Reliance Jio on Friday announced that it successfully demonstrated India’s first satellite-based gigabit internet service, which can potentially be used to provide high-speed internet services to inaccessible areas in the country.
Dubbed JioSpaceFiber, the new technology was demonstrated by the company at India Mobile Congress on Friday. Jio says it is partnering with Luxembourg-based satellite communications company SES to provide medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite internet. The company claims that SES’s O3v and o3b mPOWER networks are the only MEO constellation capable of delivering fiber-like internet services from space.
The more common method of delivering high-speed satellite internet usually involves constellations of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. LEO satellites orbit at a height of between 250 and 2,000 kilometres above the planet. Both Starlink, the service provided by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and the solution by OneWeb, a company backed by India’s Bharti group, use LEO satellite technology for low-latency, high-speed internet.
Currently, there are over 5,000 Starlink satellites in LEO, with SpaceX currently planning to deploy another 7,000. The total number could later be expanded to 42,000. OneWeb, in comparison, only plans to have about 630 satellites in orbit. Project Kuiper, which falls under Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, plans to have over 3,000 satellites in orbit.
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Services like Starlink and OneWeb can usually be accessed with a small terminal that can be bought by both individuals and organisations. But it seems like the new JioSpaceFiber solution will require a much larger satellite dish in order to access MEO satellite internet. Jio, in a press statement, said that it has connected four remote locations with JioSpaceFiber—Gir in Gujarat, Korba in Chattisgarh, Nabarangpur in Odisha, and Jorhat in Assam.
While Jio promises low-latency internet, chances are that its JioSpaceFiber internet will have a much higher latency than Starlink or other LEO services. This is because MEO satellites orbit at a much higher distance from the planet, and therefore, radio signals take much longer to travel the distance.
But one advantage of an MEO solution over an LEO one is that the former, in theory, can cover a larger area of the globe with much fewer satellites.
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First published on: 27-10-2023 at 12:08 IST