Checking an email while connected to a Zoom session with a social network open in the background seems natural to us, but it’s still a dream for 20% of the world’s population.
Must remember: Internet connection – especially wide band – it is not accessible to everyone. In France, only 25% of French people are connected, mostly in urban areas. In the countryside and areas with low population density, white areas are common.
In the face of this sad observation, a ray of hope came straight from space: Satellite Internet. Thanks to this technology, high-speed Internet access for everyone, everywhere, will soon become a reality.
How does the satellite connection work?
High-speed Internet via satellite is based on 3 elements:
- a satellite dish located on the roof of the building to be connected, coupled with a modem, which transmits data packets to the satellites;
- a low-altitude (LEO) or geostationary satellite, which receives the data sent from the dish and retransmits the beam to the ground reception center;
- a ground reception center, which sends the signal from the satellites to a line of Fiber Optic.
Thus, with each web request, the data packets will make 4 round trips of 36,000 KM – a total distance of 144,000 KM.
High-speed satellite Internet, the forgotten sesame of the Internet revolution
The satellite network responds to a fundamental problem of the digital revolution: connecting the “forgotten” of the Internet and bridging the digital divide. Indeed, for conventional Internet access providers, the installation of network equipment is profitable in proportion to the number of potential subscribers. Therefore, installing relay antennas or fiber optic cables in sparsely populated areas is economic heresy for these operators.
The consequence for companies located in these regions: impossible to fully exploit the power of IoT, web 4.0 or related industry. Suffice it to say that they lose out to their competitors who benefit from an online subscription. And it is for these people and companies that the satellite Internet connection is primarily intended.
Thanks to two-way VSAT technology, satellites offer higher data rates than they do VDSL. For example, the maximum upstream speed offered by VDSL is 8 Mb/s, compared to 22 Mb/s for VSAT. But Internet via satellite network is not only for companies located in white or orange areas: it also improves the connectivity of companies located in fiber optic areas. For example, IT managers often include it in their IT PCA/PRA plans to perform instant backups in the event of a disaster.
Satellite Internet and conventional telecom operators: a synergistic relationship
As mentioned above, traditional ISPs and telephone operators cannot serve an entire territory, due to lack of profitability. This is why the latter maintain complementary – and not competitive – relationships with satellite internet providers. Proof of this is the agreement between Orange and Eutelsat.
GAFAM, aeronautical companies, ISPs… all present in the space race
The new space race attracts companies with different profiles, including:
- satellite operators, who place constellations of satellites in low orbit;
- Internet access providers, who then rent bandwidth satellite managers;
- distributors specialized only in Internet subscriptions via the satellite network;
- GAFAM, including Amazon’s Kuiper and Facebook’s Athena, whose missions are different.
To these we can add public authorities. Indeed, since the yellow vest crisis in France – partly linked to the digital divide – states are doing everything to reduce digital deserts.
Satellite Internet market, an unstoppable expansion
In 2021, the satellite internet market was estimated at $3,985 million. By 2030, it is expected to grow to $17.431 million, according to the report “Satellite Internet Market Share, Analysis Report and Forecast by Region 2022-2030”.
Evidence of this exponential growth in the future: satellite Internet operators all want to increase the size of their space constellations. Be it star connection from SpaceX and its 12,000 satellites in orbit by 2027, to Amazon Kuiper and its 3,236 LEO satellites, Earth’s orbit is destined to accommodate more and more satellites.
Latency, the Achilles heel of satellite internet
As a reminder, each request through a satellite network travels 144,000 km. Inevitably, this atmospheric travel leads to high latency and ping, making it difficult to use the low-latency service. The most optimistic satellite Internet operators predict a delay of 20 milliseconds through the use of Ku-band frequencies… compared to almost 0 ms for fiber optics currently.
To reduce the latency of its satellite connection when it is crucial for their activity, such as in finance, companies should choose an operator that offers a low-latency infrastructure and that has many PoPs (Point of Presence), connecting with underwater cable all the nerve. the centers of the modern economy: London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Singapore, New York, Moscow, etc.
For companies wishing to locate in the Middle Kingdom, the ideal is an operator directly connected to the three Chinese trading hubs: Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai.