A thriving satellite services industry has emerged as a result of advancements in satellite technology, offering a range of services to broadcasters, Internet service providers (ISPs), governments, the military, and other industries.
Satellites offer three different kinds of communication services: telephony, broadcasting, and data communications. Telephone calls and services offered to wireless, mobile, and cellular network providers as well as telephone businesses are examples of telecommunication services.
Direct-to-consumer radio and television, as well as mobile broadcasting services, are all considered broadcasting services. Households directly get DTH, or satellite television, services (such as the DirecTV and DISH Network services in the United States). Satellite is mostly used to provide cable and network content to local stations and affiliates. The distribution of programs to mobile devices like laptops, PDAs, and cell phones is another crucial function of satellites.
Transferring data from one location to another is a component of data communications. Through the use of very small-aperture terminal (VSAT) networks, corporations and other organizations that need to transmit financial and other information between their various locations employ satellites to make this process easier. As the Internet has expanded, a sizable portion of Internet traffic now travels by satellite, making ISPs one of the biggest users of satellite services.
When land-based communication capabilities are unavailable during emergencies and natural catastrophes, satellite communications technology is frequently used. Emergency communication services can be provided in disaster zones using mobile satellite equipment.
Setbacks of Satellite communication
The intrinsic transmission delay of satellites, especially those in geostationary orbit, is a significant technical drawback. Although there are techniques to make up for this delay, it makes some satellite applications, such as voice communications, which require real-time transmission and feedback, less than ideal.
Satellites compete with alternative delivery methods including cable, fiber optics, and even power lines on the ground. The ability of satellites to transmit signals from one place to numerous destinations is their fundamental benefit. As a result, “point-to-multipoint” communications like broadcasting are perfect for satellite technology. Satellite communication is the best option for underserved and remote locations with dispersed people because it doesn’t require significant investments on the ground.
Satellites can be used in conjunction with other delivery methods such as fiber optics, cable, and other terrestrial networks. It may be necessary to combine several delivery methods, which has led to the development of several hybrid systems in which satellites can function as one of the links in a chain when combined with other media. Teleports are ground service providers having the ability to link to other terrestrial networks as well as receive and broadcast satellite signals.
Top Satellite Service Providers
Four companies stand out as the greatest satellite Internet service providers: Inmarsat, Iridium, Thuraya, and Globalstar. You may find the essential details in this succinct guide if you’re interested in learning more about these businesses and their airtime services.
Following the Malaysian Airlines 370 tragedy in 2014, the British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat gained notoriety for its role in supplying investigators with crucial details regarding the plane’s last known location. Inmarsat offers voice, SMS, and data services all over the world through a network of thirteen geostationary satellites.
The company also delivers communications to governments, media outlets, aid organizations, and shipping, mining, and airline companies in regions where terrestrial services are not available. With the exception of the polar areas, coverage is extensive, covering the majority of the globe. The Global Xpress network of Inmarsat offers data download rates of up to 50Mbps, with higher rates on the way.
Iridium is one of the major players in satellite airtime and has a network of 66 in-orbit satellites that can continuously cover the entire planet, on land, at sea, in the air, and even in the polar areas. There is a nearly uninterrupted service because the satellites are not stationary.
The introduction of Iridium Certus, a multi-service platform to supply specialized internet services, was made feasible by the upgrade of its satellites and ground support infrastructure to the NEXT system, which was finished in 2019.
In comparison to GEO satellites, Iridium’s low Earth orbit satellite network provides pole-to-pole coverage, powerful signals, low latency, and a shorter transmission path.
Thuraya, a Yahsat company with headquarters in the United Arab Emirates, runs two geosynchronous satellites built by Boeing that provide communications to over 161 nations in Europe, North, Central, and East Africa, Asia, and some regions of Australia.
Thuraya was launched in 2001 as an affordable solution, particularly in densely populated areas where GSM is limited or unavailable. The company is known for its low airtime charges, competitive pricing, and great call clarity.
Globalstar, which was first sent into orbit in 1998, now manages a second-generation constellation of 24 low-Earth orbit satellites that was fully deployed by early 2016—fulfilling the company’s goal to develop and put into orbit the most cutting-edge satellite constellation now obtainable.
Although a few of Globalstar’s first-generation satellites prematurely failed, it is thought that their current constellation was built to overcome such issues. Currently, the business offers residential and business consumers in 120 different countries throughout the world mobile satellite voice and data services.
Globalstar is making progress in this area but is still unable to cover the entire planet due to the fact that it has less than half as many satellites in orbit as Iridium.