Digital Signal Processors (DSPs) have evolved to a level where it is feasible for digital modems with relatively low data rates to be implemented entirely with software algorithms. With current technology it is still necessary for analogue processing between the RF input and a low frequency IF but, as DSP technology advances, it will become possible to shift the interface between analogue and digital domains ever closer towards the RF input. The software radio concept is a long-term goal which aims to realise software-based digital modems which are completely flexible in terms of operating frequency, bandwidth, modulation format and source coding. The ideal software radio cannot be realised until DSP, Analogue to Digital (A/D) and Digital to Analogue (D/A) technology has advanced sufficiently. Until these advances have been made, it is often necessary to sacrifice optimum performance in order to achieve real-time operation. This Thesis investigates practical real-time algorithms for carrier frequency synchronisation, symbol timing synchronisation, modulation, demodulation and FEC. Included in this work are novel software-based transceivers for continuous-mode transmission, burst-mode transmission, frequency modulation, phase modulation and orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM). Ideal applications for this work combine the requirement for flexible baseband signal processing and a relatively low data rate. Suitable applications for this work were identified in low-cost satellite return links, and specifically in asymmetric satellite Internet delivery systems. These systems employ a high-speed (>>2Mbps) DVB channel from service provider to customer and a low-cost, low-speed (32-128 kbps) return channel. This Thesis also discusses asymmetric satellite Internet delivery systems, practical considerations for their implementation and the techniques that are required to map TCP/IP traffic to low-cost satellite return links.

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