The mission of the Digital Intermediate Frequency Interoperability (DIFI) Consortium is to enable the digital transformation of space, satellite, and related industries by providing a simple, open, interoperable Digital IF/RF standard that replaces the natural interoperability of analog IF signals and helps prevent vendor lock-in.
The satellite industry is accelerating into the biggest digital transformation in its history. This transformation has the potential to reduce costs, increase resilience, unleash innovation and scale up satellite’s global share of telecom, IT and GIS markets. But to reach the goal, the industry must break through the bottleneck of ground segment systems.
Today, ground segment relies on coaxial cable to transport RF at intermediate frequencies, such as L-Band, between antennas and modems and through multiple analog devices. Analog IF systems, with their inflexible chain of hardware, are difficult to scale and complex to operate. They are struggling to handle today’s capacity demands and cannot scale up to meet the needs of tomorrow.
Years ago, the telecom industry met the same challenge by digitizing and virtualizing its infrastructure. The satellite industry is now moving in the same direction by inserting IF converters as close to antennas as possible to create a digital IF packet stream that can be transported and processed digitally. But unlike analog IF, there is almost an infinite number of ways to encode digital IF bits into a standard IP packet. Standardization has not advanced beyond the framework level and cannot offer interoperability across vendor systems. Without true interoperability, there is no forward-path to the digital transformation on the ground that satellite’s future demands.
The Road to Interoperability
The industry needs an open and transparent standard, developed and adopted not by vendors alone but by users, operators and vendors working together. A standard that meets the broadest range of needs without becoming too complex and costly to implement. A standard that reduces the total cost of ownership and boosts network and terminal agility, performance and resilience, enabling ground segment to seamlessly adapt to rapidly changing space-layer payloads, orbits and constellations.
The simpler the standard and the easier it is to verify compliance, the faster it will be adopted. Developing, evolving and driving adoption of such a standard is the mission of the Digital Intermediate Frequency Interoperability Consortium (DIFI). If your organization is not a member, your voice will not be heard, your special technical requirements may never be met, and you could find your technology and operations on the wrong side of the industry’s next wave of growth.