Very Small Aperture Terminal

What Does Very Small Aperture Terminal Mean?

A very small aperture terminal (VSAT) is a small telecommunication earth station that receives and transmits real-time data via satellite.


A VSAT transmits narrow and broadband signals to orbital satellites. The data from the satellites is then transmitted to different hubs in other locations around the globeT.

Techopedia Explains Very Small Aperture Terminal

VSAT end users have a box that acts as an interface between the computer and the external antenna or satellite dish transceiver. The satellite transceiver sends data to and receives data from the geostationary satellite in orbit. The satellite sends and receives signals from an earth station, which acts as the hub for the system. Each end user is connected to this hub station through the satellite in a star topology. For one VSAT user to communicate with another, the data has to be sent to the satellite. Then the satellite sends the data to the hub station for further processing. The data is then retransmitted to the other user via a satellite.

The majority of VSAT antennas range from 30 inches to 48 inches. Data rates typically range from 56 Kbps up to 4 Mbps.

VSATs are most commonly used to transmit:

  • Narrowband data. This includes point of sale transactions such as credit card, polling or radio-frequency identification (RFID) data, or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) data
  • Broadband data, for the provision of satellite Internet access to remote locations, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or video

VSATs are also used for transportable, on-the-move communications (using phased array antennas) and mobile maritime communications.

The history of live satellite communication began at NASA in the 1960s with the development of a satellite called Syncom 1-3. The satellite transmitted coverage of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, to viewers in Europe and the United States.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.