Providing Satellite Internet Access for RENAM network


Research Infrastructure Support Sub-Programme
NATO Scientific Affairs Division,
Bd. Leopold III, B-1110 Brussels, Belgium
fax +32 2 707 4232, e-mail science.netw@hq.nato.int

1. Project Title:

Providing Satellite Internet Access for RENAM network academic community

Keywords: computer networks, satellite channel, communication equipments, Internet access, computer hardware

2.Project Participants

Surname/Initials/Title: Erich Peplow, Doctor
Institute Name: Fachhochschule Stralsund Hochschulrechenzentrum
Address: Stralsund, Germany
Telephone: + 49 3831-456571
Fax: + 49 3831-456729
E-mail: erich.peplow@fh-stralsund.de
Surname/Initials/Title: Secrieru Gregory, Doctor
Institute Name: RENAM Association
Address: Academy str.5, 277028, Kishinev, Moldova
Telephone: +37322 739 827, 739 966
Fax: +37322 735 763
E-mail: secrieru@renam.md

List group leaders of all collaborating teams: Surname/Initials/Title Institute and address

  1. Andries Andrei, Prof., Academician Academy of Sciences of Moldova
  2. Bostan Ion, Prof., Academician Technical University of Moldova
  3. Rusnac Gheorghe, Prof., Academician State University of Moldova
  4. Belostecinic Grigore, Prof. Academy of Economic Studies
  5. Bogatencov Peter, PhD Academy of Sciences of Moldova
  6. Covalenco Ion, Academy of Economic Studies
  7. Chibotaru Tudor, PhD State University of Moldova
  8. Fedeashin Igor, Technical University of Moldova
  9. Goncearuc Anatol, Academy of Sciences of Moldova
  10. Sidorenco Veaceslav, PhD RENAM Association
  11. Varzari Boris, Technical University of Moldova

3. Support requested from NATO (in USD): 19850

4. Objectives

Main Academic and Research bodies of Moldova activating under umbrella of RENAM (Research and Educational Networking Association of Moldova) are developing joint National research and educational network infrastructure on behalf of all Universities, colleges, schools, and scientific institutions in Moldova having principal strategic purpose to provide connectivity over all territory of the country.
Nowadays RENAM joins more than 20 research institutes of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, State University of Moldova (USM), Polytechnics Community of Moldova – Technical University with its 11 affiliated colleges, State University in Beltsi City, State University in Cahul City and the Academy of Economical Studies. In near future RENAM expects to involve educational networking segments of other leading Universities of Moldova: State Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Agricultural University, Pedagogical University, Comrat City University, some other colleges and scientific institutions.
One of the most significant impacts of current state of RENAM community is caused by lack of necessary capacities of Internet access channels. Now RENAM network is obtaining the main part of Internet traffic through commercial provider in Moldova – “Relsoft Communications” Ltd. The traffic cost cannot allow to wider bandwidth of the existing external connection for scientific-educational community. Therefore the strategy direction of Internet access perfection for RENAM network users lays on construction its own channels for providing global networking connectivity. The first pace dealt with resolving of this problem had been done in 2001 when was elaborated and supported by NATO Science Committee the project “RENAM-RoEduNet networks direct link and gateway construction”. That was very perspective action for establishing direct connection of the Moldavian NREN (National Research and Education Network) with Trance-European Academic network GEANT.
At the same time the estimation of real needs of RENAM network members by analyzing of parameters, nature and data flows characteristics of external traffic shows the necessity of creation of new additional facilities, which has allow to efficiently process asymmetrical character of external data flows for the whole RENAM network.
Such solution that would satisfy the objective requirements of RENAM resources consumers can be found in installation and putting in operation of an additional satellite Internet access connection node oriented mainly on downloading data from Global network and providing upload possibility as backup option.
pThe proposed network infrastructure project must improve the performance and reliability of international connectivity facilities of RENAM community by setting up new satellite communication channel.

The project strategic purposes are:

Improved networking infrastructure will be accessible to all scientific and educational institutions of Moldova connected to RENAM network. The project realization will permit to establish new conditions for using of national information resources and help to increase of science and higher education contribution to Moldova social-economic development. The project’s technical and architectural decisions are based on open networking solutions with the possibility for further scalable development.

5. Networking infrastructure project

    1. Existing infrastructure

      Due to previous NATO projects realization and income of RENAM Association members the basic communication infrastructure has been implemented in Chisinau (the capital of Moldova), communication links to Beltsi (the second city in Moldova from economical and scientific potential points of view) and Cahul City were established. Seven nodal access points of RENAM network were created in Chisinau (Academy of Sciences Campus Telecentru, State University Campus Centru, Technical University Campus Rascani, Technical University blocks 1 and 2, Technical University Campus Botanica, Academy of Sciences Administration block) and one the network node was realized in Beltsi State University, which unites also four technical colleges and forms Belts city RENAM network campus. The link to Cahul City is offered to RENAM network by ISP “Relsoft Communications” Ltd.

      Basic RENAM networking segment communication highways at the first stage of the project realization uses Moldtelecom E1 channels and leased lines based on HDSL technology connections. The highways plan to be improved by realization of new backbone based on fiber optic channels, which are expected to be built in near future and introducing perspective ATM, Fast and Gbit Ethernet technologies. All the Colleges of Polytechnic Community and other Universities are integrated into RENAM infrastructure via E1 capacity channels and V.34bis leased lines, whereas small educational organizations – by dial-up access servers’ facility. The network nodal points have all mentioned facilities for providing access to RENAM network recourses.

      Created and permanently developing RENAM network infrastructure can be considered now as a kernel of a national scale scientific – educational networking segment, which is covering all the territory of the Republic and will uniting most of corporate networks that are implementing now in Universities and scientific centers of Moldova.

      Internet connectivity and all other external communications links are organized through RENAM information exchange points realized in different nodal points. Two Internet connections are available now for RENAM network users. One is Moldtelecom E1 data flow connected to local commercial ISP “Relsoft Communications” and another is 2Mbps HDSL technology leased line connected to the Moldavian ISP Internet Exchange point.

      Third external access channel, which is under construction now, provided by NATO NIG 978385 project will join RENAM network with RoEduNet (Romania) using up to 16 Mbps radio-relay channel. A part of this gateway capacity is planed to be used for ensuring access to GEANT network resources for RENAM community members.

      The proposed network infrastructure project must improve the performance and reliability of International connectivity facilities of RENAM community by setting up new satellite communication channel.

    1. Nature of communication

      Improved networking infrastructure will provide new capabilities for scientific and educational community of Moldova. RENAM Intranet structure will contribute to solve the following tasks:

      1. International collaboration in joint scientific and technological projects realization. More then 150 join research projects are developing by the Moldavian scientists together with the colleagues from more than 25 foreign countries;
      2. bibliographical information exchange, which includes electronic form of the Moldavian scientific journals availability for Internet users;
      3. full access to world wide Internet services for scientific-educational community of Moldova, including operative access to scientific publication, applied databases, new technological and scientific information.

      Estimated requiring speed of internal backbone highways in the capital of Moldova for dissemination and access to the modern educational technologies, distant learning multimedia content, electronics publications in full text form is ranged from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. External connectivity requirements are assessed by the following parameters: download capacity 12-15 Mbps and necessary uplink bandwidth is 4-5 Mbps.

      New satellite access node will provide downlink capacity up to 5 Mbps and uplink capacity not less than 1 Mbps.

  1. Project description

    Proposed project covers a very principal aspect of future RENAM network infrastructure development: improvement of the existing Internet connections. Available resources of nowadays operating Internet access channels are heavily overloaded. Within the project we propose to build new satellite Internet access point by upgrading the existing satellite antenna equipment.

    RENAM Association and members of RENAM community at present possess three ground stations for ensuring interaction with satellite communication systems. The main parameters of the existing satellite equipment are essentially different concerning dish diameter and operational frequency range. RENAM network within framework of the NATO project NIG 972759 “AMNET – Development of the Science and Education Network in Moldova” had obtained two ground stations having 1,8 and 2,4 dish diameters produced by ComStream Inc., which are equipped by ComStream CM701 radio modems and 2W transceivers. These two stations are designed to operate in Ku-band frequency range only.

    The State University of Moldova, one of RENAM Association members, has its own satellite antenna THA-4,8 with 4,8 m dish, which can operate in both Ku- and C-bands. This antenna is manufactured by State Scientific-industrial Enterprise “TV and Communication Apparatus” from Moscow (Russia). This station is equipped with special feature: electromechanical satellite automatic tracking system of CH THA-4,8 type. At the same time this station has no any other needed communication electronic devices. Preliminary investigations and practical tests results show that available communication devices for satellite stations such as radio modems CM701 and existing transceiver can be installed and functioning in conjunction with THA-4,8 satellite antenna, which has the most preferable dish diameter. The list of the all-existing satellite communication equipment is presented in Annex 2.

    Every of the mentioned VSATs can be used for new satellite channel organization. The choice of the most appropriate equipment fully depends on target satellite provider requirements and recommendations. In order to determine the most suitable satellite Internet provider a special marketing investigation was done.

    It is very important to select correct solution from the point of view of quality of services and economical efficiency provided by different ISPs. The offers of the following ISPs that can cover the territory of Moldova region were examined:

    1. OpenSat Inc.;
    2. Taide Networks;
    3. Sky-Vision;
    4. Plenexis.Gmbh

    The analysis of these offers had shown that two of above providers had proposed more attractive conditions of Internet access: – Taide Networks and Sky-Vision. Detailed negotiations with the mentioned Companies representatives allowed fixing the following prices on obtaining Internet traffic via satellite:

    ISP 1 Mbps of download traffic cost, € 1 Mbps of upload traffic cost, €
    Taide Networks 1360 3900
    Sky-Vision 1250 2700

    For comparison, the cost of external traffic purchasing by RENAM at now days from “Relsoft Communications” Ltd. is determined by the following parameters: 1 Mbps of download capacity price is 1960 USD and 1Mbps of uplink capacity – 2700 USD.

    Simultaneously both of the selected as more preferable providers utilize the similar satellites and have comparable high-level Internet backbone connections. All these allow making a prediction of the advantage of Sky-Vision proposal. Additional preference to have partnership with Sky-Vision is that there is official representative of the Company on Moldova territory – InterSat Ltd. Firm.

    Taking in account the lower costs and operative technical support ability for RENAM network in Moldova the choice of Sky-Vision, as main satellite ISP for academic community of Moldova is the optimal solution. The next stage task after provider definition, which has to be solved, is correct determination of satellite ground station (one of three in disposal) for processing Sky-Vision traffic.

    Analysis of requirements to satellite hardware, presented by Sky-Vision shows that the existing satellite antenna dish must be equipped with special equipment in order to provide parameters necessary to maintain selected satellite communication channel. The satellite has a variable position footprint that will require using an electromechanical satellite automatic tracking system. Another recommendation of ISP is utilization as larger dish as possible for data transmitting/receiving. The minimum dish diameter requirement is 2,4 m.

    In accordance with mentioned restrictions and obtained recommendations a decision to use the large satellite antenna of 4,8 m in diameter, which was installed in USM Campus Centru RENAM node was approved (Annex 3). Sky-Vision was requested to make a detailed technical specification of this antenna upgrade. Additional positive aspect of this choice is the fact that existing at this site electro mechanic tracking System can be used for positioning VSAT dish and as a result we can reduce total sum of investments in this ground station upgrade. Full list of the required equipment and spares needed for the satellite station upgrade in accordance with the specification elaborated by Sky-Vision Inc. is indicated in Annex 4.

    After installation and adjustment of the new satellite channel summarized capacity of external connections of RENAM network will be significantly increased and characterized by the following parameters (Mbps):

    1. Global Internet connection 9/4
    2. Romanian Internet segment access 4/4
    3. Local Moldavian Internet segment connection 2/2

    Data flows parameters expected to achieve after the project realization are around the desired capacity limit requested by all RENAM Association members now. Projected technical solutions and ordered equipment parameters have enough scalability in order to allow to increase channels bandwidth in perspective conforming the real necessities of all the network users and participants.