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  • Context (IE): SpaceX launches first ‘direct-to-cell’ Starlink satellites.
  • Satellite based internet connectivity refers to the use of artificial satellites positioned in space to facilitate communication over long distances.

Working Mechanism

  • Satellite communication works by using satellites to relay signals between two points on Earth.
  • The satellites are placed in orbit around the Earth, and they act as a mediator between the two points.
  • When a signal is sent from one point to the satellite, the satellite amplifies the signal and retransmits it to the other point.

Satellite internet

Benefits

  • Global coverage: Satellites can provide coverage to remote and under served areas where terrestrial infrastructure is limited or non-existent.
  • Scalability: Satellite networks can be easily scaled up or down to accommodate increasing user demand, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.
  • Security: Satellite communication can be more secure than terrestrial communication, as it is less susceptible to interception.
  • Reliable communication: Independence from terrestrial infrastructure enables seamless communication in challenging terrains making them more resilient to disasters or physical communication.
  • Low Latency makes satellite communication more suitable for applications that require real-time interaction, e.g. high-frequency trading, and teleconferencing.

Challenges associated with space satellite communication

  • High cost involved for deployment, operation, and launching satellites into space, building ground station infrastructure, and associated maintenance expenses.
  • Risk of Debris: Satellite communication requires a network of satellites for internet coverage raising the problem of space debris and their collision (Kessler Syndrome) hindering space exploration.
  • Signal Interference: Weather conditions like storms and other atmospheric disturbances can degrade the quality and reliability leading to disruptions, reduced data rates, or signal loss.
  • Latency: Transmitting signals from Earth to satellites in space and back results in a noticeable delay in communication making it problematic for real-time applications.
  • Limited bandwidth: They can only transmit a limited amount of data at a time posing problem for applications that require high bandwidth, e.g. streaming video or online gaming.
  • Coverage gaps: Physical features like mountains, tall buildings, etc can obstruct the requirement of a clear line of sight path leading to signal attenuation.
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