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Re: future of satellite business (was Re: More about the Ariane failure)

At 03:09 PM 12/14/2002 -0800, Franklin Antonio wrote:
>Long distance telephony:  Fiber has replaced satellite completely.

Have seen this in Alaska where telco infrastructure was heavily
satellite-base 20-years ago.  Satcom-5 was dedicated to this purpose.
Undersea fiber has replaced this (which is fine until the next earthquake
severs one).  Bush communities still use earth stations, though.

>Satellite internet delivery: There are a few companies offering a 
>satellite-based internet connection to your home.  Unfortunately, these 
>businesses use conus-beam Ku band satellites, and these satellites just 
>don't have enough capacity to make these businesses profitable.  Future 
>multi-beam Ka band satellites may accomplish that trick a few years from 
>now.  Meanwhile it has been a mystery why these companies continue.  News 
>broke a few days ago that Hughes will cease marketing its service.  Perhaps 
>they reached the same conclusion that I did.

I waffled a bit on whether to go this way (no TV-cable or DSL service
available), but a little nervous to be a "beta-tester" for these guys
($1,000 install costs)...eventially the telecom industry will upgrade so I
can have DSL.  So if I, living in a virtual third-world environment,
balk...where's the market?  The civilized world is already "wired".
Wireless-internet in a Microwave Ham household? ...not likely as long as it
occupies ham-bands!

>Don't get me wrong, there are some great commercial uses for 
>satellites.  Sometimes nothing else will do.  However, many of the past 
>uses are just going away, and many of the hyped new uses have not 
>materialized.  That means a many years of reduced activity in construction 
>and launch.

One area that may grow is GPS tracking...satellite delivery is a natural.
My company just budgeted for some of these for marine-tracking capability
(but we also built six VHF-APRS versions in-house that utilize ground-based
digi-peating).  Which technology will win out?

>I know less about the launch industry, but it seems clear that something 
>similar must happen there too.  Whether they will downsize, consolidate, or 
>some just disappear, I don't know.  Most of the launch operations are run 
>by governments who are unlikely to consolidate.  They'll probably just 

We have a small commercial contender (heavily subsidized by both state and
DOD) trying for this market with a launch facility on Kodiak Island (where
PC-Sat was launched).  Even though they have a terrific polar-orbit launch
location,  it appears their future is very tenuous!  Future DOD launches
probably keep the lights on!

My company also has two Iridium phones (briefly they were worth a cup of
coffee with a dollar).  We were saved $9,000 investment by gov't bail-out
of the satellite infrastructure (so far).  The problem is that most demand
for satellite-based teleco is in the third-world which cannot carry the
cost.  The international business market was usurped by cellular.

I once was offered an engineering job at Hughes Space Div to design
sats...wonder if they are downsizing now?

Very interesting stuff, Franklin!

73, Ed - AL7EB

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