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Jargon Buster

Get to know your product and service by understanding the acronyms and terminologies used in the world of satellite technology.

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Ad hocIndustry term for on-demand verses full-time servicesCircumstance arises that demands an immediate action/ service so it is dealt with the best, immediate action appropriate to that situation.Whenever an unplanned job arises that’s needs an immediate address.
AmplifierA device used to increase the strength of electrical signals.An amplifier takes a weak audio signal and boosts it to generate a signal that is powerful enough to drive a speaker.Any electronic sound equipment that needs a greater sound emission
AnalogA form of transmitting information characterized by continuous and variable signal levels. Off-air broadcast TV is an example of analog signals.Taking an analog television; it encodes and transports the picture and sound information as an analogue signal by varying the amplitude and/or frequencies of the broadcast signalAny electronic device.
AntennaThe device that sends and/or receives signals from the satellite. Also referred to as a satellite dish.The satellite sends a signal to the antenna which hits the end of the antenna bouncing back and reflecting the signal with each signal wave that hits it.
Asymmetric circuitA two-way satellite link with inbound and outbound paths
set at different rates.
AzimuthThe horizontal angle between true north and an antenna pointing, with true north set to 0.0 degrees, and due south set to 180 degrees.Satellite communications.
BandwidthThe amount of spectrum a communication channel (analog or digital) uses, measured in hertz (Hz).Through a router and other equipment, equipped with counters, data is propelled and transferred from one point to another at a controlled rate and package size.Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who provide it to Internet users
BeamwidthA measure for the pointing accuracy of a satellite antenna, in degrees. Large antennas have smaller beamwidths, while smaller antennas have larger beamwidths.Any device using an antenna
BGANBroadband Global Area Network – a satellite based uplink that provides broadband speeds. BGAN provides seamless network coverage across about 85 percent of the world’s land mass, so users can get broadband wherever they roam.The Bgan Network is made up of 3 satellites, Two are already in service and the third is to be launched by early 2009. These powerful satellites cover the whole world (except the poles) and allow small satellite terminals which are the size of conventional laptops to send and receive data at very high speeds. The terminal when connected to your laptop, will exchange data with the satellite, which is connected to a ground station in the Netherlands, thus allowing you to access the internet or even the telephone networkDisaster response, telemedicine, business continuity, military use, and recreational use. Humanitarian and relief work, and for accessing the internet in remote areas or places where conventional communication means are limited or unreliable
BirdA nickname for a satellite.When someone is referring to a satelliteAnyone
BitA single unit of information in the binary system which takes on the value of 1 or 0.The bits are channeled in a continuous sequence. A bit is linked to another bit forming a sequence of information that makes up the data that is transferred from one point to another
BroadbandA term used to refer to high-speed communication networks that are designed to handle bandwidth-intensive applications.
BroadcastingTo transmit a signal to multiple locations simultaneously over satellite, radio/TV station, data communications network or e-mail system.Media channels, large co-operate organizations.
BUCBlock Up-Converter – It is attached direct to the transmit waveguide flange of the filter/feed assembly of a VSAT dish, used for satellite communications, particularly in areas of heavy rainfall such as the tropics, or where the minimum possible outage time during very heavy rain is desired.The IFL cable from the indoor equipment supplies DC power, a 10 MHz frequency reference plus the actual signals to be transmitted. The signals to be transmitted are in a 575 or 300 MHz wide band, between 0.95 – 1.525 GHz or 1.1 – 1.4 GHz in the cable, which will be up-converted in the BUC to C band (5.85 – 6.425 GHz or 6.725 – 7.025 GHz for the INSAT satellite), using a local oscillator mixer frequency of 4.9 or 5.625 GHz. So, Output frequency (GHz) = Input frequency (MHz) + 4.9 GHz or Output frequency (GHz) = Input frequency (MHz) + 5.625 GHz (INSAT). The mixer local oscillator is locked to the 10 MHz frequency reference.Mainly used in the commercial sector e.g. businesses, organizations.
BurstingThe ability of a VSAT system to utilize bandwidth above and beyond its normal allocation.When VSATs are connected in a star/mesh configuration using a hub and share a common pool of bandwidth, the VSATs in the pool are configured such that any “free” bandwidth is picked up by any of the VSATs.Users buying shared services.
C-bandRefers to the frequency in the 3.4 GHz to 7 GHz range. Portions of this band are dedicated to satellite communications. Satellite downlinks are 3.7 to 4.2 GHz.Satellite operators
CacheA place to store something off the web temporarily.Web pages you request are stored in your browser’s cache directory on your hard disk. When you return to a page you’ve recently viewed, the browser gets it from the cache rather than the original server, saving you time and the network additional traffic. You can usually vary the size of your cache, depending on your particular browser.Any web browser
Cache serverA server relatively close to Internet users and typically within a business enterprise that saves (caches) Web pages and possibly FTP and other files that all users have requested.It checks internet pages that users request and stores locally. Successive requests for these pages or files can be satisfied by the cache server rather than the Internet. A cache server not only gets information more quickly but also reduces Internet traffic.All internet users
CarrierA telephone long distance company that operates fiber/satellite/microwave networks to carry voice and data traffic.Telephone communication industry
ChannelPath for electrical communication between two facilities. Also called a circuit, link or path.Communication systems
CircuitA satellite link.
Circular polarizationA mode of transmission in which signals are down linked in a rotating corkscrew pattern.Satellite communication
Co-locationPlacement of more than one satellite at the same orbital location. From the ground, they appear as one satellite that can receive with a single antenna, provided they use the same frequency band.
CompressionReducing the amount of bandwidth needed to transmit video or audio by digitizing an analog signal, thus increasing the ability to load multiple services on a satellite transponder.Compression works by the identification of patterns in a stream of data. Data compression chooses a more efficient method to represent the same information. Essentially, an algorithm is applied to the data in order to remove as much redundancy as possible. The efficiency and effectiveness of a compression scheme is measured by its compression ratio, the ratio of the size of uncompressed data to compressed data.All users

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DAMADemand Assigned Multiple Access. A bandwidth-sharing scheme allowing multiple users to share a pool of frequencies or channels on demand. A central hub manages the usage of the bandwidth. This technology is mainly used for rural telephony.DAMA matches user demands to available satellite capacity. Satellite channels are grouped together as a bulk asset, and DAMA assigns users variable time slots matching user information transmission requirements. While user notices no change in channel quality, the result is a dramatic increase of up to x4 in communications capacity, number of supported users and networks.Military usage
DecoderA device used to unscramble encrypted or “scrambled” television signals.Communication systems
DelayThe time it takes for a signal to travel from a transmitting earth station, through space, to a satellite and back. This time calculates to be about of a second.
DigitalA quantification scheme that allows the conversion of analog information into bits of data. Digitization allows for signal compression and for maintaining signal integrity.Photography, videography, communication systems
DishSee antenna or earth stationSatellite communication
DownlinkThe transmission of radio frequency signals from a satellite to an earth station.Satellite communication
DSLDigital Subscriber Line. A technology for bringing high-bandwidth information to homes and small businesses over ordinary copper telephone lines.A home or small business, close enough to a telephone company central office that offers DSL may be able to receive data at rates up to 6.1 megabits (millions of bits) per second. This enables continuous transmission of motion video, audio, and even 3-D effects. More typically, individual connections will provide from 512 kbps to 1.544 Mbps downstream and about 128 kbps upstream. A DSL line can carry both data and voice signals, and the data part of the line is continuously connected.
DuplexMethod in which transmission is possible in both directions of a
telecommunications channel. Simultaneous two-way operation is known as “full duplex”. Operating in only one direction at a time is known as “half duplex”
or “simplex.”
Earth stationA ground-based antenna and associated equipment used to receive and/or transmit telecommunications signals via satellite.
EIRPEffective Isotropic Radiated Power. Refers to the measure of the satellite signal strength on the ground in reference to an isotropic source.It is measured in decibel-Watt (dBW) when compared to a reference one-watt theoretical radiator and published in the form or contour maps by satellite providers.Satellite operators,VSAT network designers
ElevationThe angle between an antenna beam and the horizontal plane.Installation of satellite systems
EncryptionProcess of electronically ciphering a signal so it cannot be received without a decoder.Plain text is converted to cipher text using a passphrase/password (commonly known as a key) before being transmitted/stored. The recipient of this cipher text (encrypted text)n needs the key to decode the text before reading.All users
FDMAFrequency division multiple access. Refers to the use of multiple carriers within the same transponder where each uplink has an assigned frequency slot and bandwidth.The available spectrum is divided into channels of different frequencies. Each user is assigned a different frequency to use for communication.Cellular communication
FibreFiber optic (or “optical fiber”) refers to the medium and the technology associated with the transmission of information as light impulses travel along a glass or plastic wire or fiber.Fiber optic wire carries more information than conventional copper wire and is less subject to electromagnetic interferenceMost telephone company long-distance lines are now fiber optic.
FootprintThe coverage area of the earth’s surface within which the signals of a specific satellite can be received.Satellite communication users
FrequencyThe rate at which a signal (e.g. electrical current) alternates.The standard unit of frequency is the hertz, abbreviated Hz. If a signal completes one cycle per second, then the frequency is 1 Hz; 60 cycles per second equals 60 Hz
FTPFile Transfer Protocol – a standard Internet protocol; the simplest way to exchange files between computers on the Internet, through a program that uses the protocol to transfer files.FTP works very similarly to the way web pages work. Each file on an FTP server is given an address (URL) so that other computers connected to the internet can find it. Users can then either use an FTP client or most web browsers to either download or upload files to the server.Anyone who wants to transfer files from a computer to a web server i.e. updating a web site and transferring files from a work computer to a home computer.

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Geostationary satelliteA satellite orbiting 36,000 kilometers (22,300
miles) directly over the earth’s equator.
From earth, a geostationary satellite always appears to be in the same location because it finishes one rotation around the earth in 24 hours. Fuel on board the satellite is used to perform the “station-keeping” function, which maintains the satellite within a prescribed location, or box.Satellite communications
GHzGigahertz. Refers to a frequency equal to one billion Hertz.
GmPRSGeo Mobile Packet Radio Service
GMTGreenwich Mean Time.The time zone that includes Greenwich, England is
bisected by zero degrees longitude. This is the time notation that is used
for booking international satellite time.
GPSGlobal Positioning System: Radio navigation system that allows land, sea, and airborne users to determine their exact location, velocity, and time – 24 hours a day, in all weather conditions, anywhere in the world.There are 21 active and 3 spare satellites in orbit at 10,600 miles above the earth. Every region on earth has four satellites. Each satellite contains a computer, atomic clock and radio which self-regulates and broadcasts its changing time and position. The GPS receiver reads off mainly three of the regions satellites deducing the geographic position (longitude and latitude). Some receivers have display screens that show the location on the map.Recreational boaters, commercial fisherman, professional mariners, general aviation, commercial aircraft, scientific community, surveyors, recreational sports, automobile tracking devices
GSMGlobal System for Mobile communication – is a digital mobile telephony system that is widely used in Europe and other parts of the world.GSM uses a variation of time division multiple access (TDMA) and is the most widely used of the three digital wireless telephony technologies (TDMA, GSM, and CDMA). GSM digitizes and compresses data, then sends it down a channel with two other streams of user data, each in its own time slot.Telephone communication industry mainly mobile service providers.
HeadendLocation where cable television systems collect and distribute satellite programmingIn distributing cable television services, the head-end includes a satellite dish antenna for receiving incoming programming. This programming is then passed on to the subscriber. (Cable TV companies may also play videotapes and originate live programming.) Normally, all signals are those that are sent downstream to the subscriber, but some are received upstream such as when a customer requests a pay-per-view program.

When a cable company provides Internet access to subscribers, the head-end includes the computer system and databases needed to provide Internet access. The most important component located at the head-end is the cable modem termination system (CMTS), which sends and receives digital cable modem signals on a cable network and is necessary for providing Internet services to cable subscribers.

Cable TV Operators
HubThe point on a network where circuits are connected or a network operations center for very small aperture terminal (VSAT) operations.Individual VSAT stations are connected to the hub like a wheel’s hub and spokes. The hub controls which VSAT can communicate in the network and how much bandwidth each VSAT is entitled to.Satellite operators
Hybrid SatelliteA satellite that carries two or more different communications payloads (i.e. C-band and Ku-band).
HzHertz. The name of the basic measure of frequency at which an electromagnetic wave completes a full cycle from its positive to its negative pole and back again.Each unit is equal to one cycle per second.
Internet BackboneThe network spanning the world that is provided by a
handful of national Internet Service Providers (ISPs). They use connections
running at approximately 45 megabytes per second linked up at specified
interconnection points called national access points. Local ISPs connect to this backbone through routers, so data can be carried through the backbone to its final destination.
Internet GatewaysA network point that acts as an entrance to another
On the Internet, a node or stopping point can be either a gateway node or a host (end-point) node. Both the computers of Internet users and the computers that serve pages to users are host nodes. The computers that control traffic within your company’s network or at your local ISP are gateway nodes.
IPInternet protocol (IP) is the method by which data is sent from one computer to another on the Internet.Each computer on the Internet has at least one IP address that uniquely identifies it from all other computers on the Internet. When you send or receive data (for example, an e-mail note or a Web page), the message gets divided into little chunks called packets. Each of these packets contains both the sender’s Internet address and the receiver’s address.
ISDNIntegrated services digital network.A standard for the integrated transmission of voice, video, and data developed by the Consultative Committee on International Telephony and Telegraphy (CCITT).Telephony
ISPInternet Service Provider.A vendor who provides access for customers (companies and private individuals) to the Internet and the World Wide Web. Users typically reach their ISP by modem and phone line.
ITInformation technology.All equipment, processes, procedures and systems within an organization and those reaching out to customers and suppliers.

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JammingDeliberate interference with a signal caused by another signal transmitted in the same frequency.
JPEGJoint pictures expert group. A subgroup of ISO, which has established international standards for the digital compression of still pictures.JPEG is designed for compressing full-color or gray-scale images of natural, real-world scenes. It works well on photographs, naturalistic artwork, and similar material; not so well on lettering, simple cartoons, or line drawings. JPEG handles only still images, but there is a related standard called MPEG for motion pictures.Everyone to make image files smaller, and applications which need to store 24-bit-per-pixel color data instead of 8-bit-per-pixel data.
Ka-BandPrimarily used in satellites operating at 30GHz uplink and 20 GHz downlink and is intended in support of future applications such as mobile
voice. A portion of the RF spectrum located between 18 GHz and 31 GHz.
KbpsKiloBits Per Second – One thousand bits per second. Kbps is used as a rating of relatively slow transmission speed compared to the common Mbps or Gbps ratings.Data transfer speed over the networks (including the internet) is calculated in terms of bits per second: kilobits (kb small case “k” and small case “b”). The higher the kbps i.e. more the bits transferred per second, more the speed, faster the network/connection. Here k stands for 1000

1 kbps (kilo bits per second) = 1000 bits per second
1 Mbps (mega bits per second) = 1000 kilo bits per second.
1 Gbps (giga bits per second) = 1,000 mega bits per second.

KBpsKilo Bytes Per Second
KHzKilohertz. Refers to a unit of frequency equal to 1,000 Hertz.
Ku-BandRefers to the frequency in the 12 GHz to 14 GHz range used in support of such applications as broadcast TV, DBS, and direct-to-home
Satellite communications and backhaul for GSM, Broadcasters from remote locations.
L-BandL band is a frequency range between 390MHz and 1.55GHz which is used for satellite communications and for terrestrial communications between satellite equipment.Used for communication between outdoor satellite equipment and indoor equipment.
LANLocal Area Network.A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers and associated devices that share a common communications line and typically share the resources of a single processor or server within a small geographic area (for example, within an office building). Usually, the server has applications and data storage that are shared in common by multiple computer users. A local area network may serve as few as two or three users (for example, in a home network) or as many as thousands of users (for example, in an FDDI network).Corporates and organizations which want to share ICT resources (email, printing, internet)
Leased LineA dedicated circuit typically supplied by the telephone company.A telecommunication line is used to link two premises (mostly branch offices) via the public telecom operator. At each of the two ends is a modem that enables communication between the two sites.Interconnecting branch offices; Last mile solution connecting individuals/corporate to the ISP
LEOA local exchange carrier is a local phone company and an inter-exchange carrier (IEC or IXC) carries long-distance calls.Telephone communication companies
LNBLow noise block (down converter).An electronic part of a satellite earth station that is used to amplify the signal collected by the reflector and the feed horn.Satellite Communications (broadcast) reception.

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MCPCMulti-channel per carrier.A signal comprised of multiple digital streams that are multiplexed into a single stream, which is then transmitted on a single carrier. This is typically used to combine multiple CDV signals into one.
MHzMegahertz. Refers to a frequency equal to one million Hertz.
MPEGMoving Picture Experts GroupDevelops standards for digital video and digital audio compression. It operates under the auspices of the International Organization for Standardization. The MPEG standards are evolving each designed for a different purpose.Individuals/institutions that need to send/store video files
MulticastThe broadcast of messages to a selected group of workstations on a LAN, WAN or the Internet.Multicast is communication between a single device and multiple members of a device group.Broadcasters, newsgathering groups, information syndicating
MultiplexingA technique that combines multiple signals into one signal.Multiple analog message signals or digital data streams are combined into one signal over a shared medium. The aim is to share an expensive resource. The device used to combine the signals is a multiplexer, while the device that does the reverse is a demultiplexer.ISPs, Telephone companies
NASANational Aeronautics and Space Administration
NoiseEnergy always present on any signal.Equipment vendors
Notebook computerA notebook computer is a battery- or AC-powered personal computer generally smaller than a briefcase that can easily be transported and conveniently used in temporary spaces such as on airplanes, in libraries, temporary offices, and at meetings.Works the same as an ordinary personal computer.Cross market users; it is used by anyone.
Orbital slotSpecific location of a satellite in the geostationary arc, specified in degrees, east or west.Satellite operators
PayloadSupports the primary mission of the satellite, the receipt and transmission of signals, and comprises systems that include receivers, multiplexers, high-powered amplifiers and signal processing.Satellite operators
PCOPublic Calling OfficeA public telephone service station where people can walk in to make local, domestic and international long distance telephone calls and pay according to the local PCO tariff.Cross market users
PDAPersonal Digital Assistant – a term for any small mobile hand-held device that provides computing and information storage and retrieval capabilities for personal or business use, often for keeping schedule calendars and address book information handy.PDAs are powered by microprocessors. The microprocessor is the brain of the PDA, and it coordinates all of the functions according to programmed instructions. It stores basic programs e.g. address book in a read-only memory (ROM) chip, which remains intact even when the machine shuts down. Any information added later is stored in the device’s random-access memory (RAM) which is only available when the device is on.Cross market users; it is used by anyone.
PlatformA structure in space containing multiple missions. A software operating system and/or open hardware, which an outsider could write software for.Satellite operators
PolarizationThe orientation of a transmitted/received signal. Signals can have circular or linear polarization.Satellite operators

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RFA continuous radio frequency signal used to carry another information signal
RouterAn intelligent device that supports connectivity by “routing” packets of information to their destination. Routers ensure that packets always arrive at their proper destination.Individuals/organizations establishing a Local Area Network/ establishing a Wide Area Network
SCPCSingle Channel Per Carrier.A scheme in which only one signal is loaded on a carrier.Corporates/organization
Shared HubA satellite communications operations center that is shared among a number of separate network users, often used for VSAT operations.
SkypeSkype is an Internet Protocol telephony service provider that offers free calls between computers and low-cost calling to regular telephones that aren’t connected to the Internet.Download and register the software. Plug in a headset, a specialized VoIP phone, or a regular phone (via an analog telephone adapter). Add contacts similarly to the way you would for instant messaging and then, to make a call, just click the icon next to the contact. File transfers (typically up to four gigabytes); videoconferencing and chat options are also available.Cross market users; it is used by anyone.
Solar PanelA device on satellites that converts solar energy into electrical energy using solar cells.Satellite manufacturers
Space segmentA term that describes the portion of the total communications satellite system that is physically located in orbit around the earth.ISPs, Satellite Operators
SpectrumThe range of electromagnetic radio frequencies used in transmission of voice, data and television.
Spot BeamA satellite antenna designed to direct all of the satellite’s power to a relatively compact area on earth.Communication regulators
SPOT Bytes Internet connectionA bundled package, offering backbone network operators, international ISPs and corporate customers a one-stop shopping resource for satellite space segment, gateway transmission services and a dedicated Internet backbone connection.
Station keepingThe process of making in-orbit adjustments with small rocket thrusters attached to the satellite, keeping the satellite in its correct geosynchronous position.Through orbital maneuvers used to keep a spacecraft in assigned orbit, either low earth orbit (LEO), or geostationary orbit (GEO).Satellite operators
StreamingStreaming video is a sequence of “moving images” that are sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer as they arrive. Streaming media is streaming video with sound. With streaming video or streaming media, a Web user does not have to wait to download a large file before seeing the video or hearing the sound.The media is sent in a continuous stream and is played as it arrives. The user needs a player, a special program that uncompresses and sends video data to the display and audio data to speakers. A player can be either an integral part of a browser or downloaded from the software maker’s Web site.Media companies; Broadcasters
Sun outageInterruption in or distortion of geostationary satellite signals caused by interference from solar radiation. The effect is due to the sun’s radiation overwhelming the satellite signal.When the sun passes behind a satellite in relation to the earth, and the sun’s energy momentarily interferes with the satellite signals.

Occurs two times each year during the spring and fall equinox.

Satellite Operators
Symmetric circuitA two-way satellite link with inbound and outbound paths set at the same rates.ISPs
T-1Transmission Control Protocol. TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) Refers to bit rate of 1.544 million b/s for the United States. The European E-1 transmission bit rate is 2.048 Mb/s.ISPs
TCPTransmission Control Protocol. TCP (Transmission Control Protocol)A method used along with the Internet protocol to send data in the form of message units between computers over the Internet. While IP takes care of handling the actual delivery of the data, TCP takes care of keeping track of the individual units of data (called packets) that a message is divided into for efficient routing through the Internet.Internet users
TDMATime Division Multiple Access.A form of multiple access where a single carrier is time-shared by many users. Signals from earth stations reaching the satellite consecutively are processed in time segments without overlapping.
TelephonyThe transmission of speech to distant places.
TeleportTechnical ground facility used for satellite communications.Satellite operators
TrackingAn earth station feature that allows for tracking inclined satellites.Satellite operators
TransponderA radio frequency path through a satellite with a specific bandwidth, uplink/downlink frequency and beam. Transponders can be sold in whole or can be segmented into smaller pieces of bandwidth.This device receives signals transmitted from earth, change (shift or translate) the frequency and transmit the amplified signal with the new frequency back to earthSatellite operators
TurnkeyRefers to a system that is supplied, installed and sometimes managed by one vendor or manufacturer.Project managers, System integrators
TV Whitespaces Frequencies that have been allocated to broadcasting services but are not being utilized locally.

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UHFUltra high frequency. The band in the 500 to 900 MHz range, including television channels 14 through 83.Broadcasters
UplinkThe transmission of radio frequency signals to a satellite from an earth station VHF: Very high frequency. The band in the 30 to 300 MHz range, including television channels 2 through 13.Satellite operators; GSM/Cellular operators
VoIPVoice over Internet Protocol – a technology that allows telephone calls to be made over computer networks like the Internet.Converts analog voice signals into digital data packets and supports real-time, two-way transmission of conversations using Internet Protocol (IP). It routes voice data over the internet.Cross market users; Used in households, businesses, industries e.t.c.
VPNVirtual Private Network – a network that uses a public telecommunication infrastructure, such as the Internet, to provide remote offices or individual users with secure access to their organization’s network.A VPN works by using the shared public infrastructure while maintaining privacy through security procedures and transferring data in an encrypted form, decrypting it at the receiving end.Mainly used in the commercial sector e.g. businesses, organizations.
VSATVery Small Aperture Terminal – an earthbound station used in satellite communications of data, voice and video signals, excluding broadcast television.The transceiver placed outdoors, receives or sends a signal to a satellite transponder in the sky. The satellite sends and receives a signal from a ground station computer that acts like a hub for the system. The end-user’s communication device (e.g. PC) is interconnected to this hub thus receiving and sending messages through it.Any business requiring sale systems e.g. credit card readers in supermarkets, any household or business requiring internet access, teleconferencing, broadcasting stations.

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X-BandA portion of the RF spectrum located between 7 GHz and 8 GHz, which is dedicated to the U.S. military for satellite communications.Military