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A very small aperture terminal (VSAT) is a two-way satellite ground station with a dish antenna that is normally smaller than a foot in diameter.

VSATs are used to transmit narrowband data such as point-of-sale (POS) transactions using credit cards, or to transmit broadband data for VoIP, video or to provide satellite internet to remote locations.

In other words, VSAT is a satellite communications system that serves home and business users. A VSAT end-user needs a box that interfaces between the user’s computer and an outside antenna with a transceiver. The transceiver receives or sends a signal to a satellite transponder in the sky.

The satellite sends and receives signals from an earth station computer that acts as a hub for the system. Each end user is interconnected with the hub station via the satellite in a star topology. For one end user to communicate with another, each transmission has to first go to the hub station which retransmits it via the satellite to the other end user’s VSAT.

Most commercial VSAT systems provide communications between a central location with a larger antenna, typically at corporate headquarters, and many remote locations with small terminals.

The military also makes use of VSAT systems, requiring a star configuration with communications between a command facility and many remote locations, as contrasted with a mesh configuration, where any station needs to communicate with any other station.

Over 70 commercial communications satellites are now in operation worldwide, providing an ample choice for the provision of space segment for VSAT use. The use of spread spectrum techniques permits interference resistant operation, which is especially significant in a hostile environment.

Advances in technology have dramatically improved the price–performance ratio of fixed satellite service (FSS) over the past five years. New VSAT systems are coming online using Ka band technology that promise higher data rates for lower costs.

FSS systems currently in orbit have a huge capacity with a relatively low price structure. FSS systems provide various applications for subscribers, including: telephony, fax, television, high-speed data communication services, internet access, satellite news gathering (SNG), Digital  Audio Broadcasting (DAB) and others. These systems provide high-quality service because they create efficient communication systems for both residential and business users.

Want to learn more about VSAT? Tonex offers VSAT Training, a 3-day bootcamp course that provides attendees with an in-depth background of VSAT techniques as well as a state of the art update on key emerging technologies and future systems.

Overall, Tonex offers nearly a dozen courses in Satellite Communications Training. For more information, questions, comments, contact us. 

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