APNIC 44: Examining satellite communication

By on 13 Sep 2017

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The first day of APNIC 44 saw two really good talks on satellite communication from presenters working closely with the Pacific community.

Jon Brewer provided an easy-to-follow overview of the subject, including the fundamentals of rain fade and how it relates to the radio band used for satellite communication.

Jon also touched on the future of lower-orbit satellite networks, which are coming in the next four or five years. These networks have the potential to increase worldwide bandwidth massively, some of them even using satellite-to-satellite communications — we’re talking space-lasers (oh, if only we had some sharks…). As Jon concludes: the future of the Internet may very well be Up in the Sky!

Ulrich Speidel, from the University of Auckland, discussed the problem of congestion control and provided some methods of super-encoding the TCP of large data flows, which gets rid of a lot of the bandwidth-delay congestion.

Ulrich’s team has showed individual flows in real long-haul networks and has been exploring how to apply this to entire island flows, where all traffic over the link is using a testbed with the right delay and loss properties to mimic the real world without having to unplug an entire national communications architecture to test it.

Read more about Ulrich’s research on the effects of satellite Internet links on TCP connections.

The two talks together are a brilliant summary of the high spots in current satellite communications, and how this can be leveraged to improve Internet service in remote and isolated communities. They’re well worth catching online on the conference recording.

I encourage to you watch a replay of both talks below and read Geoff Huston’s own evaluation of  the potential of new satellite Internet projects that promise to offer high-speed, low-cost Internet services to rival fibre.

Jon and Ulrich are recipients of the Network Operations Research Grants funded by APNIC.

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