The race to dominate satellite internet heats up
By Tangi QUEMENER
Colorado Springs (AFP) April 7, 2022
Though satellite internet has existed for years, the competition is about to rapidly intensify, with companies planning to launch thousands of their own systems into low Earth orbit.
The latest move in the industry came on Tuesday from Amazon, which took a major step towards getting its $10 billion Kuiper constellation off the ground by sealing deals with three rocket companies.
The US online retail giant wants to strengthen its lucrative diversification into IT services, and "provide low-latency broadband to a wide range of customers," including those "working in locations without a reliable internet connection."
"Satellite solutions are an indispensable complement to fiber," said Stephane Israel, chief executive of Arianespace, one of the Amazon rocket providers.
"There are situations in which fiber is much too expensive compared to satellite connections, especially to reach the last inhabitant of a remote area," he explained.
In addition to the satellites themselves, Amazon plans "small, affordable client terminals" along the lines of Echo smart-homes and Kindle e-readers, and promises to "provide service at a price that is affordable and accessible to customers," with no further pricing details immediately.
Will Amazon be able to break through the increasingly crowded market?
Satellite internet already exists: US customers have access to HughesNet and Viasat, while in Europe, Orange subsidiary Nordnet -- among others -- uses the power of the Eutelsat Konnect satellite to offer broadband to its customers.
Costs for users start under 60 euros ($70) per month, excluding terminal and antenna, and increase according to the bandwidth.
But because these services use satellites at geostationary orbit -- more than 35,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) from Earth's surface -- their speed cannot match that of fiber, prohibiting use for high-speed tasks like gaming.
Amazon's future satellites, like those already launched by Starlink, a subsidiary of Elon Musk's SpaceX, will operate in low Earth orbit (LEO), only 600 km high.
- Low orbit more vulnerable -
"The advantage of LEO is that you reduce the latency, (and) by reducing the latency you maximize the uses," said Israel.
On the other hand, being closer to Earth makes it necessary to send many more spacecraft into orbit: more than 3,200 for Amazon, and thousands for Starlink, of which around 1,500 are already active.
British company OneWeb has launched 428 of the 648 satellites in its LEO constellation, and China plans to deploy around 13,000 "GuoWang" satellites.
Beyond the issues of national competition, the rapid expansion responds to an equally growing need.
In late March, the United Nation's International Telecommunication Union remarked that "once considered a luxury, internet connectivity became crucial for many during the COVID-19 pandemic as populations faced stay-at-home orders and many practices moved online."
"The need for bandwidth has skyrocketed around the world, and we will never launch enough satellites to meet the demand," predicts an executive AFP met this week in Colorado Springs, on the sidelines of the world's biggest space technology trade show.
But the bandwidth marketing specialist, who asked to remain anonymous, also noted that low-orbiting spacecraft are far more vulnerable than geostationary ones, as demonstrated by the recent loss of dozens of Starlinks after a magnetic storm.
As a result, "they will have to be constantly replaced."
The rocket companies will not mind that.
HawkEye 360 launches next-generation Cluster 4 satellites
Herndon VA (SPX) Apr 01, 2022
HawkEye 360 Inc., the world's leading commercial provider of space-based radio frequency (RF) data and analytics, reports that its Cluster 4 satellites have successfully launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral site on April 1. The trio of HawkEye 360 satellites, each containing an RF payload developed by HawkEye 360, has established communication with ground control and is set to commence its commissioning process to meet increasing client demand. "The successful launch of ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.