Flight of the Rooster


January 28th was celebrated the world over as Chinese New Year, the year of the rooster. Rooster holds the significance of the messenger of the dawn in almost every culture, which marks the start of the day with the rising of the sun from the East. Coincidentally, this time the rooster is crowing the dawn of the Chinese leadership in the verticals of economy, trade, finance, technology and space frontiers. The rooster, despite its long distance travelling voice and fierce appearance, is not considered a predator nor an easy prey. China, despite its considerable military might, achieved its leadership status without a single military campaign and sound of its development echoes across the globe as well as the space surrounding it.

United States withdrawal from Trans Pacific Partnership of 12 economies, comprising 40% of World’s total GDP, has created a void of leadership as well as has made the future of free trade alliance uncertain. This withdrawal of the biggest economy of the world cannot be related to the British exit from the European Union but both scenarios create equal opportunities for the 2nd largest economy of the world, The People’s Republic of China. Initially covering most of the Asia, Europe and Africa, China’s trade initiative ‘One Belt, One Road’ may also cover Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada and Latin America if initially not invited China buckles up on the driving seat of TPP.
On 27th of December, 2016 China issued their Space Policy in a whitepaper, titled “China’s Space Activities in 2016”. The paper reviewed achievements of Chinese space activities and outlined major activities for the next five years. (Source: Xinhua)
The paper briefly covers success stories of all aspects of Chinese space activities with emphasis on positioning and navigation system BeiDou. With 14 satellites in the orbit and finally getting a total of 35 in the constellation, the navigation system will surpass other GNSS; the US’s GPS, EU’s Galileo and Russia’s GLONASS. The navigation system will complement the marine and land trade routes initiative of Chinese government ‘One Belt, One Road’, covering most of the globe with heavy investment on the routes and associated industries. Most member countries of the route and developing economies and will easily adapt to the BeiDou system and other Chinese space initiatives. The whitepaper mentions in ‘Key areas for future cooperation’;
‘Construction of the Belt and Road Initiative Space Information Corridor, including earth observation, communications and broadcasting, navigation and positioning, and other types of satellite-related development; ground and application system construction; and application product development’.

‘Space Information Corridor’ a broad term for a bouquet of potential multidimensional services of variable magnitudes. Since this trade initiative spans most populated as well as culturally diverse regions with unpredictable economic and political circumstances, designing and managing such information corridor will be a complex task. Considering the rising interest of most of the member countries in space related activities, a potential space alliance like that of ESA is pretty much possible. Although some countries have a space program and even they own satellites orbiting the planet at different altitudes, manufacturing and launching of such space crafts are not indigenous to most of such programs.

These trade activities will create multiple opportunities for government and private sector institutions including but not limited to; commercial, financial, power, manufacturers, import/export entities etc. to extend their presence along the routes. All of the benefiting organizations are already upgrading their processes in line with development in technologies like Cloud Computing, IoT (Internet of Things), Artificial Intelligence, Fleet Management etc. This will result in generation of bits and bytes in the magnitudes of mega and giga every second. Considering marine routes and large areas of varying terrains of the regions of the land routes, Satellite Communication will be the only viable solution for communicating and managing such amount of data. Moreover, China like any other leadership will safeguard its own interests in these regional trade routes and will complement it through close monitoring, secure communication and accurate navigation. Again all of of these can only be served by special purpose satellites.

I have created an online survey regarding this ‘Space Information Corridor’. Feel free to submit your valued feedback and it will be published as an analysis.




Ring Computing: Challenges & Advantages

As discussed in previous articles; Ring Computing will be an independent Extra Terrestrial Network, born to communicate. Although it’s just a concept but sooner or later this concept will become inevitable. It will not be just another innovation in Satcom advancement but will serve the purpose of a stable backup network for already in use networks.

Despite rapid growth of telecommunication networks there are still so many un-served & under-served areas on both land and sea. Typically, such areas are served by conventional satellite communication networks. Which may be a viable solution to corporations and government customers but not affordable to end user or even SME’s due to expensive bandwidth and specialized DTE (Data Terminal Equipment) and solutions. Even such last mile solutions have limited services, which may be increased but you have to pay exponentially rising rates. Ring Computing on the other hand will be a solution to overcome such limitations at reduced rates.

Due to huge volume of the network, Ring Computing has to be served by a constellation of satellites by a single or multiple operators. Operators will to join the venture has to plan added payload to their upcoming satellites; which will include on-board routing, switching, processing and data storage equipment  along with added antennas to talk with other satellites in the constellation. Like any other similar project, Ring Computing will face some challenges and they have to be mapped against advantages it may bring, to calculate the feasibility of such deployment.


  • This network will definitely require a mountain of investment, keeping in view the cost required for Research & Development and finally deployment. But once deployed Ring Computing will record somewhat stable OPEX and very high ROI.
  • Additional payload and power requirement for added on-board equipment will be a challenge for satellite manufacturers. Behavior of processing, routing and database management at such an altitude & atmosphere will be a problem too. These problems can be resolved in the above mentioned R&D and initial investment.
  • Data privacy of Satellite Operators existing customer can be questioned. Ring Computing will not overlap the conventional physical layer of existing customers, unless they are willing to join the dawn of new technology. Satellite Operators joining the constellation will just have an added payload and a passage for wireless data to the neighboring satellites. There planned Satcom operations for their existing customers will not be disturbed. And for the new customers joining the Ring, data security will be available like any other encryption standards currently being used in public or private networks.
  • Larger size of satellite due to added payloads and increased power requirements can be a point of concern for environmentalists already debating issue of space debris. This can be resolved by making new satellites and on-board components easily upgradable and replaceable. Just a couple of spacecrafts will be required for savior voyages for regular upgrade and replacement of the components, including even antennas, solar panels & battery banks. This is a solution which can be worked on even if Ring Computing fails to make an appearance. It will reduce the costs of launching a new bird every few months and the environmental footprint of space debris will also be reduced.

These are the major challenges Ring Computing can face and their preliminary solutions. Now let’s take a quick look at advantages Ring Computing may bring.


  • A backup network for the already deployed multiple networks on the planet with outreach to every un-served and under-served area.
  • Inter-satellite communication in the constellation to guarantee reduced delays faced by multiple hops over different satellites connecting customers not covered by a single satellite.
  • Distributed data storage on different satellites in the constellation for a secure database backup for data warehousing.
  • Ring Computing network will be there in any worst case scenario on earth with damages to existing networks.
  • Disaster relief activities and monitoring without deploying any additional infrastructure
  • Real time connectivity for travelers on aircraft and ships.
  • DTH services can be provided with all the channels available and using a single antenna for downlinking and up linking.
  • This network can be used to serve the nature by environmental monitoring, updating any unusual natural phenomenon and saving the environment by the damage laying fiber or erecting towers for microwave links.

Summarizing; this concept faces challenges before its deployment but once deployed it will have limitless possibilities to take Satcom technology to whole new level and its users along with.

You are welcome to keep in touch and share your feedback through twitterLinkedIn & my personal website.



Ring Computing

Is it the perfect time for Satellite industry to embrace advancement of nanotechnology and move up the ladder? In my previous article ‘Future of Satellite Communication’ I mentioned communication between adjacent satellites to create a pipe of 294,925 km. Imagine what this pipe or ring (as being used for the rings around Saturn, but here it won’t be visible) would capable to do, if satellites were not only used as a Physical Layer bridges. I am talking about On-Board processing, routing, switching and data storage.

This concept of ‘Ring Computing’ (‘Cloud Computing’ was already taken and it doesn’t resemble a cloud in any possible way) of will change commercial usage of Satellite Communication for end users, corporate, military and government sector. I am talking about an outer space WiFi mesh, BSS network or even IN, NSS & Core Network and backup data storage. Obviously this concept will require lot of research work and great deal of effort to influence multiple industries to participate and a huge amount of CAPEX. But once initiated it will have very low and stable OPEX as compared to hybrid networks with multiple stakeholders involved.

The deployment of ‘Ring Computing’ Network will not only provide user endless possibility of remaining online anywhere, anytime but will also be there to keep the people connected in case of a natural disaster without deploying any ad hoc network infrastructure. This concept will open the doors of endless opportunities to introduce new possibilities of communication to end users which previously were limited to GPS and Satellite Phones. This concept will serve the un-served and underserved areas without requiring installation of expensive communication infrastructure. Cellular operators operating in different countries will truly become global. Broadcasting and DTH TV Channel bundles will be available to anyone anywhere with valid subscription.

Other than mentioned benefits Satellite Operators name will become household names! A step of Satellite Communication industry will become a leap of Telecommunication industry.

You are welcome to provide feedback and keep in touch!

Twitter: @furqan_satcom

LinkedIn: Muhammad Furqan



Future of Satellite Communication

Soon there will be mining expeditions on Mars and the Periodic Table may expand to add newly discovered elements. Human presence on the Red Planet may not be ruled out yet but initially remotely controlled robots will perform the tasks. Billions of dollars investments from Multinational mining, power and fuel companies will make this venture possible soon enough. But like on earth these expeditions will be connected through daily improving Satellite Communication Technology.

In almost half a century Satellite and Satellite Communication industry has witnessed amazing growth, improvement and innovation. Now we are dealing with High Throughput Satellites and efficient ground equipment including antennas, ODU’s and modems. Credit goes to sense of competition and everyday increase in demand of bandwidth requirement at lower costs. Every new satellite launch, new modem release or even firmware release for that sake has something new to offer, which their competitor lacks. But like Cellular communication where even the competitors share infrastructure like BTS sites and towers, will the players of satellite communication industry go an extra mile to adopt such relationships getting added coverage and added value to their customers. I know and have witnessed some agreements between satellite operators, but that doesn’t seem enough.

Let’s assume that the joint ventures I talked about in previous paragraph are not limited to teleport, transponder or bandwidth sharing but goes way beyond. Yes I am talking about more functional satellites which transport data traffic to adjacent satellite, making a circular pipe of almost 294925 km of wireless communication. This will eliminate the delays faced by double or even multiple hops from earth stations to communicate between two or multiple points on globe not covered by a single satellite. This will also eliminate involvement hybrid networks including fiber. Similarly this scenario can be modeled for earth station equipment specially satellite modems. Again quoting rapid advancement of Cellular Communication, where a cellular operator deploys network multiple vendors at both BSS & NSS, still network operates efficiently.

Moving back to advancement in technology we can be expecting Polar satellites, serving the areas where Geosynchronous satellites have very low look angle and not very good footprints. Even new satellites may have increased capacity to perform observation and monitoring tasks not relying on any active communication just to record any disaster like that of MH370 based only on passive communication. Satellite Communication industry has lot more to offer and trends of growth and innovation will keep improving every year. So all those people working in the industry don’t worry about the growth of microwave & fiber network, they can’t go Extra Terrestrial.