Broadband Providers Brook No Concern about Capacity Bubble

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WASHINGTON – Current and would-be providers of Ku- and Ka-band satellite broadband on March 18 said they have no concern that the high-throughput spacecraft on the way will cause a glut of in-orbit capacity.

Given the applications yet untapped, they said, demand at this point might be considered almost limitless — and certainly beyond the capacity of even the highest-throughput satellites in low, medium and geostationary orbit.

“One terabit per second is one-tenth of 1 percent of global Internet traffic now,” said Tom Eidenschink, vice president for business development at ViaSat Inc. of Carlsbad, California, which provides Ka-band broadband connectivity via satellites in geostationary orbit. “Might we in the satellite world get to 10 terabits? Great, that means we’d stop being a rounding error in the total capacity.”

Vern Fotheringham, chief executive of LeoSat, which is designing a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit, said there are high-demand corporate users today that have enormous data needs that are not being satisfied.

“There is a petabyte of data per day coming out of the polar regions,” Fotheringham said. “And there are few people there. They have to take it out physically, on ships.”

Fotheringham said the industry would need to look past market analyses — “lies, damned lies and statistical access networks,” he called them — that project a capacity bubble and a crash in satellite bandwidth prices if even one or two of the half-dozen constellations now being designed are actually launched.