Broadband Mobile Satellite Communications

Engineering High Speed Internet for the Airline Passenger

Instructor: Bruce R. Elbert

Wednesday, 2 May 2018 - 10:00am to 2:00pm EDT

Online via WebEx

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Course Description

The growing demand for broadband/wideband satellite communications (satcom) for mobile and temporary locations has motivated the introduction of technology solutions and network architectures that provide bi-directional connectivity at tens to hundreds of Mbps. Current commercial and military applications under highly-dynamic conditions utilize a variety of fixed and transportable satcom terminals as well as newly developed mobile satcom terminals being deployed on aircraft. This course addresses the design of broadband mobile satcom networks at Ku and Ka bands (10 – 30 GHz), and should allow participants to specify major space and ground network elements; evaluate types and sources of tracking antenna technology, RF electronics, and modem equipment; and select the most appropriate air-to-ground architecture, coverage, and bandwidth. Case studies are presented of broadband communications systems at Ku/Ka-band for commercial aircraft.

Detailed topics include:

  • Design of broadband satellite links at 10 to 30 GHz, including radio wave propagation (based on free-space propagation from satellite to aircraft, influenced heavily by rain attenuation); space – ground link budget principles; and system-level approaches, such as advanced forward error correction (turbo codes and LDPC), automatic uplink power control, and Adaptive Modulation and Coding (ACM)
  • Architecture of the space segment, star/mesh networking, high throughput multi-beam satellites at Ku and Ka-bands, frequency reuse
  • Configuration of the ground segment using Ku and Ka frequencies, taking into account the unique aspects of aircraft installation and operation
  • Phased array antenna designs (electronic and mechanical), reflector dishes and flat-panel antennas using mechanical steering
  • Systems evaluation of alternatives (figures of merit) to optimize the passenger experience and service performance

Who Should Attend

The course is intended for communications engineers involved with the development and use of all broadband telecommunications media (wired and wireless). Some previous familiarity with microwave and/or satellite communications is desirable.

The presentation is based on many years' experience in the satellite communications field augmented with current research in the design of space and ground mobile systems for robust aeronautical access.


Broadband Mobile Satellite Communications

Bruce R. Elbert

BEE, MSEE, MBA, President, Application Technology Strategy, LLC

Bruce R. Elbert is president of his own satellite technology consulting firm, Application Technology Strategy, L.L.C., Austin, Texas; and retired Adjunct Professor (ret), College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Mr. Elbert is a recognized radio engineer and satellite communications expert, and has been involved in the satellite and telecommunications industries for over 40 years. His consulting practice has assisted major organizations, both public and private, in the selection of the best space and ground resources, and the optimization of elements of the system at the user and provider ends. During 25 years with Hughes Electronics (in divisions now part of Boeing Satellite Systems, Intelsat and DIRECTV), he directed communications engineering of several major satellite projects, including Palapa A, Indonesia's original satellite system; the Galaxy follow-on system; direct-to-home-satellite broadcasting satellites at Ku and Ka bands, and the development of the first GEO mobile satellite system capable of serving handheld user terminals. Mr. Elbert also worked as a communications engineer for the INTELSAT system, contributing to the early development of Ka-band satellite-switched multi-beam systems and mobile satellite service to ships and aircraft. He was a radio officer in the U.S. Army and taught microwave and VHF radio at the Signal School. He has written eight books on telecommunications and IT.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course you will:

  1. Understand the design of broadband satellite links at 10 to 30 GHz, including radio wave propagation, and the architecture of the space segment,
  2. Be able to configure a ground segment using Ku and Ka frequencies, taking into account the unique aspects of aircraft installation and operation
  3. Become familiar with the system characteristics of phased array antenna designs (electronic and mechanical), reflector dishes and flat-panel antennas using mechanical steering
  4. Have a basis to evaluate these alternatives using figures of merit to optimize the passenger experience and service performance

Course Content

  1. Aeronautical broadband developments – research by NASA and the first implementation for ConneXion by Boeing in 2000
  2. Frequency spectrum for aeronautical broadband by satellite – Ku and Ka bands (1 – 30 GHz), satellites in operation and to be launched
  3. Propagation at higher frequencies: basic link characteristics and link budgets, assessing rain margin and link availability on a global basis for the aircraft
  4. Advancements in multiple access, modulation, and forward error correction coding suitable for aeronautical services, Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM)
  5. Control of Adjacent Satellite Interference (AS) – impact of antenna skew angle during flight; counter measures
  6. Satcom antennas for aeronautical mobile platforms - Electronic phased array, Reflector antenna, Flat panel, Mechanical phased array, Emerging technologies for aeronautical antennas; installation on aircraft to counter drag and hazzards
  7. Systems comparison of antenna technologies - Figures of Merit (FOM) to compare and contrast the options

Course Materials

Each registered participant receives a copy of instructor slides and access to the recording of the course for 15 business days after the live lecture. Earn 0.3 IEEE Continuing Education Units (3 Professional Development Hours) for participating and submitting online course evaluation.

Course Cancellation and Refund Policy

Requests for online course cancellations must be received 3 business days prior to the course date for a full refund. Once course materials have been shared with a participant, cancellation and refund requests cannot be accommodated.

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