Communications Satellites: Global Change Agents

By Joseph N. Pelton; Robert J. Oslund et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
The “New” Satellite Services:
Brodcast, Mobile, and Broadband
Internet Satellite Systems
D. K. Sachdev
President SpaceTel Consultancy
Dan Swearingen
Consultant; formerly COMSAT Mobile Communications

Satellite communications have revolutionized global communications. For an investment much less than the cost of a medium-sized jet airplane, even the smallest countries with modest telecommunications networks could as of the 1970s link to every other country in the world, effectively and at low cost.

—Santiago Astrain, First Secretary General of Intelsat, Speech at UN,
1983

In the early days of satellite communications, it was Intelsat and a few regional and domestic satellite systems that defined the world of commercial satellite communications. This early phase of the satellite world and the fixed satellite technologies that allowed satellite systems to get started was explained in some detail in the chapter 2. The last 20 years have brought enormous change to satellite technology and services. The world of satellites has expanded as new technology defined new markets and as new markets created the need for new space technologies. The most important of these new satellite technologies and services in terms of revenues and global reach have been broadcast satellite systems (both for TV and now direct broadcast radio) as well as mobile satellite systems for maritime, aeronautical, and land mobile services.

Most recently, new satellite technology has evolved to support broadband Internet services for business enterprises, Internet Service Providers, and service to the desktop for small office/home office (SoHo) applications or even to the sophisticated home consumer. With the latest digital technology, some high-

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