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Broadcasting and Satellite Glossary

Satellite and Broadcasting Industry Acronyms and Jargon 

When I was new to the satellite distribution industry, my head spun from all of the different acronyms and jargon used almost constantly! In a highly specialized field like ours, it can be tough to onboard a new salesperson or a green tech. For that reason, I've compiled this glossary for easy reference of some of the most common satellite and broadcasting industry terms and their meanings. 


AMC-1 (Now SES-3)

C-Band/Ku-Band satellite used for communications. It was replaced in the Summer of 2015 with the satellite SES-3 in the same orbital slot, 103 degrees West. SES-3 covers the full United States.


AMC-8 (Now SES-11)

Colloquially known as the "Radio Network Neighborhood", this C-Band satellite is used by dozens of radio networks to distribute programming to thousands of radio stations nationwide. Its coverage includes the United States, Canada and some of the Caribbean. Does not support Ku-Band.



The reduction or degradation of signal strength, by means intentional or otherwise. Rain is a known attenuator for Ku-Band frequencies. 



A Block Upconverter (BUC) is used in the transmission (uplink) of satellite signals. It converts a band of frequencies from a lower frequency to a higher frequency. Modern BUCs convert from the L band to Ku band, C band and Ka band. Shop BUCs here.


Frequency commonly used in used in satellite distibution. A lower frequency than Ku-Band, C-Band is not affected by adverse weather conditions. It is therefore preferable for emergency and uninterrupted broadcasting. C-Band satellites receive signals in the vicinity of 6GHz from uplinks, and then re-transmits at roughly 4GHz. The smallest antenna practical for C-Band transmission is 2.4 meters in diameter, though 3.7m is the industry standard and is required for 2 Degree compliance on SES-11.


Encoder / Decoder typically used for audio or video. A codec encodes a data stream or signal for transmission, storage or encryption, and/or decodes it for playback or editing. Find our encoders and decoders in the Shop IP Audio section of our webstore.


The use of our rack space and facility, ultra-reliable electrical supply, and diverse internet connectivity for equipment and uplinking. (Colocation with OMNi)


Digital Video Broadcasting - Return Channel via Satellite (or IP over Satellite). It is a specification for an interactive on-demand multimedia satellite communication system which can be run on a low-bandwidth "Keep Alive" setting until needed for an event, a dispatch, or an emergncy. This makes it a cost-effective alternative solution for many users. OMNi provides Fixed Site and Mobile internet through our IP Over Satellite services.

Eb No

A numerical value used to quantify the signal strength of a satellite receiver. Issues with Eb No? It may not mean a failed XDS receiver.

"In the middle of the box"

A term used when a satellite is in the prime location within its operating range in the sky. When a satellite in "In the middle of the box", it is the best time to recalibrate antennas to it.


128k wired Telephone data connection used for backhaul of programming over ISDN CODECS. 


Frequency used in data transmission that is higher and less powerful than C-Band. Can be affected by adverse weather conditions, particularly rain. But, unlike the expensive equipment and licensing required to house a large C-Band antenna, Ku-Band frequency transmissions can use smaller antennas that generally do not require extra permissions from the local government. It is recommended to have an antenna 1.2 meters in diameter or greater for optimum performance. 

Lightning Arrester

This fuse protects your receiver and other expensive equipment from being damaged by electrical bursts (i.e. Lightning). Our Lightning Arresters can be found in the Accessories section of our Webstore.


"The LNB is a combination of low-noise amplifier, frequency mixer, local oscillator and intermediate frequency (IF) amplifier. It receives the microwave signal from the satellite collected by the dish, amplifies it, and downconverts the block of frequencies to a lower block of intermediate frequencies (IF)." Norsat and NJR are the two most popular, reliable brands of LNBs. Shop our LNBs here.


Network Operations Center. OMNi is proud to have a 24/7/365 network operations center staffed by XDS experts.


Multiple Channels Per Carrier. In this transmission system, several streams of programming are combined into a single bitstream before being transmitted from our NOC to the affiliate base. Review our MCPC / Hosted Distribution services here.


Satellite Keeping

Though geostationary satellites are known to keep their location in the sky very efficiently, they need to be nudged back into "the middle of the box" now and again.


Single Channel Per Carrier (SCPC) refers to using a single signal at a given frequency and bandwidth. Most often, this is used on broadcast satellites to indicate that radio stations independently share a transponder. In an SCPC system, satellite bandwidth is dedicated to a single source. This makes sense for satellite radio, which broadcasts continuously.  Learn more about our Raw Bandwidth SCPC Services.


Satellite covering North America with C-Band and Ku-Band transponders.


"SHOUTcast is free cross-platform proprietary software for streaming media over the Internet. The software, developed by Nullsoft, allows digital audio content, primarily in MP3 or HE-AAC format, to be broadcast to and from media player software, enabling the creation of Internet radio "stations". The most common use of SHOUTcast is for creating or listening to Internet audio broadcasts; however, video streams exist as well. Some traditional radio stations use SHOUTcast to extend their presence onto the Web." (Wikipedia) Most encoders and decoders are compatible with SHOUTcast streams. Browse our IP Audio options here.


 Satellite Interactive Terminal (SIT) . A type of modem used in the DVB-RCS system to establish data transfers via satellite. Learn more about DVB-RCS or shop SITs in the VSAT Modems section of our Webstore.


Now-defunct audio broadcast receivers that were compatible with C-Band and Ku-Band frequencies. The last Starguide hub in the US, housed at Orbital Media Networks, was retired in Summer 2017. X-Digital and 2WCom receivers have become the go-to replacements for old Starguide systems. Shop satellite receivers here.


 Codec data circuit (point-to-point) for audio backhaul.


A transponder gathers signals over a range of uplink frequencies, and then re-transmits them on a different set of downlink frequencies to terrestrial receivers.


Uninterruptible Power Source. An electrical apparatus that provides emergency power when the main power fails. A UPS differs from an auxiliary or emergency power system or standby generator in that it will provide near-instantaneous protection from input power interruptions.


Highly acclaimed brand of audio broadcasting equipment. X-Digital Systems is compatible with C-Band as well as Ku-Band frequencies. XDS has also recently released a new line of receivers designed specifically for smaller, low kHz SCPC carriers.  Shop satellite receivers here.

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See something on this list that's a little off, or have recommendations for words, phrases, or acronyms to add to the list? Please email them to me! Make sure to have "Satellite Industry Jargon" in the subject line so I don't accidentally try to sell you something!