Communications Satellites

An Introductory Survey of Technology and Economic Promise

by William Meckling, S. H. Reiger

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A discussion of the ability of communications satellite systems to provide broadband, long-distance communications at microwave frequencies without depending on intermediate ground-relay stations. Various alternative systems are identified: passive systems, low-orbit active systems, and twenty-four hour satellite systems. Part I of this study surveys the characteristics of these systems and assesses their advantages and disadvantages. Part II estimates the economic potential of communications satellites in terms of cost comparisons with other forms of telecommunications and in terms of demand prospects. A communications satellite system would very greatly increase the number of long-distance increase the number of long-distance channels available, and the cost per channel is therefore tied critically to the question of future demand for additional channels. (An abridgment of RM-2925.)

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