Indian space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will launch three more communication satellites to provide high-speed bandwidth connectivity to rural areas as part of the government’s Digital India programme.
The announcement about this “Satellite-based Internet” was made during press conference post successful commercial launch of two UK satellites by ISRO, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said, “The ISRO will launch three more satellites, which together will provide international level bandwidth speed.”
Satellite-based Internet access is internet access provided through communications satellites. Modern consumer grade satellite Internet service is typically provided to individual users through geostationary satellites that can offer relatively high data speeds
The three satellites to be launched by ISRO are — AGSAT 20, GSAT 11, and GSAT 29. AGSAT 20 will launched next year, while GSAT 19 has already been launched.
These satellites are special as they use multiple spot beams that will increase internet speed and connectivity. A spot beam is a satellite signal that is specially concentrated in power so that it covers only a limited geographical area on the earth. The narrower the beam more is the power. These satellites will reuse “beams” (signals) several times in order to cover the entire country. In contrast, traditional satellite uses a broad single beam (not concentrated)to cover wide regions.
Sivan said that the space agency had planned a series of launches over the next six months. He said that there will be a rocket launch mission every second week.
Sivan also said earth observation satellites will also be launched in addition to the communication satellites.
In a separate development, Reliance Jio has has partnered with ISRO for providing high-speed 4G connectivity via satellites. This new platform based on satellite backhaul-based network will provide 4G LTE connectivity to remote rural locations. In satellite communication, ‘backhaul’ is used to mean getting data to a point from which it can be distributed over a network.
ISRO’s geostationary communications satellite, GSAT-11, which is heaviest satellite that India has ever made, is yet to be launched but is already touted to revolutionize India’s broadband connectivity. The Rs. 500 crore satellite weighing 4000-6000 Kg is said to be a boon for rural population in India as far as high-speed connectivity is concerned for them.
The GSAT-11 is equivalent to the combined power of almost all communications satellite sent into orbit by India. The heavy-weight satellite is like a constellation of 30 of the classical orbiting satellites.
GSAT-11 was planned to be launched in May 2018, it however got delayed after ISRO recalled it back to India from the launch site in French Guiana for additional checks weeks after ISRO lost communication to another communication satellite, the GSAT-6A, soon after its launch in March 2018.
The new launch date for GSAT-11 has been set to 30 November 2018.
In 2016, India overtook the US to become the world’s second largest internet user base after China, however India is still behind many Asian countries when it comes to internet speed. The number of internet users in the country is expected to reach 500 million by June 2018, up from 432 million in December 2016, according to a report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).