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What does BPS (bits per second) mean in satellite communications?


The users data rate of a satellite channel is expressed in Bits per second; Bps,
Kilo[Thousand]bits per second; kBps, or Mega[Million]bits per second; Mbps.
The rate of a satellite delivered data channel is measured in sps or symbols per
second, see the table above for a comparison of Bps-to-Sps. An MCPC or Digital Video link would typically run at several Mbps, Video conferencing @ 384kBps, Audio @ 192 – 256 kBps and Data and Voice circuits @ 64kBps [or multiples thereof].

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What does BER (bit error rate) mean in satellite communications?


Mathematically this is the probability that a bit sent over the link will be received incorrectly [that a 1 will be read as a 0, for example] or alternatively, the fraction of a large number of transmitted bits that will be received incorrectly. This is expressed as a single number ie. 10 * 10E-4 or 0.0001 .
Physically a bit error occurs because a symbol error has occurred, ie. at some point in the link noise has corrupted the transmitted symbol and the decision circuitry at the receiver cannot identify it correctly. Symbol errors arise from thermal noise, from external interference and from intersymbol interference.

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