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# All about antennas Frequency and bandwidth Information is conveyed via satellite using electromagnetic waves.

The term "wave" is used because electromagnetic signals have similar properties to other types of wave that occur in nature and are more readily observable (for example, waves arriving at the seashore). Waves at the seaside have two basic properties called "wavelength" and "frequency". The "wavelength" is the distance between two successive wave tops, or peaks. The "frequency" measures the rate at which the waves arrive at the shore. The two measures are interrelated. Widely spaced waves arrive infrequently at the shore, whilst closely spaced waves arrive at a faster rate. Electromagnetic waves share these frequency and wavelength properties. In fact, the frequency and wavelength are directly related: doubling the frequency reduces the wavelength by a factor of two, and vice versa. Different types of electromagnetic wave can therefore be distinguished on the basis of a single property (frequency or wavelength). Light is a familiar example of an electromagnetic wave. The visible spectrum extends from red through to violet. We perceive different colours because our eyes are sensitive to the frequency of the light waves. Red light has the lowest frequency in the visible spectrum and violet light has the highest. An equal mixture of all colours (electromagnetic frequencies) is perceived as white light. There are also light waves that we cannot see: infrared light, which has a lower frequency than red light, and ultraviolet light, which has a higher frequency than violet light. Visible light extends in frequency from about 400 terahertz (red light) to 740 terahertz (violet light). Our eyes are sensitive to this continuous range of frequencies, rather than to a single frequency (colour). Continuous frequency ranges are commonly referred to as frequency bands and the difference between the highest and lowest frequencies of a continuous frequency range is referred to as the bandwidth. We can therefore say that visible light occupies the frequency band 400 to 740 terahertz and, in common with the human eye, has a bandwidth of about 340 terahertz. Satellite communication systems use much lower frequencies to convey information. The Eutelsat satellites utilise several frequency bands lying within the radio frequency range 10 to 30 GHz. These are classified as microwave frequencies because the wavelength, which varies from 1 cm (at 30 GHz) to 3 cm (at 10 GHz), lies within the "microwave" range 1 mm to 300 mm. Each frequency band used for satellite communications typically has a bandwidth of 250 MHz more than one million times smaller than the bandwidth of our eyes! Nevertheless, many different signals are conveyed within a single frequency band, where each signal uses a part of that frequency band or "spectrum". The concept of bandwidth is extended to the smaller range of frequencies used by each signal. We often refer to the signal (or carrier) bandwidth, which can range from a few kilohertz to several tens of megahertz, depending upon
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the technology used (analogue or digital) and the type of service (e.g. television broadcasting, telephony, mobile communications, etc.).

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