Inmarsat Grants Technical Approval to GateHouse's Implementation of the BGAN Waveform for Software Defined Radios

Inmarsat has approved the BGAN waveform for software defined radios developed by GateHouse. During a final test campaign the BGAN waveform, ported to a reference radio, has been subject to a verification of the comprehensive set of test requirements defined for BGAN terminals, and has been found to be in full compliance with all technical requirements.

The Danish software developer GateHouse has combined Inmarsat’s Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite communications capability with software-defined radio (SDR) technology to create an SDR implementation of a BGAN terminal. It is the first commercially-available implementation of the full BGAN embedded software, which includes physical layer, protocol stack and basic application layer. From the outset the implementation has been designed to support all BGAN terminal classes and to be portable to multiple hardware platforms. GateHouse's existing BGAN protocol stack is already incorporated into a large number of BGAN terminals from several suppliers.

SDR technology enables a number of waveforms (communication standards) to run on the same hardware platform, allowing rapid changes from one communication standard to another. The BGAN waveform opens a new method of establishing broadband satellite communications on the move, using the same hardware used for other means of communication. And the application has already been successfully demonstrated using FTP, live video streaming, email and web browsing. It marks a technological breakthrough for BGAN SDR, proving the technology has matured to a point enabling integration in viable solutions.

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The BGAN waveform is integrated on a Software Communications Architecture (SCA) version 2.2.2 compliant platform. This is a non-proprietary specification sponsored by the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) programme of the US Department of Defense.The BGAN SDR waveform can run as the sole waveform on a radio or as one of several waveforms on a multimode radio. And it can be integrated with any military-grade SDR capable of transmitting and receiving in the BGAN L-band frequency range (1.5 to 1.6 GHz).This means that units can now be deployed with a single multifunctional radio that can be BGAN-enabled almost as easily as changing a channel.

A typical SDR application would be for a soldier or first responder to achieve connectivity virtually anywhere in the world from a single piece of hardware, thereby saving space, weight and power.
Depending on need and location, the user could quickly load different software to change his radio configuration, including:

  • Terrestrial, line-of-sight (LOS) communications
  • Secure, military-standard communications
  • Specific mission configuration, enabling operation in a multi-national environment with different comms standards
  • BGAN waveform for satellite-based beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communication.

In addition to re-using hardware platforms and allowing multiple waveforms to coexist on a single radio, the SDR approach also enables considerably easier upgrade of BGAN terminals - for example, for the introduction of new or higher data rates.

“We are very excited about bringing Inmarsat’s BGAN capabilitities to the software defined radio environment, as it allows radio communication platforms to benefit from mobile satellite services using one of the most advanced technologies commercially available today.” said Gustavo Nader Head of Inmarsat Business Development & Startegy, Americas.

“This is a very significant achievement for us. We’ve been challenged by the comprehensive set of test requirements for our reference radio running the BGAN waveform and it is a great satisfaction having obtained Inmarsat’s technical approval and recognition of our technology. In order to provide a truly generic software defined radio implementation, we have had to implement and test all features in the BGAN standard and support all classes of operation for land, maritime and aeronautical usage. Building upon our very extensive experience with BGAN technology and products, we managed to reach this important goal,” said Claus Vesterholt Program Manager, GateHouse Satellite Communication.

Source: Inmarsat
Date: Oct 10, 2012