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Pioneering Digital Transformation in the Satcom Industry with Simon Swift

There’s no doubt that the Satellite Communication (SatCom) industry is changing. With the connectivity demand continually increasing around the globe the Satcom industry is starting to move away from analog RF technology and shift towards Digital IF technology.

Simon Swift, Engineering Director at ETL Systems and Chair of the DIFI (Digital IF Interoperability) Specification Working Group, explores the concept of Digital IF, its transformative impact on the Satcom industry, and the pivotal role played by ETL Systems under Simon's leadership.

Let us start with defining what Digital IF is:

Digital IF, or Digital Intermediate Frequency, represents a ground breaking technology for distributing RF (Radio Frequency) signals over Ethernet (IP). In simple terms, Digital IF utilises high-speed Analog to Digital Converters (ADCs) to sample incoming L-band IF signals, converting them into packets for transmission over fast Ethernet links. Conversely, in the reverse direction, Digital IF receives sample packets over fast Ethernet and recreates the original L-band signal using high-speed Digital to Analog Converters (DACs).
Simon Swift -  Engineering Director at ETL Systems and Chair of the DIFI (Digital IF Interoperability) Specification Working Group

How is Digital IF going to transform the Satcom industry?

Digital IF introduces several benefits to satellite operators. Firstly, it enables the distribution of IF signals from any source to any destination with a consistent signal quality. Unlike traditional RF methods, Digital IF maintains signal quality regardless of the number of recipients or the distance of transmission. Secondly, it offers unprecedented flexibility in RF distribution, making it as simple as addressing Ethernet packets to the respective IP addresses. Lastly, Digital IF facilitates Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), transforming modems from hardware into cloud-based software. This shift allows for financing through licensing and costs proportional to usage.

Can you explain what part ETL Systems is playing in the digital evolution?

ETL Systems stands at the forefront of the Digital Revolution in the Satcom industry. Collaborating with the European Space Agency, ETL is actively involved in the creation of its first Digital IF product, Genus Digital.
I represent ETL Systems, in my role as Chair for the DIFI Specification Working Group, an industry-wide initiative defining the new distribution standard. The group has been instrumental over the past year, outlining the roadmap for subsequent updates. This working group includes major players such as Amazon, Microsoft, SES, and iDirect.
ETL Systems is experiencing a surge in customer interest for these innovative products such as Genus Digital, indicating their significant role in transforming the satcom industry. Our digital range will become an increasing part of ETL Systems growth strategy.
ETL Systems  - Genus Digital

To Summarise:

The SatCom industry is swiftly transitioning from analog RF to Digital IF technology, marking a pivotal shift in connectivity demands worldwide. At ETL Systems we lead this revolution with the development of Genus Digital in collaboration with the European Space Agency, spearheading industry standards alongside major players. The Genus Digital technology will allow seamless RF signal distribution over Ethernet, offering consistent quality, unparalleled flexibility, and the transformation of modems into cloud-based software.