Satellite internet has been around for more than two decades. But now the technology may finally be ready to deliver on its promise: Affordable high-speed internet for all.
The concept of satellite internet itself is not new, but relatively few people have used it since commercial services started in the mid-1990s. Its main selling point is the potential to reach remote areas anywhere on Earth; places that are either too expensive or too difficult to connect via cable.
But past attempts at satellite internet service suffered from high cost and relatively slow service. Satellite internet was something you used because you had no other choice. But new technology means companies like SpaceX hope that consumers will soon choose to use satellite internet.
The difference? LEO satellites. Older systems relied on satellites in geostationary orbit, 22,000 miles away from Earth. But LEO satellites can be anywhere between 200 and 1,200 miles above the surface, dramatically cutting down on latency.
Curcio also said the rivalry between the US and China could play a role in the success of satellite internet.
“In the early 2000s, the world was a way more optimistic, almost naive place,” Curcio said. “I think a US$10 billion network from the sky becomes more appealing if you’re the US or China and are in the beginning of what looks like a cold war.”
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