GreeCom is the enabler of the Hellenic government satellite communications infrastructure that connects the country’s decision centres and authorities with voice and data services, with the goal of seamless and uninterrupted service even in times of crisis. In this context, there is a clear requirement for secure, resilient and reliable satellite communications.
The SMART project targets the design, development, integration and operational verification of a holistic user and resource communication service manager platform. The SMART solution is envisioned as a web application tool, which enhances GreeCom resilience, performance and security with the following functionalities:
- Data network management and provisioning.
The system provides the basic set of services of an application-specific customer management platform. The specific module provides the service provisioning choices and packages, handles the demand requests, retains service profiles and health status, keeps the analytical history of the user, or administrator requests and responses, keeps service/user statistics and finally has the ability to generate relevant reports.
- Bandwidth/Capacity resource planning and allocation.
The specific SMART module handles bandwidth requests, i.e., the user requests contiguous spectrum segments and provides information about the equipment and intended use. The SMART platform will have the exact view of the available and occupied resources. The overall managed bandwidth will be divided into two allocation pools: the fixed and the dynamic pool. The fixed pool includes long term leases – where the service provider has limited automated reconfiguration capabilities. On the other hand, the dynamic pool will be managed with real-time frequency planning and assignment, i.e., each request will be authenticated, examined and verified in respect to the available user equipment and based on usage history, and finally, a properly selected spectrum segment will be dynamically allocated to the user.
- Spectrum and resource analysis using the Software Defined Radio (SDR) paradigm.
An SDR is a radio system that uses generic and simplified RF hardware, while the communication components that synthesize or analyse in the waveform are implemented exclusively on software – executed on embedded system and/or a conventional computer. In the SMART, SDR is used to implement a radio resource monitoring tool, in a time-frequency grid, that uses detection algorithms in order to: identify transmissions; classify them as licensed or unlicensed transmissions and estimate some signal features; and finally identify bandwidth segmentation, as well as monitor the resource utilization.
- Optimized resource scheduling and allocation.
This component evolves the SMART platform from a management software to an automated and optimized resource allocation engine. In this context, the user requests dedicated throughput instead of specific spectrum segment. The system, in real-time will estimate the performance and select the optimal bandwidth allocation strategy that covers the user requirements and optimizes the overall system spectrum efficiency.
- Automated ground segment control and monitoring
This element of SMART project will close the loop of automation and hereby create an agile and resilient system. The results of the optimized resource scheduling and allocation will be translated into a setting of the according ground station equipment. The equipment will be monitored and remotely controlled in order to adjust the device settings as it is required for a dynamic reallocation of resources.
- A study on the definition of use cases addressed by a future Greecom network expansion and the technical requirements for the expansion will run in parallel to the SMART project objectives.
Following the increasing demand for satellite communication and earth observation capabilities the interest in Low Earth Orbit solutions has increased. Being able to utilize its own constellation of LEO satellites Greece can acquire a significant advantage, as it becomes independent of acquiring such data from third party providers, as well as enabling the ability of using a specialized payload, designed from the ground up to serve the type of observations needed in the needed satellite overpass frequency.
The SMART platform will provide proper interfaces towards users as well as third party applications – in order to provide extendable and scalable features.
The SMART platform is expected to have major impact into the GreeCom ecosystem since:
- It develops new capabilities: With the use of efficient management, satellite resource allocation, monitoring and control of satellite communication capabilities, the achievement rate of the Governmental objectives will also increase. The efficient and reliable allocation of satellite resources at a national level is welcome by both military and civilian authorities – especially since it can effectively coordinate their co-existence. Furthermore, it will lead all the involved governmental stakeholders to consider new solutions to exploit the dynamically available satellite resources.
- It eliminates distrust by governmental authorities. The reluctance of the different Governmental entities to cooperate in shared efforts/resources programs could be overcome through a centralized architecture which will implement joint plans for investment, exploitation and allocation of resources. In this way the fragmentation of efforts could be minimized and goals could be more efficiently be achieved.
- It plays the role of the driver for future needs. The efficient monitoring of the allocated resources would be the driver of any future needs. The limitations that the current allocations impose to entities’ missions can help identify the requirements for furtherly expanding the current capabilities mitigating the current availability risks
- It provides an accurate record guiding and harmonizing new investments in the domain. The system keeps accurate history and records of requests, allocations, system exploitation and resource utilization. These reports could guide the actions for any new expenditure for satellite related equipment, either on the ground or in orbit, aligning any capital expenditure with the current national strategy.
- It creates new opportunities for beyond the national border’s cooperation. At an international level, a resilient, dynamic and, where possible, automated management framework allows two or more countries to use their allocation systems to jointly coordinate and share satellite resources, supporting each other in emergency (or not) situations. Joint resource management could be carried out with the exploitation of the SMART system that utilizes appropriate parameters and criteria based upon the situation in need.
- It supports the satellite communications as field and solution. Based on the GreeCom experience, the use of satellite resources can be enhanced through efforts mutually conducted by the various Governmental entities. In order to achieve that level of cooperation, technical means are required which will efficiently manage and monitor the satellite resources among the various stakeholders.
The final objective of SMART is the definition of use cases addressed by a future GreeCom expansion and the definition of the related technical requirements. The use case definition will be performed through the determination of users and stakeholders’ needs. The definition of scenarios of the high-level system architecture, the trade-off of satellite configuration, the spectrum requirements analysis within the limits imposed by the Radio Regulations and the identification of regulatory challenges are the main objectives to be reached towards the future GreeCom expansion design.