Satellite internet is the internet accessed with the help of communication satellites such as geostationary satellites orbiting the Earth. Viasat, HughesNet, and Starlink are some examples of satellite internet providers. This a great option for people living in rural areas where the telecom infrastructure with cable, fiber, or DSL internet providers isn’t well-established. It provides access to information and connectivity for people living in remote areas of the planet. Satellite internet service is probably not suitable for people living in cities, as they have several faster and cheaper internet options easily available. Our analysis reported that the total percentage of the population living in rural areas accounted for 43 percent in the year 2022. The best satellite internet service providers offer more than 250 Mbps download speeds and unlimited data. As this type of connection provides global coverage, it is location-independent. The next generation of satellites - built with 5G architecture - is set to increase connectivity in cars, airplanes, and other IoT devices in remote and rural areas.
The Primary Components of Satellite Internet are -
Traditional communication satellites have been in orbit for more than 50 years and weigh more than 1000kg. They remain in a fixed position which allows ground-based antennas to point directly at the satellite. The Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites are miniaturized and weigh under 500kg. Due to its low orbit, latency is considerably reduced. LEO Satellites play a vital role in expanding cellular 5G networks to air, sea, and other remote areas which are currently not covered by traditional cellular networks. They will offer a seamless extension of 5G services from the city to airplanes, cruise liners, farms, mines, and other remote worksites. Integrating satellites with the 5G infrastructure is expected to enhance the Quality of Experience (QoE) of high-performance applications. If 5G infrastructure is damaged due to natural or manmade disasters, satellite networks can step up and maintain the network flow. Satellites can support IoT owing to their wide coverage and broadcast capabilities.
Satellite communication has always been a media broadcasting service. Now, the accessibility to the internet and smartphones has shifted the media content from live television broadcasts to on-demand streaming. 5G-enabled satellites will enable the smooth delivery and low latency of enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) applications such as 8K video streaming and online VR/AR gaming.
Traditional IoT devices use cellular networks to connect to the internet, but these networks are unavailable in remote locations. For instance, an oil or gas production platform or a rig in the middle of the ocean or a desert or in the mountains. IoT’s use cases have expanded to applications that include monitoring of power plants and oil and gas pipelines, farming operations, point-of-sale and security solutions, etc. Insufficient and expensive network coverage disables many businesses from reaching remote assets. Satellites can offer superior quality services to high-speed platforms that can’t function solely using terrestrial network systems, such as connected cars, airplanes, drones, etc., at optimum prices. LEO satellite constellations will augment terrestrial 5G infrastructure by increasing connectivity and providing continuous internet connection in the event of natural disasters. Networking services provided by satellite constellations are becoming more affordable and accessible. IoT services provided by satellites can improve scalability by providing a wide network range that covers hard-to-reach devices with limited or no access to terrestrial networks.
The next-generation wireless network technology, 5G, will support the realization of smart cities, smart environments, and big data applications. Within the 5G framework, the terrestrial services can be integrated with High Throughput Satellite (HTS) systems and mega-Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations. Satellites will also pave the way for new applications such as smart agriculture, environmental protection, transportation, animal tracking, etc. The future of 5G will involve a multi-layer architecture where low-altitude drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and High Altitude Platforms (HAPs) can work in tandem to provide 5G coverage extension with the support of LEO and/or GEO satellites. 5G will be critical for the digital transformation of the global economy with its unparalleled extent of connectivity. It is launching newer applications that require rapid data transmission, high reliability, and quicker response time. A full-fledged 5G network can transmit data 20 times faster than the existing 4G LTE, and offer a latency of 1 millisecond, enabling real-time monitoring and feedback. 5G was developed with the main focus of enabling IoT use cases. In the future, billions of 5G IoT devices will require constant updates that necessitate an efficient distribution of data globally. Satellite Internet is equipped to support IoT by offering shared uplink connectivity, data aggregation, and IoT backup, thus promoting higher reliability in massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC), a new service category of 5G that can support higher connection density of online devices.
Integrating 5G and satellite internet technologies into IoT applications will enhance their performance and radically transform various global sectors such as health, energy, telecommunication, and agriculture, to name a few. While the assimilation of these revolutionary technologies into systems and solutions that bring value to customers offers many opportunities for organizations. Also, they may need strategic advice to navigate the transformation caused by the advent of 5G and the enabling space technologies.
While the performance of satellite internet is not good right now but still the availability, and pricing of non-wired internet is moving them in the right direction over the next few years. Thus, it is offering exciting opportunities to remote areas by providing internet connectivity.