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Maximum transmission rates for VSAT systems

What is the maximum transmission rate (up-link and down-link) for VSAT systems?

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For those of you not up to speed on satellite communications technology, VSAT is an abbreviation for "very small aperture terminal", which essentially means that you are using earthbound stations and satellites zipping through space to get data, voice and video signals from one point on this earth to another. VSATs commonly consist of a transceiver, which is positioned line-of-site with a satellite, and an interface device that allows users to connect their PC and communicate with that transceiver bounce signals off the satellite. A little more complicated than your coffee shop 802.11, and obviously more expensive. But it may be the most viable solution if you are stuck in a remote part of the planet, or setting up a wireless network far from your local Radio Shack.

While the upload and download speeds of most VSATs are technically limited to about 56 Kbps (making these a poor conduit for television and broadcast transmissions), you can pump up the volume by compressing the data and plugging in accelerators that increase the signal rate. The result is faster transmissions, in some cases resulting in an effective throughput of 1 Mbps. But again, with speed comes exorbitant costs, so just like a Bentley and Rolls Royce, these system are definitely not for everyone.

This was first published in March 2004

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