DIFI Lays the Building Blocks for Ground Tech Interoperability

Continued adoption of the ground segment’s interoperable digital standard would lead to benefits reaching space. From scalability and new efficiencies to more confident end users, DIFI is set to play an important role for the whole satellite ecosystem.

When things just work, isn’t that really a thing of beauty? When things work, we’re able to do more, to achieve more. We progress. We improve. However, sometimes to get things to work, often means people and organizations collaborating and working together for the greater good. In the ground segment of the satellite industry, it has previously been dominated by proprietary systems and technology. While this approach is understandable, customers perhaps would prefer a different approach, greater interoperability, that will make it easier for them to make key tech decisions going forward.

Industry group DIFI, which is embracing a message of interoperability, seems to be going from strength to strength. Founded in August 2021, the Digital Intermediate Frequency Interoperability Consortium is an independent group advocating for interoperability between satellite and ground system networks. DIFI set out to establish an interoperable digital interface/radio frequency (IF/RF) standard based on digital radio standard VITA 49.2, which is well adopted by the industry.

The consortium made good progress last year and in August, released the IEEE-ISTO Std 4900-2021: Digital IF Interoperability 1.1 Standard, an updated version of the initial 1.0. With 54 members now in tow, Version 1.1 of the specification has seen 800 downloads, and the group is releasing open-source software to help companies with compliance and certification testing.