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Internet via satellite is an internet access provided by communication satellites. A modern consumer service is typically provided by geostationary satellites, which can provide relatively high data rates. Newer Ka-band satellites can reach data speeds of up to 50 Mbps.
After the introduction of the first satellite Sputnik 1 in October 1957 by the Soviet Union, the US successfully launched the Satellite Explorer 1 in 1958. The first commercial communications satellite was Telstar 1, built by Bell Labs and launched in July 1962.
A significant advance was the opening of Ka-band for satellites. In December 1993, Hughes Aircraft Co. filed a license with the Federal Communications Commission for the launch of the first Ka-band spaceway satellite. In 1995, the FCC issued a call for more Ka-band satellite applications.
That came to resonance with applications from 15 suppliers.
Satellite broadband generally relies on three main components:
- a satellite in geostationary orbit (sometimes called geosynchronous orbit or GEO).
- a number of ground stations used as gateways that relay Internet data via radio waves (microwaves) of a satellite.
- a VSAT (Narrow Antenna with Very Small Aperture) with a transceiver located at the subscriber’s location.
Other components include a modem at the user end connecting the user’s network to the transceiver and a central network operations center (NOC) for monitoring the entire system. In conjunction with a broadband gateway, the satellite operates on a star network topology, where all network communication is through the hub processor of the network, which is at the center of the system. With this configuration, the number of remote VSATs that can be attached to the hub is nearly limitless.
At the heart of the new broadband satellite networks will be a new generation of high-performance GEO satellites positioned in Ka-band mode (18.3-30 GHz) 35.786 kilometers above the equator. These new, purpose-built satellites are designed and optimized for broadband applications.
Here, many narrow spot beams are used, which are aligned on a much smaller area than the wide beams of previous communication satellites. This spot beam technology allows satellites to reuse the allocated bandwidth several times, allowing them to achieve much higher total capacity than conventional wide beam satellites.