On Monday, Arabsat is hosting a workshop for the Satellite Interference Reduction Group at the Address Hotel, Dubai. We caught up with Martin Coleman, Executive Director, the Satellite Interference Reduction Group, to find out the state of satellite interference, the next steps, and what to expect from the workshop.
For more information about the workshop or to register, please visit http://satirg.org/irg-cabsat-workshop-7th-march-2016-dubai/
Carrier ID has been a major initiative for you, where are we now and what still needs to be done?
We have made some massive strides with Carrier ID (CID) and I think as an industry we should be proud of how far we have come. So, we already have the ETSI standard of course and the technology has been really well embraced by most of the manufacturers, with the vast majority of satellite equipment now being manufactured with CID technology included. The satellite operators have been busy getting their networks ready to handle CID, and they are mostly getting there. Some of the smaller satellite operators still have some work to do, but they are mostly working hard to ensure they can handle the CID process.
The one area where we haven’t see enough activity is from the users and we now need to all get behind a big push to get the users to adopt CID for all satellite transmissions across the globe. That will really make a difference to being able to quickly and efficiently identify interfering carriers and resolve interference.
In this region, deliberate jamming is obviously a major topic and area for concern. What has and can be done to tackle this?
Deliberate jamming is a really tricky thing to solve. For a number of years, we have been working closely with regulators and the ITU, to ensure they can intervene when deliberate jamming occurs. At the same time, geolocation manufacturers have been putting a great deal of effort into making better systems with more accuracy. This means that the satellite operator can easily pinpoint the location of the jammer, within a very small margin. That information can then be passed onto the national regulator and, if necessary, on to the ITU to step in and stop the jammer. This process has been working well, but now we could do with making it more efficient and one way to do that is introduce standards for geolocation reporting. If the regulators receive reporting the same format from everyone, it will be easier for them to quickly identify the information they need to step in and take action.
The geolocation support services recently launched by the Space Data Association (SDA) will also prove crucial to helping those operators without their own geolocation solution benefit from support to perform geolocation.
You have been talking a lot about VSAT interference recently, what are the developments there?
VSAT is another tricky area, with terminals often on-the-move or unmanned and often untrained staff being tasked with operating them. There have however been a number of exciting technological developments recently.
Solutions such as Satmotion Pocket from Integrasys mean that even untrained staff can easily ensure the antenna is correctly aligned. The company has also just released a new product, Alusat, which is deployed at the main site, but can determine the status of the various VSAT networks and alert of errors immediately.
VeriSat is another company with a real breakthrough solution for VSAT networks. Its SatGuard analysis tool has taken identifying the source of VSAT interference down from hours, or even days, to a matter of just minutes.
What are the next steps for interference mitigation?
Big data is the buzz word across lots of different industries right now and I truly believe it can have a massive impact to mitigate satellite interference too. Could analysis of all satellite interference data help us to fundamentally address the interference issue? If we retain every statistic, every incident, every detail of satellite interference, we can apply deep learning processes to it in order to help us to predict and resolve future incidents and potentially also help stop them occurring in the first place. By analysing interfering signal characteristics, certain features could be extracted that could lead to possible auto-classification and more user-friendly tools to resolve the interference.
What can visitors to your workshop expect?
The workshop aims to discuss the recent developments, giving participants a thorough understanding of what they can and should be doing to tackle satellite interference. It also serves to help us learn from participants what they are currently experiencing so we can input current challenges into new initiatives.