Communications Satellites: Global Change Agents

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

CHAPTER EIGHT
Satellites, Internet, and IP Networking
Indu B. Singh
Robinder N. Sachdev
American University

Electricity … ended sequence by making things instant.

—Marshall McLuhan (2001)

Satellite-based Internet is now changing both the developed and developing world. Its impact is not only large, but is now growing at tremendous speed. This is because these interlinked technologies are global, instantaneous, and costeffective. Internet networks have the potential to be increasingly pervasive in every country in the world.

Although the satellite communication industry has created viable business models in media, broadcast, and voice and data communications, it is yet to come up with a similarly effective model in the Internet-related sector of the satellite industry. This is partly due to the fact that the technology curves in the media and broadcast industries have reached maturity levels, whereas satellite Internet services are still at an early stage of development.

Despite this still being an early stage, it is already an important part of the overall business. As of 1997, there was modest Internet traffic on the major satellite systems such as Intelsat and Panamsat, but today Internet traffic represents the fastest growing category of fixed satellite service revenues and represents some 10% to 20% of total revenues on most global systems.

This Internet satellite traffic, however, is largely backbone or trunk traffic between countries. Only a small portion of this satellite traffic is broadband Internet traffic that is connected directly to business or end users. It is the potential of direct-to-the-user broadband Internet traffic that represents the greatest opportunity

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