The launch of SpaceX’s Starlink marks the beginning of a satellite broadband market that has the potential to upset the telecom industry

The launch of SpaceX’s Starlink marks the beginning of a satellite broadband market that has the potential to upset the telecom industry

Due to the emergence of space technology businesses such as SpaceX and OneWeb, the year 2021 will see the commencement of a new satellite revolution. The emergence of such new space ventures has caused some disruption in the telecommunications industry, particularly in the broadband internet market. Since the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) believes that just over half of the world’s population (51.4 percent) has internet access. The urban-rural gap exacerbates the digital divide. In 2019, around 72 percent of urban households had internet access at home, nearly twice as many as rural households (37 percent).

Given the significant capital expenditures required to install equipment and supporting infrastructure, bridging this gap is not the main purpose of satellite broadband carriers. For the time being, providers will concentrate on speedy client acquisition and cross-selling possibilities, but they will expect long-term financial gains from their separate space activities.

More than ten low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite initiatives have emerged in recent years, with SpaceX’s Starlink having a clear first-mover benefit. Starlink is perhaps the largest network in the orbit, with over 1,500 operating satellites. Elon Musk recently announced that Starlink had delivered 100,000 terminals to clients in 14 nations, pending licensing applications in several more countries. Given that the full commercial service has yet to launch, this is noteworthy.

Starlink’s satellite broadband service succeeded in giving a comparable experience to the fixed-based internet service, despite service outages during the early beta-testing phase. In 2021, according to a recent blog by broadband network intelligence company Ookla, Starlink was really the sole satellite broadband service supplier in the United States to provide fixed latency numbers of 45 ms as well as median download speeds of 97.23 Mbps (vs. 14 ms and 115 Mbps for fixed broadband). Starlink also outperformed fixed broadband in places such as Germany (107.98 Mbps vs. 58.17 Mbps), Canada (86.92 Mbps vs. 84.24 Mbps), New Zealand (127.02 Mbps vs. 78.85 Mbps), and the United Kingdom (127.02 Mbps vs. 78.85 Mbps) (108.30 Mbps vs. 50.14 Mbps).

All of these figures lead to Starlink becoming a viable broadband alternative. As more Starlink satellites enter orbit, the number of downtimes will decrease, and the latency and speed will improve. And, if Elon Musk is now to be believed, Starlink’s speed will increase to 300 Mbps by the close of the year, up from 50-150 Mbps currently promised.

Several other companies are gearing up to start additional constellation projects. OneWeb, Amazon’s Kuiper, and Telesat’s Lightspeed are 3 of the most potential LEO satellite projects (apart from SpaceX’s Starlink).

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