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Dr. S. PAL*
ISRO Satellite Centre,
BANGALORE - 560 017

10 July , 2003

* Author is Outstanding Scientist & Deputy Director, DCA

For mankind to survive three things are essential:


The last one becomes more important for present

• When it come to communication, now-a-
days there are two buzz words:


♦Information Technology
• The word `Communication' comes from Latin word
`Communico' - meaning `share'. It is communication
more than anything else which has been responsible for
the shrinking of time and distance and with the
development of space technology time and distance
have lost their conventional meaning, permitting men
and women all over the world to share their
experiences, frustrations and successes. Present day
the world has become a GLOBAL VILLAGE. Man is
in a shrinking Globe and expanding Universe. Society
is often described as essentially people in
communication - Communication in simple terms is
nothing but discriminating response to a stimulus. The
"quickness of the response" is increasing in leaps and
bounds day by day.
• There is another word `information' which is also
closely related to communications means "contents" of
message. Claude Shannon defined "information" as
"Reduction of Uncertainty". Information is also
described as "any difference that makes a difference".
Information is a notch on the spectrum with raw data
on low end and knowledge/wisdom on the high end. It
suggests that the raw data when processed becomes
information. Information minus noise is intelligence or
understanding. Intelligence plus experience is
knowledge; and knowledge when further processed,
looked through scholastic eyes, gets philosophized and
so becomes wisdom which is adored over ages. The
present day society is often referred as information
In the past few decades, persons and institutions
have been progressively unsettled by the rapid pace
of social and technological changes brought about
by Communications (telephony, TV etc.). In earlier
times the world around us seemed more stable and
major changes in values, institutions and technology
evolved more slowly. It took centuries for the
Middle Ages to become the Renaissance, yet many
of us have experienced major technological
revolution in one life time in the last century.
Many technological reversals have been seen like
the telephone which should have been on the
wired network has become wireless, while the TV
which was wireless now works on cable. Many
individual spheres of working have become
almost universal, like education has come to the
drawing room from school and colleges, sectors
like banking, medicines, hospitals etc which were
location specific are available on net. There is
tremendous convergence and fusion of
communications, computers and associated
technology in the present era.
We are presently getting on the crest of the
third wave which is INFORMATION &
appropriately termed as `IT' -Information
Technology, the first being agriculture & the
second being ``Industrial Revolution'. As we
become increasingly networked, our worlds will
grow smaller and bigger simultaneously.
• The conventional communication tools are:
♦ Telegraphy using copper wire line
♦ Telephony using copper wire line
♦ Television
♦ New papers, books, etc.
♦ Means of Transport
• All these have undergone a tremendous changes. A few new names
for the present day communication techniques are:
♦ Electronic/Voice Mail
♦ Space Communications
♦ Private Data Service using VAST
♦ Auto Text Service
♦ Video text service (Fascimile)
♦ Radio trunking/paging
♦ Cellular Mobile Telephone (PCS)
♦ Wireless in local loops
♦ Local National & International information exchange
intelligent Networks & Integrated Services Networks
• New ones are:
♦ Mobile Satellite Telephone - Personal Communication
♦ INFOSAT (information satellite)
♦ A major shift from analogue to digital domain
♦ An increase in the value of software as opposed to
hardware content
♦ Extension of optical technology towards the local loop
coupled with increasing use of optical switches and optical
♦ Use of wireless in access technology - New access &
Modulation codes
♦ Ultra broad band services
♦ Extensive use of spread spectrum and code division
multiple access techniques.
• Services planned / in existence are:
♦Virtual Private Networks. / PCS - Personal
Communication Services
♦Call Collect Services / Desk top Video conferencing
♦Card Phone Services/ Tele-education/Telehealth/
♦Video Telephone / Interactive Video & Video on
♦Multimedia transmission / reception /e-mail/e-
♦Global positioning/timing system along with SATNAV
♦Digital TV, Direct TV to Home
• All these need either terrestrial or satellite channels to
serve the user. The present day scenario looks like:
Television Internet TV
Cable TV
Video on
DVD Space

Telephone Internet
Pager Internet World
Telephony Wide
Home Banking

Printer Computing
VideoCamera Terrestrial
Desktop PC conferencing
Credit Card Smart Card


• 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, 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.
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 >800 kms per
♦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.
Space Communication is provided by satellites in various
orbits. Satellites have been put in to all these orbits and
successful communication links have been established. It will
be a matter of large discussion if one starts explaining the pros
& cons of the orbits & their satellites.

20,000 KM MEO

10,000 KM MEO

800 KM MEO



∗ Telephony/TV Broadcasting/Data reception and

distribution/Direct Television broadcasting/Disaster
warning/Continuous weather monitoring/Spacecraft
Vehicle Tracking and Commanding/ Intersatellite
links/ Mail /Internet/Data mining

∗ Position (GPS) and time determination / Moving

motor vehicle tracking etc.

* The commercial communication satellite services

are rapidly becoming a large & global business
increasing from $11 billion in 1992 to $20 billion in
1996 and $75 billion by year 2005. (Projections have
come down to $$66.5 billion due to iridium failure
and overall slump in the market)
Before one goes ahead with communication
satellites, it will be quite important & relevant
to talk about latest arrival on the
communication technology scene : the
INTERNET & THE WEB. Internet the
new incarnation of mass
communication is becoming quite
popular. Internet the parasite which
has almost eaten away the host - the
telecom channels, is influencing our
every sphere of life.
Internet which we know today has come to Asia
a couple of years back and recently to India
also will play an important role at least till 2005
AD. The internet provides a vast array of
services and acts like a multimedia system,
information resource and ways to perform
work and engage in commerce. It has an
estimated 200 million users which gets doubled
every year. The internet version 1.0 backbone
operates at 56 MBPS which enables the World
Wide Web (WWW).
• The next stage 3.0 has been denoted "The information
Super High Way". Internet 3.0 could provide
symmetrical, high bandwidth links that can
simultaneously carry telephone, video (Television) and
data. Ideally bandwidth could be at a maximum
capacity of the copper wire that link central offices &
homes at a minimum of 6-25 MBPS.
• In assessing the societal implications of powerful
historical forces, it is essential to take the long view.
However, when events are developing as rapidly as they
are on the internet, it is meaningless to look out further
than 15 years.
• The safest prediction is that by 2010 or 2015 the
Internet, as we know it, will no longer exist. There will
just be the Net a ubiquitous, broadband data dial-tone
provided by a cable telephone, wireless or satellite
• Teledesic, Skybridge, Cyber Star, Astrolink iPSTAR
etc., are planning to provide internet & multimedia
services through space. Clearly changes will have a big
impact on society.
• How big according to The Economist, a conservative and
perceptive publication not normally known for
exaggeration, the impact is likely to be `ahead of the
telephone and television but behind the printing press
and the motorcar".
• The point is that the Net is a phenomenon that cannot
be ignored. It is an agent of change in all sectors of
The changes won't occur in isolation, but they
will be going on simultaneously, resulting in
unpredictable, unanticipated synergy. In turn,
this will lead to truly profound changes in
society & the present technological paradigm.

To help all these & to spread the net at a faster

pace even to inaccessible & remote places
Satellite Communication plays a major role,
besides the conventional terrestrial links,
optical links etc., which cater to cities and
larger population bases owning to the
Having talked about INTERNET let us come back to space

The most popular one is going to be :


• One may be forced to
say that the future
communication will
be dominated by the
SERVICES and the
overall system design
will be done around
the main dictating
factor: spacecraft
G/T independent of
orbital heights and
• The ground stations which are becoming smaller and
smaller day by day will be of pocket size calculator.
The size of the ground station & that of satellites have
gone a tremendous change over years.
• The satellites for mobile communication services could
be LEO/GEO/ICO. As of today the LEO (Low Earth
Orbiting) constellations have provided the services.

• Mobile Satellite Communications using LEO, MEO or Geo has
received a setback because of the commercial failure of Irridium
and Global Star. The failures were due to the fact that the
project was engineering led - rather than marketing led. The
astronomically high terminal & service cost as compared to
terrestrial based systems was another reason for its failures.
During the10 years of realization of the project the CELL
handset cost, airtime &size reduced considerably while no such
effort was made for iridium (handset cost $3000, airtime $3-9,
total no. of customers 15000). On engineering account the two
projects cannot be considered as failures. In spite of cellular
telephone & other mobile services, the two systems along with
Thuraya have shown their usefulness over others in Afghanistan
and Iraq operations and also communications to inaccessible
places. INMARSAT has touched its 200000th customer very
recently. These figures should not make one think that there is
no future for MSS.
• Before commenting on any technology or the market it
is advisable to look on the s-curve
New technologies and markets are generally
characterized by an S- Shaped growth curve

STAGE 1 -->Emerging having slow growth

spurred by early adopters

STAGE 2 ----> Rapid growth driven by mass


STAGE 3 ---> Failing off with the adoption by

the most conservative population
– It will take time for the market to develop because
MSS is the only solution for inaccessible areas &
communication during disaster.

– MSS operation as of today are planning to give two

way broadband internet 200 kbps (for Global Star)
200 Kbps to 30 Mbps (fixed) by ACes. Even
INMARSAT is planning to give 144-432 Kbps
personal multimedia communication (PMC) using
INMARSAT-4 Satellite. New ICO is planning to
give `3G' telephony.
• In the foreseeable 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.
Some of these we discuss today:

♦The size of Geo satellite will continue to

increase . Incremental improvements are
foreseen in intelligent bus design which
takes care of the spacecraft control traffic
control and particularly the thermal
control to allow the use of prime power
beyond 10 to 15 KWS.

♦ Small GEOs for smaller capacity routes

will also be used (one may seriously start
thinking about I-2000 and even Met Sat
bus for Indian conditions).
♦Greater Transmit
power and more
complex antennas on
the satellites will
make operations
possible with a large
number of very small
Earth stations.

♦DBS/DTH services
with 300 - 500
channels.The service
may broadcast
multimedia &
internet .
• Phased array - orbit
antennas with digital
beam forming capable
of dynamically sharing
RF power, controlling
EIRPs and generating
large number of spot
beams will be used
extensively. This may
call for large
deployable antennas (>
25 meter in diameter),
complex feed systems.
The similar systems
may be even needed
for ground networks.
♦Efficient signal processors and switching equipment
will enable signal processing to be performed
onboard right down to operations similar to
switching in exchanges which will provide better
mesh connectivity. ATM switches onboard space
crafts may be used. Onboard multiplexing of digital
TV transmission may be done.

♦Networking technology for the seamless integration

of high data rate communication satellites &
terrestrial facilities.

♦Direct connections between satellites (Inter satellite

links) will shorten the transmission routes. The ISLs
could be in millimeter waves or even in optical
♦The use of higher frequency bands (Ka band and V
band) & frequency reuse by multiple beams will
enlarge the available bandwidths and thus the
transmission capacity. Future even space laser
communication technique may be employed to
increase the data rates to giga bits.

♦Miniaturization of electronics will enhance the

launch capabilities & reduce the cost.

♦High speed two way INTERNET - through VSAT.

This avoids the installation of broad band access
through terrestrial network. It can provide upto
40 MBPS links.
• It was expected that the space based high speed
internet service would hit the services over $600
million in 2001, reflecting triple digit growth rate.
However non-start of some of the planned satellites
has brought this figure to ~ $400 million.
• As of today internet is the greatest thing to happen
in the satellite industry; since some genius decided
he could deliver TV on cable. For many space
segment operators INTERNET is the biggest
earner. As of today internet is going towards zero
tolerance for failure. The goal is more & more
critical services to NET.
• The LEO internet provider in pipe line are:
– Skybridge (80 S/c - 4 S/C for 20 planes) 1496KMS,
Ku-Band 20 MBPS down & 2.5 MBPS up. Global
– Teledesic Non- starter
– New ICO.
– The GEO systems : Astrolink, Cyberstar,
• The technology issues are: Bandwidth

♦Use of Ka & V-bands and their weather

dependence has to be examined. It should
follow TCP/IP standards.

• It should be possible to integrate with land

mobile system GSM (TDMA), CDMA, the 3G
based on wide band CDMA (W-CDMA).
We have talked / heard / read that internet/IP
offers opportunities of convergence of data,
video and voice on the same network. Most IP
related ventures however, were badly hit by the
infamous Internet bubble in 2001. One of the
most disappointing developments leveraging on
convergence of various technologies through IP
and the power of vast geographical coverage of
satellite in the satellite market in the last 2
years, is clearly the satellite IP multicast and
content distribution market.
There is no shortage of failed ventures and
nonstarters. Despite IPs promise of
convergence and cost efficiencies, loading
video on to core IP infrastructure networks
is still taboo because of the BW hungry
nature of video transmission. The satellite
ISP backbone market, however is suffering.
The biggest threat is fibre.
In spite of all these, broad band IP satellite
based services are going to grow up.ip-
STAR(launch 2004) & EUTELSAT’s European
based satellite broad band project are going
ahead with their plans and developments.
Satellite broad band IP services are going to
grow up in the next couple of years
The new breed of satellites will be agile, flexible,
intelligent & powerful. They will have digital
bandwidth. This makes the services they carry an
easy fit in the present digital networks with a specific
provider ground equipment. They will:
• Switch & route high data rates instantaneously among
thousands of users.
• Continuously change the antenna beam patterns/eirp
as traffic demands
• Buffer and multiplex data
• Null interference, providing a strong, clear signal &
use of adaptic arrays & processing.
• Cross link to other satellites (ISL: Optical or V-band)
• Use of Soft radio
• The future satellites will be :

• Small Geo - co-located at a single point. Suitable

for small transponder demands even suitable for
DTH-Ka Band
• Large Geo - Suitable for multiple established
services/Ku & Ka Band
• Mini/micro/mono & pico satellites.

• The satellite driven broadband system become more

popular because it provides the last mile solution which
is a great boon for developing countries.
♦Satellites have innate advantage that make them an attractive
alternative or complement to terrestrial broadband circuits.
First is speed they can be built , launched and put into service
in as little as 12 to 24 months providing the last mile
connection. It also provides bandwidth on demand. User pays
for the time which he utilizes.
♦Although broad band satellites are considered to be poor
cousins of OFC - No country requires more than what satellite
cannot give. Europe requirement is 450 Mbits/s and US bound
capacity is 3.5 Gbits/S.
♦Many times one feels that for the over capacity of the fibre one
has to pay while for space based links you pay for the time you
• The future Telecommunication spacecraft 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 into future global
• 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 experimental 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 put in
to the market and optimally adapted to suit the most
appropriate transmission medium.
• 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.

• It will be sufficiently broadband systems & may have

even optical space communication components.
The satellites besides their autonomous control and
power generation equipment may have sensors to
observe the earth’s atmosphere and pass the data to an
appropriate station after processing. This will help to
deal with the situation like Orissa Cyclone. Such a
system will obviously have Geo synchronous spacecraft
with some orbiting satellites to take care of North/South
pole regions.
• Presently man is in a shrinking globe and also in
expanding universe with lots of technological surprises
for the technological pandits. We are becoming
increasing networked thereby our world is growing
smaller & bigger simultaneously. Space
Communication in all its forms will complement the
terrestrial technologies. Vision is always of one of hope
for human betterment.
OBP, ISL,Phased Array
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DBS - 300 Channels Mobile
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