Satellite communications is an extension of LOS microwave technology covered in Section 9.2. The satellite must be within line-of-sight of each participating earth terminal. We are more concerned about noise in satellite communication links than we were with LOS microwave. In most cases, received signals will be of a much lower level. On satellite systems operating below 10 GHz, very little link margin is required; there is essentially no fading, as experienced with LOS microwave. The discussion here only deals with geostationary orbit (GEO) communication satellites.

Satellite communications presents another method of extending the digital network (Chapter 6). These digital trunks may be used as any other digital trunks for telephony, data, the Internet, facsimile, and video. However, fiber optics has become a strong competitor of satellite communications. Only very small aperture terminal (VSAT) systems are showing any real growth in the GEO arena. A new type of communication satellite is being fielded. This is the LEO class of satellites, which we discuss in Chapter 15.

Three-fourths of the satellite transponders over North America are used to provide entertainment services such as direct broadcast television and cable system head-end feeds, as well as for private broadcaster connectivity.

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