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Satellite Broadband Systems UPSC NOTE

 

What is  satellite broadband systems?

  • Satellite Internet access or Satellite Broadband is Internet access provided through communication satellites.

  • This technology enables users to access the Internet regardless of their geographical location.

  • Modern consumer grade satellite Internet service is typically provided to individual users through geostationary satellites that can offer relatively high data speeds, with newer satellites using Ku band to achieve downstream data speeds up to 506 Mbit/s.

  • In addition, new satellite internet constellations are being developed in low-earth orbit to enable low-latency internet access from space.

  • As LEO satellites orbit closer to the earth, they are able to provide stronger signals and faster speeds than traditional fixed-satellite systems.

Function:

  • Satellite Internet generally relies on three primary components:

    • Satellite, Gateways, Modem

  • Satellite – historically in geostationary orbit (or GEO) but now increasingly in Low Earth orbit (LEO) or Medium Earth orbit MEO.

  • Gateways - a number of ground stations known as gateways.

    • Relay Internet data to and from the satellite via radio waves (microwave).

    • Ground stations to serve each subscriber, with a small antenna and transceiver.

  • Modem - at the user end which links the user's network with the transceiver, and a centralized network operations centre (NOC) for monitoring the entire  system. 

  • Working in concert with a broadband gateway, the satellite operates a Star network topology.

  • In Star network topology all network communication passes through the network's hub processor, which is at the centre of the star.

  • With this configuration, the number of ground stations that can be connected to the hub is virtually limitless.

Uses and Applications

  • High speed home / office internet connectivity

  • Mission critical and disaster management applications.

  • Inflight Wi-Fi connectivity for commercial aviation and private jets.

  • Education and infrastructure development projects in rural areas of developing nations.

  • Military operations in remote areas.

  • Researchers and scientists can use satellite internet in arctic region and oceans.

  • Internet connectivity for Ships and boats.

  • Emergency and safety warning system for aircrafts and ships.

  • Media live broadcasting  

  • Future Internet of Things (IoT) applications

  • Weather broadcasting stations in high altitude mountains.

  • Long distance transportation vehicles and trucks

What is ‘backhaul?

  • In a hierarchical telecommunications network, the backhaul portion of the network comprises the intermediate links between the core network, or backbone network, and the small subnetworks at the edge of the network.

  • The most common network type in which backhaul is implemented is a mobile network.

  • In both the technical and commercial definitions, backhaul generally refers to the side of the network that communicates with the global Internet.

Satellite Broadband Systems and India

  • Currently, Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) operators offer satellite broadband services at a very limited capacity in India in a few remote locations.

  • The utilisation of satellite services for broadband services is restricted to minimal applications — such as disaster management, defence, scientific locations, etc.

  • India currently only uses satellite broadband as ‘backhaul’ in places like Lakshadweep (which is not yet connected terrestrially or with an undersea cable to the Indian mainland’s networks).

Satellite Broadband Systems and India - Concerns

Concerns raised by Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA).

  • There is no other country on the globe that actually auctions satellite frequency assignments.

  • Unlike terrestrial communications, satellite spectrum is a completely shared resource among different satellite operator.

  • Satellite frequencies are today re-used many, many times at the same geographic location. 

  • This re-use is governed by ITU [International Telecommunication Union] international rules.

  • By auctioning and granting exclusive rights to one user

    • all the current extensive re-use would be gone and 

    • the spectrum resources available to India would be greatly reduced compared with today”.

  • AVIA urged the government to encourage satellite broadband systems, which usually rely on a constellation of Internet-connected satellites.

Satellite Broadband Systems and India - Steps taken

  • Bharti Enterprises, based in India, is a key investor and shareholder in OneWeb.

    • OneWeb is a worldwide communication network powered by space that connects governments, corporations, and communities.

    • It is building a constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. 

  • Commercial launch,LVM-3  carried OneWeb satellites into space.

    • The LVM3 is the heaviest launch vehicle of ISRO.

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