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7 Reasons Why Satellite Broadband Will Connect the Unconnected

By Wayan Vota on March 1, 2018

satellite broadband internet

National governments, international institutions, and the private and public sector have all acknowledged the importance of bridging the digital divide to foster economic growth, social inclusion and meeting consumer demand. However, 3.8 billion people still do not have access to a broadband infrastructure, particularly those living in rural or remote areas.

Satellite broadband is particularly useful for the provision of broadband services in those areas and is therefore an essential element in connecting the unconnected and bridging the digital divide.

Two New Satellite Broadband Technology Advances to Help

According to ITU & UNESCO’s State of Broadband 2017 report, technological advances, expanded capacity, and other efficiencies are driving down costs, making space-based and upper atmosphere technologies more accessible than ever before. The price per Gbps of throughput has dropped continuously for the past decade and will continue to do so.

Two of the most recent and effective innovations in satellite broadband are High-Throughput Satellites (HTS) and Non-Geostationary Orbit Satellites (NGSO).

  • High-throughput satellites (HTS) carry antennas that generate a large number of very narrow, steerable beams. These beams carry high-powered signals and are electrically isolated from each other so the same allocated frequency bands can be used multiple times. Many major satellite operators are already operating or are planning to launch HTS systems.
  • Non-geostationary satellite orbits (NGSO) bring satellites down from 36,000 km above the Earth to as low as 400 km above the Earth, significantly decreasing latency at the requirement of satellite fleets to maintain connectivity. The most advanced NGSO projects is the O3b system, which offers 192 Gbps total throughput, up to 1.6 Gbps throughput per beam and low latency of <150 milliseconds, providing fiber-like backhauling services.

Five New Satellite Broadband Projects to Watch

Several developments in satellite broadband are leveraging these technologies and other innovations to prove useful connectivity to rural and remote regions:

These developments will increase access to broadband infrastructure, especially for the populations living in rural areas. Satellite technologies are uniquely placed for the delivery of broadband services in those areas either on their own, or in combination with other technologies.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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2 Comments to “7 Reasons Why Satellite Broadband Will Connect the Unconnected”

  1. Stephen says:

    I manage SC’s successful BGAN program. For relatively large budget fixed-location projects suitable for VSAT, this is all true. Likewise, most of our projects which had BGAN 5 or 6 years ago have migrated to 3G or at least Edge, sometimes with cell amplifiers.
    However, that just means that our newer projects are even more remote or challenging and BGAN remains the only realistic option The price of a 100 seat SCAP plan has not changed in half a decade and is still $5/Mb. Not megabit per second; $5 per megabyte of consumed bandwidth.
    This is a major burden for smaller development projects. We’re actively searching for replacement technology. Africa and the Pacific Isles are 5 years from having ubiquitous cheap satellite Internet. They have been 5 years out for the last fifteen years… SpaceX, save us!

  2. Samhir says:

    I’ve been diving deep into this recently and I have a couple points:

    – Facebook’s Ku-band collaboration with SES was mostly just a test to prime them for their Ka-band project using the Amos-6 satellite – not sure anything has come of it for delivering actual internet, partly because…

    – Amos-6 blew up with a SpaceX launch and I’ve not heard anything since about it, so it might be a dead collaboration. have you heard anything about this since?

    – What about Musknet? He’s planning on putting up more broadband satellites into space (4000+) in the next couple years than currently even exist (about 1,300). Latency will be equal to fiber. FCC cleared him the other week. Do you know anything I don’t about reasons to be skeptical of this? It’s admittedly pretty cynical move since he’s openly said he’s only doing it to make money to fund his Mars shit.