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Emerging Telecommunications Networks

The International Handbook of Telecommunications Economics, Volume II

Edited by Gary Madden

This major reference work provides a thorough and up-to-date survey and analysis of recent developments in the economics of telecommunications. The Handbook serves both as a source of reference and technical supplement for the field of telecommunications economics.
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Chapter 9: Satellite communications services

Joseph N. Pelton


Joseph N. Pelton INTRODUCTION At the beginning of the twenty-first century the primary transmission media include satellites, coaxial and fiber optic cable, and terrestrial wireless technology. Satellite technology has exhibited substantial growth in adoption since its commercial inception in 1965 with satellite transmission capability in orbit increased one hundred thousand fold. Current technology is nearly a thousand times more cost effective when measured in terms of throughput times satellite life. Nevertheless the satellite industry exists in the shadow of extremely high throughput fiber optic systems that can deploy systems capable of operating at speeds in the terabits per second. Such fiber optic systems can transmit megabytes of data for under 0.0l United States dollars (USD) and may soon send gigabytes of data for under this price. Certainly the price of transmitting data globally in the twentyfirst century is far less than that of printing it out on hard copy. In this environment satellite service providers will compete for specific parts of this nearly USD1 trillion global telecommunications market. Furthermore, while the satellite market will continue to grow in size in conventional fixed satellite services it will exhibit its greatest growth in large-scale broadcasting – that is, DBB/DTH services – in both national and international markets, digital video broadcast and other multi-node networks, and rural and remote services. However, despite this projected bright future a question remains with regard to land mobile satellite services, where market failures, especially the bankruptcy of the Iridium low earth orbit (LEO) systems and...

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