StarLink- Satellite-based Internet Service is launched in the USA and is going to be launched in India soon. Service by SpaceX led by Elon Musk is betting big on this and is saying it can be a $1 Trillion Market. Let’s discuss this more in detail.
What is Satellite-based Internet:
As per Sateliiteinternet.com, Satellite internet is wireless internet beamed down from satellites orbiting the Earth. It’s a lot different from land-based internet services like cable or DSL, which transmit data through wires.
How does Satellite Internet Work?
Satellite internet works by using radio waves to communicate with satellites orbiting the Earth. Data is sent and retrieved through a communication network that starts with your device and travels through your modem and satellite dish, out to a satellite in space, then back to Earth to ground stations known as network operations centers (NOC). And then, data travels back through this network—out to space and then back to your satellite dish on Earth—to deliver data on your device. (Satelliteinternet.com)
i) Remote Area Access:
One of the major benefits of the Satellite-based Internet is that it can provide global coverage and even to remote areas without comprising the quality. Also, a satellite has enough potential to cover a large area for instance 3-4 States in India’s context.
ii) Wide Range:
This benefit is also linked to the previous one. The Satellite-based Internet will help in providing access to the Internet to all the areas which will also cover the Air Space as well as while traveling in flight, etc. Hence, this shows that this system covers a very wide range as compared to the existing system.
The Satellite-based Internet system possesses the capability to provide a better security system as it already constitutes a private network. Moreover, an efficient encrypted satellite can prove to be more secure than the terrestrial network which could be helpful for the Government, Military, Defence, and other departments which seek higher security.
Terrestrial Network System involves numerous equipment on the ground which is also prone to higher damage in case of any disruptions or emergencies. But, satellite internet has less equipment on the ground level and hence better in these terms than Terrestrial network.
Satellite Internet generally provides high-speed services. It may provide services 30% to 40% faster than the normal dial-up connection.
Another advantage of the satellite-based internet service is its cost-effectiveness. This system set-up cost is much lower than the terrestrial network as it involves high investment.
i) Limited Bandwidth:
There is a limit in speed of the satellite-based internet services. As per the current technology basis, the speed hovers at between 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps. Due to this speed limit, this system is less reliable.
ii) Weather Related Disturbances:
The weather affects the signal path of the satellite internet. In the case of rain, storms, and strong wind, the signal could be worse and there are chances of the internet not being there. Also, wind can cause physical damage to the dish as well.
Satellite signals get attenuated due to obstructions (tree branches, buildings) in the path between the VSAT antenna at the customer premise and the satellite in space.
iv) Poor Latency Rate:
There is a delay of about 120ms from discs on earth to the satellite in space and vice versa. Hence total delay for double hops is about 240 ms. This delay is applied to all the messages viz. connection establishment and data transfer operations.
Players in Satellite Internet Industry:
- Starlink is a part of SpaceX, the company owned by the billionaire Elon Musk.
- The company expects an investment opportunity of around $1 trillion in this industry.
- As per reports, Starlink has currently invested around $20-$30 billion in this project.
- Starlink is currently having 69,000 Users.
- Also, the company has launched more than 1,500 satellites and plans to launch more than 12,000 satellites in the coming period for which they have received from the Government as well.
- The company plans to launch around 30,00-40,000 satellites which is much higher than the satellites launched around the world currently which stands at around 9,000.
- The company is providing satellite internet service at a very low cost which is around $100 per month.
- OneWeb is another big player in the space of satellite-based internet services.
- Bharti Airtel owns around 38% stake in this company. The other big stakeholders are UK Govt., Soft Bank, etc.
- Airtel has already invested around $2.4 billion in this project.
- Till now, OneWeb has launched 254 Satellites.
- The company also plans to start internet services in the northern hemisphere by the year 2022.
- Another major player in this industry with a strong backup company is Kuiper, which is a part of Amazon Group.
- Kuiper has a plan to invest around $10 billion.
- In terms of satellites, the company is eyeing to launch 3,200 satellites.
As of now, the Satellite-based internet services are termed to be as complimenting services to existing internet infrastructure which is commonly cable-based. Currently due to the presence of several issues like bandwidth, reliability, weather, etc. the satellite-based internet services don’t seem to be much promising. But it will be interesting to see if this technology improves and comes up with lesser limitations. In the medium term, these satellite-based internet services seem to be complimenting services, but it will be an interesting thing to watch this for a longer period.