1750 OLD MEADOW ROAD | MCLEAN, VA 22102 | (703) 848-1000 | WWW.SPACENET.

COM
















Gilat SkyEdge and New-Generation
VSAT Wireless Data Networks -
Faster, More Capable and Cost Effective













This document contains information proprietary to Spacenet Inc. It may not be reproduced in whole or in
part without the written consent of Spacenet. The disclosure by Spacenet of information contained herein
does not constitute any license or authorization to use or disclose the information, ideas, or concepts
presented.




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Table of Contents


1. About Spacenet ...................................................................................................... 3
2. VSAT Technology Overview.................................................................................. 3
3. VSAT Technology Evolution.................................................................................. 4
3.1. VSAT Platform Generations.................................................................................................................4
3.2. Gilat Product History.............................................................................................................................5
4. Advantages of the New Generation of VSAT Platforms...................................... 6
4.1. Faster Speeds .......................................................................................................................................6
4.2. Better Performance...............................................................................................................................7
4.3. Less Expensive .....................................................................................................................................9
4.4. Greater Bandwidth Efficiency...............................................................................................................9
4.5. Stronger Security ................................................................................................................................10
4.6. Bi-Directional Broadband....................................................................................................................10
4.7. More Capable VSAT Terminals .........................................................................................................11
4.8. More Flexible Service Models............................................................................................................11
4.9. Diverse Services On a Single Platform.............................................................................................11
5. Conclusions.......................................................................................................... 12







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1. About Spacenet

Spacenet Inc., based in McLean, Virginia, was founded in 1981 to provide data networking and voice
services via VSAT (two-way satellite communications). Spacenet was purchased by telecommunications
giant GTE (now part of Verizon) in 1983, and over the next decade GTE Spacenet grew through GTE’s
acquisition of a number of other American satellite technology and service providers. In 1994, GTE sold
Spacenet to General Electric, and in 1997 GE Spacenet acquired major satellite provider AT&T Tridom.
In 1998, GE Spacenet was bought by leading satellite hardware manufacturer Gilat in order to create a
synergy between Gilat’s equipment business and Spacenet’s services business.

Today, Spacenet is a leading provider of enterprise networking services offering broadband satellite, DSL
and hybrid connectivity solutions. Spacenet’s parent company Gilat is the acknowledged technology
leader in VSAT equipment (with more than 550,000 terminals installed worldwide in 85 countries). Gilat is
a publicly traded company on the U.S. market (NASDAQ:GILTF), and is backed by $6B US-based
venture capital firm York Capital Management.

Over the past few years, Spacenet has reinvented itself as a business solutions provider offering multiple
connectivity platforms (including both VSAT and DSL) as well as applications and network management.
However, the core of Spacenet’s business remains its expertise in the provisioning, deployment and
management of VSAT networks for enterprise, government and SOHO users.


2. VSAT Technology Overview

A Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) is a device (also known as an “earth station”) that is used to
receive satellite transmissions. Millions of VSATs are in use around the world, allowing people to send
and receive two-way data, voice or video transmissions by bouncing signals off of satellites in orbit.

The "very small" component of the VSAT acronym refers to the size of the VSAT “antenna” or “dish” -
typically about 2 to 4 feet (0.55-1.2 meters) in diameter - that is mounted on a roof, attached to a wall or
placed on the ground. Attached to the dish are a Low-Noise Block converter (LNB), which receives
satellite signals; and the transmitter, which sends signals. Together, the dish, LNB and transmitter make
up the VSAT outdoor unit (ODU), one of the two components of a VSAT earth station.

The second component of VSAT earth station is the indoor unit (IDU). The indoor unit is a small desktop
box that contains receiver and transmitter electronics and an interface to communicate with the user's
other networking equipment - LANs, servers, PCs, TVs, kiosks, etc. The indoor unit is connected to the
outdoor unit with a pair of coaxial cables (one to send data and another to receive it).

Satellite networks send and receive data via high-frequency radio waves relayed off a satellite in orbit,
providing a single continent-wide wireless last-mile solution. VSAT networks are designed in a hub-and-
spoke fashion, with customer locations connecting directly over the air to a central “hub” facility. At the
central hub facility, a large dish/antenna (often 30 feet or more in diameter) and hub server equipment
receive and transmit to the remote sites, and route information to and from the Internet or private
networks.

VSAT networks can be used for Internet access, or they can be connected from the hub facility directly to
a corporate data center or application service provider such as a credit card authorization provider (see
Figure 1). VSAT networks may have anywhere from one to tens of thousands of remote VSATs
communicating with a single hub.





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Figure 1: VSAT Network

Top benefits of VSAT include:
• Ubiquitous availability
• Superior economics
• Reliability
• Timely deployment and installation
• Multicast content distribution
• Site relocation and addition
• Flexibility and expandability

VSAT is generally a very cost-effective medium for narrowband or broadband data communications, and
has particularly strong advantages in ubiquity (VSAT is available at any location with a view of the
southern sky) and multicast support (sending the same data to tens or thousands of locations at once).
VSAT connections experience about a half-second of latency in a round trip (from the time to reach the
satellite and return).

One key advantage of VSAT connections is that service availability is not limited by the reach of terrestrial
telephone or cable infrastructure. A VSAT earth station can be placed anywhere - as long as it has an
unobstructed view of the satellite. VSATs are capable of sending and receiving all sorts of video, data and
audio content at the same high speed regardless of their distance from terrestrial switching offices and
infrastructure.


3. VSAT Technology Evolution

VSAT technology has evolved significantly since its introduction in the 1980s. The new generation of
VSAT systems are variously considered as “fifth generation” (by Gilat and most other manufacturers) or
“sixth generation” (by some others).
3.1. VSAT Platform Generations

First-generation VSAT systems (circa 1983) were one-way and two-way systems utilizing the C-band
frequency spectrum. These systems were typically quite expensive ($10-$20,000 per unit), and could
typically transmit and receive only narrowband data (less than 64 kbps data rates).

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Second generation VSATs (circa 1987) included the first two-way systems to utilize the higher-speed Ku-
band frequencies. These systems featured higher data rates and support for the popular network
topologies of the day, such as X.25. However, the high costs of each earth station ($5-15,000 per unit)
kept them from gaining wide acceptance.

Third-generation systems (circa 1996) were Ku-band, multi-service platforms with improved data rates
and support for older network topologies as well as the emerging Internet Protocol. Decreased earth
station costs ($2-6,000 per unit) helped speed acceptance of VSAT and made them a viable alternative to
frame relay/T1 or dedicated dial for enterprise and government users.

Fourth generation VSAT systems (circa 2000) were the first generation of IP-native terminals designed to
address the consumer broadband market. These terminals, featuring prices between $500 and $2000 per
unit, provided broadband connectivity of up to 512 kbps upstream and over 1 Mbps downstream.
Although satellite Internet did not ultimately challenge cable modem and DSL in the scale of deployments
in the US, this generation of VSATs did much to legitimize VSAT as a competitive offering for many
network needs.

The fifth generation of VSAT platforms (introduced 2004) provide support for Ku-band or in some cases
Ka-band frequencies. These systems offer higher speeds (up to 2 Mpbs upstream) at lower prices ($500-
$1500 per unit) than ever before.
3.2. Gilat Product History

Gilat’s older systems include the Skystar Advantage™ system, the Skystar 360E™, DialAway™ multi-star
rural telephony system, the FarAway™ F/TDMA mesh system, the OneWay™ data broadcast and paging
system, the SkySurfer™ range of multimedia/Internet products and the ISAT satellite frame relay system.

The Skystar Advantage system was known as a low-end product that competed with
Hughes Network System’s PES5000 system and the 3000 series from Scientific-
Atlanta. Gilat continued to upgrade the Skystar Advantage system, changing its image
as a low-end product, reducing bandwidth requirements and improving its efficiency.
Other upgrades included improving its product features closer to the Internet and IP
business by adding acceleration features, IP routing, high bit-rate multicast and Internet
Page Accelerator™ to enhance the user experience while browsing.

Later in the 1990s, Gilat introduced its SkySurfer product, which provided a broadband channel that could
be used with either a terrestrial return path or as an overlay to the Skystar Advantage. Initially the system
was limited to a maximum rate of 3 Mbps, but Gilat subsequently introduced the SkySurfer II which was a
fully DVB compatible product supporting rates between 2 and 35 Mbps - comparable to Hughes DirecPC
Enterprise Edition. Gilat also integrated the satellite return channel elements of its SkyStar Advantage
system on a PC card, which could be used in conjunction with the SkySurfer product. The integrated
product was named SkyBlaster™. The SkyBlaster™ was essentially a PC-based VSAT solution that used
a DVB receiver PCI card and a satellite transmitter PCI card. The SkyBlaster VSAT was deployed for tens
of thousands of StarBand home/SOHO VSAT Internet access customers during 2000-2002.

In 2002, Gilat introduced the Skystar 360E platform. The Skystar 360E is used both as
a private or shared VSAT network designed for two-way IP and multicast applications,
with an option to support X.25 and Asynchronous transactions, ideally suited for web-
based intranet and Internet access. It is a versatile platform that integrates and features
multiple applications on one platform. Many new features were introduced with 360E
including: state-of-the-art turbo coding on the inbound channel, higher space segment
utilization, higher bit rates and a smaller VSAT antenna. The Skystar 360E also had
improved security features, including an improved security scheme on the outbound,
implementing AES encryption algorithm.

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Gilat’s latest platform, SkyEdge™, was released in 2004 and represents the
next generation of VSAT capabilities. The SkyEdge™ system integrates all of
Gilat’s older generation VSAT systems capabilities into a single platform that
can deliver IP data, VoIP and telephony, mesh and star topologies, and
support of Legacy protocols. The SkyEdge™ supports greater inbound and
outbound speeds, provides stronger and integrated encryption capabilities,
better QoS and network management, and is more flexible than previous
generations of Gilat's industry-leading VSAT platforms. More information on
SkyEdge is discussed throughout this white paper.


4. Advantages of the New Generation of VSAT Platforms

Satellite technology is typically less well understood by most IT managers compared to terrestrial
alternatives, and knowledge about VSAT may be outdated since there have been dramatic changes in
the last 2-5 years. Today, satellites provide one of the most effective means of transmitting and receiving
just about any kind of data: voice, fax, files, and IP-based applications. Traditional satellite networks have
been limited to specialized private VSAT networks and low-bandwidth services; today’s satellite networks
provide high-bandwidth two-way VSAT technology.

VSAT operators have been working hard to improve their products, showing the exceptional value of
VSATs over terrestrial alternatives. Gilat, a dominant player in the worldwide VSAT market, has utilized its
field-proven experience to introduce the new SkyEdge satellite communications platform, and Spacenet
offers the Connexstar SE series of services based on this platform.

SkyEdge represents the next generation of VSAT capabilities and powers Spacenet’s Connexstar SE
services. It is capable of greater speeds, provides stronger encryption and better network management,
and is more flexible than previous generations of Gilat's industry-leading VSAT platforms. These features
include:

• Provides support for speeds up to 2 Mbps upstream and up to 66 Mbps downstream (full
transponder)
• Built-in acceleration for Cisco and compatible VPNs - a feature unmatched in any other VSAT
platform
• Includes embedded TCP and HTTP acceleration technologies

The new SkyEdge satellite communications platform is the first of its kind—a truly converged system
supporting multiple application specific types of VSATs on a single hub with a host of advanced features
such as: embedded VPN, embedded acceleration technologies, and mesh IP. The SkyEdge product
family delivers superior circuit-switched voice and data services on a single, flexible, robust and easily
managed platform. It represents a genuine breakthrough in satellite networking that can revitalize the
service offerings and revenue flow of network operators and service providers.

Spacenet is leveraging the industry’s most advanced VSAT technology to provide customers with a world
of new capabilities. The use of next-generation hardware platforms enables Spacenet to deliver a wide
range of services.
4.1. Faster Speeds

Five years ago, VSAT could only provide low-speed communications, and the slow channels were not
efficient. The new generation of VSATs can provide higher and more efficient speeds, which are essential
for today’s demanding networking requirements (see Figure 2), especially when it comes to applications

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such as two-way videoconferencing, VoIP and other real-time applications with higher bit-rate
requirements.



















Figure 2: VSAT Speeds

4.2. Better Performance

VSAT networks performance has come a long way over the past few years, and it compares very well
with similar wireline services. Some people still think VSAT is like the first widespread satellite data
systems, which used the dish to download and a dialup modem for uploads - and that's not what VSAT is.
Spacenet sells real two-way broadband systems, and they provide a user experience much like what
you'd expect from DSL or cable.

Because you're bouncing signals off a satellite that's 22,000 miles above the equator, even at the speed
of light you're going to see about 1/2 second of latency in a round-trip. Spacenet uses packet acceleration
technologies to diminish the latency effects, and for most applications there is no noticeable delay at all.
Spacenet offers performance-enhancing features, which include:

TCP Accelerator: Spacenet's patented TCP accelerator provides improved speed and performance of
nearly all IP applications over satellite links. By using the built-in data integrity checks across the satellite
link, Spacenet can circumvent the redundant TCP acknowledgement scheme and provide accelerated bi-
directional communications.

Internet Page Accelerator: Spacenet is the leader in accelerating web browsing over VSAT through its
patented Internet Page Acceleration (IPA) technology (see Figure 3). Spacenet’s IPA intelligently “pre-
fetches” images and other objects to effectively defeat the latency inherent in all satellite networks.
Spacenet IPA requires no software to be installed on the user’s computer, and it works with all operating
systems and all modern web browsers.







Speeds for SkyStar 180, SkyStar 360E, and
SkyEdge VSATS
0
5000
10000
Service
K
b
p
s
Downstream
Upstream
Downstream 512 2048 6144
Upstream 128 512 2048
180 360E SkyEdge

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Figure 3: Internet Page Accelerator


SSL Acceleration: Spacenet has developed a patented software technology, which enables integration
of SSL-based applications into VSAT networks with no significant loss of performance (see Figure 4). The
Spacenet SSL acceleration solution works similarly to the HTTP Acceleration method but it requires a
software client on a user PC.













Figure 4: SSL Acceleration

VPN Accelerator: Spacenet's VPN accelerator technology provides companies with the technology
necessary to deliver high levels of performance for secure VPN connections over VSAT networks. This
accelerated VPN over VSAT solution is the first to enable IT managers to provide a unified security
solution with ubiquitous availability for their LAN/WAN and remote users. Usage of the technology has
shown a significant improvement in VPN throughput over VSAT links (an increase of up to 1000% in
throughput on hub-to-VSAT transmissions).

The SkyEdge VSAT is the first commercial VSAT solution incorporating advanced security features such
as an embedded accelerated IPSec standards-based VPN. IPSec VPN tunneling is fully supported
without affecting network performance. Internet protocol security (IPSec) provides interoperable, high-

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quality, cryptographically-based security services that are provided at the IP layer, offering protection for
IP and/or upper layer protocols. IPSec uses two traffic security protocols: Authentication Header (AH) and
Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP), together with cryptographic key management procedures and
protocols. Weaker and stronger encryption algorithms can be employed depending on customer
requirements. IPSec supports encryption types such as DES, 3DES, and AES, combined with MD5,
SHA1 or HMAC for packet authentication with symmetric encryption. The SkyEdge indoor unit has been
developed with a hardware-based encryption module in order to provide the processing power for AES
encryption without sacrificing data throughput.
4.3. Less Expensive

The cost of VSAT has become much more affordable over the past few years. As VSATs have become
more widely used over the years, service providers are able to pass on cost savings from economies of
scale, improved functionality and new service models. For example, in 2003, Spacenet introduced
Connexstar as the first shared-hub business-grade service allowing customers to use VSAT networks
without investing in purchasing a private hub.

Overall, as VSAT services have become more widespread, prices have been reduced dramatically over
the past few years. See the chart below for an example of VSAT pricing and capability evolution over
time:
























Figure 5: Gilat Product Evolution

4.4. Greater Bandwidth Efficiency

Utilizing new technologies, including new modulation, coding and access capabilities, today’s VSATs offer
greater bandwidth efficiency than in the past.

The SkyEdge system modulation and coding schemes are optimized both for bandwidth and power
efficiency. Inbound and outbound turbo coding increases the efficiency of space segment utilization,

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provide high bit per Hz ratio. Flexible coding rates provide better optimization of power. The SkyEdge
inbound and outbound channel turbo coding schemes allows link optimization based on specific satellite
and desired geographical coverage. This results in a highly efficient system that provides optimal
performance.

The SkyEdge system has the most flexible outbound carrier options. The SkyEdge supports DVB, QPSK
/Turbo or 8PSK/Turbo outbound carriers with multiple FEC (Forward Error Correction) rates. The
outbound rates start from 340 kbps for small networks, and may go up to 66 Mbps for large, high
performance networks.
4.5. Stronger Security

For years, Spacenet has been a leader in providing its customers with data security over VSAT networks
to keep mission-critical data safe in transit. Spacenet offers US government-grade security for VSAT
network users using the advanced Rijndael/AES encryption algorithm for maximum protection from data
interception. Spacenet’s SkyEdge-based services include available bi-directional government-standard
AES encryption for a secure over-the-air network.

To provide better security Spacenet has developed a system to encrypt its satellite transmissions using
the Rijndael (pronounced “Rhine-dahl” or “Rain-dahl”) fast symmetric encryption algorithm to provide very
high-grade security. Rijndael is a new-generation symmetric block cipher with variable block and key
lengths. The algorithm is a substitution linear transformation cipher, using triple discreet invertible uniform
transformations (layers).

Rijndael was adopted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as the new Advanced
Encryption Standard (AES) (see Figure 5). Rijndael was selected as the AES over other new-generation
encryption algorithms because of its flexibility, ease of implementation, and modular design, which should
make modification to counter any attack developed in the future much simpler than with past algorithm
designs. This new standard will replace the older 3DES encryption as a Federal Information Processing
Standard (FIPS) used by all federal agencies to protect sensitive, unclassified information for the next
several decades.












Figure 6: Rijndael Encryption

1024-bit Diffie-Hellman public key algorithm is used to exchange symmetric keys between each VSAT
and the hub. Keys are never stored physically on a hard disk or fetched from remote servers.
After successfully exchanging keys, the Hub will compress and encrypt user data.
4.6. Bi-Directional Broadband

In the ‘90s, one-way or dial return satellite was a common configuration. One-way service uses a phone
line and a modem for the uplink portion of the connection and a satellite link for the download. Two-way
Internet satellite or satellite return service, works by sending and receiving information to and from the

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satellite via the transmit/receive dish mounted at the customer’s business. All modern VSATs are two-way
broadband services. The advantage of two-way service is that it is faster and does not require a phone
line or a dial-up ISP.
4.7. More Capable VSAT Terminals

Over the past years, VSAT terminals have changed dramatically. In the past, some VSAT software
needed to be installed on the PC. Today, however, there is no software installed on the PC. Unlike in the
past, customers today have access to full routers, which utilize embedded hardware, more memory,
higher CPU, faster speeds and support high-speed encryption. At the hub, the base band equipment
controls the satellite transmission and interfaces with the customer’s data equipment. A user friendly
Network Management System (NMS) provides centralized monitoring and control, using statistics, alarms,
network configuration and report generation. As a result, updates to the VSAT and troubleshooting can be
done more easily and cost effectively.
4.8. More Flexible Service Models

Recent innovations in technology enable providers to offer more flexible VSAT service models.

Usage-Based Services: An example of the increased flexibility in VSAT service models is Spacenet’s
Connexstar On-Demand service, which uses usage-based billing features. Customers pay a reduced flat-
rate monthly usage fee lower than full-time services, with the option to purchase additional usage on a
site-by-site basis. Spacenet’s infrastructure enables the network to track each VSAT for time or data
transferred (Mbytes). Backup can be tracked by daily usage hours and multicast distribution can be
tracked by the Mbytes transferred.

Satellite/Terrestrial Hybrid Networks: Many providers are beginning to specialize in satellite/terrestrial
hybrid networks. Hybrid solutions offer customers a combination of terrestrial and satellite connections,
and users benefit from a network that is both optimized for their applications and has a single interface for
network management and customer service. The result is a seamless network that enables connectivity
through a single backhaul system.

Spacenet provides Connexstar Basic DSL and Connexstar Commercial DSL, which offer customers the
ability to get their terrestrial and VSAT connectivity from a single provider, with a single point of contact
and a single bill. Connexstar DSL provides unique value-added services, including an option to provide
support for serial-based credit authorization and POS applications over DSL.

Dialup or DSL Backup for VSAT: Today, customers have access to more flexible backup services then
in the past. Spacenet's dial backup services provide satellite modems with automatic failover to connect
via a modem and landline if the satellite link is lost. Spacenet also offers DSL backup for an alternative
connection method in the unlikely event of a satellite service interruption. Spacenet’s Prysm application
enabler provides failover services. The site equipment automatically routes all traffic to eitheir DSL or to
VSAT, depending on which service fails. It can also be configured with an optional modem to provide
dialup connectivity.
4.9. Diverse Services On a Single Platform

Today’s technology enables VSATs to provide multiple services on a single platform. With unmatched
technical and operational experience embedded into one enhanced system, SkyEdge offers a wide range
of service options, applications and solutions.

In the past, different VSAT types were needed for mesh vs. star services. The SkyEdge platform,
however, fully supports mesh, star and multistar topologies. Integrating full mesh capabilities for

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applications such as circuit switched voice, VoIP, LAN/WAN trunking and video conferencing allows for
better use of resources, superior performance and higher user satisfaction. (In a star topology, all devices
are connected to a central hub. Star networks are relatively easy to install and manage, but bottlenecks
can occur because all data must pass through the hub. Mesh is a network topology in which devices are
connected with many redundant interconnections between network nodes. In a true mesh topology every
node has a connection to every other node in the network.)

In the past, VSATs supported service to limited number of applications (e.g. data vs. telephony services)
and customers required to purchase multiple VSAT systems to widen communications solutions. Today’s
SkyEdge VSAT integrates a wide-range of solutions on a single hub system and VSAT terminal. A single
system now supports data - Broadband Internet access, VoIP, video conferencing, IP multicast, legacy
protocols, and telephony – toll quality voice, fax, and in-band data support; mesh call routing, payphone
support; advanced signaling report allowing for supplementary features; numbering schemes that
conform with PSTN conventions; highly efficient space segment utilization; and fully-managed, low-cost
public telephony.

Overall, the SkyEdge platform and Spacenet’s SE services represent a new generation of VSAT
capabilities, providing a broad range of new capabilities and value-enhancing applications for customers.

5. Conclusions

VSAT technology has come a long way over the years. VSATs have always been recognized for their
ability to reach anywhere and for their ability to be easily deployed to thousands of sites. Today, VSATs
offer many more benefits. The dominance of IP and new bi-directional services make VSAT services
more appealing to a wider audience, and the increase in usage has also lowered the price, making it a
more affordable alternative. Spacenet customers can be assured of reliability and uptime with service-
level agreements. The new generation of VSAT service provides faster speeds, more flexibility, and better
performance, making it an attractive network option for businesses of all types and sizes.

To find out more, please email sales@spacenet.com, call (703) 254-8500, or visit www.spacenet.com.