In recent months, there has been a great deal of market activity occurring across the satellite ecosystem – from ground technology, to launch vehicle innovation and space-based technology. A large piece of this has focused on small satellites in various orbits, especially in the field of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites.
There are obvious strengths and limitations of small satellite systems compared to higher throughput satellites operating in the geostationary (GEO) arc. Thierry Guillemin, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of our parent company Intelsat, recently wrote an excellent primer on this topic.
The new LEO constellation plans, most of them aimed at providing broadband service to under-served areas, raise a host of questions. First, is there enough market demand for Internet connectivity worldwide, especially in isolated regions, to support these new business models? Will the companies have enough users to drive down the cost per bit to an affordable price? Can and will the mix of billions in investment and the market drivers in LEO challenge the existing telecom landscape?
LEO constellations can complement as well as compete with GEO satellites. Thierry lays out seven key elements that compare and contrast LEO and GEO satellite systems – latency, coverage, efficiency, complexity, cost, frequency spectrum and time to market.
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