New satellite to bring high-speed Internet access to remote areas

New satellite to bring high-speed Internet access to remote areas

Bangalore: In an attempt to increase connectivity in rural areas, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will launch an experimental communication satellite in June that will enable high speed Internet access to villages and remote areas in the country with little or no telephones connectivity.

The satellite will have eight Ka-band, or wideband, transponders that would beam data or multimedia content, athigh speeds to specific spots, unlike conventional satellites that beam signals over avast region.

In the initial stage, the space agency plans to set up computer centres for Internet access in community centres or panchayat offices in around 200 villages.

“Even today, more than 100,000 villages in the country do not have any form of connectivity," said Madhavan Nair, chairman of Isro. “Ultimately, it has to grow into a national system," he added.

A dish—the size of a direct-to-home satellite television receiver—and a modem will be used to provide two-way Internet access.

The space research agency’s approach is likely to bring down bandwidth cost, according to an Isro spokesperson who did not give specific cost estimates.

Satellite Internet is the most expensive of all broadband service options.

A two-way satellite Internet system costs $600 (Rs23,600) or more. The system covers antenna and installation costs.

Service charges would be double the amount of a standard DSL (digital subscriber line) arrangement, state-run telecommunications provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd says on its website.

Isro is working with local governments to evolve a model that will enable a pilot project to begin by August.

It will also identify villages in remote and hilly areas such as the north-east and Kashmir for providing Internet connectivity to users.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is building a Wideband InterNetworking Engineering Test and Demonstration Satellite or a communication satellite with Ka-band transponders for Internet connectivity among countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The satellite is to be launched in 2008 to address “insufficient communication infrastructure in the region," said Yoshitsugu Harada, Japan’s vice-minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology at a conference held last month in Bangalore.

In Canada, companies such as Xplornet Internet Services provide Internet access to consumers through dedicated Ka-band satellites.

A Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket, powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine, will launch the GSAT-4 satellite.

Isro was till recently launching the heavier GSLV rockets using cryogenic engines imported from Russia.