The Feasibility of Satellite Broadband for Last-Mile Connectivity Solutions

What is satellite broadband? This refers to internet connectivity provided using satellites in space orbiting around the earth. They transmit internet data in the form of electromagnetic waves to and from the earth. Satellite internet is a fast way of providing internet access to people in remote areas. It can be used even in the middle of the ocean.  This type of internet is not as popular or widely renown as other forms of internet connectivity such as fiber, mobile 3G or 4G broadband, WiMAX, or DSL internet.

Why is this so? Satellite internet is primarily used for redundancy purposes. Most of its users are those in remote areas undertaking research activities, on tours, or rural dwellers. Sometimes, commercial aircraft flying over large oceans utilize satellite connectivity to provide on-board Wi-Fi to passengers. Sailors also use satellite connectivity to communicate as well as to access the web. As such, it is not commonly used in most urban settings. There are also a couple of impediments that prevent the large-scale adoption of satellite broadband. Some of them are as follows:


Satellite broadband relies on geostationary satellites located at an altitude of over 22, 000 miles above the equator. Even though electromagnetic signals travel at the speed of light, a one-way signal from Earth takes about a quarter of a second. Subsequently, the signal from the satellite takes a similar length of time to arrive at its destination on another region on Earth.

That is not all. The return communication also takes a similar duration to and from the satellite. This situation causes a significant delay in transmission and makes it slower than most mobile and fiber networks. Voice communications, in particular, are highly sensitive to latency and, therefore, not suited for satellite VoIP. But it is much more bearable when it comes to text and data. You can use such a connection to hire online essay writers without any problems.


Satellites must be constructed with high quality and extremely durable material to serve their intended lifespan. Remember that once a satellite has been deployed in space, it cannot receive maintenance and repairs. Therefore, engineers must get everything right beforehand. The cost of constructing a satellite and transporting it into a geostationary orbit is very high. Therefore, to recoup investments, satellite internet companies charge significantly higher rates per unit data compared to other internet sources.


Satellite communications are greatly affected by weather conditions. You need a clear line-of-sight to receive good signals. Heavy cloud cover and rain significantly weaken satellite signals through a process known as rain fade.


Nowadays, numerous devices are data-hungry. Satellite connectivity is generally limited in terms of its maximum throughput. Though satellite footprints can be huge, the capacity of a given satellite might not meet the rising demand for high-speed data. It is also a costly affair to upgrade wireless technologies since it involves replacing the entire satellite. Technologies such as fiber are a lot more future proof.

What About Low-Earth-Orbit Satellites?

There is an upcoming innovation that intends to utilize LEO satellite constellations to provide internet connectivity as a last-mile solution to those who lack access to quality internet. Satellites in lower orbits closer to the earth experience reduced latency and are cheaper to deploy in space due to lower fuel consumption. What’s more, there are newer innovations in space transportation that have significantly reduced the cost of constructing satellites.

Nevertheless, an LEO satellite must travel at a higher velocity to maintain orbit. Subsequently, the satellite orbits faster than the earth’s rotation and cannot maintain a geostationary position. A constellation of satellites is therefore required to make this concept feasible.

Companies such as Amazon have laid down an ambitious plan to provide global satellite internet though project Kuiper. This project will utilize a constellation of thousands of satellites in low Earth orbits. SpaceX also has similar plans for future internet connectivity.

Other innovators are contemplating the use of high altitude aircraft and air-balloons to provide internet to remote areas. All these developments are likely to bring significant competition to the traditional forms of the internet.

These satellites can send data to the earth stations that then redistribute it to end-users either wirelessly or through cables. Technologies such as point-to-point and point-to-multipoint data transmission have also improved tremendously. From the earth stations, users can set up wireless access points that can transmit and receive wireless information over several kilometers. As such, a whole town can be served through this process. Likewise, users can install satellite dishes to receive data from the satellites directly.

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