In the United States, people fortunate enough to live in an area served by fiber-to-the-home services such as Verizon’s FiOS are able to connect to the Internet at speeds much faster than those available from cable modem or DSL service.
Soon, isolated villages in the mountainous areas of Southeast Asia will be able to connect to the Internet at speeds many times faster than those available even on fiber-to-the-home links, thanks work done by Mitsubishi and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The two launched the Wideband InterNetworking engineering test and Demonstration Satellite (Kizuna) on a H-IIA launch vehicle Feb. 23 from the Tanegashima Space Center. Kizuna uses multi-beam and active phased-array antennas to provide Ka-band coverage to the Asia-Pacific region. The satellite is designed to provide super high-speed communications to mountainous areas and remote islands in the region. Unlike consumer satellite Internet services in the United States, which are limited to approximately 1.5 Mbps downlink speeds, Kizuna will permit downlink speeds up to 155 Mbps and uplink speeds of 6 Mbps using a small 45cm diameter satellite dish. With a larger antenna 5 meters in diameter, Kizuna will support data communication up to 1.2 Gbps.
JAXA outlined four applications for the satellite. They include disaster network operations, where small antennas can be used to send high resolution images securely to a disaster countermeasures office; solving the information availability disparity by providing super-high speed communications to remote areas at level comparable to what is available in city areas; connecting schools throughout Japan and Asia for remote education; and providing remote medicine services to remote areas by connecting them with medical facilities in urban areas.
Will we see similar offerings in the United States? Readers may remember that for the last few years I’ve predicted low cost, high-speed Ka-band Internet connectivity would revolutionize satellite newsgathering. So far, I haven’t seen any indication of that happening here. Most Ka-band satellite capacity is devoted to providing HDTV DBS services. With the variety of wired and wireless Internet services available to most of the U.S. population and increasing demand for HDTV over satellite, I doubt we’ll see 155 Mbps satellite Internet service available in the United States any time soon. I hope I’m wrong!
Visit the Kizuna Special Site for more information.
Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.
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