Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Satellite Internet Making a Comeback?

A few years ago, I worked with some satellite companies in the area and another one in the West Coast. Some of them were trying to break into the internet space and one of them had a product out in the market. But the latency issues made the user-experience wanting. The concept was great in terms of span and coverage and although the cost was going to be high there were some good arguments that satellite would provide coverage where terrestrial (e.g. cable, dsl, fiber) products were missing.

But then the bubble burst and the failure of Iridium wasn't good publicity for all satellite companies no matter how different their business models were, so most of us thought we'll just have to wait until fiber covered all the corners of the globe.

And lo-and-behold, just the other day Japan announces a satellite for high-speed access. And the speed they're hoping to achieve --- are you ready for this? --- 1.2 GB/second. That's about 100x faster than your typical Comcast and Verizon access, so that's very fast. Those HD movies coming down the pipe can be downloaded in less than a minute, instead of hours.

So maybe there's hope for satellite after all. It does make sense especially for some places in Southeast Asia where the terrestrial landscape is composed of islands and laying fiber across those islands is more challenging than being included in the satellite's coverage.

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