Broadband to the underserved
Starting in the late 1990s and embracing today’s connected world, nearly 4 billion people around the planet residing primarily in cities and surrounding areas have gained broadband connectivity through ADSL, 3G, 4G, 5G and fiber services. However …
Despite impressive progress, in 2021 another 4 billion in outlying, hard-to-reach areas still lack reliable broadband connectivity – i.e., the underserved.
With broadband internet undisputedly one of the most effective ways to create prosperity, the gap between the poor and wealthy unfortunately continues to grow. Much work is still left to reduce the digital divide, provide connectivity to everyone, and to eliminate digital inequality in today’s increasingly digital world.
- The next big growth phase for telecommunications is providing broadband to the remaining 4 billion.
- Today, most of this demographic have mobile telephony but not high speed (> 10 Mbps) internet access [ref 1 below – Forsway 5G Whitepaper].
The many hyped 5G and 6G use cases will be rolled-out in small niche markets in telecommunications compared to connecting another 4 billion internet users [ref 2 below, Electronics Times]. The largest use case is and will remain internet access to homes, SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises), schools and vehicles.
Multiple large satellite operators, including Viasat, SES, OneWeb, Starlink (Elon Musk), Kuiper (Amazon), have recently started to address this challenge with the launch of GEO and LEO satellites. 10’s of billions of dollars are being invested into new advanced High Throughput Satellites (HTS). These initiatives will reduce satellite capacity costs significantly by orders of magnitude [ref 3 below, SatNews.com]. Satellite capacity will soon become a low-cost commodity.
- “Our SES revenue forecasts assume that HTS capacity pricing falls by an order of magnitude from currently $300-400 per Mb/s per month to $30 in 2025. However, our forecasts also assume that pricing decline is more than offset by volume growth as we forecast a 40 percent capacity utilisation rate for SES mPower in 2025,”
The next big challenge in connecting the underserved 4 billion:
Providing satellite terminals at the right, low cost [ref 3 below, SatNews.com]. The way forward to furnish truly low satellite terminal cost is tapping hybrid technology, i.e., where the satellite, together with an existing terrestrial network, is providing broadband in the downlink and the uplink is using the terrestrial networks.
The terminals could be 10 times less costly than a satellite terminal transmitting directly to the satellite. Such a system will also use the existing terrestrial system to achieve low latency and very low cost compared to today’s VSAT technology offering.
Tapping hybrid technology is likely the only way to deliver GEO satellite terminals for under $50 and LEO terminals for under $200. Today, Forsway is the leading supplier of the lowest cost satellite terminal (Forsway Odin F-50) for GEO satellite using a benchmark hybrid terrestrial – satellite solution, Forsway Xtend. Forsway has a patent for low-cost hybrid LEO terminals and is leading the way, with proven technology.