Testing the Performance of Satellite Systems and Devices
Satellite networks have become a critical part of our modern communication infrastructure, providing connectivity to remote areas and enabling global communication. Ensuring optimal performance is not always an easy task. Satellite systems are comprised of a multitude of devices, including satellite modems, VSATs, SD-WAN gateways, TCP proxies, Performance Enhancing Proxies, hubs, and ground stations, and the network itself is often volatile and susceptible to performance degradation. Therefore, testing is necessary to identify and address any potential issues before they impact users.
Some of the main challenges are network volatility as satellites are continuously moving, and the network conditions like latency, packet loss, and bandwidth are constantly changing depending on factors like weather. Testing on live links means your tests are subject to whatever the current conditions are. Cost and availability due to buying time to test on live satellite links can be expensive, and the limited availability of time slots can make scheduling time for comprehensive testing difficult. As the number of users on a satellite network increases Scalability becomes a challenge as the network can become congested, leading to further performance degradation. Ensuring the scalability of satellite networks can be challenging, especially in areas with high demand for satellite services.
By replicating the dynamic characteristics of a satellite network in the test lab you can benchmark the packet-level performance of the network and devices with performance measurements like latency, throughput, and loss. An important aspect of this type of testing is the ability to mimic the exact satellite link characteristics like bandwidth limitations, latency, and packet loss to determine how adverse network conditions will impact application performance rather than the expensive cost of live satellite testing to achieve deterministic, repeatable results instead of being at the mercy of the current satellite conditions.
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