Unique qualities of high-capacity GEO satellites

Learn why geostationary satellites are the cornerstone of satellite infrastructure and some of their most important capabilities for providing connectivity.

GEO Satellite orbiting around the Earth

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The world needs GEO satellites.

Why? Because modern life demands connectivity at all times. Whether it’s to perform professional duties, communicate with loved ones, pursue an education degree, consume content, or simply stay up to date on the news and current events, the internet is where most of it happens.

Further, there are critical initiatives like military operations and disaster relief efforts that now require connectivity to be performed at the speed and scale necessary to keep people connected and ultimately safe.

GEO satellites are at the center of this consistent connectivity in areas where it’s needed most.

In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into how GEO satellites operate and unique capabilities that set them apart from other satellites’ abilities.

Quick takeaways:

  • GEO satellites are always stationary relative to a fixed point on the Earth’s surface.
  • They’re critical for applications that require continuous coverage, like global telecommunications or internet service provision.
  • Key capabilities of GEO satellites include continuous coverage, a wide field of vision, high satellite productivity, and flexible bandwidth.
  • GEO satellites yield high ROI thanks to their high reliability and long life spans.

What are GEO satellites?

GEO satellites orbit 36,000 km (22,236 miles) above the earth and are positioned directly above the equator. They orbit the same way the Earth rotates—from west to east. This unique placement enables GEO satellites to appear stationary relative to a fixed point on the Earth’s surface.

This stationary positioning is important to GEO satellite use cases and capabilities. Unlike satellites in other orbits, such as Low Earth Orbit (LEO) or Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), GEO satellites stay fixed in one position when observed from the Earth, eliminating the need for continual tracking or adjustments.


Unique capabilities of GEO satellites

Even as satellite technology advances to include new tools and more complex approaches—for example, multi-orbit strategies and intersatellite linking—GEO satellites remain the most foundational component of satellite connectivity around the world. Here are five of their most important capabilities:

Continuous coverage

GEO satellite operators can point each satellite at a specific place on the ground so that it always covers that area. This is essential in cases that require continuous connectivity, such as television broadcasting, global telecommunications, internet service, weather forecasting, disaster and emergency response, military defense, and earth observation for research purposes.

Greater field of vision

Another advantage of GEO satellites is their expansive field of vision. GEO satellites can observe and communicate over entire continents, oceans, and other wide regions.

This is particularly critical for supporting broadcasting and telecommunications as well as large-scale data transmission to enable global business operations.

Improved satellite productivity

GEO satellites significantly enhance satellite productivity by maximizing signal utilization, a feat not feasible for low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites due to the extended periods of time they spend over oceans and unpopulated regions.

This critical advantage translates into more efficient data transmission and, importantly, the ability to cater to areas with limited terrestrial infrastructure.

Furthermore, GEO satellites play a pivotal role in meeting the skyrocketing demand for high-speed internet access in underserved and remote locations. Their design allows them to handle large volumes of data efficiently, bridging the digital divide by providing connectivity to regions where traditional communication networks struggle to reach.

This enhanced productivity also extends to supporting a diverse array of services simultaneously, from internet connectivity to telecommunication networks, resulting in optimal resource utilization for ISPs and greater connectivity around the world.

Flexible bandwidth economics

Certain GEO satellite operators can dynamically allocate bandwidth based on demand to power more efficient resource management. This adaptability is necessary to support diverse applications from voice and data communication to streaming services and the ever-expanding Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.

In other words: The world is evolving quickly, and GEO satellites provide the scalability necessary to meet fast-changing communication needs.

High reliability and long life spans

The fixed position of GEO satellites offer high reliability. Their fixed position simplifies ground station tracking and minimizes the risk of signal interruptions due to satellite movement. This level of reliability is critical for applications like military communications and disaster management, during which continuous connectivity can be a life-or-death resource.

Moreover, GEO satellites are engineered for extended operational life, often exceeding 15 years. This longevity ensures stable ROI for satellite operators and contributes to sustainable satellite infrastructure by reducing the need for frequent replacements.

Inately sustainable

Thanks to GEOs’ larger field of view, fewer satellites are needed in orbit.

ESG 2023 GEO Satellite Infographic

GEO satellites: The cornerstone of satellite connectivity

In an era where always-on connectivity is a central part of everyday life, GEO satellites have become a foundational part of our worldwide communications infrastructure. Their reliability, capacity, and range of coverage make them indispensable for ISPs and organizations in both the public and private sectors.

That’s why all of Viasat’s relies heavily on GEO satellites to fulfill its connectivity mission. We know that our customers rely on these critical capabilities to reliably deliver the services they offer.

Whether it’s to provide reliable internet connectivity, transmit television content, or enable critical initiatives such as military intelligence and disaster relief, Viasat’s geostationary fleet keeps our customers connected at all times with maximum coverage and bandwidth delivery.

Learn more about Viasat’s GEO satellites