If you have been following recent Technological trends, then you might have thought about this question: Is Satellite Internet Better Than Broadband Internet? Why all the talks about Satellite Internet?
Starlink, HughesNet and Viasat are the current leading providers of Satellite Internet, with Amazon Boss, Jeff Bezos also planning to launch Project Kuiper, their own Satellite Internet Constellation. In 2015, Samsung also drew a proposal to launch the OneWeb constellation, a 4,600 Satellite constellation. Telesat, is also one of such Satellite Internet Companies. While it sounds like a bubble, these companies must have foreseen huge prospects, to invest millions of Dollars into such projects.
Starlinks, which is operated and maintained by SpaceX, have been in the forefront of pushing for more exposure and acceptance of Satellite Internet. Over the past three years, SpaceX have launched exactly 1,115 Starlink Satellites into the Orbit, 28,885 short of their main goal of launching 30,000 Starlink Satellites into the Low Orbit. When completed, Starlink Internet will be available to every part of the Earth, though with operational license from the different locale Jurisdictions.
So why Satellite Internet? Is Satellite Internet any better than the traditional broadband? Will Satellite Internet disrupt the traditional broadband we are accustomed to? Let us compare the two sides on the features of Security, Performance Speed, Eco-friendliness, Privacy Protection, Ease Of Use/User Convenience, Cost and Availability.
COMPARISON BETWEEN SATELLITE AND BROADBAND INTERNET
When it comes to the Internet, security is the most crucial feature of consideration. Why not? The Internet is all about sharing information. Information can either be confidential or public, so it’s security is vital. Attacks from hackers, Exploits from Vulnerabilities and Protection of User Data are the most common Security challenges with Network connections.
In the case of the Traditional Broadband, security is assured to a certain extent. While Wireless internet is very safe from low scale attacks, it is not entirely safe from large scale coordinated attacks. Such attacks could be from Nation States during Cyber Warfare or sophisticatedly organised Hacker Groups or even due to Natural or Artificial disasters that could destroy the Broadband Infrastructure . Yes we have seen situations where the above mentioned perpetrators were able to hijack, disrupt and obliterate the Broadband Infrastructure, rendering the entire locale without Internet Connection.
For instance, the 2022 Hunga Tonga eruption and tsunami caused grave damage to the region, including destroying their Internet Cable Infrastructure. In the midst of the chaos, the Administrators of Tonga appealed to SpaceX to help them restore Internet access to the area. This was later achieved by deploying Starlink to the region and constructing a temporary station that will serve the Tonga region for 6 months.
Also, after the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, Internet was cut off by the invaders through series of coordinated Cyber attacks that crumbled the Ukrainian National Broadband, SpaceX also activated Starlinks satellite internet for Ukraine as an Emergency relief package.
Is Satellite Internet Safer Than Broadband?
Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO once boasted that no hacker could ever hack Starlinks Satellite Internet. While this remains to be disputed, we cannot entirely arrive on a conclusion. There have been demonstrations from Ethical Hackers who were able to hack “Unencrypted” Satellite Internet using a tool worth less than $300, but we know that this requires deep and insightful understanding of both the client side, server side and the constellation’s functioning mechanism. We saw from the above instances that where Broadband failed, Satellite Internet fared. For now, we can say that Satellite Internet is safer than Broadband so long as it is encrypted, but as usage and acceptance increases, vulnerabilities will become more obvious, huge actors and cyber criminals could become able to build the type of systems required to successfully hack Satellite Internet and get in the middle of data that is being transmitted to the Earth.
Is Satellite Internet Faster Than Broadband?
Even with the advanced sophistication of the Satellite Internet, it’s proximity from the Users on Earth cost it to lose the speed race to Traditional Broadband Internet, which is structured right here on Earth. With future advancements on the way for both Satellite and Broadband Internet, it is hard to predict or even say that the former will one day become faster. So it is certain that Traditional Broadband Internet is faster than Satellite Internet. Nevertheless, the Satellite Internet is not slow and can be just as fast as it will be time saving.
Is Internet Broadband Good For The Environment?
The Internet, though not significantly harmful, contributes 4% of Greenhouse Gas Emission into the environment. This percentage puts the internet as the sixth largest carbon footprint on Earth, huge? Well, considering the current impacts of Greenhouse gases on Climate Change, this percentage may eventually be regulated. Broadband also emits Electromagnetic radiations that could pose potential health risks to Humanity, though there are no known risks yet.
Is Satellite Internet Good For The Environment?
There have been critical concerns on the environmental impacts of Orbital Internet. Critics and analysts have decried its demeaning impact due to various factors underlying it’s safety on both the Earth and Space. The momentous fossil fuel required to launch the Satellites generates Greenhouse gases that will surely settle in the Earth’s atmosphere and contribute further to Global Warming. Also, while in space, the Satellites are in continuous rotation and instantaneous collisions with one another may generate unforeseen effect on the Orbit. These effects vary from getting in the way of Space Exploration Observations , to coliding and felling to Earth as debris. Also Satellites emmit radiations that could be dangerous to Human health, though this is yet to be proven.
Is Broadband More Environmental Friendly Than Satellite Internet?
From the above observations, Broadband may actually be more ecofriendly than Satellite Internet. Despite the negligible radiation and environmental impacts of both, Broadbands do not require the amount of energy required to launch Satelittes into the orbit. Launching these Satellites burns fossil fuels which settles in the Earth’s atmosphere as Greenhouse gases.
Broadband and Satellite Internets, Which Protects User Privacy The Most?
Both Broadband and Satellite internet, which is provided by private entities, will maintain User Privacy based on the legally agreed agreement between the companies and their users. This means that privacy of users cannot be determined by infrastructure in place or the technology used, rather, User’s Privacy is an agreement to be reached between the providers and the subscribers.
Ease of Use/ User Convenience
Is Broadband Easier To Use Than Satellite Internet?
Yes!! When it comes to convenience, Broadband has gone mainstream. We all know how to get on the internet through our Preferred Internet Service Provider, or how to connect to the Free WiFi nearby. And how easy it is to share our Phone’s Hotspot with others thanks to the Phone’s internet Service Provider. Unlike the traditional broadband , Satellite internet requires more appliances to connect to it. A dish is required within the user’s locale. The network dish brings in connectivity from the Satellite in Space, while users connect to the Dish in a star-like network system.
Cost and Availability
Is Satellite Internet Costlier Than Broadband?
Yes, Satellite Internet is more expensive, though you are likely to receive a limitless Data plan, the average Satellite Internet plan starts at not less than $100 to as much as $800 per month. This does not include installment budget for the various gadgets needed to set up your Satellite Connection. In total, it may cost you over $3000 – $4500 to put your Satellite Internet in place. Now compare this to how much you spend on the Traditional Broadband.
On the other hand, while there are regions of the World that are still without Internet even at the time of Publishing this Article despite the availability of Broadband Masks, with Satellite Internet, connection will be able to reach everyone, no matter their locale. This includes on-flight travels and even the most remote areas on Earth. This has been one of SpaceX’s goal: To bring internet to everybody.
Why Satellite Internet?
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We need Satellite Internet not just for the healthy competition it will bring to the Industry, but also it’s service as an alternative to areas where Broadband failed. from the Tonga natural disaster, to the Ukraine-Russia War, we have seen practical situations where the importance of Satellite Internet was employed. While broadband internet will always be in use due to it’s affordability and simplicity, Satellite will also be employed in handling sophisticated situations.