Hybrid networks comprised of diverse satellites, networking, waveforms and ground infrastructures to increase overall network performance, resiliency and security for government and military users
According to Ken Peterman, president of Viasat’s Government Systems business, Hybrid Adaptive Network Architectures (HANs) present a clear path forward for U.S. and coalition military partners who are now moving into a new era of satellite communications. By moving to a hybrid, serviced-based system, U.S. and coalition partners will be able to outpace near-peer threats and unleash new capabilities across today’s battlespace – faster and more cost effective than ever before.
“HANs stitch together satellites in different frequency bands (Ku, Ka, Mil-Ka) and different orbital regimes (GEO, MEO & LEO); they utilize different waveforms and networking protocols; and they employ different ground infrastructures,” said Peterman. “By integrating all of these assets into one system, we will be able to create an aggregate enterprise network that achieves unprecedented assurance and resilience, while simultaneously embracing private sector innovation trajectories and preserving market competition.”
Hybrid networks, like the one Peterman proposes, are now being widely embraced by leaders within the U.S. Department of Defense. In such an architecture, Network Managers can match government subscribers with the satellite network that best serves their individual use case. The HAN manager can also monitor the demands of the individual users, identify the resources available to them through the diverse component networks that comprise the HAN, and assign users the transport network that most efficiently meets their mission needs at any given time.
“The nature of hybrid networking is such that the “best” network will change based on attributes such as user demands, geography, economics and time,” said Peterman. “By employing a Network Manager, users will be better served based on mission parameters, such as the need to operate in a contested environment, or the need for LPI/LPD operations.”
In addition, Peterman says a HAN Network Manager would have the ability to choose one network over another to improve performance capabilities, reduce overall cost and avoid vendor lock.
“Network managers can help select a network based on maximum data rate, congestion, availability, and cost per bit,” said Peterman. “This will drive the HAN Network Manager to select one network over others for a given user – improving mission capabilities while reducing overall cost to the customer and taxpayer because service plans are consumption-based. DoD does not have to cover the cost of the entire network, rather, they only pay for what they actually use.”
Modern private sector network management systems already have the capability to provide control and detailed situational awareness to the individual Personal Electronic Device (PED) for varied populations of millions of users. According to Peterman, the HAN Manager would inherit these capabilities, providing the Defense Users a detailed common operational picture and the ability to manage individual users, regardless of which component network they are currently using.
Peterman noted some of the challenges others have mentioned related to replacing legacy terminals, but said a many legacy terminals are set up to operate on future hybrid networks.
“While the installed base of legacy user terminals presents challenges, these can be overcome,” he said. “Flexible user terminals that operate over multiple frequency bands (X, Ku, Ka, Mil-Ka etc.) and support multiple ‘native’ network protocols and waveforms (EBEM, PTW, DVB-S2, etc) offer superior performance and resilience, however legacy terminals can also interoperate on HAN networks.”
Ultimately, Peterman said, HAN architectures already in place for high-profile U.S. government and DoD customers validate the significantly enhanced performance, security and resiliency that similar networks can offer to a wide range of users.
“Viasat is already showcasing the value of hybrid network capabilities for a select group of customers, said Peterman. “The HANs being used today for certain high profile U.S. government and DoD customers offer insight into the art of the possible for future networks. We’re looking forward to what’s next.”
More About Hybrid Adaptive Networking
Comprised of multiple, independent component transport paths, HANs combine commercial & government networks to provide simultaneous access to multiple, diverse paths that span multiple orbital regimes; operate over multiple frequency bands; employ independent terrestrial infrastructure; and feature cutting-edge network management and cyber defense implementations. This provides inherent diversity and removes single points of failure and/or attack in terms of collection, exploitation and denial. The multiple transport paths of HANs provide far superior performance, especially in a contested environment.