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Not All Ka-Band Satellites AreThe Same
As spectrum at Ka-band is readily available, all can expect to see quite a few upcoming Ka-band satellites.

The congestion at C-band and the high levels of utilization of existing Ku-band capacity has resulted in the satellite industry expanding into the next frequency band available for satellite services, Ka-band.

As more and more satellite operators adopt Ka-band as the next frequency to satisfy the consumer market, Ka-band is often equated to consumer broadband, High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and spot beams. However, contrary to popular misconceptions, spot beam systems were in fact pioneered at C-band. Thaicom’s HTS satellite, IPSTAR, also features spot beam technology that uses Ku-band.

Ka-band should be regarded as what it really is, a frequency band with new spectrum which can be used for a wide variety of applications, just like C- and Ku-band. Satellites using Ka-band frequencies are able to deliver the same services that are delivered at C- and Ku-band, for consumer broadband as well as to government and enterprise-grade customers.

NewSatFig1 SPOT Beams + Ka-Band
Spot beams are often the main type (and, at times, the only type) of beams used by consumer broadband Ka-band satellites, as exemplified by ViaSat’s Viasat-1 and Eutelsat’s KA-SAT, for instance. As a result, the presence of spot beams on a satellite is commonly associated with consumer broadband, Ka-band and HTS.

However, there are exceptions. Some Ka-band satellites that are HTS and feature spot beam technology are not aimed at servicing the consumer broadband market. For example, NewSat’s Ka-band satellite, Jabiru-1, is a satellite similar to those using C- and Ku-bands to serve customers today. Jabiru-1 will provide “raw” capacity to government and enterprise markets through a range of regional, steerable and multi-spot beams.

The difference between providing capacity for the consumer broadband market as opposed to the enterprise-grade market can be best illustrated by examining the mode of delivery of the service to the customer: Megabit versus megahertz, or, in other words, managed services vs “raw” capacity respectively.

“Raw” capacity enables enterprise-grade users to have complete control over their own network implementation, rather than having to constrain their communications requirement to fit within the limits of a pre-defined managed service solution.

Regional Beams + Ka-Band
Some Ka-band satellites feature regional beams. As opposed to narrowly-focused spot beams, regional beams can cover large surface areas at any given time. They deliver “raw” capacity, in megahertz, in any of the main bands typically reserved for commercial satellite communications, C-, Ku- or Ka-bands, with the technology first being pioneered at C-band.

With the erosion of spectrum at C-band due to terrestrial encroachment and the near-saturation of Ku-band capacity, service growth is now highly dependent on the availability of spectrum. As spectrum at Ka-band is readily available, all can expect to see quite a few upcoming Ka-band satellites. These satellites will feature regional beams and will sustain and expand services that have been traditionally provided by C- and Ku-band satellites.

Ka-Band Satellites Equal “New” Capacity
New Ka-band satellites use regional beams, which, essentially, act like traditional C- and Ku-band capacity, therefore providing much needed “new” and “raw” capacity to meet the expanding demand for connectivity. Some Ka-band satellites also incorporate steerable beam technology, such as NewSat’s Ka-band Jabiru-1, which is similar to regional beam technology with the added advantage of flexibility. Steerable beams can be positioned to focus on a particular region or moved to support evolving customer requirements, providing fresh capacity into high demand regions.

In addition to the “new” capacity to compliment C- and Ku-band, Ka-band enables smaller end-user antennas, increased mobility, cost-effective network deployments and higher bandwidths and speeds. Ka-band is an attractive satellite communications offering, providing customers with many types of services to choose from.

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