[LINK] Europe to get new broadband satellite(s)

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Sun Nov 28 11:45:21 AEDT 2010

On 28/11/10 10:27 AM, Jan Whitaker wrote:
> At 09:59 AM 28/11/2010, Richard Chirgwin you wrote:
>>> Perhaps this is part of the hidden information in
>>> the business plan. Mustn't scare the rural horses, so to speak.
>>> Jan
>> Jan,
>> Aren't you being a bit harsh here? Satellite for the last couple of
>> percent has been in the NBN planning since pretty much the day it was
>> announced. And what are they not being truthful about? - Since the
>> satellite hasn't been designed yet, I presume its coverage and
>> transponders would be designed for the service it's meant to deliver.
> No, I don't think I'm being harsh because of the sort of information
> that is being sold to the whole public at the moment. I believe
> Fernando makes a good point. There are Quality of Service aspects to
> the satellite delivery that hasn't been part of the general
> discussion. If you were in Woop Woop and expect to have equivalent
> service via satellite, even if you think at a slower speed, then you
> may be disappointed by the lag. (think the delay effects of the voice
> services we put up with; it's part of the physics of distance) We've
> had that discussion in the past on link, I think, when discussing
> rural access to broadband at all in terms of wifi. It's not going to
> get you the same QoS as fibre. Neither will satellite, and I don't
> think that has been exposed. I wonder if Bob Katter gets that. I doubt it.
> Is it a best option to have satellite? If the bottom line is to
> provide some service, then yes. At any cost? I don't know. The
> overheads are higher. The cost per person served is higher. Just like
> shared HFC has usage contention issues, so will satellite. How many
> 'dark' transponders do you include to cater for demand growth? Are
> there other applications of a satellite service that could be sold
> off (tv perhaps?) to spread the cost? Spare capacity as a revenue
> source? Back-up for large government data movement doesn't require
> realtime interaction?
Satellite is the option only where there's no other realistic choice - 
the last couple of percent. For those communities, satellite is better 
than nothing. Mostly it's applied to places that are hundreds of km from 
the exchange. Now, would I like to see fibre absolutely everywhere? Yes, 
but can we run a couple of hundred km of fibre for a couple of dozen 
homes? Probably not.

I will ignore latency for a sec, because you can't get rid of it. Say 
there's 160k households (my guess at 2% of 8 million) to be served by 
satellite. 12 Mbps average speed. 20:1 contention ratio (just to pick a 
number), and about 100 individual spot beams. Each beam is about a Gbps. 
That works out acceptably well. So I don't necessarily think there will 
be a huge need for "dark" transponders - particularly because we would 
expect demand to *contract* rather than grow over time.

There's no reason spare capacity can't be used for other things, but I 
would strongly suspect that current TV satellite providers would object 
to government competition.
>> BTW, I don't think a Northern Hemisphere satellite aimed at Europe has
>> much to offer to Australia. The Euro satellite probably wouldn't be able
>> to *see* Australia, let alone whether there would somehow be spare
>> capacity for coverage here.
> You're right, that satellite wouldn't. I didn't say a Northern
> Hemisphere satellite or spare capacity on one would be used. Perhaps
> I wasn't clear enough. With discussion of a new satellite for our
> remote data services, we shouldn't invest in a space program to put
> one up (something I got a whiff of in a story somewhere this week),
> but we should be looking at satellite providers who build and launch
> broadband services satellites as is being done in Europe. It's not
> just a matter of the end user access, but also the point of entry
> into the ground based network.
NBN Co will do what just about 100% of commercial satellite owners do: 
create a spec and get satellite builders to bid on it. This will 
disappoint anyone who thinks the NBN can be turned into a space program 
subsidy, but that's what going to happen.

> I do understand the coverage differences in satellites. I used to
> manage a campus satellite access service in the US. Heck, I've even
> rented remote uplink vans and produced remote TV programs distributed
> via satellite.
> BTW, on Insiders this morning, Andrew Bolt mentioned that Hong Kong
> is putting up a broadband delivery satellite, and argued we should be
> doing that instead of fibre!. So the concept is out there.
> Jan
> Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
> jwhit at janwhitaker.com
> blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
> business: http://www.janwhitaker.com
> Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or
> sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
> ~Madeline L'Engle, writer
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