An improved satellite beam acquisition and crossover technique for finding an appropriate satellite beam by searching for and acquiring a strongest pilot channel, searching for signalling channels on the acquired strongest pilot channel and monitoring the acquired signalling channel. Beam acquisition of a continuous wave pilot as in the preferred embodiment is faster and more reliable than beam acquisition of a modulated channel. Moreover, the acquired pilot channel can be used to unambiguously precalibrate the frequency reference of the mobile terminal. Also, acquisition of the pilot ensures that the corresponding satellite beam is not blocked or shadowed immediately prior to searching for a signalling channel, which significantly improves the reliability while reducing the time required for the search process. Mitigation of fading and shadowing is provided by using fast attack, slow decay non-linear filtering.