VSAT satellite (Very Small Aperture Terminal) technologies is now a mature satellite communications ground method technologies with key players within the international industry offering Web connectivity for compact and substantial corporate networks & ISP operators and backbones and cellular backhaul for telecom operators inside the terrestrial segment offering services for consumers. In Maritime and Aeronautical segment VSAT technologies penetration is growing in a significant scale for both the consumer marketplace (Cruise Ships) and Commercial Airlines and business operation. This article will cover the following key points of VSAT technologies: historic and current trends, the key players inside the international industry, How the industry is evolving and segmentation now and beyond 2017.
The first commercial VSAT satellite is a C-band receive-only system using spread spectrum technologies. More than 30,000 units of 60 cm antenna systems were sold within the early 1980s. C -and two-way technique was developed during 1984-1985 and sold about 10,000 units using Star Topology.
Inside the early 80s the worlds’ first Ku-band VSAT for oil field drilling and exploration units was developed. Following development of Ku-band VSATs for enterprise customers were implemented. These enterprise terminals made up the vast majority of sites for the next 20 years for two- way data or telephony applications reaching network with 100,000 terminals using Start topology and other using mesh topology.
In 2005 VSAT networks deploying Ka-band was implemented for consumers. Since 2005 millions of consumers within the USA and Europe are using Ka-Band VSAT technologies for World-wide-web connectivity using IP protocol. Today we have VSAT platforms with C-Band, Ku-Band and Ka-Band inside the commercial sector with X Band for Defense. C-Band VSAT are being used inside the majority of segments where the availability of the link is critical for the applications because not impact with rain fade but required huge antennas (1.8 meter or more). Ku-Band is being used for the majority of enterprises worldwide and ISP and Telco Backhaul (requiring 1.2 meter antennas or more). Ka-Band is being used for Consumer terminal inside the majority of application but now is being implemented in some special project for enterprises too. (requiring 60 cm antennas or more).
During the last 20 years the price of the IDU (VSAT modem) went from a few thousand dollars to US$ 300.00 or less but the marketplace is targeting lower price for mass industry.
The VSAT satellite terminal today is composed of Antenna, BUC and LNB (Usually Integrated for consumer marketplace) and Modem (IDU – Indoor Unit). The technologies currently for all VSAT network is IP (Web Protocol) but still have proprietary modem being used from each key VSAT vendor within the industry. This means that a modem from vendor A will not talk with modem of vendor B, C or D. This issue never been resolved by the VSAT industry until now beside some efforts, like DVB- RCS was done inside the past but only in regards of TX/RX.