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What is a Satellite VSAT network?



WIC Help Desk

What is a Satellite VSAT network?

VSAT stands for "Very Small Aperture Terminal", which is a very small satellite transmitting and receiving station that is installed at each Local Agency and each WIC clinic to replace the modem for data transfer. In addition, the VSAT is able to reliably transfer data, video, and voice via satellite. Because the VSAT can transfer video and voice, it can also support Interactive Distance Learning (IDL), which will be used to train WIC clinic staff in the near future.

The VSAT consists of: (1) the OutDoor Unit (ODU) and (2) and an InDoor Unit (IDU)

ODU: An OutDoor Unit (ODU) is composed of a dish-shaped antenna that is typically 3 to 5 feet in diameter and electronic components which receives or transmits data, video, or voice signal to and from the satellite. This VSAT dish typically weighs no more than 150 pounds. This ODU is mounted outdoors, typically on top of the building roof, with a non-penetrating mount. Should this mounting option not be available, the dish can be mounted on the wall or on a pole away from the building. This ODU is connected to the IDU (inside the building) by a coaxial cable similar to a cable TV connection.

IDU: The Indoor unit (IDU) is an electronic device that is about the size of a small Video Cassette Recorder (VCR). The IDU transfers data, voice and video images between your WIC computer(s) and the Outdoor Unit (ODU). In addition to data transfer, the IDU facilitates the Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) training capability.                                                          






Figure 1.: VSAT components at the Local Agency and WIC clinic

In addition to the VSAT equipment at your WIC offices as illustrated in Figure 1, there are three other major components that all the WIC Admin Offices and WIC clinics will share, mainly:

  • A satellite located 23,000 miles up in the sky
  • A central "earth station" hub located somewhere in the northeast of United States
  • A central Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) Training Studio at DSHS in Austin

The satellite acts as a reflector for all the data and training traffic, which moves to and from the satellite via your WIC office VSAT ODU and the central hub. The central hub is the "brain" that controls and manages the network operations so that it is transparent to you.

The central "earth station" hub is also connected to the central data processing and central IDL training studio at DSHS headquarters in Austin. The DSHS implementation for training delivery (IDL) and data transfer will use the VSAT ability to interactively move data, video and voice from an instructor station in the training studio in Austin to the desktop computers in each Local Agency and WIC clinics. The communication via VSAT satellite is a two-way communication.




WIC-EBT Satellite

Figure 2.: WIC-EBT Satellite VSAT Wide Area Network Illustration

The following comparison table shows some significant benefits of the Satellite VSAT system as compared to the modem dialup network

Current Modem Dialup Network

  1. Data transfer window = 2 to 10 minutes
  2. Reliability: there is no guarantee for data transfer over analog voice lines
  3. Low bandwidth: < 28.8 Kbps
  4. Security = none
  5. Can't handle distance learning (IDL)
  6. Cannot cost-effectively increase bandwidth
  7. Hard to manage, many invisible components and vendors
  8. Cannot multicast with the analog modem
  9. Optimized for voice only
  10. Helpdesk support for only one computer

The Satellite VSAT network is the only technology that can meet all WIC data transfer requirement and Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) requirements for the next decade. The Satellite VSAT network will be installed and managed by a single vendor and will involve minimal change for both the WIN system and the clinic staff. All installation costs, VSAT and IDL service costs will be paid by TDH. The IDL installation will occur at the same time as the VSATs. IDL will provide you better quality in training and more efficiency. You will not have to travel to remote training sites, rather you can put on a headset and look into your office computer's monitor for a live, interactive, and instructor-led training session without disturbing other workers, or WIC customers. When you want to ask questions, you'll be able to ask the instructor verbally with your microphone, or send an realtime e-mail. The instructor will respond to your question verbally via your computer speaker(or headset) and you can see the instructor via your computer's monitor. Many different types of exams or certification can be done via IDL with a live instructor sitting in front of a camera inside a studio in Austin. IDL helps make training fun and economical. A Satellite VSAT network makes IDL possible.

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Last updated November 15, 2011