Satellite Internet offers from Amazon, SpaceX, OneWeb and others could save billions of dollars to millions of consumers around the world
In order to offer high-speed Internet connection worldwide, several players have embarked on a race to conquer space by seeking to launch constellations of satellites. Among the players in the race is Amazon, for example, which is working on the Kuiper project to launch 3,236 satellites to provide low-latency, high-speed Internet access around the world. This constellation of satellites will be positioned in low earth orbit, i.e. up to about 2,000 km in altitude, in order to ensure low latency during data transfer. A first layer of satellites will be placed in a 590 km orbit. A second layer of 1;156 satellites will be positioned on a 630 km orbit. And a third layer of 1;296 satellites will be placed on a 610 km orbit. Last July, Amazon applied to the US authorities for permission to launch its satellite constellation.
Like Amazon, SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, plans to launch thousands of satellites (4,409 satellites to be exact) into low earth orbit. However, it should be pointed out that SpaceX's project is more advanced than Amazon's. Since last year, SpaceX has obtained US approval to deploy its satellites around the earth. And last April, the Federal Communications Commission responsible for regulating telecommunications in the United States gave its approval to SpaceX to market broadband internetwith its fleet of satellites.
Read more : SpaceX Starlink Router Approved by The FCC
In addition to these two major projects which received wide press coverage this year, we also have the OneWeb project founded in 2012 which also has the same objectives as Amazon and SpaceX and also wants to provide broadband internet connection with a constellation of satellites positioned in low earth orbit. In this project, which has been strengthened by the partnership with Airbus, 900 satellites are planned with the operational objective of providing a 5G internet connection in 2021. In June, OneWeb successfully positioned 6 satellites at an altitude of 1200 km.
Telesat, a company in the audio-visual sector, is also considering sending satellites (292 in all) to orbits of 1,000 to 1,250 km around the earth. LeoSat, another project for very high-speed Internet connection via satellite, plans to send 108 communication satellites into geostationary orbit. Even Facebook is reportedly working on this project to launch a constellation of micro-satellites in a low earth orbit between 160 and 2011 km around the earth.
When these projects all enter their operational phase, the first beneficiaries will undoubtedly be the American population. However, these companies all aim to eventually provide global broadband internet coverage with low latency. Once the deployment of all satellite constellations is complete, these companies will be able to cover the entire surface of the Earth. For isolated populations not or poorly served by Internet offers, it will now be possible to have an Internet connection of the same quality as that of urban populations.
But this is not the only benefit that could be derived from the availability of high-quality global Internet coverage offered by satellite operators. Indeed, with the abundance of offers provided by operators offering broadband Internet services with satellite equipment, a significant impact is likely to be felt on the prices of Internet offers.
The advantages of satellite broadband Internet offers in different regions of the world
In the United States, for example, the lowest price when an Internet user has only one Internet offer is $68. For those (about 75 million Americans) who have a choice between two providers, the average price of a broadband Internet offer is $59. For the 15 million Americans who have five or more choices, the average price is $47. As can be seen, the more Internet offers abound, the lower the prices. And with the entry of new players offering satellite broadband Internet connections, the prices of Internet offers on the market will only go down, as these new operators will have to offer a better quality/price combination than those already available on the market in order to make a place for themselves among consumers. According to some analysts, these satellite offers could lead to substantial savings. In the United States alone, there is talk of around 30 billion dollars that consumers could save with low-cost Internet offers.
In Europe, although governments have invested heavily in making Internet offers accessible to the population, several regions of countries are still poorly served by high-speed Internet offers. A study conducted by the consumer group UFC-Que Choisirindicates that about 6.8 million people, or nearly 10.1% of the French population (almost all those living in the countryside or in small towns or villages) are " ;deprived of a minimum quality internet access;". And in municipalities with less than 1,000 inhabitants, almost a third of the inhabitants are entitled to an Internet access speed of less than 3 Mbps. For these categories of the population, satellite broadband Internet offers could solve the problem both in terms of the availability of qualitative offers and costs.
In Belgium, around 95.5% of households have access to broadband (30 Mbps). However, there is still a small part of the population living without internet. These are " ;white areas;" in which the majority of the rural population lives. There are also grey areas, i.e. areas covered by a single Internet service provider. The problem is that these areas, which require large investments, are inhabited by small populations, which means that for the provider the profitability of such an investment is not guaranteed. It is at this stage that satellite Internet offers can be quite useful. Even more interesting, they can even prove to be much more advantageous with more attractive rates than the current offers.
In Africa, on the other hand, although many countries have invested considerable sums of money in order to have broadband, in general, only urban areas benefit from this quality of Internet connection. And even there, the offers remain relatively expensive in relation to purchasing power. Once again, satellite broadband Internet offers present themselves as a reliable solution to speed up coverage of neglected areas. Some companies have already sniffed out the opportunities in this business and have embarked on this quest. Eutelsat, a French company, has set up the Konnect Africa program to provide satellite broadband Internet connection offers in areas that are not covered or poorly served by broadband Internet offers. On the price side, as other satellite Internet service providers enter the market, prices will certainly fall.