Tomsk engineers work on secure satellite communication terminals for Arctic

By griffith - July 25, 2021
Such terminals will provide communication by using satellites. For almost deserted territories, like, for example, for the Russian Arctic, the northern territories in Siberia and the Far East, this communication method could be the only available option.

TOMSK, July 23. /TASS/. Engineers of the Micran high-technology company in Tomsk jointly with the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) will design by end of 2022 the first sample of a Russian terminal for satellite communication’s secure transmission in the Arctic zone. Big companies, like Gazprom, need such a system, as currently signals are transmitted via equipment with foreign components, and the data could be declassified by their hidden programs, Micran’s Director General Vera Paramonova told TASS.

“Satellite terminals are two functional devices, united into one system: a satellite modem and a network router. The modem receives and forms the radio signal, transmitted to a satellite and received from a satellite. The router transmits the data of required quality to users, including by virtual networks and operators,” she explained.

In other words, such terminals will provide communication by using satellites. For almost deserted territories, like, for example, for the Russian Arctic, the northern territories in Siberia and the Far East, this communication method could be the only available option. However, so far Russia does not produce such terminals with completely domestic software and component base.

At the same time, it is not safe for domestic companies to continue using the currently available equipment due to a risk of data leakage. “Presently, the signal is transmitted via the equipment, which has imported software and hardware. User data can be declassified by hidden software algorithms,” the expert explained, adding that foreign manufacturers of such equipment do not disclose the “stuffing”, and the chips work as “black boxes” – only the manufacturer knows, what is “hidden” inside the device.

In order to solve this problem, Micran, together with the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, received a subsidy from the Russian government to design domestic terminals. The first sample, Paramonova said, will be ready before the end of 2022. By 2024, the company will bring ready-made devices to the market.

The terminal is being developed primarily for needs of commercial structures that are engaged in creating communication networks, both for virtual mobile operators accessible to everyone, and for closed corporate communication channels and special communication channels. Such operators are Space Communications and Gazprom Space Systems and special structures, like, for example, the Ministry of Defense, the border service, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Russian Railways, the aviation and fleet authorities, etc.

North Pole communication

The devices, which are being developed, will close the niche of secure satellite communication in the territories of the Russian Arctic and the Far North. Their architecture – a set of hardware and software – will be effectively suitable for low-orbit satellites and satellites located in highly elliptical orbits (specialized orbits, most often passing above the tundra territories – TASS). Only they can provide signal transmission in this macroregion. Stationary satellites, which are used to transmit TV and communication signals, “cannot stretch” to the planet’s poles.

“The country needs this system for development of the Arctic zone, the regions of Siberia and the Far East. Satellite terminals will create a complex infrastructure to provide processing and transmission of large volumes of structured and unstructured data, multimedia content and a 100% coverage of the country’s territory, as well as areas of the world that are relevant from economic, political, military and other points of view,” Paramonova said.

In addition to that, domestic stations should be cheaper and more user friendly. Presently, the signal is transmitted along a complex route, she continued. From one point on the Earth the signal is transmitted to a satellite in the space, and from there to a hub on the Earth, from where the information is again re-transmitted to another more suitable satellite, and only after that it goes to the recipient.

“We would like to divide between our devices the tasks performed by the hub. For that purpose, the user terminal will have a function of a network router. We also plan to create certain on-board satellite communication equipment, which would include a functional network switch. This way, we will build effective routes and cut delays in data transmission, optimize overhead costs for data transmission, cut to a minimum the number of route points,” the company representative said.

By using domestic technologies and materials and by skipping unnecessary signal transmission points, the Russian terminal will make the communication cheaper and more accessible, since nowadays this highly expensive communication is used only in extreme cases. At the same time, in terms of features and characteristics the new system will not be inferior to foreign analogues.

About the company

Micran is one of the first innovative companies in Russia. The company has 130 patents for inventions, 23 – for utility models, 35 certificates of officially registered integrated circuit topologies, ten certificates of officially registered computer programs. The company’s annual production exceeds 3 billion rubles ($41 million).