NIGERIAN COMMUNICATION SATELLITE (NIGCOMSAT-1R) KA-
(1) Lasisi S.Lawal
NIGCOMSAT Ltd/Univerisity of Sussex, Obasanjo Space Center, Airport Expressway,
Lugbe, P.M.B 647, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria, +2348055233708, firstname.lastname@example.org
(2) Chris R. Chatwin
Univeristyof Sussex, School of Engineering & Informatics, Richmond Building, Falmer,
Brighton, East Sussex, UK. BN1 9QT,+441273690814,
This paper acknowledges the efficiency gains in the Ka band and examines the initial challenges on
the NIGCOMSAT-1 satellite Ka–band system and the improvements made on the insurance
replacement Ka-band satellite system (NIGCOMSAT-1R) launched on 20th December, 2011. We
report on its capacity, capability, coverage area and the use of the hub combined with an optimized
satellite link to drive the national ICT revolution by the provision of cost effective and affordable
solutions for: broadcasting, seamless integration of telecommunication connectivity and backbone and
IP trunking inter alia.
Africa remains the least wired continent in the world in terms of robust telecommunications
infrastructure and systems to cater for its more than one billion people. Existing infrastructure in the
African hinterlands are grossly inadequate, thus the need to develop national, sub-regional and
regional carrier of carriers and digital links with cross-border inter-connectivity. Though in recent times,
the continent has invested significantly in subsea fiber optic cables along the shores of the African
coast, the continent still lacks adequate infrastructure within African countries including cross-border
connectivity thus the need for a robust passive and active infrastructure build-out in and around Africa
to address this large un-met growing demand for information and communication services . African
Leaders and key stakeholders through institutional frameworks have recognized the role of ICT
infrastructure and the multiplier effect it has on other development sectors. As a means of closing the
infrastructure deficiency and after due process and a request for proposals from various
communications satellite companies, the Federal Government of Nigeria took the bull by the horns by
signing a Communication Satellite contract with the China Great Wall Industry Corporation in
December 2004. The high powered, Quad band (Ku, Ka, C and L Band) geostationary satellite, with
a service life span of 15 years, had 8 active transponders on the Ka-band, which were based on a
feasibility field trial assessment of bandwidth demand projection for sub-Saharan Africa required to
carry Africa’s international voice and data traffics and the success of the ANIK F2 satellite with Ka-
The National priority project and first Nigerian Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT-1) was
eventually launched on the 13th of May 2007 becoming the first communication satellite to provide
users with Ka-band resources over African soil. The satellite suffered an onboard subsystem failure
and was de-orbited on 10th of November 2008 bringing all broadcast, telecommunication services and
strategic navigational plans to an abrupt end.
2. NIGCOMSAT-1R SYSTEM
The high-powered, quad band (Ku, C, Ka and L Band) geostationary satellite with a life span of more
than 15 years with an orbital home of 42.5 degrees east was designed to provide strong foot prints
across the sub-sahara region of Africa, Part of Europe and Asia to meet the telecommunication and
broadcast needs of clients, service providers including Navigational requirements.
The 5 tonnes spacecraft at lift-off was launched by an LM-3B launch vehicle built on a 3-axis stabilized
DFH-4 satellite bus platform with heritage from DFH-3 series.
The 9 kW spacecraft as illustrated in figure 1; is a quad band spacecraft comprised of:
! C-Band Transponder
! Ku-Band Transponder
! Ka-Band Transponder and
! L-Band (Navigation) Transponder
! Seven (7) Service Antennas
Figure 1 Composition and configuration of Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT-1R)
Plans are underway to build more satellites to guarantee business continuity, backup and full African
3. NIGCOMSAT-1R Ka-Band System
The NIGCOMSAT-1R Ka-band system has an improved payload configuration and composition over
its predecessor; NIGCOMSAT-1. The payload is comprised of a total of eight (8) 120MHz re-
configurable transponders with three (3) large-sized spot beams having congruent transmit and
receive coverage over Europe, South Africa and Nigeria. The eight (8) Ka-Band active channels were
designed with redundant high power amplifiers, receivers, smart RF switches etc to provide IP
trunking, bi-directional communications and broadcasting services under its service zones given in
Unlike its predecessor that had 50Watts HPA for trunking and 70Watts for broadcasting channels,
Each transponder of the NIGCOMSAT-1R Ka-band system is equipped with a Travelling Wave Tube
Amplifier (TWTA) having effective RF output power of 70Watts, dedicated linearized channel amplifier
(LCAMP), Electronic Power conditioner (EPC) and command-able channel controls in two modes;
Fixed Gain Mode (FGM) and Automatic Level Control (ALC).
Detailed Ka-band spot beam coverage over Europe, Nigeria and South Africa are given in figure 3, 4
and 5 with overlaid Equivalent Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP) contour lines in dBW.
Figure 2: NIGCOMSAT-1R spot beam coverage over Europe, Nigeria and South Africa .
Figure 3 NIGCOMSAT-1R European Spot Beam on Ka-Band .
Figure 4 NIGCOMSAT-1R Nigerian Spot Beam on Ka-Band .
Figure 5 NIGCOMSAT-1R South African Spot Beam on Ka-Band .
4. NIGCOMSAT Ltd’s Services, Solutions and Applications on NIGCOMSAT-1R Ka-
The circularly polarized transponders with a bandwidth of 120MHz and bandwidth gap of 30MHz
between transponders offer high-speed and throughput services than its contemporaries (traditionally
Ku and C-band transponders). Such services, solutions and applications are as provided in figure 6
are at competitively priced transmission capacity, small antennas and reduced customer premise
equipment (CPE) cost.
Figure 6 NIGCOMSAT-1R Services, Solutions and Applications on Ka-Band.
NIGCOMSAT Gateways and hubs were deployed at the coastal areas of the country to gain access to
to the huge communication potential of the various submarine landing cables with terrabytes of
capacity. The strategic deployment and implementation of a teleport hub serves as an African
convergence port, where the terrestrial fiber can connect and merge with the Communication Satellite
The Hub is a gateway for all satellite based networks into the Internet Superhighway with 7.6M
antenna system co-located as shown in figure 7.
Figure 7 7.6M CO-LOCATED ANTENNA SYSTEM 
NigComSat Ltd was the first to launch one of the most modern teleport services in the Sub-
Sahara region, using the iDX 3.0 on DVB-S2 technology and the 2D-16state MODCOD technique on
the iDirect hub system, as depicted in figure 8, through a 7.6 m Ku Band Antenna system as shown in
figure 7 with a fully redundant 100W BUC solution supporting multi-carriers.
Figure 8 IDIRECT HUB TECHNOLOGY SYSTEM
SOURCE: iDirect and Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, December 2012
Aside from the iDirect Hub currently being used to deploy multiple classes of services on IP
broadband networks to various remote locations using variants of Very Small Aperture Terminal
(VSAT) systems. A dedicated NEWTEC Sat3Play Broadband Gateway system as illustrated in figure
9 is specifically dedicated for the Ka-band System in furtherance of delivery of a high speed
broadband solution with a differentiated class of services.
Figure 9 SAT3PLAY BROADBAND GATEWAY SYSTEM
SOURCE: NEWTEC and Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, December 2012
The core of the Sat3Play system, as shown in figure 9, is a DVB-S2 system that enables the
provisioning of both basic and complex services to consumers and business markets. The network
system is designed for scalability of both traffic and network management capacity with support for a
growing range of data, multimedia and voice applications.
The Sat3play management system offers multi service provider platforms for wholesale parts of the
system infrastructure with capacity for several large and medium-sized ISPs and VPN operators. The
teleport facilities are of utmost importance to the economy of the nation; making available high
performance IP broadband networks for education, government, military, healthcare system,
enterprise organizations, Upstream Internet Service Providers, Government MDAs, Schools, E-
Learning initiative drives, smart communities, e-villages etc.
The differentiated classes of services offered by the teleport is capable to improve the ICT , internet,
Broadband penetration and Broadband speed indices of not just Nigeria but the entire African region
To ensure continuity of services including the need for satellites as backup to serve as risk
mitigation if the working satellite fails, NIGCOMSAT Ltd with the support of the federal government, as
it is a state owned company, is working assiduously to launch two more satellites known as
NIGCOMSAT-2 and NIGCOMSAT-3. The entire system network of NIGCOMSAT-1R, 2 & 3 will offer
added advantages in reliability, compatibility, security, operations, marketing and increased customer
confidence as a client of NIGCOMSAT Ltd. The three communication satellites will strengthen the
company’s corporate vision as “…the leading communications satellite operator and service provider
in Africa.” including strong coverage over other continents such as Europe, South America etc. for a
wider market capture and patronage.
5. Meet the Ka-Band: New Possibilities and Capabilities
Ka-band is a high radio frequency typically between 20-30GHz that allows high volume and faster data
throughput to be transmitted and received with relatively very small ground antennas with competitive
prices. Ka-band is distinguished from C-band and Ku-band by its higher frequency. The Ka- band
uplink frequencies are usually between 24.75 GHz and 31 GHz and downlink uses frequencies are
between 17.3 GHz to 21.2 GHz depending ITU region, satellite usage , national regulators etc.
Ka-band also offers another technology advantage of frequency re-use through space diversity by
reusing the same frequency up to as much as six times allowing regionalized content space-based
bandwidth resources to be shared between simultaneous users giving rise to today’s High Throughput
Ka band has moved from experimental laboratory demonstrators to application in high speed networks
with digital channelization using onboard routers for broadcasting, telecommunications, IP trunking
services, Communications –on-the-Move (COTM) etc.
The first commercial Ka-band success was with the launch of Telesat’s Anik F2 on July 17, 2004
which gave Canadians the best hope of bridging their digital gap especially in the rural areas. The
satellite also had an early breakthrough by using smaller spot beams to cover specific geographic
areas; a transformation from the usual and traditional one large zonal or large spot beam with other
frequency bands. Telesat’s Anik f2 used 45 smaller “spot beams” to cover specific geographic areas
with 15 spot beams covering Canada and 30 spot beams covering the lower 48 US States.
With continuing advances in ka-band technologies and systems, users have a superior online
broadband experience and high–speed satellite Internet and data services equivalent to fiber-based
services as seen in recent Ka-band High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and Wideband Global Satcom
These achievements are not feasible without the cooperation of system engineers, integrators for the
needed high-precision and high performance ground Ka-band infrastructure and product
developments such as Ka-band antennas, feeds, HPAs, Receivers, High performance cables ,
waveguides, Power control, Converters etc including rain attenuation mitigation techniques such as
adaptive coding and modulation(ACM), rate reduction, automatic power control (APC) etc to suppress
the rain-fade column which is the main propagation impairment in the high frequency band .
Ka-band systems and technologies hold great promise for Africa in complementing the inadequate
terrestrial networks and ensuring that its nations are not isolated from the global economy and world-
wide communications network growth. The Ka band spectrum has helped the satellite industry in
optimal utilization and availability of the Satellite frequency spectrum and management through digital
channelization and frequency re-use.of the ICT infrastructure, it is the corner stone for guaranteeing
universal access. Continuous proliferation of wireless and radio technologies urgently requires
periodic review of the communications act, policies and that of spectrum management in tandem with
new technologies, innovations in spectrum management techniques, consumer demands for new
services, regional and international developments. Non-geostationary Ka-band satellites such as the
O3B Ka-band satellite designed for medium earth orbit offers lower latency and throughput equivalent
to an optic fiber cable system. NIGCOMSAT Ltd, as the first satellite operator to provide Ka-band
resources over African soil, will continue to drive the national ICT revolution by the provision of cost
effective and affordable solutions involving: broadcasting, seamless integration of telecommunication
connectivity and backbone and IP trunking, inter alia,by exploiting its Ka-band resource,
complemented by the other bands onboard NIGCOMSAT-1R and the future fleet of HTS satellites
over the African continent and the globe at large. Well implemented Ka-band multimedia services and
applications with international distribution networks and local service providers remains a key success
factor in driving the new and enhanced satellite service business including new market opportunities
such as Internet-in-the-sky, 3D Digital TV, HDTV,Videos-on-Demand , Interactive multimedia etc.
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