Connecting the world, village by village: Five reasons why satellite is the key

1.    Reaching locations that other technologies can’t reach

The very nature of satellite technology means it is often the only viable solution for areas where geography makes access most difficult. Where other methods of connectivity are either substandard, uneconomical or completely absent, only satellite communication technology can deliver affordable and reliable broadband connectivity direct-to-premises. The many thousands of isolated islands dotted across the Pacific Ocean provide a stark illustration of the limitations of traditional terrestrial approaches to connectivity.

2.    Frugal solutions

Cutting edge technologies are not suitable for many emerging countries as they require high levels of power supply and specialised education to operate. What’s more, they are often delicately constructed, unproven, and expensive.

Technologies need to be appropriate for the markets they serve and provide service at a price point that changes the overall market dynamic. The best term for describing such technologies is frugal. Frugal should not be confused with cheap or low-quality goods. Frugal means consciously adapted to meet local market conditions.

High-throughput Ka-band satellites represent a frugal technology that has particular potential in South-East Asia and the Pacific Islands in providing a universal, fast broadband service. HTS satellites have been in use since the early 2000s and are proven to provide much higher levels of throughput — up to 20 times that of the older FSS satellites. Kacific’s Ka-band satellite is a frugal technology: a scaled-down, intelligently targeted version of large HTS, co-owned with a partner in a condo arrangement.

3.    Designed for the sharing economy

The number of communications satellites is growing steadily, and operators are systematically launching payloads with excess capacity. Nimble players with key know-how can take advantage of this arbitrage opportunity. The key point is; you don’t have to build a constellation to provide a cost-effective, multi-continent service. Leasing excess capacity on existing satellites and utilising condominium satellites, where several players share the ownership of a satellite, present good opportunities to provide services to underserved regions at a game-changing price per gigabyte.

4.    Disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is a major issue for isolated regions throughout the world. Every year cyclones cause massive disruption to Pacific nations. In the aftermath of the Cyclone Winston that hit Fiji in February 2016, lack of communications significantly hampered rescue and recovery efforts. Equally powerful hurricanes lash the Caribbean, tsunamis threaten coastal villages across Asia, and earthquakes lay waste to remote and isolated regions all along the ring of fire. When these affect terrestrial communications, as they so often do, information flows are restricted, aid distribution is hampered, lives are lost and recovery is long delayed.

When the lone undersea fiber-optic cable linking the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to the rest of the world was struck by a boulder in July of 2015, telecommunications, banking, healthcare and other services were disrupted to such an extent that the government declared a state of emergency.

Kacific has been working with several governments who are interested in providing increased resiliency and who recognise that satellites can address their requirements better than cable.

5.    Spots not constellations

Constellations provide a blanket of coverage, but in island nations and over vast terrains, widespread coverage is an ineffective use of the payload. Targeted beams can place capacity exactly where it is needed, whether it be over separate islands or rural regions. These spot beams are more concentrated in power than wide beams, meaning end users get a stronger signal and wastage is at a minimum. A smaller coverage area also reduces the risk of interference with other transmissions using the same frequencies, making the service more reliable.