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SATCOM technology touches our lives in ways most people don’t fully appreciate.

From GPS to satellite TV to the communication networks that make modern economic, military and political affairs possible, there are few areas of life that the rise of SATCOM technology has not shaped in some way, directly or indirectly. 

At the heart of modern SATCOM technology is the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT).

VSAT and SATCOM Technology

VSAT networks have gained in popularity due to their unlimited geographic reach, efficient transmission and reception of data. A satellite network consists of two or more earth stations (VSAT) and satellite re-transmitter (Transponder). A VSAT comprises a dish antenna, a transceiver (or a combination of BUS and LNB) and a satellite router (modem). Receive-only VSAT terminal may not include a transmitter (BUC).

Sometimes referred to as “private earth stations,” VSAT terminals are used primarily for business, but also are also used for military and government applications. The size of the VSAT antenna reflector is typically less than 3.8 meters in diameter. A VSAT terminal is relatively simple, consisting of two primary components: the Outdoor and Indoor units.

The Outdoor Unit (ODU) encompasses everything you see outside the building where the terminal is located and includes elements such as the reflector, the feed, the Block Upconverter (BUC) and the Low Noise Block Downcoverter (LNB).

The Outdoor Unit is connected to the indoor VSAT component with an Intra-Facility Link (IFL) cable. A coax cable is often used for this purpose.

The Indoor Unit (IDU) consists of the satellite modem and an IP router which connects to an Ethernet interface, and it is here that the data being received by end users, and data and commands, are entered in to be transmitted back to the satellite.

VSAT networks typically follow a network architecture form called a VSAT Star Network, which is made up of multiple VSAT terminals spread throughout a designated service area and controlled by a central hub computer.

VSAT networks can also make use of a mesh topology, a method where one terminal will transmit information to other terminals via the satellite, minimizing the need for an uplink site.

Want to learn more about SATCOM technology? Tonex offers Military and Commercial Satellite Communications Training, a 5-day course that provides a full range of training options that include classroom training as well as optional hands-on operation of equipment and systems.

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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