Satmodo Blog

Ku Band and its Use in Satellite Communications

Ku-band is best known for its use in satellite broadcast communications. Not to be confused with Ka-band, Ku-band (which stands for Kurz under) falls in the middle in terms of frequency, utilizing the approximate range of 12-18GHz of radiofrequency. This results in bandwidth in the mid-range.

So, how does this affect someone utilizing Ku-band to broadcast?

You want a higher bandwidth, clear audio and visual, and faster connection speeds. You also need reliable connectivity you can count on. Even though Ka-band technically has a higher frequency and higher bandwidth often leading to fast connections and optimal reliability, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get the high throughput you desire with Ku-band.

Power density, antenna size, the elevation of the satellite, receivers, and weather all play a role in the effectiveness of a connection whether it be Ku-band or ka-band. In fact, they both have the ability to reach speeds of up to 100Mbps which is what you want for streaming, downloading HD, Internet surfing and sending and receiving data.

We’re going to discuss more what Ku-band is and how it works as well as the advantages and disadvantages of using it in satellite communications.

Ku-band and How it Works

Ku-band, a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, is the lower part of 3 bands of the original NATO K band (an obsolete designation given to radio frequencies ranging from 20 – 40 gigahertz (GHz). Ku-band is under that in the frequency of  12 – 18 GHz.  It is one of the major technologies used today for high-speed satellite Internet. The band is split into multiple segments to be used by different geographical regions (Americas, Europe and Africa, Australia, Indonesia).

Widely used in the satellite communications world, Ku-band has been a popular choice for direct broadcasting since NBC began using it in 1983. Services are largely used for high powered satellites in digital TV to include things like news feeds, educational networks, teleconferences, sports and other backhauls, entertainment programming, and international programming. It depends on where in the world it’s being utilized.

It’s also often used for VSAT systems on ships, for commercial aircraft, and by NASA in space.

For users wanting to broadcast satellite television, for example, Ku-band can be used with a satellite dish that is terrestrially-placed allowing for a direct line to the satellite.

Other services operating within the Ku-band frequency can include fixed service (microwave towers), radio astronomy service, mobile service, mobile-satellite service, radiolocation service (such as the use of radar guns by law enforcement), amateur radio service, and radio navigation.

In order for Ku-band to operate and send and receive data, a satellite dish and antenna must be properly placed to reach the satellite, with no obstructions.

Advantages of Ku-band

Ku-band is often used to upgrade C band systems. These are some of the advantages of choosing Ku-band:

  • because of its higher power, Ku band satellites (vary in size from 2′ to 5′ in diameter) are generally smaller than C band satellites
  • the power of uplinks and downlinks can be increased as needed
  • users with a C-band system in place can retrofit for Ku-band use
  • often preferable over lower frequency microwave bands is that shorter wavelengths can separate the signals of different communication satellites with a smaller parabolic antenna
  • offers users flexibility with freedom from terrestrial operations making it easier to find a properly functioning dish site
  • generally a cheaper option

Disadvantages of Ku-band

Ku-band doesn’t always work perfectly. These are some of the pitfalls noted when using Ku-band:

  • susceptible to rain/snow fade (in which radio signals are absorbed by atmospheric rain, snow, or ice) in areas with a large amount of rainfall, such as Indonesia (though less vulnerable than Ka-band). Tropical regions can overcome this with higher power
  • Ku band satellites require more power to transmit than C-band satellites.
  • the Earth station antenna requires more accurate positioning since it has a much narrower focus beam. Position maintenance is crucial for proper functioning (which can be affected by the wind).

 

ku band infographic


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