In the quest of user-centric GOVSATCOM

Date: May 20, 2021
Category: News
Autor: Ewelina Kaatz-Drzeżdżon

Governmental Satellite Communication (GOVSATCOM), a new component of the European Space Programme, will provide authorised governmental and institutional users with reliable, secure and cost-effective satellite communications. GOVSATCOM is defined as a user-centric programme with a strong emphasis placed on security aspects. Yet, what does the user-orientation stand for in case of GOVSATCOM?

User-orientation implies that each phase of the GOVSATCOM system design process, together with the development of a service portfolio, will be driven by users and their needs. To derive operational requirements for services, technical specifications for GOVSATCOM use-cases will be collected directly from users. Such use-cases represent operational scenarios, in particular environments, in which GOVSATCOM services are required. For instance, they may be related to crisis management, surveillance and key infrastructure management, including diplomatic communication networks. Once the GOVSATCOM system becomes operational, its conformity with established and evolving operational and security requirements will be monitored on a continuous basis. Feedback from users will inform the regular updates of the GOVSATCOM service portfolio.

The coordination of user-related aspects of GOVSATCOM, in close collaboration with Member States and relevant Union agencies, has been assigned to the recently established European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA). EUSPA coordinates the ENTRUSTED project which represents one of the preparatory activities for GOVSATCOM. The ENTRUSTED Consortium with external collaborators are currently conducting a survey study addressed to GOVSATCOM users. The survey will provides a means for a detailed analysis of user requirements, taking into account such aspects as existing user equipment and networks.

Separate questionnaires have been developed for the following types of respondents:

  • users with little or no experience in the use of secure SatCom services who would be interested in accessing such services, and
  • users with previous experience in the use of secure SatCom services who are interested in having guaranteed and more affordable access.

The survey collects information on existing user capabilities and currently applied communication technologies. Questions also refer to user needs regarding secure SatCom services and use-cases. Respondents can indicate specific requirements for a particular use-case. In addition, several questions pertain to the potential business impact of SatCom service disruption or performance degradation, and to critical service elements in a given use-case.

More specifically, inexperienced users are asked about the type of telecommunication services of interest, as well as the most important aspects of security and information protection (e.g., confidentiality, integrity, availability, authenticity or non-reputation). They can also indicate their expectations regarding user terminals or customer services. As GOVSATCOM should allow users to rely on existing user equipment, advanced users are inquired about potential needs for interoperability and standardisation in terms of user terminals and secure SatCom services.

Further details analysed in the survey refer to the type of telecommunication services and applications required in specific use-cases, as well as the type of data that would be transmitted using secure SatCom services. Respondents are requested to indicate key parameters, such as geographical coverage, capacity, frequency band, service duration, deployment time, etc. Distinct security requirements can be selected with regard to a particular use-case, in addition to the minimum acceptable levels of security of anticipated secure SatCom services. The following security levels are proposed: authorisation & access control, authentication, communications (physical) layer security, and cryptography.

The questionnaire addressed to experienced users of SatCom services is more extensive. Apart from assessing currently used SatCom services, it includes, for instance, additional questions related to functional and quality criteria, and the configuration of secure SatCom services. The latter embrace such aspects as coverage, flexibility, interoperability, latency, network management capacity, ease of deployment, availability, scalability, resilience, or responsiveness. Whereas, desired configuration of SatCom services can be depicted by selecting from bandwidth, anchoring services, end-to-end services, and backhauling services. Both questionnaires are published here.  

The ongoing survey study among governmental and institutional users will provide important information on the anticipated GOVSATCOM capacities, services and their attributes. These key insights will contribute to the development of a user-oriented service portfolio, which will be defined by the European Commission in the GOVSATCOM implementing acts. This approach aims to ensure the optimal demand for secure SatCom services and user satisfaction – the ultimate measures of success for GOVSATCOM.


Regulation (EU) 2021/696 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 April 2021 establishing the Union Space Programme and the European Union Agency for the Space Programme