New technologies to avoid digital division in e-divided areas
The aim of the Netadded project has been to develop and validate technical features that will enable to improve performance of deployment and of operation of hybrid satellite-wireless technologies, in coherence with the growing demand of broadband communications in the INCO countries, as well as with their evolution in Europe. This necessitates telecom infrastructure solutions that are easy to deploy and operate, robust to failures, easy to upgrade and with good capillarity capability. They also have to be flexible enough to be shared between several communities of users, in case of limited ability to pay for the infrastructure deployment and service operation. The Netadded consortium has consolidated the choice of 14 validation sites in 7 different countries: Burkina Faso, Benin, Morocco, Greece, France, Turkey and Cambodia. User communities have been clearly identified, combining different profiles (citizens, public bodies, teachers, medical staff, as well as local contact points. Concrete applications have been identified, developed or improved in order to address the specific needs of each identified end-user. To propose the appropriate broadband solutions for the different validation sites contexts, a number of network architectures adapted to the requirements and characteristics of each validation site has been defined and validated. At the end of the project, 14 validation sites had been deployed: - three validation sites in Burkina Faso, three in Morocco, two in Cambodia and one in Turkey on education application domain; - two validation sites in Benin on health care application domain; - one validation site in Greece and one in Turkey on e-business and rural tourism; and - one validation site in France on precision agriculture domain. These validation sites have allowed to test and validate under real conditions the RTD and Innovation activities, aiming at improving the conditions of deployment and exploitation of hybrid satellite-wireless solutions, which are at the centre of the Netadded project: - A market survey for available equipment for the definition of a self explanatory satellite terminal installation to be applied by customers has been carried out allowing the selection of an adapted COTS product, the ELU system from Siemens, that has been studied and improved during the project. This system only requires a laptop computer to assist the customer in dish pointing and cross-polarisation adjustments. User guides and videos have been realised in order to assist a non expert user in performing the required alignment operations for the terminal installation. - A transportable satellite terminal adapted to the field conditions in African INCO countries has been designed, manufactured and tested in real fields conditions. This terminal has been used by a local NGO in Burkina Faso during a basic education campaign. - A remote control mechanism has been defined and prototyped. This prototype allows the operator to remotely monitor in real time the satellite and wireless installation. A dedicated web interface has been developed to facilitate the usage of this mechanism, even for non experts. - Different services differentiation methods on the satellite segment have been investigated and implemented. The Medsky platform has been upgraded with new QOS management mechanisms and rules, and with a new efficient satellite network monitoring tool, available on-line and in near real-time. Those new features are currently in beta testing and shall be soon implemented in the operational platform. - End-to-end integration of hybrid satellite - WiMAX networks has been validated on test-bed prior to the deployment in real conditions in Morocco. - A wireless sensor network dedicated to precision agriculture has been specified, developed and tested in laboratory. Fast and accurate mathematical techniques to estimate the available bandwidth in wireless mesh networks have been defined, tested and validated by simulation. - The characterisation of various distant learning hardware and software tools has been completed allowing the implementation of a low cost distant learning system. Major efforts in the last period of the project have been concentrated on the usage and evaluation of sites using the tools and procedures put in place in the deployment phase and optimised during the operation. The evaluation has been performed at two levels: - Assessment of network usage and reliability through the monitoring and supervision tools put in place at the NOC and on each of the sites. The generic monitoring and evaluation procedure defined in Netadded proposes a list of key parameters to be analysed for network usage and reliability evaluation. - Evaluation of the quality of the proposed services as well as the level of user satisfaction using an evaluation questionnaire defined by the site coordinators and approved by the steering committee. Concerning dissemination, Netadded partners have widely communicated on the project scope, objectives and results with presentations at more than 70 events. Besides, a number of papers and articles have been published and Sabanci University has applied for a patent on their work on the estimation of residual bandwidth in 802.ll wireless networks. Furthermore, ISI (Integral Satcom Initiative) endorsement has been granted to the project in October 2007. The knowledge gained by Netadded partners will continue to be disseminated beyond the end of the project through online information (publication of main project results on Netadded website, contributions to EU web sites) and the effort initiated to raise awareness of local and regional authorities on satellite-based solutions will be pursued through participation to dedicated events or related projects.