Shyamal Ghosh (IAS Retd.) Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Broadband India Forum

The general perception of communicating via satellite has been that of ‘expensive gap filler,' whereby "satellites are used when there is no access to conventional terrestrial communications or when they fail…" and that "satellites do not have the same performance as terrestrial communications services but it is good enough or better than nothing…." Such views and perceptions have meant that satellites with their own proprietary networks have remained outside of the mainstream communication solutions.

In addition, satellite communications have also been viewed as ‘very costly and cannot deliver the bandwidth' and, therefore, satellites have not been part of the mainstream network.

So the question is how relevant is satellite communications today, as more and more people are getting connected, new applications and services are being developed, and users' online experiences are expanding throughout the world.

The extent of development in satellite technology has also enabled it to provide high-capacity throughput and offer cost-effective services to the end user. This has been possible as a result of advances in satellite payload with increased payload flexibility by having digital signal and beams forming processors, advanced phased array antennas, and power amplifiers along with electric propulsion system, thereby reducing overall satellite mass together with the reduced cost of launches. In addition, given the availability of high-capacity fiber network globally, a more resilient end-to-end ground network is in place to provide higher performance, greater capacity, and a secure global connectivity.

The rapid growth of ICT technologies has had important implications for both users and businesses. There are an ever-expanding variety of services and applications to meet information, communications, and entertainment's needs. As a result, the ways consumers access and use such services are changing, moving from reliance on traditional media to Internet broadband services with use and ownership of multiple connected devices

Digital India and Make in India are the schemes that have the roadmap for not just investments but also for creation of local jobs. Need is for the policy makers along with the well-developed and rapidly innovating Satcom industry to come together to contribute to increase in FDI and lead to creation of a few hundreds of thousands of jobs, and if adeptly managed and deployed can provide substantial impetus to the BharatNet program, beyond its current mandate. There is potential to develop and launch India's own satellite dedicated to serving the need of its broadband customers in rural India.

The satellite can serve for emergency machine-to-machine applications, including providing emergency services on cars. Connected cars should also be considered in India with technologies such as anti-fatigue devices, which will help reduce accidents and with systems 
that monitor drivers' vital functions - it will alert them to potential risks. Such driver assistance and safety systems will let the car take over driving during traffic jams and on the highway, thereby ensuring safe driving. The satellite can also provide on-board entertainment services on moving vehicles, viz., cars, trains, public transport, and even aeroplanes at a fraction of the cost of alternate technologies and in a very reliable manner.

Besides, latest innovations 
in satellite technology permit low-cost entertainment for rural masses in India. Here instead of broadcasting live pictures in real time, content can be downloaded and multicast the relevant content, viz., songs, movies, news clips, information, education lessons, land records, etc., and cache them in edge storage devices via Wi-Fi hotspots to smartphones/tablets and other such similar devices.


 

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BroadcastAsia 2017

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