costs.

Twenty years ago, our industry undertook a major transition from 70MHz IF to L-Band IF to improve earth station reliability and reduce complexity. Today, we are embarking on the next radical transition from L-band to a fully digitalized interface. The development of an open standard will enable us to deliver the most advantages at the lowest cost, allowing all manufacturers to build interoperable technologies that work in both open and closed network topologies. The Digital Interface Standards Working Group (DIS) is pleased to announce the work that has been completed to date and our desire to open the Working Group to participation by a larger portion of the SATCOM industry.

Along with increased demand for higher throughputs and the availability of more satellite bandwidth comes the need to deploy and manage networks on a much larger scale. We aim to utilize the available bandwidth more flexibly and enable the use of higher-order modulations to improve bandwidth efficiency. The currently available technologies in the SATCOM industry have reached a point at which the traditional analog L-Band modem to RF interface is impeding realization of these goals.

Leveraging the latest virtualization, cloud computing and network function virtualization technologies, we can improve the performance and scale of satellite hub, gateway and modem equipment with this open standard. Digital signal processing techniques and hardware have advanced to levels at which amplifier impairments such as distortion and gain ripple can be substantially mitigated. Coupling a digital signal representation of the modem Transmit (TX) output and Receive (RX) input to modern frequency conversion techniques will allow flexible mapping of signals onto a multi-GHz RF spectrum allocation without requiring a multi-octave analog IF signal or an arbitrary segmentation of the RF bandwidth. All of these potential improvements to operation and performance can be enabled by a digital modem-to-RF equipment interface. more>

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