How to avoid satellite cross-link interferences for a high-quality service

The pressure to bridge the digital divide has led to a race for satellite providers, who are fighting to gain more market share with the goal of providing a faultless, high-quality service.

By Alvaro Sanchez is CEO of INTEGRASYS

In a world where connectivity is becoming mainstream, there are still nearly three billion people – 37% of the world’s population – that have never used the internet, according to the United Nations. Moreover, according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 96% of the three billion people who have no access are in developing countries.

The pressure to bridge the digital divide has led to a race for satellite providers, who are fighting to gain more market share with the goal of providing a faultless, high-quality service. The market is getting larger, according to Euroconsult; 250 satellites will be launched annually this decade, 70% of them for commercial purposes. This means that the need for satellite internet is totally feasible.

There are three main solutions to provide connectivity through satellites: consumer broadband, with data transfer rates faster than 265kbps; cellular backhaul, which includes 3G, 4G and 5G; and rural connectivity, which is Wi-Fi hotspots backhauled over satellite links, typically in remote or isolated areas.

Due to the dependency on technology, end users demand wider coverage and capacity, as well as network reliability and resiliency. Therefore, service providers need to be aligned with these market needs, improving their quality of service. This is the stage at which unmanaged interferences come up – the frenetic activity carried out on the ground produces crosslink interferences that sometimes are challenging to detect, and not easy to fix without degrading the service quality.

Monitoring and controlling ground stations is the responsibility of telcos; it is common to see links interfered with unintentionally because of the activity that is carried out. The most common problem is when the downstream hub carrier experiences interference from GSM, 3G, 4G, 5G or small cell towers close to the antenna, thereby degrading the service it is providing. In many cases, there are authorised users that are damaging the content.

End users are tight with their connectivity needs and rely on the service provider to ensure fast and secure communications while also being responsibly aligned with telcos. Therefore, they must rely on technologies to cancel potential crosslink interferences in order to ensure a reliable and secure connectivity. This is particularly the case where WRC 23 is affecting most of the satellite frequencies.

Telcos offer Earth observation (EO) data or managed satellite services to the service provider, which in turn offers them to end users such as corporations or institutions based on the SLA. Moreover, EO is also impacted by interference events such as 3G, 4G, 5G and jamming.

Service-level agreements (SLA) state the contracted conditions for a given set of EO data to be delivered, or for a given set of satellite communication terminals to be provided with connectivity. The SLA typically includes expected delivery rates or capacity throughputs together with service availability conditions, and may also include continuity requirements in case of safety-critical services. The SLA achievability is therefore directly linked to the possibility of detecting and eliminating interferences and jamming events. Telcos commonly offer help desk support to service providers to handle any service incidence related to their subscriptions.

The reality is that the end customer perceives the quality of the service directly from the service provider; therefore, it is their responsibility to ensure that the service is aligned with the needs of the end user. Regarding interference, customers require technologies to ensure security and a highly available network, especially in the government non-defence arena. Another challenge is that service providers risk interference from cellular networks without the ability to mitigate these interferences, and the risk of losing the satellite in telemetry links.

There are technologies in the market that enable the active cancellation of interferences in cell backhaul, Wi-Fi hotspots, EO and more applications, with real-time interference cancellation in the ground and/or space assets.

By Alvaro Sanchez is CEO of INTEGRASYS