The coming era of satellite internet would be a consequence of all the competition towards delivering the fastest yet the most affordable internet connection in the areas where low-latency is still frequently witnessed. With the increasing competition in the industry, be it the attractive Spectrum internet plans or high-speed fiber optic internet technology, satellite internet companies are pushing their limits to make it among the top-notch providers. Multiple organizations that could afford to invest in launching and experimenting with the latest satellites are already on it and more organizations are already in the queue. Irrespective of the competition viewing a great range of space racers, all of these are different varieties of the same results. Let’s dive deeper and look closely at the networks and the companies working on them.
Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites
Organizations are currently focusing on the next development and launching the satellite internet into low-Earth-orbit (LEO) rather than blasting huge satellites into geostationary orbit. These satellites are smaller in size and closer to the orbit than other traditional satellites. Furthermore, Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites are able to provide a faster internet without any hiccups that come with usual satellite internet connections.
LEO Satellite Constellations
Since one satellite is not sufficient for covering the maximum area of a geostationary satellite, therefore, the funding organizations are launching a group of them to send a cluster known as satellite constellations. This is, however, the second time, that this trend is getting popular after 1990 attempts for building constellations before this project closed down in 2002.
The companies that are fighting in this race:
A rocket company owned by Elon Musk, SpaceX which is working on two main projects called Starship and Starlink. Starlink is the satellite constellation project while the Starship project is focused on sending to Mars only. SpaceX successfully managed to launch two satellites into LEO back in February 2018. Collectively, SpaceX made 21 successful launches in 2018 and is all set to exceed this as well.
A combined venture of The Boeing Company, Iridium Communications Inc. completed its nine-year-old satellite constellation worth $3 billion. Iridium worked with SpaceX just to get the project going. The contract with SpaceX was to send 8 flights to launch 75 satellites into LEO.
Blue Origin and Telesat
A rocket company owned by Jeff Bezos’s named Blue Origin, is not focusing on building a satellite network, however, it is working on launching the satellites from the reusable spacecraft for a number of organizations. One of the examples of this could be the biggest satellite provider in Canada called Telesat. Partnering with Blue Origin, Telesat is all set to launch 120 Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites by 2021.
OneWeb is a joint venture of Qualcomm, Airbus, Virgin, and HughesNet to provide easy access to the internet for all. Oneweb creates the satellites itself and plans on launching 900 Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites before 2019 ends.
Facebook’s previous service plan for internet, Aquila, added mounting communications transmitters on solar-powered drones in order to bring access to the internet. By the summer of 2018, Facebook announced that it was engaged with developing Aquila which is an internet satellite project.
Alphabet (Google) Loon
Loon, run by its parent company called Alphabet was originally initiated by Google, marginally different than all the mentioned companies in the list. Unlike the rest of the enlisted organizations, Loon is not focusing on building a satellite constellation rather it is working on some similar projects and concepts.
So, who is going to win this race?
Regardless of all these collaborative efforts and projects by well-known companies, the prediction for the winner’s name depends on the criterion of win by the judge who happens to pick it. In this list, Iridium is an evident winner when it comes to the business internet particularly. OneWeb is somewhat new in the league and still has to launch its satellite while SpaceX has the crisp plan that looks ambitious as well.