Can the Defense Ministry drown out Iridium, GlobalStar and OneWeb?

    The appearance of the “universal Internet” uncontrolled by the authorities is unacceptable both for the Russian state and for domestic telecom operators.

    Global satellite internet

    In 2016, the private aerospace company SpaceX requested permission from the U.S. government to deploy a satellite communications network to provide high-speed Internet access services globally in the Ku (10.7-18 GHz) and Ka (26.5-40 GHz) bands. In addition to SpaceX, applications for the withdrawal of their own communication devices were filed by OneWeb, Telesat, O3b Networks (O3b is the European medium-orbit system supervised by SES) and Theia Holdings. Their projects aim to provide users with broadband Internet access using mobile satellite technology.

    Facebook, according to media reports, is also working on a secret Internet satellite project that will provide access speeds 10 times faster than SpaceX. The project involves the launch of the Athena spacecraft to explore the possibility of providing remote regions with the Internet. The satellite will operate in the 71–76 / 81–86 GHz band (E-band), which in most countries has a simplified licensing procedure. If the project is implemented, then it will allow you to get speeds up to 30 Gbit / s, which will require the launch of several hundred devices.

    SpaceX's rival in the upcoming race is OneWeb (formerly known as WorldVu). The British consortium OneWeb, supported by entrepreneur Richard Branson, as well as Qualcomm. OneWeb plans to place hundreds of telecommunications satellites in orbit 1.2 thousand kilometers high.

    At the beginning of the year, OneWeb requested permission from the US Federal Communications Commission to increase the grouping from 720 spacecraft to 1980. The entire system is planned to be deployed by 2027. The company intends to start providing commercial services in 2019, after the launch of approximately 300 devices.

    SpaceX expects to begin to deploy its own satellite Internet network next year. This project, called Starlink, was led by Elon Musk and Greg Wyler. Its implementation began in February 2018: two test satellites, Tintin-A and Tintin-B, were launched into orbit by the Falkon-9 rocket. In total, it is planned to launch about 12 thousand satellites. SpaceX estimated the cost of implementing the Starlink project at $ 10 billion. Due to the fact that the company has its own launch vehicle, the cost of satellite delivery will be relatively low.

    Satellites will be located at 83 different altitudes (from 1110 km to 1325 km). Thus, they will deliver a signal much faster than to other groups whose satellites are located in high orbits. The difference between the new satellite network and the existing ones will be a low delay - a maximum of 25 milliseconds. For comparison, in 4G cellular networks, the delay is on average about 8 milliseconds, but can vary significantly depending on the load on the network and the distance from the cellular communication station. Satellites will operate on the principle of a mesh network (mesh) and will be able to redirect the signal depending on the load.

    In less than 10 years, they should provide full Internet coverage of the entire surface of the Earth. The first devices are already running. The first phase of the Internet service is planned to be deployed by 2020 or 2021. Users should get Internet access at a speed of 500 Mbit / s, and in the second stage, second-generation satellites will be launched, which will provide high-speed Internet with a bandwidth of 2.5 Gbit / s by 2021. By sending another 7,500 vehicles into orbit, the company will be able to significantly improve the quality of communications and network infrastructure parameters. She intends to launch the last satellite in 2024, thus forming a grouping of her orbiting vehicles.

    In addition to the companies mentioned above, there are also Boeing (2956 satellites) and Samsung (4600 devices) projects. The implementation period for all these projects is the next five to seven years. They must provide the Internet with billions of people, including residents of remote and rural areas.

    SpaceX user terminals and the like are reported to be roughly the size of laptops. In fact, this is the usual telecommunication equipment operating in the Ku (12-18 GHz) and Ka (26.5-40 GHz) bands. In the future, it is planned to use the V-band (from 40 to 75 GHz).

    In order for Ku and Ka band equipment to be suitable for organizing a bi-directional Internet channel, an antenna system with the so-called beam pattern is needed - a phased antenna array. To transmit data in both directions, such an antenna is a rather complex and bulky design. Therefore, the "subscriber device" so far can not be integrated into a smartphone. But this is far from the main problem.

    There will be no frequencies

    In terms of international cooperation, it all started pretty well. At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, OneWeb and the Gonets Satellite System JSC signed an agreement on the creation of a joint venture. The “messenger” was supposed to start selling OneWeb resources in Russia. But then the situation began to change.

    The State Commission for Radio Frequencies (SCRF) refused to allocate frequencies for the international satellite network being created, as they “may be required for the Russian constellation of Arctic satellites”. The SCRC meeting at the end of 2016, where this issue was considered, was held behind closed doors. According to media reports, the refusal is connected with the creation of the domestic Express-RV system, which is being developed by the state-owned enterprise Space Communications. These are four satellites in a highly elliptical orbit, which should provide communication to the regions of the Arctic just at these frequencies.

    In addition, Russia has its own project submitted by Roscosmos to create a global multifunctional infocommunication satellite system (GMISS), which is included in the Digital Infrastructure direction action plan in the state program Digital Economy. True, the Supervisory Board of Vnesheconombank (VEB) did not make a decision on financing this project worth 299 billion rubles in a timely manner. The question remains open.

    The stages of system development planned for the first quarter of 2018 have not been completed. GMISS is regarded as the "Russian OneWeb." In essence, this is a project to create a national Earth coverage system with high-speed Internet access and to provide a continuous communication channel for unmanned vehicles, the Internet of things and secure data transmission.

    Why jam?

    The advent of satellite Internet from SpaceX, OneWeb, etc. It can create difficulties for Russian providers, since security forces cannot receive all the traffic of Russian subscribers, as required by the “Spring Package”, and Roskomnadzor block websites where information is prohibited in Russia.

    With direct access to the network, bypassing providers, there will be no technical ability to introduce restrictions on regional content. It will not work not only to block sites, but also to connect SORM.

    And the domestic providers and telecom operators themselves have invested very large amounts of money in the development of the 3G / 4G terrestrial data transmission infrastructure, which will have to be repaid over the years. Do they need a satellite competitor?

    It is no coincidence that the Russian Ministry of Defense reports on testing the latest electronic warfare system (EW), capable of neutralizing the operation of low-orbit satellite communications systems over a large area. Is the analogue of the Soviet “jammers” revived? Can the Defense Ministry drown out Iridium, GlobalStar and OneWeb?

    How to jam?

    Electronic warfare (EW) is the effect of radio emissions (radio interference) on the electronic equipment of enemy control, communications and reconnaissance systems in order to change the quality of military information circulating in them, protect their systems from similar influences, and also change the conditions (environmental properties) of radio wave propagation.

    Russian defense enterprises plan in the near future to increase the production of military equipment for the needs of electronic warfare by 20-30%. Moreover, thanks to the participation of serial plants in the manufacture of prototypes, the time required for the development of large-scale production of new products will be significantly reduced.

    The plants supply customers with the Krasukha-S4 complexes, the interference stations Rtut-BM, Lever-AV, Vitebsk, and the Khibiny-M individual protection complexes. Some of these systems have been tested in Syria. The Khibiny complex is installed on Su-34 bombers and Su-30SM fighters. It makes it difficult to detect aircraft with enemy radar and missile guidance.

    Similar opportunities are provided by the Vitebsk complex. It is installed, in particular, on Ka-52 and Mi-8MT helicopters. “Kraukha” is capable of suppressing optoelectronic reconnaissance of spy satellites, as well as ground and airborne (AWACS) based radars.
    The above electronic warfare systems are one of the few, details of which fell into the press. Their varieties and modifications are much larger. And on the way fundamentally new systems. Russian electronic warfare technologies are among the best in the world.

    According to experts, current and promising models of electronic warfare systems are capable of solving a wide range of problems. These include systems capable of jamming radar stations of aircraft and homing heads of high-precision missiles, systems for suppressing enemy communication lines in the entire frequency range. In the promising state arms program, which will last until 2025, special attention is paid to electronic warfare means.
    Meanwhile, according to experts in electronic warfare, there are not even effective electronic warfare systems in the world that can incapacitate American Tomahawks. Well-known jammers of satellite navigation systems, for example, the EW Resident station, which is in service with the Russian army, can only reduce the accuracy of the Tomahawks. What about low-orbit satellites?

    Mask will not work

    According to media reports, the Moscow Scientific Research Radio Engineering Institute has developed a jamming system for low-orbit satellite communications systems - the Electronic Warfare Complex for Countering Satellite Systems in Low Circular Orbits (KRBSS). The Arctic is considered the priority location for this latest “jammer”.

    Mobile jamming stations are already undergoing tests, during which they allegedly managed to achieve excellent results through the use of active phased antenna arrays containing a large number of transceiver elements. It is assumed that the novelty will take up combat duty, and its elements will be put into operation in stages.
    The main elements of the KRBSS are jamming stations installed on two trucks: they are said to be capable of simultaneously monitoring and jamming the signals of several tens of satellites. In the future, such stations are planned to be installed on ships, helicopters, planes and even drones.

    Will it work? It is extremely doubtful. Each low-orbit satellite, of which only Starlink will have 4425 in the first and another 7518 in the second stage, will have to accompany this complex. To drown out more than a dozen thousand satellites, and even low-orbit ones that form a mesh network, is an unrealistic task.

    Such a “jammer” will not only be excessively expensive, but will also consume tremendous power - tens of megawatts will be enough only to suppress a signal in an area of ​​about one Moscow microdistrict. It is not possible to completely drown out the entire system over the entire country. "Jammer" should cover really huge areas. To do this, it must have a very serious energy capacity and be installed at a height of tens of meters.

    Therefore, we can assume that everything will be limited to a ban on the import of OneWeb, Starlink, etc. subscriber devices. Nobody will allow our population to use satellite Internet and exchange information uncontrollably. Elon Musk will not pass. Perhaps regulatory agencies will begin to locate devices entering the country. Bans and locks in Russia have always found state support.

    Meanwhile, the launch of test devices launched the era of global satellite Internet, which will allow the development of many modern areas, such as the Internet of things. Ubiquitous low-cost Internet means expanding the market for hosting providers, can give a powerful impetus to the development of cloud services. These innovations will bypass Russia, and the state will have to import technology again.

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