Elon Musk-owned Starlink not licensed to offer satellite-based Internet services: DoT: Daily Current Affairs

GS-2: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology.

Key words: satellite internet, LEO, Geo-Stationary Orbit, starlink, kupier, Latency

Why in News:

The government has said that Elon Musk owned 'Starlink Internet Services' is not licensed to offer satellite-based Internet services in India, as it is being advertised to the public.

What is satellite internet?

  • Satellite internet is a type of connection that uses a satellite to get an internet signal from the internet service provider (ISP) to you. It is wireless internet beamed down from satellites orbiting the Earth.
  • It’s a lot different from land-based internet services like cable or DSL (Digital subscriber line), which transmit data through wires. Since it’s the only internet service that’s available nationwide, satellite internet is often the only way to get online for many rural homes and businesses, although it does still come with a few disadvantages

How does satellite internet work?

  • Satellite internet works by using radio waves to communicate with satellites orbiting the Earth. Data is sent and retrieved through a communication network that starts with the device and travels through the modem and satellite dish, out to a satellite in space, then back to Earth to ground stations known as network operations centres (NOC).
  • Then, data travels back through this network—out to space and then back to the satellite dish on Earth—to deliver data on the device.

Satellite internet uses a five-part relay system:

  1. Internet-ready device: An internet-ready device is any device that can access the internet through the proper service. This includes your computer, tablet, smartphone, smart TV, gaming consoles, and any other internet-enabled equipment.
  2. Modem/router: A modem translates data so it can move between your internet-ready device and the satellite dish. You can connect some devices, like a computer, smart TV, or gaming console, directly to your modem using an ethernet cable.
  3. Satellite dish: This dish must be precisely positioned to beam signals to the provider’s satellite in orbit and receive information back. A certified technician from your provider will take care of placement for you
  4. Satellite in space: Either it placed in low earth orbit or geo stationary orbit to transmit data.
  5. Network Operations Center (NOC):
  • Whenever you request information from the internet, whether you’re clicking on a link, streaming a show, or opening Facebook, the data from that request is uploaded through the above relay. The satellite then beams that request to the NOC.
  • The NOC then taps into the internet backbone, gathers the information you requested, and sends it back through the relay to you.

How does satellite internet speed compare to other internet speeds?

  • Latency: Satellite internet is subject to high latency, so the speeds aren’t always what they seem. Other internet types use better infrastructures to get more reliable speeds.
  • Speed: Cable internet is faster and often cheaper than satellite internet. Most cable internet services range between 20 and 1,000 Mbps. But it is not available in the countryside.

  • Investment: Cable internet is often cheaper than satellite internet. Individual satellites can only make direct contact with a land transmitter for a short period of time thus requiring massive LEO satellite fleets and consequently, a significant capital investment.
  • Remote areas: Satellite internet can provide a better connectivity in remote areas as compare to wire internet service provider.
  • Reliability: Satellite internet is reliable most of the time. However heavy rain and storms can interfere with a satellite signal.

Geo Stationary Orbit vs Low Earth Orbit satellite internet service

  • Roughly 22,000 miles above the surface of the Earth, satellites used in traditional satellite internet service (like what you get from Viasat and HughesNet) hover over the equator. They rotate with the planet, so the signal relay stays consistent. This is called a geostationary orbit. This allows for two-way data communication between your dish and the provider hub, or NOC.
  • At about 300 miles above the Earth, next-generation satellites from Starlink (SpaceX) and Project Kuiper (Amazon) are much closer to the Earth. These satellites are launched into low-Earth orbit (LEO). Because of their closer proximity, next-generation satellites can provide customers with faster internet speeds and lower latency than geostationary orbit satellite internet services. But the downside is the satellites can’t cover as wide an area as satellites in geostationary orbit, so thousands of Starlink satellites are needed to deliver the same coverage area as two or three traditional satellites.

Various LEO internet service initiative:

  • Starlink: It is an initiative of SpaceX which has launched 1,385 satellites in orbit and has already started beta testing in North America.
  • Project Kuiper: It is an initiative of Amazon announced in 2019.
  • Five to 50’ service: It is initiative of ONE WEB Company which has successfully launched constellations of 218 satellites in LEO. The company only has one more launch to complete before it obtains the capacity to enable its ‘Five to 50’ service of offering internet connectivity to all regions north of 50 degrees latitude.

Source: The Hindu BL

Q. Project kupier is a satellite based internet service program of which of the following organisation?

a) Space X

b) Blue origin

c) Amazon

d) Google

Ans: C