Issue #4(26) 2020 Astronautics

Satellites are key to unlocking a better-connected world

Semir Hassanaly iDirect, Herndon VA, USA

To meet the growing consumer appetite for new mobile services and applications, and ease the strain placed on wireless networks because of the mobile data boom, the capacity and performance of these networks has had to evolve rapidly. Mobile network operators (MNOs) have invested in new technologies to fortify their networks and satisfy growing demand. Here, Semir Hassanaly explains how satellite cellular backhaul – the connection between cell towers and the rest of the network that facilitates mobile phone service – will play a pivotal part in future networks and growth opportunity in unserved or underserved regions where traditional terrestrial solutions are not practicable.

In our digital world, it is increasingly evident that the internet – and access to it – has become an absolute necessity. In most recent times, with technological advancements and the saturation of smart devices, it is mobile access that is at the forefront of this connectivity. It is so ingrained and influential in contemporary living, our infrastructure, processes and culture, that it is considered just as vital as electricity and running water.

And yet, almost half of the world’s population lacks access to the internet entirely, particularly in emerging regions, according to the International Telecommunication Union. This means that mobile network operators (MNOs) must work to bridge that gap and expand data capabilities into less accessible corners of the developed world or in unconnected rural areas. Traditional, terrestrial solutions, such as fibre or cable, are either prohibitively expensive or altogether impossible to deploy, considering the geographical footprint, lack of infrastructure and utilities, rugged terrain and low population density of these regions. Satellite technology, therefore, with its ability to provide instant wide coverage is ideally suited to close the communications gap.

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