Review Step 2c: Characteristics & Trade-offs – Satellite

Satellite technology is a mature technology that is increasingly used for Internet data communications. There are currently over 775 communication satellites orbiting the planet, and the technology is particularly useful for reaching suburban, rural, remote and ultra-remote parts of geographies that are beyond the reach of other communication infrastructure. Satellite connectivity is utilized for a range of different deployment scenarios in support of last-mile connectivity, such as in providing mobile backhaul, community Wi-Fi and in direct broadband satellite-to-the-premises. Satellites are usually grouped into three different categories: Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with varying characteristics (see below). Spectrum Regime: Licensed Coverage area: Very wide area Device costs: VSAT terminals for the end user premise are lower cost, whereas bandwidth pricing through satellite can be higher. (Note that new satellite network deployments require significant capex investment which includes the satellite, launch and ground station hub) Data rates are increasing with next generation GEO satellite (High Throughput Satellites, HTS), new MEO and emerging LEO deployments. The latter, LEO, have a particular advantage of lower latency, though deployments have shown that GEO latency is acceptable for VoIP and video calls and MEO latency is within range for MNO 4G deployments.

Table 23: GEO, MEO and LEO satellite characteristics

Source: various authors (see Annex 2) * This excludes high-latitude areas, i.e. above the polar circles. ** Theoretically; in practice, 5 000 to 20 000 km.