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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering satellite services' role in mobile broadband

Reading this article has made me reflect how little focus gets put on satellite connectivity. Yes, we all benefit from GPS devices, and millions have Sky TV and its international equivalents.

But in terms of either two-way end user devices, or its use for cellsite backhaul, it's often overlooked. And yet services such as Inmarsat's BGAN satellite modems can often be cheaper than some of the more ridiculous cellular data roaming tariffs.

The latency argument in the article is interesting - many expect new radio technologies like LTE and WiMAX to make mobile web access (or VoIP) more useable by reducing the levels of delay. But for those devices connected to base stations beyond the economic reach of fibre or microwave, there's a big extra chunk of latency if there's a roundtrip to a satellite in geostationary orbit (not to mention any extra delay due to compression ). The new MEO network could be a significant factor in enabling real mobile Internet access from remote locations.

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