Satellite can be the answer to the reliable capacity conundrum

06 January 2015 | Eric Loos

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Eric Loos

Blog Author | BICS; Senior product manager, capacity & IP


For developing economies, the internet is a springboard to connect their entrepreneurs, scientists and industry to the global economy and peers around the world.

For developing economies, the internet is a springboard to connect their entrepreneurs, scientists and industry to the global economy and peers around the world.


With the advent of LTE and almost ubiquitous mobile data, it is sometimes hard to remember that huge sections of the world’s population are only connected by one or two submarine or terrestrial cables.


This is often due to the challenges of the specific regions, including geographic, political and climatic factors, but means a cable fault can completely isolate entire nations for significant lengths of time or, at best, provide slow, intermittent connections.

There are numerous examples of this, with one of the most high-profile recent cases occurring earlier this year, when a problem with the Asia-America Gateway undersea cable caused major disruption to Vietnam and other south Asian economies for over two weeks before a full service was resumed.

The majority of geographic factors can be solved by peering agreements, strategically positioned Points of Presence (PoP), submarine cables and networks of fibre. But the uncomfortable fact remains that severe weather and human intervention can still leave remote areas with outages lasting for days, or even weeks, while laborious work to repair fibre and submarine cabling is undertaken.

In order to mitigate against outages of primary infrastructure such as terrestrial fibre or submarine cabling, satellite is emerging as the preferred option to provide robust back-up and connectivity to countries or regions with challenging natural geological features, including mountain ranges and areas surrounded by largely unpopulated areas.

Satellite capacity solutions can provide a reliable back-up to operators concerned about disaster recovery and the stability of current capacity backhaul infrastructure. IP over Satellite (IPoSat) can be quickly deployed to cover any problems with existing backhaul solutions and offers speeds of up to 200Mbps. The flexibility of solutions is enhanced if operators combine satellite provision with their existing IP infrastructure, often now available through the same provider, who is then able to switch quickly between the two as needed.

Previously, satellite was seen as an inflexible and expensive alternative with high latency. However, this is now changing as prices begin to fall and efficiency is improved through new innovations. Switch-on time has also reduced from several hours to less than one hour.

With this technology now in the reach of a growing number of operators, providers are able to increase their capacity reach, open up new markets and, vitally, can guarantee coverage in areas traditionally plagued by connectivity problems.