European Space Agency

Standardisation support of enhanced IETF IP encapsulation techniques for DVB-S: Joanneum Research


The project has developed a new IP over DVB encapsulation to provide Internet services over DVB broadcast networks. The current common encapsulation, Multiprotocol Encapsulation (MPE), while providing basic services, adds non-necessary overhead to the IP packet while not fully supporting the IP requirements for next generation networks. Amongst those is the support to the IP version 6 (IPv6) packets, dynamic address resolution and quality of service. Based on the existing Internet Drafts (IDs) of the IP over DVB mailing list, the project has provided a full implementation, from software to satellite demonstration of the new Simple and Ultra Light (ULE) encapsulations on the forward channel using realistic traffic models and service scenarios. In addition, to fully provide a full networking solution, the study has also evaluated the encapsulation on the return channel. This has looked at performance and address quality of service issues. Since network performance cannot be abstracted from the network architecture the study has also evaluated a number of realistic end user scenarios. Hence the result of the study has provided a comprehensive assessment of the new encapsulation and provides a roadmap for future implementation.


The advantages of ULE compared to MPE could be verified in theory, simulation and implementation. It showed that ULE has got the following characteristics:

  • less overhead for fragmenting IP packets into TS packets

  • optionally none, one or two MAC address(es)

  • IP address to PID mapping

  • IPv6 support

  • QoS aware

  • Addressing and filtering

  • Bridging of Ethernet frames

  • IETF standardisation

Interoperability could be verified with a parallel working group which also implemented ULE on their HW platform. The ns2 simulation model of ULE is free available.


Based on the study proposal, and the work performed, the main goals of the project have been achieved, namely:

  • The formation of the IP over IETF WG and its approval by the IESG

  • A review of the data over DVB standardisation activities

  • The definition of use cases for IP over ULE/DVB

  • The issuing of current ULE drafts to the IETF community for implementation within and outside the study consortium

  • The implementation of ULE on 2 platforms with conformance and interoperability testing

  • IP over DVB traffic analysis tools

  • Analysis of ULE performance vs. MPE using spreadsheets and queuing analysis

  • Analysis of ULE performance vs. MPE using captured Internet traffic

  • Simulation of ULE as a general purpose RCST protocol in ns2 and OPNET

  • The dissemination in the DVB, Internet and other networking communities


The project was split between tasks for standardisation support and the implementation of ULE into existing hardware. The Implementation of the encapsulation(s) has been performed for:

  • Pent@value brand DVB-S receiver cards

  • TechnoTrend based (Hauppauge, Siemens, &) DVB-S receiver cards

  • gcs Open DVB Gateway/Encapsulator

Where the implementations for the open source drivers for the receiver cards will remain open source.

A detailed analysis of the status of the standardization relevant for IP over DVB was performed. A thorough comparison of MPE to ULE used in different user scenarios showed the advantages of ULE. Also header compression with ULE was investigated and indicated the necessary adoption to ULE and ROHC. And finally a ns2 and OPNET model was developed to for network and end- to end simulation. This work underlined the advantages of ULE.


  1. Inventory of IP over DVB activities

  2. Study and Prototype implementation

  3. Encapsulation on the forward link

  4. Interoperability testing

  5. Demonstration

  6. Conclusion and dissemination

Current status

Project completed. Contract Change Notice was approved with the following topics:

The chief aim of the additional work is the completion of this activity to produce a set of RFC standards. To complete this task requires several important activities, specifically to ensure the final specification matches or is extensible to meet the requirements of a range of satellite systems, and that appropriate inputs are sought from the wider community of operators and implementers. This change in focus is entirely appropriate with the adoption of ULE as an IETF working item, rather than an individual submission generated by this specific project. The IETF has a policy of providing more than just an encapsulation specification. Most IETF specified link protocols also define mechanisms for link configuration and interface QoS capability to ensure proper inter-working with the IETF network-layer (including address resolution and neighbour discovery). IP over DVB, also requires definition of a mapping to the existing address resolution functions provided in DVB and DVB-RCS.

The future work not only completes the previous work but sets the bases for a networking framework for ULE that is IP-centric and follows the common practices of the IETF. The second phase of the future activities seeks to identify the key issues and technologies to implement this, but will be unable to deliver prototypes or detailed designs. Although there will still be much work to be done in address resolution/configuration, this work does entail a significant progress in the use of DVB to become a true IP technology and will enable further buy-in from industry. The final task of work will investigate the application to satellite IP multicast.

The program of work and deliverables will comprise software development associated with ULE, and a set of ESA reports. Supporting actions will also lead to advancement of three IETF documents:

  • ipdvb framework ID

  • ULE protocol spec ID

  • AR protocol spec ID

Status date

Monday, August 13, 2012 - 14:04