40 Gigabits in the Sky

For some odd reason, there is something romantic, not to mention challenging about the concept of high speed Internet access delivered from the heavens via a satellite. Many American and European companies have tried – some failed and others have had moderate success. Still that does not prevent others from giving it a shot.

Once such company is iPSTAR of Thailand. It is hard to imagine cutting edge technology from the land of the white elephant. However, some believe that this company has the goods which could change how broadband services are delivered in the third world.

bq. So what’s so radical about iPSTAR? One thing is the sheer capacity: the satellite, currently being built by Space Systems/Loral, will have a total capacity of some 40Gbps as opposed to the usual average of around 2Gbps. In other words, Shin Sat is expecting to have 20 times more capacity to play with compared to other operators. (Bandwidth magazine)

Aussie magazine, Bandwidth is pretty high on this company it seems and has given a glowing endorsement for this company.

bq. Shin Satellite is already a major player in Thailand and throughout Indochina, but come next year its influence may start to be felt across Asia Pacific. That’s when its domestically originated “Big Idea” will be sent into orbit and potentially place Thailand at the global cutting edge. Here comes the iPSTAR broadband Internet satellite.

So here is the background on this company. It was started by Dr Dumrong Kasemset, Shin Sat executive chairman. In 1996 he and some other Shin Sat executives were looking to buy a satellite but had limited success. While touring the planet scouring for a satellite they met with a start-up called CodeSpace, which had developed satellite technology enough to deliver broadband applications cheaply. The only problem was that the idea only existed on paper.

bq. Jose del Rosario, senior analyst at Northern Sky Research, singles out iPSTAR for its ability to change the market if it performs to expectations. “It will be interesting to see in the next few years how iPSTAR services perform in the marketplace. We have forecast the market to reach $966 million by 2007, which represents a conservative CAGR of 14.5%. However, iPSTAR’s success and the ensuing offering of iPSTAR-like services from competing operators can quickly change the market to grow at more robust rates,” he acknowledged.

Nevertheless they seem to have made it work, though the article does not say anything to that effect. And in some markets like Burma, India and China (along with Australia) there are high hopes for this technology. Now all one has to do is wait and see the big bird fly.

Or of course it could turn into the other mythical Thai beast, the white Elephant. I hope not because I too like the idea of 40 gigabits in the sky.