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Tuesday, 22 August 2017 10:06

VITAL newsletter

VITAL Newsletter v2

Tuesday, 06 June 2017 14:14

3rd VITAL Workshop

The third VITAL workshop proposal was submitted and accepted at the IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC) 2017. The workshop was jointly organized with the H2020 SANSA projecton May 25th 2017 and was named “1st International Workshop on Satellite Communications - Challenges and Integration in the 5G ecosystem”. The program included a keynote speech by Simon Watts and 2 paper sessions: (1) Satellite Communications and Technologies for Satcom / 5G Co-existence and (2) Networking for 5G / Satcom Services and Integration in the 5G Ecosystem.
The first technical session was chaired by Constantinos B. Papadias (AIT, Greece) and included the following papers:

  1. Channel model simulator for multi-antenna terrestrial links, by Dimitrios Ntaikos, Bobby Gizas, George K. Papageorgiou and Constantinos B. Papadias (Athens Information Technology, Greece)
  2. Beamforming with Superposition Coding in Multiple Antenna Satellite Communications, by Xiaoyan Shi, John Thompson and Majid Safari (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom); RongKe Liu (Beihang University, P.R. China)
  3. Variable Rate Multicarrier Schemes over Integrated Satellite-Terrestrial System, by Akash Agarwal and Preetam Kumar (Indian Institute of Technology Patna, India)
  4. Carrier Allocation for Hybrid Satellite-Terrestrial Backhaul Networks, by Eva Lagunas (University of Luxemburg - SnT, Luxembourg); SinaMaleki, Lei Lei, Christos G. Tsinos and SymeonChatzinotas (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg); BjörnOttersten (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg

The second technical session was chaired by Ramon Ferrús (UPC; Spain) and included the following papers:

  1. Joint Flow Control and Link Scheduling in Hybrid Terrestrial-Satellite Wireless Backhauling Network, by MusbahShaat and Ana Pérez-Neira (CTTC, Spain)
  2. Satellite-enabled LTE systems in LEO Constellations, by Alessandro Guidotti and Alessandro Vanelli-Coralli (University of Bologna, Italy); MàriusCaus and Joan Bas (Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC), Spain); Giulio Colavolpe (University of Parma, Italy); TommasoFoggi (CNIT Research Unit, Italy); Stefano Cioni (European Space Agency & ESTEC, The Netherlands); Andrea Modenini (ESA, The Netherlands); Daniele Tarchi (University of Bologna, Italy)
  3. Satellite Gateway Diversity in SDN/NFV-enabled satellite ground segment systems, by Toufik Ahmed (CNRS-LaBRI, University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux-INP, France); Ramon Ferrús (UniversitatPolitècnica de Catalunya, Spain); Riccardo Fedrizzi (FBK CREATE-NET, Italy); Oriol Sallent (UniversitatPolitècnica de Catalunya, Spain); Nicolas Kuhn, Emmanuel Dubois and Patrick Gelard (CNES, France)
  4. Towards SDN/NFV-enabled satellite ground segment systems: End-to-End Traffic Engineering Use Case, by Ramon Ferrús and Oriol Sallent (UniversitatPolitècnica de Catalunya, Spain); Toufik Ahmed (CNRS-LaBRI, University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux-INP, France); Riccardo Fedrizzi (FBK CREATE-NET, Italy)
  5. Towards SDN/NFV-enabled satellite ground segment systems: Bandwidth on Demand Use Case, by Toufik Ahmed (CNRS-LaBRI, University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux-INP, France); Ramon Ferrús (UniversitatPolitècnica de Catalunya, Spain); Riccardo Fedrizzi (FBK CREATE-NET, Italy); Oriol Sallent (UniversitatPolitècnica de Catalunya, Spain)

The 9 presented papers were selected from a set of 16 submitted papers. The attendance was small (12 people), though the general opinion was that the Workshop was quite good and raised useful discussions.

During early September, the  8th Advanced Satellite Multimedia Systems Conference and the 14th Signal Processing for Space Communications Workshop (ASMS/SPSC2016) was held at Palma de Mallorca. This is a renowned conference in both industry and scientific communities which address the recent advances in satellite communications.

In this framework, the VITAL and SANSA  projects jointly co-organized a Special Track devoted to Hybrid Terrestrial Satellite Networking and Services. It was split in two sessions, one dedicated to SANSA activities, chaired by Constantinos Papadias (AIT), and the other to VITAL, chaired by Tinku Rasheed (Create-net). For VITAL, Harilaos Koumaras (NCSRD), Christos Sakkas (NCSRD), Ramon Ferrus (UPC) and Nicolas Kuhn (CNES) were invovled with the session and the presentations, mainly showcasing the VITAL architecture, the SatCloudRAN vision, the techno-economic analysis of NFV-enabled SatCom architectures culminating in a demonstration of the NFV Manager implementation. Further invited presentations were also given by Frank Burkhardt (Fraunhofer) about the results of the Scorsese project, and Tinku Rasheed (Create-Net) provided an overview of the EIT-Digital funded ICARO-EU project. The session concluded with a round table discussion about the VITAL architecture which involved several constructive comments from participants, including from industrial players like O3B Networks, Thales Alenia Space, Airbus, Eutelsat etc who provided interesting observations regarding the VITAL architectural impacts, and further discussion were also held regarding the industrial applicability of the VITAL solutions.

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For SANSA, Georgios Ziaragkas (AVANTI), José Núñez (CTTC),   Constantinos Papadias (AIT) , and Ashkan Kalantari (University of Luxembourg), presented respectively: the SANSA use cases, scenarios and KPIs; the SANSA network architecture; antenna-assisted interference mitigation techniques; and resource allocation techniques. Therefore, a good overview of the major part of SANSA activities was given. The session terminated with a round table which counted also with the participation of Ana Pérez (CTTC), the SANSA Project Coordinator.

The session successfully concluded with an attendance of around 30 people and with very fruitful discussions on the domain of terrestrial–satellite integration.

Link to


The VITAL project is happy to announce the availability of the YouTube channel which presents the various demonstrations of the VITAL innovations.

The youtube channel is accessible here. A screenshot of the YouTube channel is provided below.


Friday, 02 September 2016 15:53

VITAL Architecture Overview

In this short article, we present the high-level view of the overall architecture for SDN/NFV-enabled satellite ground segment systems (also presented in the deliverable D2.3 [available here for download]), illustrating its functional building blocks and the reference points among them.


The VITAL system architecture is composed of the following building blocks:

  • Physical network infrastructure with virtualization support: This building block consists of the virtualization-capable physical network elements on top of which Virtualised Satellite Networks (VSNs) are deployed. This infrastructure includes:
    • NFV Infrastructure-Point(s) of Presence (NFVI-PoP(s)) for the deployment of VNFs. The main resources in these NFVI-PoPs are network, computing (CPU) and storage. There could be several distributed NFVI-PoPs, including a lightweight NFVI-PoP at the satellite terminal side. Resources in each NFVI-PoP are managed by a Virtualisation Infrastructure Manager (VIM). NVFI-PoPs can also include SDN and non-SDN based network elements, which provides the programmable network interfaces that will provide the connectivity establishment and will support the VNF chaining within a NFVI PoP.
    • Satellite Baseband Gateway (SBG) Physical Network Function (SBG-PNF). A SBG-PNF hosts the non-virtualised part of the satellite baseband gateway and is directly connected to the ODUs for satellite signal transmission/reception.
    • Transport network between the several NFVI-PoPs (backhaul), between the NFVI-PoP where the VNFs are run and the location that hosts SBG-PNFs (fronthaul), and cross-domain interconnection links. Each transport network segment is managed by a WAN Infrastructure Manager (WIM), potentially including the SDN and non-SDN network control.
    • Satellite Terminals (STs), which provide the satellite connectivity and interworking between the satellite connection and a premises network on the terminal side. A lightweight NFVI-PoP can be co-located with the satellite terminal.
  • Virtualised Satellite network (VSN): The VSN is a satellite communications network in which most of its functions are supplied as VNFs running in one or several of the NFVI-PoPs of the physical network infrastructure. Several isolated VSNs can be deployed over the same physical network infrastructure. The non-virtualised functions of a VSN are provided through one or several SBG-PNFs, which could be dedicated to a given VSN or shared among several VSNs. The operation of each VSN could be delegated to the customer/tenant, acting as a satellite virtual network operator (SVNO). Each of the VSNs may be customized to the customer/tenant’s needs, including a variety of different network services running as VNFs (e.g. PEP, VPN, etc.).A detailed description of this building block is provided in Section 5.
  • Management components: This contains the set of functional entities needed for the provision and lifecycle management of the VSNs. In particular, VSNs can be instantiated, terminated, monitored, and modified (e.g. scaled up/down, VNFs added/removed, satellite carriers added/removed, etc.) through the following management entities:
    • NFV Manager. This is the entity responsible for the management of the VNFs that form part of the VSN, taking care of the instantiation, the dimensioning and the termination of the VNFs. The NFV manager receives appropriate commands from Service Orchestrator (SO), which include the Network Service (NS) descriptors. The NFV Manager maintains a complete view of the whole virtualization infrastructure of the domain; it keeps a record of installed and available resources, as well as of the infrastructure topology. For scalability, the NFV Manager maintains only a high-level view of the resources and the services, while the detailed mapping of services to resources is undertaken by the local managers of each NFVI-PoP (e.g. Virtual Infrastructure Manager - VIM).
    • Service Orchestrator (SO). The role of the Service Orchestrator (SO) within the VITAL architecture, is mainly to provide service composition and to provide support for the OSS/BSS functionalities independently of the nature of the service (virtualised or not). Regarding the service composition, the SO decides, for example, on the capabilities and the composition (VNFs and PNFs configuration) of the VSN. On the other hand, regarding the OSS/BSS functionality support, this means that the SO will provide support for the FCAPS functionalities of VSNs. The SO which normally closely interacts with (or ideally is integrated in) the SNO’s OSS/BSS, which may include other components such as dashboards/customer portals that the customers of the SNO can use to order the provisioning of VSNs and related SLA management.
    • Federation Network Resource Manager (FNRM). This element is in charge of multi-domain service orchestration. It consists of two separate components:  a Federation Manager (FM) and a Federation Agent (FA). The FM hosts the logic to federate different domains and orchestrating Multi-Domain Network Services (MD-NSs). It is assumed that each domain is (usually) capable to orchestrate its own intra-domain NSs. Indeed, the FM acts as a super-orchestrator, having an overall view of the underlying orchestrators and domains. On the other hand, the FA is a component intended to handle the heterogeneity of the various underlying orchestrators and management entities of each domain, interfacing them with the FM. In addition to the FM and FA, a dashboard/customer portal is included as part of the FNRM to perform MD-NSs deployment, instantiation and orchestration.
    • SBG-PNF Controller (SBGC). The SBGC manages the pool of SGB-PNFs. Through the SBGC, the SO can request the allocation of SGB-PNFs resources (e.g. forward/return channels) for a given VSN. To that end, the SBGC is in charge of slicing the resources of the SBG-PNF so that a logically isolated portion of those resources is allocated to a particular VSN. In addition, the SBGC may provide a SDN abstraction of the allocated resources so that control and management of these resources can be integrated within the VSN.

The main reference points between the above components of the system architecture are outlined in the table below.


# Interface Definition Input/output south/north
1 SO-NFVM Related to NSD instantiation/orchestration (through the NFV Manager) SO / NFV Manager
2 SO-SBGC Reference point related to the orchestration of the VNS for the part related to the SBG physical functions SO / SBG-PNF controller
3 SO-VSN Reference point supporting the OSS/BSS functionalities of the VSN. SO / EM of deployed VNFs
4 SBGC-VSN a reference point between the SBG-PNF Controller and the control apps and/or SDN controller within each VSN  
5 SBGC-SBG    
6 Ve-Vnfm-em a reference point between EM and VNFM  
7 Ve-Vnfm-vnf a reference point between VNF and VNFM  
8 Nf-Vi a reference point between NFVI and VIM  
9 Or-Vi a reference point between NFVO and VIM  
10 Vi-Vnfm a reference point between VIM and VNFM  
11 xD-FA-SO a reference point for the interaction of SO entities into the Federator Federation Agent / Service Orchestrator
12 xD-C&N-itf a generic reference point between control applications and SDN controllers across different domains for multi-domain SDN-based control and management  
13 xD-FM-FA Reference point starting from the Federation Manager in order to deploy/manage multi-domain network services Federation Manager / Federation Agent


A detailed description of each of the VITAL system architecture building blocks is provided separately in the deliverable D2.3,

further detailing the functional elements within each block and the reference points among the different elements.

Thursday, 01 September 2016 15:43

VITAL Project at EUCNC 2016

The VITAL project in collaboration with the FP7 T-NOVA project was present at the EUCNC-2016 conference with a demonstration booth showcasing the progress achieved in the areas of NFV MANO development within the project, and furthermore also showcased VNF chaining for virtual CPEs, presented respectively by Demokritos and OneAccess. VITAL was also represented with two technical article presentations at the conference. The EUCNC is a premier discussion fora in Europe where all the European researchers get together to discuss recent research results and showcase technical advacements. This year, the main attraction was the preliminary developments presented within 5G research.





The exbhition information as presented in the EUCNC portal is shown here. Contact us if you are interested to know more about the demos presented at EUCNC

Exhibition stand 18: NOVA-VITAL

NFaaS in terrestrial and satellite networks

T-NOVA: NFV is creating new opportunities for software companies to enter the networking market. T-NOVA introduces a novel NFV Marketplace, focused on lowering entry barriers to the telecom market for developers and SMEs, who will use T NOVA to offer innovative virtual network appliances, and to monetize their offerings. T-NOVA also provides a common intersection point between developers and telecom operators, leading to more performant networks and reducing time-to market for innovative services. VITAL: The combination of Terrestrial and Satellite networks by bringing Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) into the satellite domain and by enabling Software-Defined-Networking (SDN)- based paves way for a unified control plane that would allow operators to efficiently manage and optimize the operation of hybrid SatCom-Terrestrial networks.

Demo:With respect to T-NOVA demo, the objective is to demonstrate the concept of Network Function as-a-Service (NFaaS) implemented by T-NOVA. The demo will demonstrate the VNF offerings via the Marketplace, the composition of NS and finally the provision and deployment and operation of an example Network Service over the T-NOVA Pilot infrastructure. With respect to VITAL demo, the objective is to enable NFV into SatCom domain, which will provide the operators with appropriate tools and interfaces in order to establish end-toend fully operable virtualised satellite networks to be offered to third-party operators/service providers. The demo focuses on developing around three key application scenarios: Satellite Virtual Network Operator (SVNO) services, Satellite backhauling and hybrid telecom service delivery.

The T-NOVA demo will showcase:

  1. T-NOVA NFV Orchestrator (TeNOR) base components: utilizing the Orchestrator GUI to instantiate, deploy, and monitor different NFV services.
  2. T-NOVA stakeholder interaction with the Marketplace: User registration, administration, VNF and service composition, SLA template creation, VNF acquisition and trading
  3. Platform-Aware VNF Deployment: Exploiting the VNF requirements to identify the appropriate platform-specific resources for its deployment.

The VITAL demo will showcase:

  1. VITAL NFV Manager: utilizing the VITAL manager GUI to instantiate, deploy, and monitor different NFV services.
  2. Virtual Customer Premises Equipment (vCPE): Demonstrating the NFV and SDN support at a whitebox located at the customer premises, allowing the execution of value added services at the edge of the network.
  3. Emulated satellite demos, showing the SDN-applicability at hybrid satellite and terrestrial architectures.
Tuesday, 16 February 2016 22:05

Satellite Cloud Radio Access Networks

Based on a thorough analysis of the DVB-S2 and the DVB-RCS2 normative documents, we have analyzed (1) how the control functions are currently implemented in satellite gateways, (2) how they can be virtualized and (3) how their management can be enhanced. This analysis has been used to identify the aspects that have to be carefully considered in the virtualization process of a satellite gateway and its softwarized control.

This brief article quickly present a novel framework named Satellite Cloud Radio Access Network (SatCloudRAN) that leverages cloud-based infrastructure and SDN-enabled network virtualization to deliver cost efficient, high-level resources availability and flexible resources sharing.

  • A satellite core network

In the context of satellite broadband access for fixed communications, a general reference model for a multigateway satellite ground segment is structured in several main subsystems, as depicted in Figure 1.


Figure 1 : Satellite network architecture

The “satellite access network” includes the satellite gateways and the satellite terminals, which are interconnected through the resource of one or several satellite channels.

The “satellite core network” is an aggregation network that interconnects different satellite gateways and includes the network nodes located at international Point of Presence (PoP)s to interconnect with other operators, corporations and Internet Service Provider (ISP).

The “control and management subsystems” is composed of Network Control Centre (NCC) and Network Management Center (NMC). NCC is used for real-time control of the connections and associated resources allocated to terminals that constitute one satellite network. NMC is used for non-real-time management functions related to a single satellite network. 

  • Focus on a typical satellite gateway


Figure 2 : Satellite gateway reference architecture

The reference architecture of a satellite gateway is depicted on Figure 2, which shows the following main elements that compose a typical satellite gateway: (1) an OutDoor Unit (ODU), composed of an antenna and its radio components (Block Up Converter (BUC) to transmit to the satellite and Low Noise Block-converter (LNB) to receive from the satellite), we define here the satellite hub as the place where the ODU is located; (2) a physical gateway, dealing with physical layer related processes; (3) an access gateway, dealing with

Media Access Control (MAC) layer related processes; (4) network connectivity block, dealing with the interface for aggregation network access (IP router, Ethernet switch).

  • The SatCloudRAN framework

SatCloudRAN platform implements the separated baseband functionalities in a centralized cloud-based processing platform. This separation between the virtualized and the physical components can be achieved at various layers of the satellite architecture model such as the network layer, the MAC layer, the physical layer or up to the Radio Frequency (RF) front-end of out-door unit as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3: Variants for the functional split

In the light of our analysis, an interesting trade-off for the centralization of the gateway, in terms of performance, cost effectiveness and feasibility, would be to isolate the network functions and the access gateway from the hub, where the physical gateway shall remain. Also, in this case we recommend to let the access gateway close to the hub, or to adapt its exchanges with the physical gateway. The processes of the network functions and access gateway are subject to virtualization.

  • The SatCloudRAN : a framework that allows the SDN control of a satellite core network


Figure 4:  Multiple SDN-based control architecture for SVNO support

Figure 4 details the architecture for the SDN control of the virtualized environment. It is composed of a high level controller in charge of controlling and managing the entire network resources whereas low-level controller in charge of controlling and managing specific network element or domain-specific resources.

Using a SatCloudRAN approach, network operators will be able to provide: (1) optimized dynamic QoS, (2) resilient management of multiple satellite gateways, and (3) dynamic bandwidth on demand.

  • Conclusion

The role that satellite communications can play in the forthcoming 5G ecosystem is being revisited. The concepts of SDN and NFV are seen as key facilitators to make satellite communications to become a constituent part well integrated within an anticipated heterogeneous 5G network architecture. With the introduction of SDN and NFV, greater flexibility is expected to be achieved by satellite network operators, in addition to the much-anticipated reduction of both operational and capital expenses in deploying and managing SDN and NFV compatible networking equipment within the satellite networks. This proposed concept, namely satellite cloud RAN, exploits cloud based infrastructure and data-center virtualization to deliver cost efficient, high level resources availability and flexible resources sharing. This concept shed light on better interaction and integration of the satellite network with terrestrial functionalities while supporting advance features such as traffic engineering and load balancing.

Article contributed by Nicolas Kuhn, CNES

1. Presentation of VITAL at NCSRD Summer School 2015 and PCI 2015  

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Dr. Harilaos Koumaras (NCSRD) presented in July and October 2015 VITAL project at NCSR Demokritos Summerschool and PCI 2015 Conference. The presentation is available at slideshare.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016 22:55

ETSI Workshop on 5G and SatComs

The VITAL project participated at the 14th session of the ETSI Satellite Communication and Navigation Working Group which took place at Sophia Antipolis/France on 26th January 2016. As part of this event, the 5G and SatCom workshop was organized which was a gathering point of several H2020 5G projects and relevant ESA/H2020 projects related to SatComs. 

The main objectives of the workshop was to discuss about

  • possible re use of 5G network elements, protocols and/or technologies in future satellite systems
  • novel integration scenarios of satellite systems in the 5G architecture in relation with the “5G Connectivity Using Satellites” use case of 3GPP TR 22.891 on 5G-SMARTER 

The VITAL project presentation was well received and the project was invited by the SCN WG to contribute to the on-going WI on integration of satellite in 5G, but taking into account the architecture approach defined by 5G projects such as 5GNORMA.

Tinku and Ramon represented the VITAL project at the event. The presentation can be accessed at the link provided below.

The workshop minutes can be accessed here [you need to be an ETSI member to access the files].

Wednesday, 09 December 2015 23:27

OpenSAND 4.0. released

CNES, the VITAL project partner, release the OpenSAND 4.0.0 version this week.

OpenSAND is an user-friendly and efficient tool to emulate satellite communication systems, mainly DVB-RCS - DVB-S2. It provides a suitable and simple means for performance evaluation and innovative access and network techniques validation. Its ability to interconnect real equipments with real applications provides excellent demonstration means and is of particular importance for the VITAL hybid emulation environment to validate virutalized SatCom modules.

The new release is available within the Net4Sat [1] forge platform, owned by the CNES and dedicated to network research on satellite communications. The OpenSAND website [2] has been updated consequently, and the sources and report bugs on the Net4Sat gitlab [3] is available, with possibility to join the mailing list or to install the last version. Also, there is a new repository now available [4].

This version contains mainly these updates:

  • add SCPC access on return link
  • add multi-spot support
  • add multi-GW support
  • add support for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • add a new interface for resources management
  • rework MODCOD handling

OpenSAND will be enhanced during the VITAL project to add new features for the virtualization platform and to integrate the emulation platform into an OpenStack VIM to enable the necessary configuration platform for validating the SatCloudRAN approaches in VITAL. Furthermore, OpenSAND will be integrated as the key SatCom emulation link to perform final end-to-end validation of different VITAL use cases, both in conjuction with physical testbeds and hybrid emulation environments from the project. Stay tuned to our blogspace for new updates.

[1] The Net4Sat forge website
[2] The OpenSAND website
[3] The OpenSAND gitlab on Net4Sat
[4] The OpenSAND repository
[5] The OpenSAND mailing list
[6] The OpenSAND bugtracker

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