ST Engineering and Gilat showcase proof of concept using DIFI standard at Satellite 2023

The PoC utilised the DIFI Consortium's 1.1 standard, which will enable all manufacturers to build interoperable technologies that work in both open and closed network topologies.

ST Engineering iDirect and Gilat Satellite Networks have announced a successful proof of concept (PoC) of converting analog signals to digital signals utilising Digital Intermediate Frequency Interoperability (DIFI) 1.1 Standard, developed by the DIFI consortium.

The demonstration, held during the Satellite 2023 event in Washington, DC, lays foundations for the goal of interoperability.

The standard provides a path to enable the digital transformation of the space industry by providing interoperability at the IF/RF layer. The standard will enable all manufacturers to build interoperable technologies that work in both open and closed network topologies, resulting in highly flexible networks and enabling the industry to respond rapidly to customer demands.

The two companies demonstrated that an iDirect modulator can output a digitised signal that conforms to the DIFI standard and is interoperable with a BUC from Gilat’s fully owned subsidiary, Wavestream. A DIFI v1.1 link, between the modem and BUC, carries the digitised waveform over a 10 Gbps fiber connection. The modem’s output waveform is DVB-S2X, but the digital link is waveform agnostic. The overall link includes a digital modulator as the data source and a digital input BUC. The traditional analog IF and RF signals are displayed to demonstrate the successful interoperability and reconstruction of the analog waveform from the DIFI stream.

Digitising the interface between modem and RF components using the new open standard, the industry will be able to leverage the latest virtualisation, cloud computing and network function virtualisation technologies as well as improve the performance and scale of satellite hub, gateway, and modem equipment.

Frederik Simoens, CTO at ST Engineering iDirect, said: “This PoC implementation of the DIFI standard is an important milestone on our path to virtualization and the realisation of the all-digital teleport. Our products with DIFI-compliant interfaces will simplify gateway designs and pave the way for a more flexible and virtualised ground infrastructure.”

Matt Flach, CTO at Wavestream, a Gilat subsidiary, added: “We support the open DIFI standard and are developing innovative solutions at Gilat and Wavestream on both the modem and BUC side. We’re excited to be a part of this interoperability demonstration and believe that this technology will bring with it many advantages, not only at a system level but within the Solid-State Power Amplifier/Block up converter. This standard will bring us new methods for correcting the signal impairments caused by the up-conversion and amplification process.”