Yes, we are winning. Thank you, Mr. Elon Musk.
Slowly but surely, and largely due to the publicity created by the StarLink service of SpaceX and the achievements of Elon Musk, the industry is realising that the myths of satellite – that it is slow, expensive and has a latency problem – are incorrect.
Network architects are starting to realise that satellite technology is undergoing rapid development and is very much relevant today and in the future of connectivity.
Architects now want to understand more about satellite – questions such as:
- “Where does satellite fit into the bouquet of possible connectivity solutions?”
- “What applications are ideal?”
- “How do I integrate satellite links with the rest of my network?”
In this discussion we will start with the first and primary criteria – what applications are ideal for satellite Internet?
Understanding the fundamentals
Asking this question is a sign you are on the right track as it is the correct approach to network design.
It underlines the fundamental understanding that technologies are very different, and that each technology has pro and cons and is best suited to different applications.
At the risk of over-simplification, here is a short recap of technology fundamentals as applicable to the most popular connectivity options.
|Network Topology||Point-to-Multipoint and Broadcast||Point-to-point||Broadcast Mobile Access||Can be both point-to-point or point-to-multipoint.|
|Service Coverage||Country-wide coverage||Mostly Metros and only where installed||Mostly Metros and only where installed. (3G almost country wide)||Urban and also a focus on regional towns and some countryside.|
|Service Availability||With no terrestrial network elements this is very high.
Twoobii is 99.95%*
|Fibre services is at risk to regional and local damage by theft and power failures.||As part of the mobile network services this is a “best-effort” service.||Fixed wireless networks are exposed to network risks such as tower vandalism, theft and power failures.|
|Billing||Fixed billing||Fixed billing||Variable billing||Fixed billing|
*Note: Twoobii is the high-throughput satellite solution powered by the latest Intelsat platforms and operated by Q-KON – see www.twoobii.com.
By integrating the listed technology characteristics with different user requirements and connectivity applications, we can generate the following application scale which visualises which technology is best suited for which application.
In this example we are considering the following applications: Primary service, back-up or standby service, high availability services, SD-WAN secondary links, and on-demand applications.
In this application scale, a “high” score indicates a good fit between the application and the technology, whereas a “weak” score indicates a poor fit between technology and application.
|Primary Service||Where available fibre is the logical choice as a primary service to a fixed location. The high data rates, fixed cost and “anywhere” nature of satellite makes this the second option, while the variable billing of LTE is a last option.|
|Back-up Service||High uptime, anywhere service, on-demand costing makes satellite the #1 choice. Fibre is the last option because when used as a primary, you really need another service type as back-up.|
|High Availability||ATM, Point-of-Sale will obviously benefit from the satellite network trusted and reliable service (note this doesn’t relate to the current Ka services in the market)
Next fibre and lastly 3G due to the best-effort quality of service.
|SD-WAN Secondary||The fixed cost, layer 2-over-satellite, multicasting, etc makes satellite the first choice as a secondary to be integrated with fibre as a primary. The variable billing of LTE and the best-effort service quality makes this not a good option as a back-up service.|
|On-demand||Satellite is really the only option that can do on-demand service for events, redundancy for core network trunk services, etc. Fibre cannot readily be installed on short notice and again LTE is not reliable enough for this application.|
Understanding the key characteristic of each telecommunication technology is an excellent first step to sound network architecture and designing networks with the best performance at lowest cost levels.
It also demonstrates that different technologies serve different applications and that no technology offers a “one-size-fits-all” model.
From this understanding it is also clear that there are major benefits to satellite services and that new HTS services like Q-KON Twoobii offers strong business benefits.