DIFI Chairman Stuart Daughtridge Nominated for Satellite Executive of the Year


Recognition of his leadership in advancing interoperability for the ground segment

PISCATAWAY, NJ March 5, 2024:  In February, Via Satellite magazine announced its nominees for the coveted Satellite Executive of the Year award and included among them Stuart Daughtridge, Chairman of the Digital Intermediate Frequency Interoperability Consortium (DIFI) and Vice President of Advanced Technology with Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, a technology company in defense, national security and global markets.

Daughtridge has led DIFI since its creation in 2021 and overseen its growth into an consortium of more than 60 satcom and earth observation service providers, users and technology vendors determined to drive a digital transformation of the industry. The nomination recognizes his leadership in advancing interoperability of the ground segment, with its potential to eliminate vendor lock-in and speed integration of satellite with terrestrial telecommunications.

The winner of the 2023 Satellite Executive of the Year is determined by a combination of the Via Satellite editorial team and votes that come directly from industry. The public can vote for Stuart Daughtridge online. Voting closes at noon ET on March 19. The winner will be announced at SATELLITE 2024 on Wednesday, March 20 at the Via Satellite Awards Luncheon.

In 2023, DIFI released version 1.2.0 of the DIFI Standard, held its first plugfest to stress-test interoperability among vendor gear and held a Digital Transformation workshop at MILCOM. DIFI’s Specification Working Group is hard at work on version 1.3.0, which is scheduled for release in Q2 2024, while its Certification Working Group released a draft version of the DIFI compliance test plan at the end of 2023 as the first step toward the 2024 release of a test plan for self-certification.

Recently, DIFI established a new working group to focus on a fast-emerging challenge to advancements in ground segment technology.  Electronically-steered flat-panel antennas (ESAs) are on a clear evolutionary path from high-cost terminals for single-beam/single-use applications to increasingly affordable offerings, many with some combination of multi-beam, multi-band, and multi-orbit capabilities. Supporting these flexible antenna systems will drive demand for digital-based ground systems for signal routing and processing. The DIFI Consortium is taking up the challenge of setting up and managing services through these antennas in a way that will enable interoperability between antenna systems and digital ground systems.

About DIFI

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. 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.

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.


Joni Sterlacci, Sr. Program Manager, j.sterlacci@ieee.org