Today’s world has become dependent on information and communication technologies as it connects the societies and communities. Satellites communication is an integral part of communication technologies and connects the world serving a huge range of industries, businesses, governments, and individuals. Satellite communication brings a large number of economic and social benefits and supports a myriad of applications both directly and indirectly. The communication satellite technology is continuously evolving and will play an enormous role in improving the state of the world. The evolution, innovation, and technologies will make a way towards deploying new satellites with new capabilities.
The global coverage of satellites helps us overcome many challenges. It can help us with agricultural problems, climate change, internet and communication, positioning and navigation, and many more. Satellites have many types, and each type of satellite influences our daily life in their way. One of the essential types of satellites is the communication satellite. It’s designed for telecommunications, including telephony, satellite television, satellite radio, the internet, and others. Communication satellites have a significant role in our lives; they link remote areas of the Earth with telephone and wireless networks, affecting modern business and our daily lives.
Satellite televisions are applications that connect people worldwide and increase the speed of knowing the news and events happening around the world. Satellite telephony connects those areas with the world where landline communications do not exist. Satellite radios broadcast the signals covering a wider geographical region and carry a variety of information material. Communication satellites also connect the world through Internet service. It is available worldwide from deserts to oceans, connecting customers from home users to business enterprises. In this report, we discuss some widely used applications of communication satellites, which are crucial in our daily life and business, and have an in-depth analysis of three verticals.
Satellite communications are of extreme importance in Surveillance and Security. The security-related challenges are changing with the passing time and require more efficient solutions. Security systems are composed of interconnected objects which share information with each other. This sharing needs enhanced data sharing capabilities. Real-time information gathering and sharing like videos, images, location information, or other situational awareness information are used for security. The satellite communication systems can transmit this information more effectively, which can lead to lifesaving decisions. Satellite communications are game-changers for governments and security agencies as it meets the requirement of high-quality data and video sharing. Communication, control, surveillance systems, vehicles, unmanned vehicles, and other similar platforms require satellite communication for reliable operation.
There are situations where the medical resources are not available on-site; in these conditions, an application named telemedicine is used, which is based on communication technologies. Whether the resources are unavailable due to geographical distance, physical barriers, or insufficient time, telemedicine can help save people’s lives. Communication satellites are the best candidates to carry telemedicine applications. Remote sensing is another tool for monitoring and investigating different parameters, which can be used in healthcare. These services are used to gather information related to infectious diseases and air pollutants. This remote sensing holds great potential in healthcare-related activities, and this critical data is required to be transferred to the desired stations from remote areas. Satellite communications are mostly used in these applications because its ubiquitous in nature, available anytime and anywhere.
A reliable, robust, energy-efficient, and disaster-resilient data transmission network acts as the backbone for any disaster management system in extreme conditions. Access technologies from a disaster communication perspective should provide reliable connectivity and optimized services for effective data transmission between data-generating devices and back-end servers. It is essential to ensure the flow of data and the network’s safety and connectivity to acquire situational awareness in a disaster event. A collection of various communication network topologies is required to obtain an autonomous disaster management environment. Satellite communications are not vulnerable to damage from disasters, which make them the reliable communication infrastructure in full-fledged disasters. Satellite communications can be a cost-effective solution for severe disaster than establishing a new communications infrastructure in disastrous areas.
With the advent of satellite remote sensing, location-based sensors, and smartphones equipped with GPS, a huge volume of geo-spatial data is generated. Spatial, temporal data visualization comprises powerful tools that support geospatial data analysis over time through interactive visualization. Spatial-temporal data visualization greatly assists decision-making in all the phases of disaster management.
Let’s look at three vertical industries and their dependence on the satellite communication system, and how Satcom influences these sectors. Satellite communication significantly enhances the efficiency and productivity of these industries and revolutionize related businesses.
How Satcom Influences the Transportation Industry
Communication satellites have a significant role in the transport system. Data communication between vehicles and infrastructure or information exchange between vehicle and driver transferred through satellites will keep the system running efficiently. The future transportation will also depend on communication and exchange of data. By using the satellite communication system, it will become more reliable and become flexible for the integration of new technologies. This exchange of information in transportation systems can be between two vehicles or vehicles and some other remote locations like a transport hub or a terminal.
In the transportation sector related to logistics, this satellite communication helps overcome many challenges. It can help optimize the services and operations and increase the transparency of operations with safety and reliability. Connecting employees, vehicles, and cargo to a centralized system can enable organizations to enhance their efficiency and cost-effectively carry their transportation services. The satellite can ensure reliable data transfer in different scenarios where other means of communication cannot provide the desired results.
In public transport systems, the satellite communication systems help transfer the data to local transfer hubs about its route and location information, facilitating the public transport users. If there is any maintenance issue, its information can also be transferred to the control room for any necessary action. Data communication between vehicles and transport hubs ensures safer and more efficient traveling. Not only land transportation but ships and ports also use communication satellites for their smooth and safe operations. The ship’s real-time journey is monitored at the control centers, and the containers carrying goods are monitored remotely. In case of heavy traffics, satellites can alert the users and provide alternative routes. In emergencies, rescue procedures are performed with more accuracy and efficiency by using satellite communication. Drones and delivery robots will turn into an essential part of the transportation industry in the near future. Satellite communication is the best source of communication with these devices also.
Smart transportation brings a large number of benefits to society and users. It eliminates human error and improves traffic safety, accident prevention, and easier monitoring and traffic surveillance. It reduces traffic congestion and increases the efficiency of mobility, routing, and traffic flow. It also leads to environmental benefits, including less carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions. It reduces fossil fuel consumption and increases productivity. Other benefits include cost minimization for logistics, taxi ride-sourcing companies, and customers.
Critical Issues and Technical Challenges
On the other side, we have to manage a few issues related to smart transportation as it will bring more software and hardware faults and cybersecurity issues. Communication problems with other connected vehicles should also be appropriately taken care of.
Satellite communication, when used with transportation, makes effective and efficient transportation possible, and it brings a lot of benefits to the business as well. It is essential to devise novel approaches for energy-efficient, convenient, and sustainable transportation. The economy is dependent on the transportation sector, and a slight hindrance can adversely affect a wide range of businesses. Therefore, there is an urgent need for sustainable, effective, and convenient measures to achieve smart transportation and mobility.
Transportation is a necessity of life; users need transportation in our daily chores of lives and businesses. With the ability to receive real-time updates and options for alternate routes, navigational systems are already helping the consumers. To propose solutions for existing challenges and opportunities, research centers must stay on the cutting edge to contribute and evolve this industry to come closer to the objective, useful to the business. Improving transportation safety is an important task to be performed, including the proper design of an infrastructure that prevents accidents and injuries. Satellite communication system plays a vital role in handling emergencies, traffic alerts, road safety, and accident prevention.
Intelligent and smart transportation systems face many problems. The road infrastructure needs to be improved, as most roads are not equipped with the features of network connection and intellectualization, road critical nodes cannot communicate with vehicles, the construction of high-precision maps is still in its infancy. Technology maturity needs to be developed, especially for key technologies, such as ultra-reliable and low-latency functionality in high-speed scenarios and V2V communication.
A robust regulatory system is required to adopt a new mode of travel and new technologies. There are new opportunities to save money and lives via digital technologies. Among ubiquitous connectivity, dynamic traffic signals, remote sensors, and vehicular communications, new applications offer significant social and economic benefits. Safety gains are arising from smart transportation. Experts argue that autonomous vehicles can save 585,000 lives between 2035 and 2045 and free up over 250 million hours of commuting time per year globally. One of the strongest arguments in favor of autonomous vehicles is the potential to improve highway safety. Machine-directed vehicles are not apt to get distracted—and avoiding accidents caused by distraction is likely to save lives. Research by leading firms finds that the economic benefits of smart transportation are likely to be substantial. For example, a Strategy Analytics report estimates that autonomous vehicle technology will add $7 trillion to the economy by 2050 when autonomous cars and trucks constitute half of the new vehicles sold. Autonomous vehicles will drive change across a range of industries, displacing vehicle ownership with Mobility-as-a-Service, and defining a new landscape of concierge and ride-hailing services, as well as pilotless vehicle options for businesses in industries like package delivery and long-haul transportation. A McKinsey report estimates $2.5 trillion in potential economic impact will come from continued adoption of mobility services and that, by 2025, a focus on technologies and models will influence transportation and logistics, automotive development, and smart cities and infrastructure.
Economic and Societal Benefits
Data will broaden the demand for transportation in these areas, as individually owned vehicles are currently idle 85 to 95 percent of the time. Existing platforms such as Uber, Lyft, and Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi have demonstrated the ability to monetize these assets and turn them into high-margin services. Smart transportation furthermore can transform mobility. It can offer mobility to groups such as the elderly and disabled who currently lack good transportation options. According to Caroline Chan of Intel, “it democratizes driving for people. Some individuals can’t drive as they age, and autonomous vehicles give them access to transportation.” One of the most important things is to keep people integrated into society and active in their local communities. Autonomous vehicles create a new means for this to happen with vulnerable populations. With the progress the world is seeing in new-generation ICT and 5G automotive systems, there will be broad economic and social benefits. New industries will arise that change the traditional modes of travel, transport, and traffic management. When fully implemented, these advances will bring about profound changes within the transportation industry and economies worldwide.
Although all the challenges for all players such as data privacy, safety and security, and lack of clear business model, governments and several other players are still enthusiastic in this market. The end users show a high willingness to pay for safety-related services and are also interested in advanced technology, such as a self-driving car, which could replace the drivers’ eyes and ears in their future driving with fully developed and mature technology.
Government regulations and initiatives are the most important drivers for the growth and development of the intelligent transportation system market. With growing road safety concerns and increasing auto thefts, governments worldwide, especially in the United States, Europe, Russia, China, and Brazil, are mandating factory-fitted telematics and safety devices in vehicles. Smart transportation solutions, augmented with smart city solutions, enable government organizations and their partners to create safer, efficient transport infrastructure in cities by improving community resources and transportation for everyone. Satellite communication for smart transportation offer real-time visibility and accurate data, allowing the concerned city transport authorities and organizations to improve efficiency while creating smarter, greener cities for its dwellers.
Satcom Based Internet of Things: A Game Changer
The Internet of Things is an interconnection of devices that keep sharing information and is used for a wide range of applications and services. Satellite technology plays a crucial role in making IoT one of this century’s most useful technology. Satellite communication links different areas where terrestrial communication is not available or not possible. As such, satellite technology has a key role in enabling new applications and business processes that are making the IoT a reality.
Business operations extending to geographically far-off areas require a service; satellite communication connects these unmanned sites and offshore platforms. Many natural resources exploration companies use sensor networks to support their exploration projects and using satellite communication as a medium to connect. It also plays a pivotal role in enabling innovative mobility services. Countless applications in smart cities need a reliable source of connectivity which terrestrial services cannot provide, IoT sensors installed in huge density with smart functions help make cities more sustainable by using satellite communication technology. Mobile banking and retails, wireless ATMs are spread across the globe in remote areas and less developed places. Satellite communication technology connects them with the network. Many IoT applications involve exchanging data that demands high broadband speed to support bandwidth-intensive applications in real-time. Satellite communication delivers this information with ease and satisfies the user demand. Satellite communications is an affordable technology for IoT services because terrestrial communication would need extensive deployment to serve IoT applications’ requirements. IoT technology will continue driving up market demand for integration for satellite communications. The benefits explained above are just the tip of an iceberg; it has numerous applications and benefits for society and business.
Critical Issues and Technical Challenges
The satellite IoT industry is transforming with the emergence of NewSpace and the rising demand for global IoT connectivity. Exploring innovative satellite solutions, adopting robust and dynamic business models, and a growing shift in investments and research from the public to private organizations are fast emerging as the key trends in the satellite IoT ecosystem.
The demand for IoT end-device connectivity is driving the need for innovative communication techniques. In addition to the terrestrial infrastructure, satellite communication appears to play a crucial role in supporting IoT applications in diverse areas, including mining locations, deep sea, and remote sites where cellular connectivity is unavailable.
IoT, when connected with a satellite, does not get a free pass from cyber threats. Organizations must plan for the challenges of IoT in space accordingly if they want the reliability of satellites. Cybersecurity may be the most critical challenge of IoT for organizations to ensure that the data transmissions are not subject to interference or capture.
Economic and Societal Benefits
IoT and Satcom are closely related, with around 2.7 million devices now serviced by satellite (including infrastructure, environmental monitoring, the military, shipping, and aviation). The number of devices is expected to increase to around 24 million across the globe by 2024, with the market for space IoT primed to increase eightfold from $250 million to $4 billion in 2030. Excitingly, the market for space IoT solutions will soon reach commercialization, with a wide range of existing Satcom technologies available that can easily be designed to support IoT from space – from broadband and narrowband networks to broadcast capabilities.
IoT provides businesses better insight into and control over the objects and environments that previously were not connected to the internet. With IoT, enterprises can monitor and run operations in too remote areas and, more importantly, gain valuable data and insights on remote assets almost instantaneously. As you can imagine, there are countless applications for IoT networks. With uses ranging from the monitoring of power plants and oil and gas pipelines to Smart Cities, farming operations, point-of-sale locations, and the latest security solutions, IoT will play an integral part of everyday management and operations.
With more data from more sources and faster data processing, the opportunities enabled by IoT are limitless. Consequently, the number of business-related IoT connections worldwide is forecast to grow sevenfold to over 5 billion connected devices.
Through IoT, businesses and people can be more connected to the world around them professionally and socially, enabling them to do more meaningful, higher-level work. However, obtaining reliable access to the internet remains a prominent obstacle. Many businesses are unable to reach remote assets due to insufficient coverage or prohibitively expensive solutions. Terrestrial networks only cover a limited area of the Earth’s surface. While this is acceptable for consumer internet requirements, it’s far from sufficient for objects in remote, professional environments. Satellite IoT provides a more reliable, robust, and efficient service in such situations.
Demand for satellite IoT applications is set to increase since terrestrial service providers cannot maximize their coverage due to infrastructure constraints. With the scale of commercial satellite IoT applications, the satellite industry has the opportunity to direct its communication assets towards new markets where satellite IoT will be in high demand.
The automobile, financial, and energy sectors might be the markets where satellite IoT will play a key role in product/asset monitoring and delivering appropriate alerts to service providers. Vodafone has already deployed commercial satellite IoT services using Inmarsat’s broadband global area network (BGAN). According to the company, there are currently more than 50 million IoT connections, with approximately 250 types of devices connected to Vodafone’s IoT connectivity platform. Innovative products like flat-panel antennas (FPA) in the satellite communication market, will also raise the commercial value of satellite IoT applications, especially in the automobile sector. Satixfy, Kymeta, Alcan Systems, Phasor, and Isotropic Systems are some of the well-known FPA developers in the satellite communication market.
With satellite IoT, the communications market is expected to grow, as the satellite manufacturing and launch vertical are presenting low-cost opportunities for the market. Satellite IoT is slowly shaping itself to fit into various market verticals. While it is still developing, the satellite industry has the opportunity to observe and analyze the future challenges and opportunities for the satellite IoT market.
Role of Satcom in 5G
Satellite communications play a vital role in the implementation of 5G cellular networks. Areas behind the reach of cellular networks like airplanes, boats, trains, hard-to-reach areas will need services which be delivered via the satellite communication network. The satellite system is the most cost-effective backhaul alternative for terrestrial networks, and 3GPP is also interested in properly integrating satellite and terrestrial networks in 5G. The satellite component also facilitates the universality of the network and also deals with various issues like global coverage, machine-to-machine communication, and communication services in critical situations. A single communication satellite can cover a large geographic area, and thus it might be economically appealing to use satellite communications to augment terrestrial networks to provide connectivity in rural and remote areas. In urban areas, high-throughput satellite communications systems may help offload traffic in terrestrial networks. Another potential alternative is to use satellites for backhauling, fostering the rollout of 5G services with potentially reduced costs in rural and remote areas. The advanced communications of 5G are expected to transform three major use cases: Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra-Reliable and Low-Latency Communications (URLLC), and Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC). The satellite has a critical role to play in each of these categories.
5G provides the ultimate opportunity for the satellite industry to break out of its niche. And for satellite service providers to offer a much wider range of services while enabling mobile and fiber operators to leverage satellite connectivity to expand their coverage areas and offload their networks through critical functionalities like multicasting, backhauling, and mobility access where the satellite is a better access technology.
The opportunities for satellite are enormous. Mobile network operators will complement their 5G services with satellite connectivity to offload their terrestrial networks on a large scale. They will be able to take advantage of the satellite’s inherent multicasting/broadcast functionality for new use cases, such as a connected car while preserving a high-value wireless spectrum for latency-sensitive services. They can also use satellite’s longer range to complement the buildout of 5G in remote areas where building terrestrial networks for enhanced broadband services is too cost-prohibitive.
Critical Issues and Technical Challenges
Given that satellite communication offers an additional channel for carrying traffic over the 5G backhaul, context-aware policies or mechanisms need to be in place to properly steer traffic through either the satellite or the terrestrial backhauls. The orchestration architecture of a satellite network operator (SNO) when used as transport networks for 5G mobile network operator (MNO) networks partly depends on how the SNO networks support the MNO networks and partly on the virtualization architecture underlying the SNO networks. It can be envisaged that both SNO and MNO networks may encompass specific network functions, so how to orchestrate them holistically while confirming their respective operational objectives is a key technical issue.
Economic and Societal Benefits
Significant economic and social value can be gained from the widespread deployment of 5G networks. Technological applications, enabled by a set of key functional features, will facilitate industrial advances, improve their bottom line, and enhance city and citizen experiences. To accelerate the adoption of 5G, new collaboration models among
stakeholders are needed, along with clear methodologies to estimate the social value creation, which will enhance the business case of 5G.
The benefits of Satcom 5G are numerous and are more than just hype. 5G is changing how governments and enterprises communicate, work, and engage with customers and partners. The possibilities of 5G are only bound by what businesses can imagine and create, so now is the time to consider how businesses can unlock, benefit, and thrive from the potential of 5G.
Many businesses are eager to enter a 5G world. Although we’re still in the infancy of 5G, many companies are already making plans to adopt the technology as a critical component of their infrastructure. A May 2019 study by Spiceworks, a marketplace that connects the IT industry to help technology buyers and sellers transact, shows that one in three companies plans to purchase new 5G devices as soon as they are available. In a survey of 716 technology buyers in the United States and the United Kingdom, the Spiceworks 2019 State of Corporate Connectivity report found that 32 percent of businesses have plans to buy new 5G-enabled devices after service becomes available in their area.
If you form a business plan that depends on a specific type of current technology, you’ll eventually go out of business. Technology will change and advance, and if you’re not prepared to adapt to it and adopt it, you’ll get left behind when your competition moves forward, and you’re still clinging to obsolete technology.
In this digital world, commerce is evolving at high speed. All industries rely on internet service from making sales to customer services and advertisements; Satellite Internet is an integral part of business growth now. It is the most reliable source of business operations connectivity where the company’s essential applications cannot afford any connectivity failure. It increases the profitability and productivity of a business. Satellite communication services are getting more affordable than ever. Satellite internet can be used anywhere and can be rapidly deployed anywhere; remaining connected to the internet is vital to success in today’s market place.
Communication satellites are not only crucial for business and technology but are also important for socio-economic development. The telecommunication industry is closely related to economic and social development. To connect the rural and remote areas with the terrestrial network is not possible in every situation and may not be economically feasible. Communication satellites are the best fit for this purpose because of geographical constraints. They prove to be the most reliable service with a low operating cost. This will promote socio-economic development leading to better educational opportunities, better health services, better private sector business and investment, and increased employment. The improvements, technologies, and awareness about technologies will shape the economy, and the digital divide between rural and urban areas will decrease. This digital divide, because of the lack of communication infrastructure in rural areas, slows down the development of people living in those areas. Communication satellites fill this infrastructure gap and provide telecom operators and governments cost-effective ways to extend essential telecom services to the farthest corners of a country. GSM backhaul solutions via satellite enable operators to bypass the need for terrestrial infrastructure, extend cellular coverage, and create network backbone extensions for their terrestrial telecom networks.