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Satellite Internet Elon Musk

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Internet access via communication satellites is referred to as satellite Internet access. Individual users typically receive modern consumer-grade satellite Internet service via geostationary satellites with relatively high data speeds, with newer satellites using the Ku band to achieve downstream data speeds of up to 506 Mbit/s.  In addition, new satellite internet constellations in low-earth orbit are being constructed to provide low-latency internet connection from space.


The US successfully launched the Explorer 1 satellite in 1958, following the Soviet Union’s launch of the first satellite, Sputnik 1, in October 1957. Telstar 1, built by Bell Labs and launched in July 1962, was the first commercial communications satellite.

The concept of a geosynchronous satellite was first proposed by Herman Potocnik in 1928 and popularized by science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke in a paper published in Wireless World in 1945.

Syncom3, manufactured by Hughes Aircraft for NASA and launched on August 19, 1963, was the first satellite to reach geostationary orbit safely. Following generations of communications, satellites were adopted for television distribution, military applications, and telecommunications applications, with higher capacity and enhanced performance characteristics. Geostationary satellites sparked interest as a potential means of providing Internet access after the invention of the Internet and the World Wide Web.

The opening up of the Ka-band for satellites has been a crucial enabler for satellite-delivered Internet. Hughes Aircraft Co. applied for a license to launch Spaceway, the first Ka-band satellite, with the Federal Communications Commission in December 1993.

Teledesic, an ambitious and ultimately unsuccessful project backed in part by Microsoft that cost more than $9 billion, was one of the most notable contenders in the early-stage satellite Internet market. Teledesic planned to build a Ka-band broadband satellite constellation with hundreds of low-orbiting satellites to provide low-cost Internet access with download rates of up to 720 megabits per second. In the year 2003, the project was shelved. The collapse of Teledesic and the bankruptcy cases of satellite communications companies Iridium Communications Inc. and Globalstar decreased market interest in satellite Internet development. Eutelsat deployed the first consumer-oriented Internet-ready satellite in September 2003.

With the launch of Anik F2, the first high-throughput satellite, a new series of satellites with increased capacity and bandwidth became operational in 2004. High-throughput satellites like ViaSat’s ViaSat-1 in 2011 and HughesNet’s Jupiter in 2012 have recently improved downstream data rates from 1–3 Mbit/s to 12–15 Mbit/s and beyond. These satellite-based Internet access services are primarily aimed at rural residents to replace dial-up, ADSL, and traditional FSSes.

The O3b constellation’s first four satellites were launched into medium Earth orbit (MEO) in 2013 to provide internet access to the “other three billion” people who did not have stable internet access at the time. Sixteen more satellites were added to the constellation over the next six years, now owned and operated by SES.

Since 2014, a growing number of businesses have announced plans to use low-Earth orbit satellite constellations to provide internet access. SpaceX, OneWeb, and Amazon intend to launch over 1000 satellites. OneWeb had raised $1.7 billion for the project by February 2017. SpaceX had raised over a billion in the first half of 2019 for their service called Starlink, with the satellite constellation expected to generate more than $30 billion in revenue by 2025. Several proposed constellations utilize laser communication for inter-satellite communications to efficiently establish a space-based internet backbone.

The next generation of O3b satellites and service, dubbed O3b mPOWER, was announced by SES in September 2017. The constellation of 11 MEO satellites will provide worldwide broadband internet services with ten terabits of bandwidth through 30,000 spot beams. In Q3 2021, the first three O3b mPOWER satellites will launch.

Airlines like Delta and American have been using satellite internet to combat limited bandwidth on planes and provide passengers with usable internet speeds since 2017.

Markets and businesses


ViaSat, under its Exede brand, EchoStar, through subsidiary HughesNet, and Starlink are among the companies that provide residential internet service in the United States.

Great Britain

Connect, Broadband Everywhere and Freedoms are some firms that provide satellite Internet connectivity in the UK.


A satellite – historically in geostationary orbit (or GEO), but increasingly in Low Earth orbit (LEO) or Medium Earth orbit MEO) – several ground stations known as gateways that relay Internet data to and from the satellite via radio waves (microwave), and additional ground stations to serve each subscriber, each with a small antenna and transceiver A modem at the user end connects the user’s network to the transceiver. A centralized network operations center (NOC) for monitoring the whole system is another satellite Internet system component. The satellite uses a Star network topology in conjunction with a broadband gateway. All network communication is routed through the network’s hub processor, located at the star’s center. The number of ground stations linked to the hub is almost unlimited with this setup.


A new generation of high-powered GEO satellites, positioned 35,786 kilometers (22,236 miles) above the equator and operating in Ka-band (18.3–30 GHz) mode, are being marketed as the nerve center of the new broadband satellite networks.

These new purpose-built satellites are optimized for broadband applications, with many narrow spot beams that target a much smaller area than earlier communication satellites’ broad beams. This spot beam technique enables satellites to reuse their allocated bandwidth several times, attaining substantially greater overall capacity than traditional wide-beam satellites. By concentrating more power and increasing receiver sensitivity into specified focused zones, spot beams may improve performance and capacity further. Subscriber spot beams, which transmit to and from the subscriber-side terminal, and gateway spot beams, which transfer to and from a service provider ground station, are the two types of spot beams available. It’s vital to remember that leaving a minor imprint on a spot beam will substantially degrade performance. Spot beams may also render other critical emerging technologies, such as ‘Carrier in Carrier’ modulation, hard to employ.

In the network in which the satellite functions as a bridge in space, connecting two communication points on the ground, a bent-pipe architecture has traditionally been used in conjunction with the satellite’s spot-beam technology. The shape of the data path between the sending and receiving antennas, with the satellite at the point of the bend, is referred to as a “bent-pipe.” Simply put, the satellite’s role in this network setup is to relay signals from the end user’s terminal to the ISP’s gateways and back without processing them at the satellite. The satellite uses a signal path called a transponder to receive, amplify, and redirect a carrier on a specific radiofrequency.

Laser communication equipment will be used for high-throughput optical inter-satellite links in some proposed LEO satellite constellations like Starlink and Telesat. The interconnected satellites enable direct user data routing from satellite to satellite, effectively forming a space-based optical mesh network that will allow seamless network management and service continuity.


Around 700 Starlink satellites and 74, OneWeb satellites were launched in September 2020. The private beta for Starlink has begun.

Seismology and oceanography

Data transmission, remote instrument diagnostics, physical satellite and oceanographic measurements from the sea surface (e.g., sea surface temperature and sea surface height to the ocean floor, and seismological analyses are all done using satellite communications.


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