Satellite Internet

News: The Reliance has launched a joint venture (JV) with European satellite-based broadband service company SES to enter the satellite internet space.

What is Satellite Internet?

  • The technology beams the internet down from a satellite that’s orbiting the Earth.
  • Jio, Bharti Airtel Ltd’s OneWeb, and billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink want to send thousands of these satellites to orbit.
  • OneWeb plans to launch 648 satellites, while Musk’s Starlink has permits to launch over 4,000 of them.
  • So far, OneWeb has launched over 400 satellites, while Starlink has launched over 2,000 satellites.
  • It’s worth noting that Starlink plans to launch 42,000 satellites in the coming decade. Jio’s journey has only just begun.

Details:

  • The JV will use geostationary (GEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites, while Starlink and OneWeb use low earth orbit (LEO) satellites.
  • LEO satellites are cheaper to make and deploy, but require a satellite constellation working in sync to offer coverage on earth.
  • On the other hand, GEO and MEO satellites are larger, deployed in higher orbits, and therefore cost more.
  • These satellites cover a larger area and require fewer ground stations, which makes them ideal for targeted coverage area. LEOs move faster and can hence provide global coverage.

Advantages:

  • The reason telecom firms want to explore satellite internet is because there are areas where fibre connections just can’t reach.
  • Satellite networks are used to bring connectivity in such areas, which include hills and remote islands.
  • Consumer applications are new, but satellite networks have been used for ages in military applications.

Disadvantages:

  • The applications and the power of satellite internet are often exaggerated.
  • In reality, these networks have limitations, the biggest being high latency and low bandwidths.
  • Latency is all about internet speed, while bandwidth determines how many devices can connect on a network at the same time. Experts say current satellite connections will bring 1-2 MB bandwidth, which just about qualifies as broadband under India’s broadband policy.
  • Trouble-shooting can be a problem because it needs specialized knowledge.

Applications:

  • Militaries across the world have depended on satellite communications for a long time.
  • However, many military experts, too, consider this form to be unreliable and too expensive to be made the sole communication medium.
  • In remote areas, satellite internet can still allow businesses to open up local branches and provide digital services.
  • In theory, a bank could set up more ATMs in remote regions if it has access to satellite internet.