SpaceX launches satellite Which will bring internet to isolated island Countries
Countless islands dot the Pacific Ocean between Asia’s southern shore and Australia, and also the men and women who live on them have remained mostly isolated from the digital era.
The assumption by most online providers is that”there are not many people there, they do not require connectivity, and there is not lots of cash,” Christian Patouraux, the founder and CEO of satellite startup Kacific, told CNN Business.
Patouraux stated he understands that to be untrue.
Six decades back, he founded Singapore-based Kacific after he saw a market analysis that revealed the Asia-Pacific area is starved for net access. Individuals are prepared to pay for it.
Now they are several steps closer to getting that access. On Monday evening, a SpaceX rocket launched Kacific’s first satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Patouraux said it might soon bring consistent net connections to as many as 1 million people for the first time.
Web for islanders
The most significant barrier to extending broadband across the Asia-Pacific is among topography: Broadband is delivered primarily by copper or fiber optic cables, including a few that continue under the Atlantic Ocean. They are pricey to set up, so internet service providers mostly target urban areas, where they can find the most bang for their buck, while rural communities are often left out.
From the Asia-Pacific area, where more than 80 percent of the population resides in rural areas, the lack of connectivity is glaring, based on Patouraux.
Satellite-based internet isn’t usually cheap or of high quality. But Patouraux said it is the best way to achieve these remote communities, and his staff worked out a means to do it at the perfect price points.
Kacific’s satellite, dubbed Kacific-1, is high-throughput, a new breed of a satellite which has much higher capacity than older versions. To keep prices low, it is built to a CondoSat, a form of a two-in-one satellite that will enable Kacific-1 to share space with a different payload. (In this case, it is a TV service satellite for Japan-based Sky Perfect JCSAT.)
The condos will sit in geosynchronous orbit about 22,000 miles above Earth, where it will stay continuously positioned over the Asia-Pacific area.
A few ground stations, known as teleports, will bounce Kacific-1’s sign to antennas, creating internet hot spots. At about $500 to $1,000 per year, Patouraux said the antennas might be too costly for most people to install in their houses, but they are a perfect match for schools, hospitals, and community facilities.
‘Connections save lives’
Patouraux is out to dispel the thought that islanders are uninterested in technology.
He remembered visiting the isolated Kiribati village of Bontaritari on an island roughly 2,000 miles northeast of Australia. Reaching the region required a yearlong airplane ride on a rickety aircraft, which landed in an empty meadow. From there, it was a four-hour truck ride through miles of sandy terrain and a couple of shallow lagoons, Patouraux said.
He came to find an educated community of individuals, and”most of them had laptops or digital notepads or tablets,” he said.
“They were using them to swap pictures via Bluetooth, or else they would go out to the city and download movies and discuss it with others,” Patouraux stated.
It was a community prepared and ready for net access, waiting for somebody to bring in bandwidth. And that was a frequent sight, Patouraux said, as he continued to travel across the area.
“We immediately realized the market is even larger than we expected,” he said.
Kacific started setting up connections using extra bandwidth, which it bought from other satellite operators. The startup has linked 75 health clinics in the island country of Timor-Leste and five colleges in Samoa. When the single fiber-optic cable connecting the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga was severed, Kacific helped attract the country’s capital back online.
That work changed Patouraux’s vision for Kacific. While he initially imagined giving rural communities sufficient bandwidth to flow YouTube videos, he learned there was a more fundamental value in bringing internet access to areas that never had it.
“We were linking hospitals and saving lives,” he said. Individuals could reach out to physicians when they were ill, and medical care professionals could eventually tap into networks of other professionals.
“It did not have to be a complex system,” Patouraux stated. Baseline net access has the potential to transform these communities.
That’s what sold him on developing a reasonably priced service using satellites in geosynchronous orbit.
Businesses, including SpaceX and Amazon, are constructing constellations of web satellites that orbit much closer to Earth, solving the latency problems that generally plague geosynchronous satellites. They state their networks will blanket the whole planet in connectivity. However, it’s still not clear if they will be able to offer consumer broadband at price points, which makes sense for under-served communities where many individuals don’t have a lot of disposable income.
For all the talk of linking the world, Patouraux said those constellations likely would not be cheap enough to get to the communities he’s seeking to bring online.
The Kacific-1 satellite could dramatically raise the provider’s impact. Individuals living near Kacific hot spots are going to have the ability to stop by their supermarket or gas station and pick up vouchers for online access. A gigabyte of data will cost about $1.50 to USD 2, Patouraux said, about one-fifth of the purchase price of a wireless data program in America. Some hospitals and schools can also subsidize access to their networks, which makes the service much less expensive. And rates will probably be fast enough to watch videos and download movies.
The company has already signed deals with net service providers to provide broadband in 24 countries.
“Island countries will demand a substantial portion, and lots of demand will come from markets such as Indonesia — an island country on a far bigger scale where there are tremendous bandwidth requirements,” Christopher Baugh, the founder and CEO of analytics group Northern Sky Research, told CNN Business.
Patouraux stated he would like to keep on scaling the network with more satellites in geosynchronous orbit, extending service into new locations, and enhancing service in existing markets. Though, he does not see it as a replacement for current internet services and fiber optic cables. In actuality, he expects wires will continue to reach islands across the Asia-Pacific.
“But it will never be economical to connect an island in which you have 200 people living, or a village of 500, that are [miles] away in the upcoming provincial town,” he said. “We are the perfect technology to connect them.”