When the government talks about expanding broadband connectivity around the
nation, it’s often satellite technology that gets forgotten or overlooked.
Satellites just can’t give millions of end-users the kinds of speeds they get
from terrestrial services, the thinking goes. Satellite Web systems rely on
cable or DSL for upstream traffic, until now.
Hughes Network Systems set up shop this week in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in
Washington, just around the corner from the FCC, to demonstrate Web service at
a whopping 20 Mbps, way fatter than the 1-5 Mbps you can now typically get from
a coaxial cable.
In the demo, Hughes engineers set up what it sees as the connected home circa
2012: a big screen streaming a movie from Netflix at 3 Gbps; a robust regular
old Internet connection running multiple simultaneous data streams; VoIP over
satellite at 64 kbps; and a 1 Mbps high-definition Polycom videoconferencing
system for good measure.
The major key to the big pipe is a giant pipe in the sky--a satellite,
codenamed Jupiter and scheduled for launch in 2012, that will pump out 100 Gbps.
The setup for the demo involved exactly what a future user would have, but it
received data from Hughes’ Spaceway 3 satellite, with a capacity of 10
Gbps--enough juice for the demo, but not when that service is scaled to the
massive amount of users Hughes envisions.
Also helping enable the high-speed service is Web acceleration and enhancement
software. For example, traditional TCP technology on the Web is not
satellite-friendly, with its regime of “handshakes” to create connections.
Hughes has software to make it more smooth for space-based connectivity.
And, upstream traffic goes right up from the
same .98-meter dish, not over a terrestrial connection.
Hughes is showing its system to get the attention of the various agencies (such
as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Rural
Utilities Service) that are handling some of the federal stimulus funds, and of
the FCC, which is in the midst of a major broadband review. This is needed,
Hughes officials said, because the role satellite can play in the nation’s
broadband plan is frequently overlooked.
With the massive capacity ahead, Hughes figures the service will be appealing
not just to consumers but also for a wide range of government and enterprise
users. The company touts the system’s versatility and configurability as well
as its ability to deliver capacity on demand when needed, as in the case of
For example, America’s Emergency Network, which delivers disaster information
among media, government and emergency managers, uses Spaceway 3 on-demand to
deliver content from its hub in Las Vegas to partners around the country.
And Hughes’ Inter-Government Crisis Network uses the unique onboard switching
and routing capabilities of the Spaceway 3 to create any number of user groups
among crisis-related agencies, which can be immediately activated in any
emergency. -- From Government Video