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Chapter 3:
Satellite Telecommunications: Users, Applications, and Markets
Telecommunication means communication at a distance electrically or electronically. As such, the technology is only about a century and a half old, its birth marked by the invention of the telegraph by Samuel F. B. Morse. By encoding letters of the alphabet into pulses of electricity, Morse code could, at first, transmit a few words per minute over distances of a few miles. Today, we can transmit images across the Solar System. (By the way, for some historical trivia, the term “telegraph” was first used not for an electrical system of communications, but for a mechanical system of shutters and semaphore arms on towers, invented by Frenchman Claude Chappe in 1791. The system was used in that country until 1852.) Since Morse’s time, both our demand for communication and our technology for providing communication have grown exponentially. There has never been a long-term excess of transmission capacity, for as capacity has grown and costs have continually come down, so too have new users found things that they want to communicate. People communicate to fill the channels allotted, just as they drive to fill the freeway lanes built, and, as Parkinson’s famous law states, “work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.”
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