[IEEE MILCOM 2005 - 2005 IEEE Military Communications Conference - Atlantic City, NJ, USA (17-20 Oct. 2005)] MILCOM 2005 - 2005 IEEE Military Communications Conference - On Managing Intelligent Satellite Networks - an Evolutionary Approachin Policy Based Distributed Management

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    Greg Totsline and Rajeev Gopal Hughes Network Systems, LLC

    11717 Exploration Lane Germantown, MD 20876


    Early satellite based communication systems for voice and data consisted of bent pipe communications and could be managed through a traditional TT&C system. Newer systems are emerging where satellite payloads are now doing more than just repeating a signal, they are interpreting the information received and making intelligent decisions on how to process the data. Satellite payloads exist and new ones are being designed to operate like network nodes in the internet. Capacity is also allocated by these latest generation payloads dynamically, in response to changing user needs and environments. Managing these systems with a COTS network management system is not a viable solution. The advent of intelligent payloads requires network management systems that provide more than just hardware status. Instead, higher layer functions such as capacity management, dynamic bandwidth allocation, quality of service in a packet switched environment, and packet routing must be planned and managed. Policy based network management and supporting standards based management protocols serve as the building blocks for distributed, intelligent management. These satellite network management topics are surveyed in this paper.


    The primary focus of this paper is on managing communication network services in an evolving satellite technology environment. The outline of this paper is as follows:

    Discuss the functions and issues concerning the management of satellite communication systems

    Review the current state of network management standards and technologies

    Describe the emergence and growing trend towards the deployment of intelligent satellite networks

    Discuss the unique capabilities of intelligent satellite networks and propose an evolutionary approach to managing those networks

    MANAGING TRADITIONAL SATCOM SYSTEMS The majority of todays voice and data traffic that is carried via satellites is done so with transparent transponder (or bent pipe) based payloads. A typical transparent transponder based system receives a terminals signal, performs frequency conversion and filtering of the signal, then separates them into individual transponders finally re-amplifying the signal for transmission to a fixed or pre-configured set of destinations. Many of these systems operate in Ku, C, and L band and are now being launched in higher bands such as Ka. As with any engineered system, there are always trade-offs and compromises. The simple design of a transparent system must be traded with the following consequences of that design. Any noise not filtered by the transponder is amplified and passed on to the destination terminal. This impacts terminal design since it limits minimum antenna size and power requirements. Since the baseband signal is not processed by the payload, any packet based switching or routing must be done via a ground system. This can lead to inefficient use of available spectrum since multiple satellite hops are required which in turn results in longer propagation delay.

    Figure 1 Typical System Architecture

    Satellite Control Center

    Network Control Center

    Satellite Gateway

    Satellite Gateway


    Network Management Segment

    Terminal Segment

    Public Network


    TT&C User Data


    User Data

    User Data

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    Figure 1 illustrates the typical communication satellite system architecture; its management is described next.

    Space Segment Management

    There are two overarching missions of the typical space segment and its operators or stake holders: (1) the mission of the space segment is ultimately to provide [secure] radio links at a specified quality of service to support fixed and mobile terminal communications, (2) the mission of the space segment provider is to optimize utilization and availability of space segment resources to maximize returns (i.e. monetary or mission support) on a substantial initial investment. The primary elements of the typical space segment are: the satellite bus and its payload, the frequency bands and channels used to support radio communications, a satellite control center, and depending on the system architecture, one or more geographically diverse satellite gateways. With respect to network management functions TT&C primarily plays a role in fault and performance management by supplying data, typically in the form of status, events, alarms, and processed measurements that can be used to provide the network manager (with the aid of network management tools) a picture of how the bus is performing. In first generation bent pipe systems, the payload implements the filtering, conversion, amplification, and forwarding of received radio signals for the purposes of supporting terminal and gateway traffic. Second generation systems support multiple spot beams to maximize spectrum efficiency. Another characteristic of second generation systems like ACeS, Inmarsat B, and DIRECWAY is the concept of demand assigned bandwidth and power. These systems employ a ground based network control to manage available pools of bandwidth and allocate power to down link spot beams. In order to support second generation payloads (still considered bent pipe, albeit with enhanced capabilities) space segment network management systems need to support the fault, configuration, accounting, and security (FCAPS) functions associated with managed objects such as spot beams and their associated channels and polarization configuration, frequency sub-band switches, and power allocation tables. Note that with each additional capability of the payload there is an additional responsibility in managing it. Depending on the level of automation within the network management system, this

    can in turn lead to additional complexity for the network manager. Support for multiple spot beams exists in many fixed and mobile satellite communication systems. Like terrestrial cellular networks, the objectives of satellite spot beams (i.e., cells) are to provide coverage where markets exist and within defined regulatory boundaries, and to maximize utilization of available spectrum through frequency reuse. Demand assigned capacity is another technique used to maximize its utilization. In second generation satellite systems this typically involves a request from the terminal through the satellite to a network control center that manages bandwidth allocations across the entire system. Finally, variable modulation and coding schemes implemented by the satellite payload and terminal are utilized to support throughputs within prescribed error rates. Network management plays a supporting role in satellite radio channel configuration management. This may include storage, report, and status functions regarding the configuration of spot beam channels, displays of their coverage areas (often with geographic overlays). The network management system can process information from multiple sources to provide the network manager with the operational status of the network. Operational status and alarms received from the satellite bus and payload are reported through telemetry to the network control center to provide the health status of physical assets. Performance statistics regarding bandwidth assignments and capacity utilization are collected by the network management system, correlated to geographic location and provided to a capacity planning system which can analyze traffic trends and help the network planner make decisions regarding distribution of capacity across coverage areas. Performance statistics are also used by the network management system to help the network manager spot trends that might indicate a problem. For example, a sudden drop in traffic over a normally busy coverage area might indicate a problem with the spot beams serving the coverage area.

    Managing Satellite Gateways Satellite gateways are a specialized type of satellite terminal that provide high capacity / volume services (relative to individual satellite terminals). Like terminals, gateways convert a customers terrestrial or land mobile network interface into a satellite network interface and vice versa. Since gateways are considered high value assets and like satellite operation centers have their own computing and network infrastructures, FCAPS network management functions apply to satellite gateways.

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    Gateways have the additional complexity of supporting terrestrial PSTN and mobile network interfaces as well as terrestrial data network interfaces.

    Managing Satellite Terminals The mission of the terminal segment is to support end user services by providing the bridge between the users access network (i.e. its physical interface and protocol stacks) and the satellite network. In many ways the terminal operates like a much smaller scale gateway; in the most extreme case a satellite terminal can be for personal use and be the size of a mobile handset. Satellite terminal management can pose unique challenges for satellite network management systems. Satellite networks can contain tens or hundreds of thousands of satellite terminals so a scalable network management solution is required to accommodate a growing population of subscribers. Furthermore, a satellite terminal typically implements a host of protocols (both standard and proprietary) and functions that must be configured and monitored. Satellite terminals also support various authentication, access control, and encryption functions that require the network management system to support key management and distribution functions. Terminal mobility capabilities also put additional requirements on the network management system. Roaming terminals may move from one spot beam to another resulting in configuration changes such as the HLR/VLR for GSM based systems, or IP address and route configuration as a result of changing its local subnetwork. The network management system must be notified by the mobility management function that a location change has taken place which in turn triggers the network management system to perform necessary configuration updates.

    Network Management Segment The preceding sections have described the various functions and major components comprising a satellite network that require network management support. The mission of the network management segment is to act as the nexus for the network manager to monitor, optimize, and control the satellite network assets. Examples of satellite network management deployment include: Centralized all FCAPS functions are conducted from

    a single network control center that perform direct (i.e. element level) management on the space and terminal segment

    Distributed FCAPS functions are performed within regional network control centers or gateways

    Hierarchical Selected FCAPS functions are delegated by a centralized network management system in a network control center to one or more distributed management systems in a gateway, satellite operations center, and/or regional management center

    There are merits to all architectures. A centralized architecture is the easiest to administer and develop; it helps foster the use of a single set of operational policies since the network management team is typically collocated. A distributed architecture may be the best choice when the satellite network spans multiple national boundaries and the operational staff may have policies and functions unique to their site. A hierarchical system lets each distributed management system perform local management functions while the centralized management system provides an aggregated view of the networks status, performance, and configuration based on management information provided by each distributed management system. Regardless of the network management systems architecture and geographic deployment, a common set of functions are required to satisfy the mission of the segment: Configuration ability to view and modify satellite

    network assets and their configuration (including software). This ranges from a command line interface to an IP router to a high level graphical network topology diagram thats color coded to indicate asset types and their status.

    Fault ability to view alarms (either detailed or aggregated) from each of the segments. Fault correlation is also an important function as the network management segment will receive alarms from numerous managed objects (e.g. payload, bus, terminal, local computing and LAN infrastructure) and need to determine the root cause of the alarms.

    Performance and accounting collection of performance and usage data is a critical function that supports customer billing functions, troubleshooting, and traffic engineering. The network management system typically provides a reporting and graphing capability that enables the network manager and network planners to view traffic loads of various types over time and geographic location.

    Security security key management and distribution functions required to support payload, terminal, and user authentication and access controls as well as encryption of user and signaling data.

    The network control center can also be home to functions such as mobility management, centralized resource (i.e.

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    satellite bandwidth and power) management, and network admission control functions. Its evident based upon the information described in the preceding sections that managing a satellite network is a complex task involving numerous technologies (radio link transmission, mobility management, satellite bus management, mobile IP and telephony, network protocols, computing systems and databases, etc.). The next section describes the current state of the art in network management tools and standards.


    In the past several years the IP protocol has emerged as the de facto standard for networking. Starting with data applications, now voice telephony, multi-media streaming, and video conferencing are also increasingly IP based. The dominance of IP has also had a profound impact on the landscape of network management technologies. Under the auspices of the IETF, the simple network management protocol (SNMPv1) and associated MIB standards emerged during the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was originally intended to be a temporary solution until the ITU OSI based network management solutions completed standardization and adoption. The complexity of the ITU TMN standards, lack of implementation of OSI network protocols, the near universal adoption of IP, and the primitive simplicity of SNMP and its extensible MIBs all contributed towards todays current state of network management technologies: S...


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