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Decoding the Satellite Industry’s Alphabet Soup of Networking & Technology Acronyms

Satellite terminology explained

If you’re navigating your way around the world of satellites, networking and connectivity, you’ve likely feasted on an alphabet soup of acronyms. They may go down easy… but may not be satisfying if you can’t decipher the difference between a GEO, LEO and MEO. Here are 10 common (and potentially confusing!) acronyms, along with simple explanations to help you navigate the ABCs of the industry.

  1. AI – Artificial Intelligence refers to the ability of digital computers, devices, or networks to mimic human intelligence by performing tasks and solving problems. Hughes applies AI and machine learning (ML) to streamline network management, improve efficiencies and enhance the user experience – and to make networks smarter.

  2. COTM – Communications on the Move, also referred to as SATCOM on the Move (SOTM), describes the mobile satellite technologies in demand by the military, like the small software-defined, multi-orbit Hughes HM System ground technology that can connect warfighters on the go, anytime and anywhere.

  3. DVB-S2X is the second generation of global standards for Digital Video Broadcasting by Satellite (DVB-S), which defines a modulation and channel coding system flexible enough to cover a variety of satellite applications. The Hughes JUPITER System was the first in the industry with the DVB-S2X wideband forward channel, able to operate a single carrier in a 250 MHz channel. To make this important industry standard available to others, Hughes contributed several patents to the DVB-S2X patent licensing pool.

  4. FMI – Flexible Modem Interface. FMI powers autonomous satellite terminal control to enable diverse modems, services, satellites, and service providers to work together, as demonstrated in the Hughes Terminal Management Agent software. Hughes developed FMI capabilities to meet U.S. Department of Defense objectives for flexible, resilient SATCOM networking.

  5. GEO – Geostationary satellites are the workhorses of the industry, connecting the ecosystem and carrying terabits of data around the globe. All of Hughes JUPITER High-Throughput Satellites are GEOs, circling the Earth from 36,000 km above and appearing to be in a fixed position in the sky as their orbit is in sync with the Earth’s rotation (the reason they are often referred to as Geosynchronous). Their “fixed” position means they can direct significant capacity over their coverage area, which can span up to 1/3 of the Earth’s surface.

  6. LEO/MEO/NGSO – Low Earth/Medium Earth Orbit and Non-geostationary satellites. LEOs, including the constellations launched by Hughes partner OneWeb, orbit close to the ground – less than 1,200 km – and are unique in their ability to provide global coverage, even in the Polar regions. Orbiting between LEO and GEO at 5,000-20,000 km, MEOs are typically used to support GPS and other navigation or mobility applications, like aero and maritime. NGSO refers to any satellite not in the GEO orbit.

  7. NOC - Network Operations Center. A NOC ensures that an enterprise’s network infrastructure is capable of sustaining business operations. NOC-based network management teams work with a variety of tools and technologies to monitor network performance, manage changes, identify incidents (like outages), and troubleshoot and resolve problems so that the enterprise can rely on a high performing network.

  8. SOC - Security Operations Center. A SOC protects the organization against cyber threats that may disrupt business operations, with teams using security technologies like anti-virus tools and managed threat detection and response capabilities. Their objective is not only to prevent attacks, but also to minimize impact in the event there is a network issue.

  9. SD-WAN – Software-Defined Wide Area Network is the next-generation solution to solve the types of unique problems faced by distributed organizations – like having branches with vastly different broadband access types and infrastructures. This lack of unity wreaks havoc on overall network performance, especially when adding cloud-based applications to the mix. SD-WAN simplifies network complexity and improves operational efficiency.

  10. VSAT – Very Small Aperture Terminals are one of the components of a satellite ground system, consisting of a “dish” (antenna) and a router or user terminal that, together, enable service from the satellite. Since inventing the VSAT and deploying the first enterprise network for Walmart, Hughes has delivered millions of terminals to customers across six continents.

At Hughes, we simplify networking, which often extends to untangling complex concepts – and now satellite networking terminology and acronyms.