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Satellite Technology Basics
Satellites are highly specialized wireless receiver/transmitters that are launched by a rocket and placed in orbit around the Earth. There are hundreds of satellites in use today, most being geostationary (GEO). GEO satellites have an orbital altitude of about 22,000 miles above the earth’s surface. A satellite which is in a GEO position above the earth’s equator will appear from the earth to be occupying a stationary position. One GEO satellite can see about 40 percent of the earth’s surface.
Satellite communication is one particular example of wireless communication systems. Similar examples of wireless systems are radio and television broadcasting and mobile and cordless telephones. Systems of this type rely on a network of ground-based transmitters and receivers. They are commonly referred to as 'terrestrial' systems as opposed to satellite systems.
Satellite communication systems are different from terrestrial systems in that the transmitter is not based on the ground but in the sky: the transmitter here consists of a ground-based part called the uplink, and the satellite-based part that 'reflects' the signals towards the receivers. This part is called the transponder.
More specifically, a transponder is the electronic equipment on a satellite that receives signals from an uplink, converts the signals to a new frequency, amplifies the signal, and sends it back to earth. Satellites are usually equipped with multiple transponders. These transponders are capable of handling approximately 100 bits of information per second, making satellite an ideal medium for the transfer and reception of all kinds of data.
VSAT stands for “very small aperture terminal”. It is often referred to as an “earth station”, and its purpose is to receive satellite transmissions. A VSAT earth station comprises two units: an outdoor unit (ODU), which consists of a small dish antenna (usually 2 to 4 feet in diameter), LNB (which receives the satellite signal) and the transmitter (which sends the signal); and an indoor unit (IDU) which contains a receiver and components to communicate with the end-user’s network hardware, such as a server, PC, kiosk, etc..
VSAT networks have gained in popularity due to their unlimited geographic reach and efficient transfer and reception of data. VSAT networks are not constrained by cable or terrestrial limitations, and offer corporations, schools, government agencies and other users numerous advantages over land-based technologies.
The following are several benefits to satellite technology implementation:
- Available Nearly Anywhere: Satellite communications are available virtually everywhere. All you really need is a clear view to the southern sky. Land-based technologies are limited geographically and often times financially. Satellite is an equal opportunity technology.
- Versatile Applications: Satellites can support all of today's communications needs — internet access, transactions, data monitoring, multimedia.
- Proven Reliability: Satellite is a proven technology that has been used for corporate communications for years. The consistent and uniform quality of service to hundreds of locations, regardless of geography, has made satellite technology an efficient and economical solution for many applications, especially when contrasted with terrestrial solutions which typically have a mix of different technologies and topologies and different levels of congestion and latency.
- Business-grade service with SLAs -Optistreams Aetheron services can deliver uptime (guaranteed with SLAs) and throughput similar to SDSL or Frame Relay circuits, for prices competitive with SDSL and much less than Frame Relay.
- Out-of-the-box secure networks - Optistreams VSAT networks use encrypted over-the-air data transfer and frequency and time division multiplexing to create out-of-the-box secure networks, with no additional VPN or other overhead required.
- Unbeatable multicast support - Need to get the same data to tens, hundreds or thousands of locations simultaneously without straining your network? The DVB outbound of select Optistreams satellite services is native-multicast medium, making it the perfect solution for distributing data, files, video and more with electronic delivery receipts and immediate distribution.
- Service on the go - Optistreams offers portable VSAT solutions that can be mounted on vehicles or deployed rapidly in fixed locations, then packed up when you move on.Emergency operations, Disater Recovery Teams , Military Units and the like can take their VSAT service from one location and have it installed at another when needed.
- Uniform service levels - Unlike conventional DSL (where the speeds/services available are based on infrastructure and distance from your telco Central Office), satellite VSAT technology offers the ability to deliver the exact same speed/service level to every single one of your locations - even internationally!
- Full-time or part-time services - Optistreams Aetheron offerings include standard full-time services as well as usage-based services that allow you to pay only for what you need. This makes Aetheron the most cost-effective choice for backup networks.
- Centralized network management - Because of the hub-and-spoke architecture of VSAT networks, Optistreams can control the network from one of its redundant earth station locations.
- Physically Diverse Backup Path: Optistreams VSAT services are perfect for backup/failover connectivity. Optistreams Aetheron /iDirect Hub equipment is housed in the Western Hemisphere's largest and most secure facilities of any teleport in the United States.
- Total Scalability - Optistreams satellite networks are easily scalable, allowing users to expand their communications networks from a few to several thousands of sites easily and cost-effectively, as well as their bandwidth.
- Quick Deployment: Satellite networks can be rolled out quickly and inexpensively to multiple locations.