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Flexible Satellite Terminals for Multi-Tenancy Applications


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Microelectronics;Integrated Network System-of-Systems;Space Technology


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: Develop proper interfaces, digital Intermediate Frequency (IF) services and virtualized digital IF modem terminals with utilization efficiency, maximum flexibility and full automation needed to support fighting SATCOM’s reliability, growth, and cybersecurity


DESCRIPTION: The Air Force has identified digital intermediate frequency (IF) technology as one of the key enablers for the digital transformation of space, satellite and related industries as its interoperability and performance standards offer the advantage of load balancing and mission planning flexibility that could replace analog IF signals and help prevent vendor lock-in. This topic explores the current state-of-the-art related to digital IF groundwork, digital IF dividers and combiners, digital IF multi-carrier modem, and integrated modem and terminal in enhancing controls to service providers (e.g., network service providers, application service providers, etc.) with expected benefits of path resilience, baseband aggregation, and radio frequency (RF) disaggregation. Specifically, there is also much interest in pursuing innovative solutions on how digital IF services and virtual digital IF modems based on software-defined, flexible, and extensible virtual platforms, could potentially enhance future digital IF operations of satellite communication gateway infrastructure and satellite terminals as well as emergent deployments of enterprise-to-site management automation, full failover capacity and automation. In addition, proposed solutions should take into account of other technical challenges, e.g., i) multi-tenancy at satellite terminals so that multiple end-users and customers could be attached to the same satellite terminal but still have customized access network services, ii) elastic provisioning based on the underlying network access resources specifically for multi-tenants to achieve service isolation and offering seamless communications services, and iii) transformation potentials of satellite terminals into virtualization-capable remote head-ends, and thus, serving a wide range of services.


PHASE I: Develop necessary digital IF systems engineering plans and concept designs for on-demand satellite terminals capable of handling satellite broadband access services with end-users and customers to be able to dynamically request and acquire bandwidth, quality of service, and quality of experience in flexible and transparent manners. Conceptualize the support of multi-tenancy in satellite terminals to offer satellite access to multiple customers connected to the same satellite terminal. Develop reference solutions of virtualized baseband subsystems composed of return links for satellite access and transmission that efficiently provide adaptive waveforms virtualized on the fly in conjunction of digital IF services, transient on-demand bandwidth allocation, handover, power control, fading mitigation, etc. without affecting normal operation of other users.


PHASE II: Demonstrate the utility of an engineering development unit for flexibility in the provisioning, configuration and customization of multi-tenant satellite terminals with reduced (if any) intervention by satellite network operators and network access operators owning the satellite ground segment platforms. Evaluate operational and business support services by multi-tenants with considerations of promptly setup times and resource elasticity. By the end of Phase II, a proof of concept for an agile deployment of flexible satellite terminals that keep pace with the rapid growth, cost, virtualization, and Commercial-Off-The-Shelf implementation pertaining to customer density and demand shall be demonstrated.





  1. FAA, “Concept of Operations v2.0”,
  2. FAA,


KEYWORDS: Digital Intermediate Frequency (IF); Digital IF Multicarrier Modem; Virtual Digital IF Modem; Multi-Tenant Satellite Terminal; Virtualization on Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Implementation; Elastic Provisioning; Virtualized Waveforms

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