Satellite operators weigh strategies to compete against growing Starlink network – SpaceNews

Operators of geostationary satellites argue that low Earth orbit providers like Starlink shouldn’t be considered as the one answer

WASHINGTON — As SpaceX continues to develop its Starlink communications community and promote its providers, established satellite tv for pc operators are determining methods to stay aggressive.  

In the course of the Satellite tv for pc 2021 LEO Digital Discussion board April 6, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and working officer, mentioned the corporate is shifting ahead with plans to supply Starlink satellite tv for pc web providers on to customers and likewise is eyeing the U.S. authorities as a buyer.

In the meantime, executives from industrial operators of geostationary satellites argued that low Earth orbit providers like Starlink shouldn’t be considered as the one answer to repair prospects’ communications issues.

SpaceX has about 1,320 satellites in orbit and plans to launch tons of extra this yr. This summer season it would start to satellites in polar orbits.

Shotwell mentioned the Protection Division is now turning into extra concerned with communications providers from low Earth orbit and is constructing its personal community. However she expects the federal government to additionally purchase industrial providers. 

“You’ll be able to see the federal government to consider proliferated LEO capabilities on their very own so I don’t understand how a lot they are going to find yourself shopping for from industrial,” she mentioned. “We might be completely satisfied to promote industrial bandwidth to authorities prospects.”

DoD has proven curiosity in Starlink and customarily in utilizing LEO communications providers from different suppliers like Iridium and OneWeb as a result of information might be transmitted with minimal delay, or latency, in comparison with providers offered by geostationary satellites 22,000 miles above the equator. 

Geostationary satellites can also’t present persevering with protection within the polar areas as a result of curvature of the Earth. In the meantime, LEO satellites revolve at decrease altitudes beneath 1,200 miles and supply steady, international protection because the satellite tv for pc strikes.

Steve Collar, CEO of SES, mentioned the corporate is providing a hybrid service that integrates satellites from a number of orbits.

SES operates satellites in geostationary orbits and a community of satellites in medium Earth orbits about 5,000 miles above the Earth. Collar mentioned the federal government wants entry to a seamless community that benefit of getting a number of orbits to route visitors primarily based on buyer demand.

Collar mentioned industrial and authorities prospects are confused by the totally different networks and suppliers. “Clients are confronted with this type of fractured business with out coherent options,” he mentioned. 

A managed service that allocates community capability primarily based on the demand is the reply, he mentioned. “You want a classy mind that’s conscious of the demand.”

Pradman Kaul, president of Hughes Community Methods, mentioned the corporate is also creating a hybrid technique in partnership with OneWeb. Hughes would provide providers from its personal geostationary satellites and LEO connectivity by OneWeb. “We imagine we want a answer,” he mentioned. 

Mark Dankberg, Viasat government chairman, mentioned there are execs and cons that need to be weighed. Viasat operates geostationary satellites however final yr introduced it could construct a of almost 300 satellites in low Earth orbit if it will possibly qualify for subsidies from the U.S. Federal Communications Fee to supply broadband in rural areas. 

Dankberg insisted that geostationary satellite tv for pc capability is more economical. “Bandwidth economics perspective strongly favors GEO,” he mentioned. “Non GEOs can present decrease latency and protection over the poles.” Nevertheless, the “massive problem” with LEO communications is that orbits are congested and it’s more and more an unsafe surroundings.

“Geostationary satellites can’t collide, and don’t intrude with one another,” Dankberg mentioned. “In non-GEO, each constellation can crash into one other constellation and each constellation can intrude with the others.”

Viasat in December petitioned the Federal Communications Fee to carry out an environmental evaluation of SpaceX’s Starlink, arguing that the satellite tv for pc system environmental hazards in area and on Earth.

SpaceX in filings known as Viasat’s complaint “anti-competitive gamesmanship.”

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