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This paper discusses the structure and performance of an Internet protocol (IP)-based satellite communications system to provide multimedia services. Uplink scheduling and switching to support IP differentiated services (DiffServ) traffic in a multibeam environment are addressed. End-to-end performance of a multibeam satellite communications system using an on-board switch is evaluated using simulation. Aggregate real-time and non-real-time traffic using different DiffServ classes is considered and the effects of their burstiness and long-range dependent behavior on the queueing performance are examined. Multiple-frequency time-division multiple-access is used on the uplink in conjunction with a dynamic capacity allocation scheme. Higher priority is given to voice and video real-time traffic to avoid delay variation. On-board downlink queue for non-real-time traffic is provided to achieve high statistical multiplexing gain.