Data networking is one of the hottest applications for today's advanced satellite services. There are two main markets:
- Commercial - mostly consisting of Corporate & Government users
- Consumer - mostly consisting of services to homes and small businesses
Both markets are growing rapidly and both rely on the use of small satellite dishes at the receive site, often less than one meter in diameter, called "very small aperture terminals" or VSAT's.
Satellites have served the commercial data market since the 1980s when large numbers of VSATs were deployed for "point of sale" transactions at retail business locations. Satellites have more recently begun to serve the consumer market. Analysts estimate that today there are about two million commercial VSATs and another one million for consumer services deployed around the world. Most of these are used for Internet Protocol (IP) broadband services.
The rapid growth of satellite broadband is primarily due to the improved price and performance of today's satellite-based solutions. Experienced operators like Telesat can now seamlessly integrate any number of satellite VSAT sites into a commercial customer's existing network with high quality standards backed by strong service level agreements. This enables remote users to have a high quality experience for a host of IP applications.
Other key reasons for the rapid growth of VSAT networking:
- Satellites offer global, regional and/or local reach
- Satellites offer an increasing range of solutions, from traditional SCPC (single channel per carrier) services to IP-based VoIP and data networking
- Satellites offer direct, last mile connectivity to regions with little existing infrastructure, at a fraction of the cost of installing and maintaining terrestrial solutions
- Satellite networks can be implemented quickly, sometimes within hours, when a disaster strikes, providing "instant infrastructure"
- Satellite solutions offer end-to-end control, ubiquity and uniformity. This results in superior reliability for IP-based services, including VoIP; internet access; WiFi/WiMax backhaul; GSM backhaul; and business continuity
- WAN extension for corporations can be implemented faster and more cost effectively via satellite
- The US DoD, Canada's DND and military organizations around the world are increasingly using satellite VSAT networks for activities ranging from promoting troop morale and supporting field operations to improving intelligence and reconnaissance through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)