Advantages of VSAT

What is VSAT?

VSAT means Very Small Aperture Terminal, and it has three main
components– the satellite, a central hub with a big antenna dish, and a
number of nodes made up of smaller dish antenna at various geographical
locations that form a network through the satellite. All the nodes
communicate with the central hub by using the satellite as the medium
for communications. If an additional network such as internet
connectivity needs to be integrated with the VSAT network, it can be
done at a Network Operations Center located at the central hub, so the
multiple nodes in different locations can also have access to the
internet connection.

Advantages of VSAT Networks:

  1. Access in remote locations – this is the traditional strength of
    VSAT. A geosynchronous satellite which floats on a fixed spot relative
    to the ground can cover a third of the earth’s surface with its beam and
    can provide connectivity to any area covered by the satellite beam. A
    satellite can also focus on a particular high density region, and
    multiple satellites can work together to provide global coverage. This
    is very useful for remote locations such as rural areas, ships, deserts,
    coastal regions, hills, and mountains where there is limited or no
    terrestrial connectivity.
  2. Internet Access – A VSAT network can carry data as well as voice and
    video. VSAT can provide internet access in addition to point to point
    WAN links. Broadband internet services are possible with VSAT networks.
  3. Rapid deployment – once the satellite is in orbit, the deployment at
    the nodes or customer premises can be done in a few hours, or even
    minutes if the equipment is available, with little training. The
    deployment can be done in any region, as long as it is covered by the
    satellite beam.
  4. VPN – VSAT supports encryption of all data transmitted between two
    sites or multiple sites, which make Virtual Private Networks utilization
    possible. VPN on VSAT networks are commonly used for Corporate and
    Government or Defense connectivity requirements.
  5. QoS – VSAT supports Quality of Service and Layer 2 prioritization
    policies to be applied across the WAN link, enabling real time
    applications to be deployed across the network.
  6. Mobile Access – This is another traditional strength of VSAT. For
    example, TV broadcasters can broadcast from anywhere, even on the move.
    Another application for Mobile Access is having internet access while on
    the move.
  7. Bandwidth Allocation – With VSAT, it is possible to allocate or
    restrict bandwidth based on individual applications. – This is very
    useful for business communications, ensuring that critical business
    applications always have a certain dedicated bandwidth across the VSAT
  8. Scalability – VSAT networks can be easily and cost effectively
    scaled to accommodate multiple locations across the globe. VSAT can
    accommodate as many as hundreds or thousands of remote sites on a single
  9. Standards based – VSAT networks are standards based and support
    Internet Protocol and its variants through a protocol called Internet
    Protocol over Satellite (IPoS). The developments are standards based,
    and it enables the creation of a healthy ecosystem of terminal, hub, and
    supplementary equipment, resulting in new innovations where
    improvements come faster.
  10. Reliability – VSAT is very reliable with up-times of 99.95% and
    above, and have been field tested for many years now. Mission critical
    applications usually use VSAT due to its unmatched reliability.
  11. Back-up to Terrestrial Networks – VSAT networks act very well as
    back-ups to terrestrial networks such as Leased Lines, MPLS Circuits,
    Broadband DSL, and Internet over Fiber due to its very high reliability.
    VSAT networks are not as affected by natural calamities like
    earthquakes and storms as much as terrestrial networks. VSAT is the
    first choice for backup by providing auto fail-over during failure of
    terrestrial network links.
  12. Inter-operation with Terrestrial Networks – VSAT can seamlessly mesh
    with terrestrial networks. For example, Internet over Fiber can be
    provided in the metro areas while VSAT can be provided in the rural
    areas for the same company. Both VSAT and Fiber can inter-operate with
    each other and act as a single network.
  13. Single Hop – VSAT only has a single hop while communications based
    on terrestrial networks need multiple hops to reach the destination.
    With terrestrial networks, some factors like router performance depends
    on multiple service providers and may not have end to end QoS. VSAT with
    only a single hop can have end to end QoS.
  14. Bandwidth on Demand – VSAT supports and is better suited for Bandwidth on Demand services than terrestrial networks.
  15. Cost per connection is independent of the location or distance –
    With VSAT, the cost per node is independent on the number of nodes and
    also independent of the distance between the various nodes. The costs
    for terrestrial networks such as Leased Lines increase with more nodes,
    and also increase with longer distance between two locations.

Limitations of VSAT Technology

Like any other technology, VSAT has its limitations as well. Rain
attenuation might affect the performance of VSAT under rainy conditions,
and VSAT latencies are still higher than their terrestrial
counterparts. Another limitation is the high initial cost needed for
building and launching satellites, higher initial cost for terminal
equipment compared to terrestrial networks, and higher recurring monthly
costs – though through the years the costs for VSAT are getting lower
and lower.

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