Indian Space Association (ISpA) Education Series #1: The Basics of Satellite Broadband

In the first edition of the Indian Space Association's Education Series, the ISpA noted satellite broadband, and how it helps deliver connectivity.

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Indian Space Association, or ISpA

Q1. What is Satellite Broadband Service?


Satellite broadband is the delivery of the internet through Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Unlike traditional broadband services, satellite broadband does not require fiber cables. To access satellite broadband, users will need a PC, satellite modem, wireless router, and a network cable.

Q2. What makes satellite broadband different from the typical broadband we use right now?

Satellite broadband is ubiquitous available everywhere and the lead time to install and start service at any customer location is much faster than alternate media. Besides bringing the capacity to support multiple devices at a time, it can support all common applications including streaming movies and browsing, as well as services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Standard and High-Definition TV (HDTV), and video on demand as well as IoT devices.


Q3. What are the key advantages of satellite broadband?

The most important aspect of satellite broadband is that it can deliver uninterrupted connectivity. It is also ideal for delivering rural and remote connectivity. This is especially beneficial for countries like India where rural connectivity remains a major challenge due to poor fiber penetration and disparate geography. Satellite communication is also widely used during natural calamities as it offers an uninterrupted network when traditional services are affected.

Q4. How can this new technology of broadband prove to be useful for our country?


Satellite broadband can complement the current telecom infrastructure in India in multiple ways enabling providing backhaul infrastructure, rural and remote connectivity, and facilitating always-on connectivity across challenging terrains like mines, deep-sea, railway tunnels, mountain ranges, etc.

SATCOM also has the potential to provide emergency communications during natural disasters to the remotest parts of the country and can play a pivotal role in carrying out various economic activities in far-flung and digitally excluded areas.

Q5. Is this new broadband option capable of bridging India's widening digital Urban and Rural divide?


The recent Digital Riser Report from ESCP Europe Business School has identified India as among the poorest in terms of the digital competitiveness developed over the past three years. At present 25-30,000 villages in India still live without Internet. Connecting them with fiber is an insurmountable task. With satcom, this becomes much easier. A small satellite communication dish can connect around 20 homes. Thus, satcom emerges as the most viable solution to address the country’s digitization challenges.

Q.6. What are the major challenges that the consumers could face when the services are initially launched in India?

Some of the major challenges are briefed as below:

  • Pricing could be a concern for satellite connectivity in rural areas. In the initial stages of the launch, the service tends to be costlier. For example, in the current scenario, the satellite broadband monthly fee comes to around ₹7,000 per month, in addition to the initial setup costs that could rise to up to ₹37,000. However, satellite internet providers are seeking to address this issue through the use of new satcom technologies like LEO services.
  • Another challenge is the availability of the spectrum on which these services will operate. Because the satcom is at a very nascent stage in India, there is still no clarity about the spectrum allocated for satellite broadband in India yet. The government, in association with industry stakeholders, is already engaged in discussions to address this issue.
  • The other key issues associated with satellite broadband are latency and speed. For example, satellite broadband service can have a latency of above 50ms even in normal scenarios. With advancements in LEO satellites, operators hope to address these issues. In addition, new constellations of satellites are being developed to address the latency issues associated with satellite broadband. Modern consumer-grade service delivered through LEOstar satellites promises comparatively higher data speeds.

This series is contributed by the Indian Space Association

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