VSAT : Let there be Satellite

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

The Indian VSAT market has an installed base of approximately 1 lakh

terminals which is poised to grow at the rate of 20% making it approximately 1.2

lakh terminals by the next year end. The primary drivers for this growth in

India have been the Common Service Center program (CSC) in rural areas, and the

banking and SMB segments.


Use of technology to stay abreast of increasing competition by enterprises in

the BFSI segment has also led to more VSAT business. For eg, though the cost of

debit card swipe at an ATM is around Rs 6-7 per swipe, banks are still providing

ATM services connected through VSAT.

Another example is of oil companies that have to collect data from petrol

pumps for quality monitoring purpose. Petrol pumps in remote areas need

connectivity which is done through VSAT. Telecom networks in Jammu & Kashmir,

most of the northeast, island territories like Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshwadeep,

and Daman & Diu do not have fiber connectivity, so communication in these parts

of the country is done through VSAT.

VSAT proves to be cost effective where population density is low. Instead of

setting up base stations, telecom service providers use VSAT to support networks

in that area. The VSAT technology is extensively being used in the government's

CSC scheme of 100,000 CSCs in 600,000 villages of India, under which people in

rural areas will have access to various government services like land records

and bill payments at kiosks connected via VSAT. RBI has asked banks to increase

banking across the country, and is encouraging banks to use VSAT to connect

their branches.


Vendor Selection

There are bandwidth providers, system integrators, customer premise

equipment like routers, and companies that manage the network of telecom

companies. These vendors are layers between service providers and enterprise

customers. (There is a list of VSAT service providers on the DoT website.) The

Indian market has service providers; players in end equipment, network

insulation, maintenance, bandwidth management, and link provisioning. It is

important for large enterprises to select a vendor that provides all these


Customers should look for VSAT platform/product that is at least a mid-life

product, which will help the organization to not only protect investments but

also address new age business application needs. This coupled with the right

service provider will help the enterprise to concentrate on their core areas.


Mesh networks use identical size VSATs for communication directly through the

satellite. This network is widely opted for voice and videoconferencing

applications and can be configured on bandwidth on demand (BoD) basis. One opts

for a star network for one-to-many and many-to-one communications services,

mostly used for data applications.

Other critical business parameters would be response time and technical

support provided by the service provider. The buyer also needs to ensure that

they have a proper QoS enabling smooth running of his applications. The SLA

based service for network would include voice quality, mean opinion score (MOS)

level, blocking rate and bit error rate (BER). Interactive data services require

tolerable response time. Network availability and uptime is one of the major QoS

needs of the user.

Cost Dynamics

There are a lot of changes taking place in satellite technology. A satellite

has an average life of 15-20 years. At present satellites are designed to

provide services based on certain cities. New technology is helping address

congestion issues in the networks based on the traffic movement around the

country. By using these technologies, operators can tilt the capacity of the

satellite toward certain cities based on traffic. In the coming days, movement

of population and hence traffic in locations other than metros cannot be


Experts panel

K Krishna, CTO and AVP, Hughes Communications India

Sanjay Mittal,
sr VP, VSAT and conferencing services, enterprise

services, Bharti Airtel

Kaushik Mandal, VP, Tatanet Services

Gaurav kharod,
systems engineering manager, ViaSat India

Approximate tariff for VPN grade connectivity of 64 Kb line provided by

telecom operators in India ranges from Rs 30,000 to Rs 60,000. VSAT connection

for the same ranges between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000.

Adoption of VSAT is limited among individual customers for two main reasons.

First is the regulation related to security issues that deter VSAT service

providers from approaching individual customers. The second is the cost. VSAT

components are very expensive. Routers cost around Rs 40,000. An average VSAT

range starts from Rs 1,50,000 onward. However, to make it affordable for the

SOHO, SMB and SME segments, VSAT service providers have come up with rental

scheme starting from Rs 2,000 onward.


  • The uptime for running mission critical applications in business
  • Response or turnaround time
  • Supporting enterprise applications
  • Cost of ownership
  • Ease of deployment
  • Scalability of the VSAT platform

Building the Network

Any network can be classified into two parts-access network and backhaul

network. VSAT is suitable for enterprises in case of access network. It is used

in backhaul network in case of building networks for telecom service providers.

VSAT equipments are primarily classified into two main sections, ie, star

based (TDMA systems) and mesh based (SCPC systems). In star topology, the users

use a central uplink site which transports the data to and from each of the VSAT

terminals using satellites. In mesh topology, each VSAT terminal relays data

over to another terminal through the satellite, acting as a hub, which also

minimizes the need for an uplink site.


The combination of both star and mesh topology can be achieved by having

multiple centralized uplink sites connected together in a multi-star topology,

which is in a bigger mesh topology. In the next couple of years the market will

get to see the TDMA platform addressing requirements of both star and mesh

topologies. In addition, MF-TDMA for inbound channels access offers higher

efficiency and throughput on VSATs.

Band Selection

Bandwidth requirement depends on the specific application that will run on

the network. Any enterprise (SMB to large), could use it for simple net surfing

to high end ERP and core applications.

The buyer has to look at the bandwidth type-extended C-band or Ku-band.

Ku-band has been found to be more appropriate for VSAT networks for enterprises

with remote offices with up to ten users. Countries like India where rains are

prevalent, prefer to exploit extended C-band before using Ku-band, as it is not

affected by rain.


The antenna size of the Ku-band model ranges from 0.55-1.8 mts. The most

commonly used antenna is 1.2 mts in diameter. The Ku-band is a portion of the

electromagnetic spectrum in the microwave range of frequencies from 11.7-12.7


The other VSAT model runs on C-band and mostly on extended C-band. INSAT

C-band uplink frequency ranges from 6.275-7.025 GHz and downlink frequency is

between 4.500-4.800 GHz. The size of antenna for xC-band ranges from 1.2-2.4 mts.

The fringe areas of satellite coverage in regions of western Rajasthan, western

Gujarat, northeastern regions, and southern peninsula require a 1.8 mts antenna

instead of 1.2 mts antenna.

Crucial businesses like stocks trading and online gaming, which cannot afford

any downtime, are required to run on C-band or xC-band. This band is less

effected by bad weather conditions when compared to the Ku-band. Then there are

latency issues with VSAT which effect crucial applications. It takes around 500

milliseconds to re-establish connection between VSAT and satellite if it breaks.

Therefore, it is recommended to check meantime between failure and meantime

to restore the system the user is willing to deploy. In rural areas, even where

Internet service providers are present, there remains a connectivity problem.

Therefore VSAT comes as an independent option for customers.

Prasoon Srivastava