X-band and HTS: Clearing the Myths

HTS is in the news a lot lately. But as we’ve highlighted in previous posts, it faces several challenges in military applications.

In this series, we have outlined ways in which X-band compares to HTS for a military or government user. XTAR is the tried and trusted solution and naturally suited for the military but is often overlooked in light of newer solutions. Why? We believe that throughout the years, several myths have accumulated surrounding the use of this frequency. This final post in our series seeks to clear up those myths and present the true picture of X-band.

Myth #1: X-band has lower throughput than HTS. This is one of the biggest myths of X-band as it compares to HTS and one that we’ve taken on directly. X-band supports the military user, which means that the ability to transmit imagery and HD video is a must. X-band satellites are spaced 4° apart, allowing them to operate at higher uplink and downlink EIRP/Power densities than commercial satellites (typically spaced at 2°). As an example, XTAR has provided service to a 0.4m antenna transmitting a 10 Mbps carrier at an efficiency of 1.05 bits/Hz over an entire area of interest. HTS would struggle to achieve these types of efficiencies.

Myth #2: X-band is not for use with small antennas. The satellite spacing mentioned above is key here. This spacing also allows small terminals to transmit at high power densities and without using spread-spectrum techniques. Avoiding spread-spectrum translates into bandwidth savings. XTAR excels in its use with sub 1-meter antennas and therefore is ideal for use in mobile applications.

Myth #3: X-band is available only through the government. While the frequency is reserved for government and military use only, it is also available commercially from XTAR. Guaranteed access and customer support make this option attractive to government and military users.

Myth #4: X-band services are inflexible. In today’s military environment, flexibility is key and XTAR is able to customize solutions for these users. X-band offers on-board switching and steerable spot beams allowing for urgent reconfiguration of service. In addition, XTAR’s flexible contract terms allow users ‘pay as you go’ options, avoiding long-term commitments and providing an opportunity for the technology to be trialed.

Myth #5: X-band has few accessible teleports. This was somewhat true a few years ago, but now there are a variety of both commercial and government X-band teleports. As X-band has become more popular with more users across the globe, so has the number of landing locations to choose from increased.

Myth #6: X-band equipment is rare and very costly. Several years ago, this statement may have been true, especially as compared to Ku-band equipment. Today, more and more companies are manufacturing X-band equipment, bringing down costs significantly. To address Size, Weight and Power (SWAP) challenges, the military is buying more dual- and tri-band terminals, into which X-band is almost always incorporated. All of these factors have made X-band equipment competitive with and sometimes less expensive than other frequency bands’ equipment.

Myth #7: X-band is expensive. While many of the reasons for this fallacy are explained above, they bear repeating: Greater efficiencies realized with X-band mean that less bandwidth is used. When utilizing small antennas, spread spectrum techniques are not required to close the link, again decreasing bandwidth requirements. With flexible contract terms and decreasing equipment costs, X-band is competitively priced. Plus, leasing of X-band equipment is more accessible than ever before.

This series has explored the key differences between the latest High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and X-band in military applications, clearing up myths surrounding X-band along the way. But is X-band the right frequency for you? Contact us for more information, or set up a time for a more technical discussion with our experts.