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Thursday, March 1st, 2018

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is planning to launch heavy-duty communication satellites that would enable the country to enjoy high-speed internet connectivity. Dr. K Sivan said to TOI, “We will launch Gsat-11 in April or May”. Weighing 5,725kg, this satellite will take 40 transponders in the Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies, which implies it will be capable of “providing high bandwidth connectivity” at up to 14 gigabit per second data transfer speed.

“We will launch Gsat-11 from the European spaceport as it’s a five-tonne satellite. Around the same time in May, ISRO will launch Gsat-29 through our GSLV Mk III rocket from Sriharikota. Thereafter, we plan to launch Gsat-20 from India itself by next year,” the ISRO chief said.

On June 5, last year, the Indian space agency had launched Gsat-19, which had also transported high throughput communication transponders of Ka/Ku-band.

Dr. Sivan further stated, “Together, all these satellites will provide high bandwidth connectivity of up to 100 gigabit per second. They will provide high-speed internet connectivity in rural areas as well and help bridge the digital divide.”

This exceptionally designed satellites through their multiple spot beams will help increase internet connectivity and speed. A spot beam can be defined as a satellite signal that focuses in power and is limited to a particular geographical area on the earth. Hence, the narrow the focus of the beam that much more is the power. These satellites are designed to reuse the beams a number of times in order to the cover the entire country. Conventionally, a broad single beam was used earlier by satellites that used to cover more regions and were not focussed on just one region.

Launched last year, Gsat-19 uses around 16 beams and can transfer data at the rate of 13gbps. GSAT-20 uses 40 beams where each beam will feature two polarisations thereby effectively making them 80 beams. The satellite will offer data transfer rate of 60-70Gbps.


Isro’s decision to launch these satellites comes at a time when US space company Space X founded by Elon Musk is also creating satellite based internet to offer low-cost and high-speed internet to people world over. Space X had launched on February 22 two internet based satellites on experimental basis, which were known as Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b. Space X is also planning to launch a bunch of 8000-1200 small satellites of 4425 Ka/Ku band into the low-earth orbit. Once this constellation is launched, it will help Elon Musk company to begin global internet services in 2020 on a limited basis.

Although India has gone ahead of US to emerge as the world’s second largest internet user base after China, it is still behind a number of Asian countries where speed is concerned. By June this year, it is expected that the number of internet users will increase by 500 million from 432 million in December 2016.

India ranks 109 out of 122 when one considers the mobile internet speed according to speed testing service Ookla in its 2017 November edition of Speedtest Global Index. However, broadband speed, India stood at 76th position out of 133 countries according to the report.

The average speed according to the index was 8.8mbps in the country last November. At 62.2mbps, Norway offered the fastest mobile network followed by Netherlands at 53mbps. Iceland and Singapore offer 52.7mbps and 51.5 mbps respectively.

India also did not fare well when compared to its neighbours. According to the index report of November, China ranked 31 offering a speed of 31mbps, Pakistan was at 89 with 13mbps and Nepal 99 at 10.9mbps. The download speed of Sri Lanka is 9.3mbps and ranked 107th.

In regard to broadband speed, India is at 18.8mbps while Singapore is the leader at 153.8mbps followed by Iceland with 147.5mbps and Hong Kong 133.9mbps.

China was ranked at 26th position with 61.2mbps while Sri Lanka offered 19.2mbps and Pakistan only 6mbps was ranked at 126th position.

India, undoubtedly needs to work in this direction and ISRO’s satellites can dramatically transform the current scenario by increasing the internet speed and ensuring better connectivity.

(Source: Times of India)


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