||Acessing the Internet
The Net connections can be based on wire-line and wireless access technolgies.
Usually several kinds of network connections are employed at once. Generally speaking, when an E-mail message is sent it travels from the user's computer via copper wires or coaxial cables ISDN lines, etc., to an Internet Service Provider, from there, via fibre-optic cables, to the nearest Internet exchange, and on into a backbone network, tunneling across the continent und diving through submarine fibre-optic cables across the Atlantic to another Internet exchange, from there, via another backbone network and across another regional network to the Internet Service Provider of the supposed message recipient, from there via cables and wires of different bandwidth arriving at its destination, a workstation permanently connected to the Internet. Finally a sound or flashing icon informs your virtual neighbor that a new message has arrived.
Although facing competition from fiber-optic cables as cost-effective solutions for broadband data transmission services, the space industry is gaining increasing importance in global communications. As computing, telephony, and audiovisual technologies converge, new wireless technologies are rapidly deployed occupying an increasing market share and accelerating the construction of high-speed networks.
Privatization of satellite communication
Until recently transnational satellite communication was provided exclusively by intergovernmental organizations as Intelsat, Intersputnik and Inmarsat.
Scheduled privatization of intergovernmental satellite consortia:
| Satellite consortia |
| Year of foundation |
| Members |
| Scheduled date for privatization |
| Intelsat |
| 1964 |
| 200 nations under the leadership of the USA |
| 2001 |
| Intersputnik |
| 1971 |
| 23 nations under the leadership of Russia |
| ? |
| Inmarsat |
| 1979 |
| 158 nations (all members of the International Maritime Organization) |
| privatized since 1999 |
| Eutelsat |
| 1985 |
| Nearly 50 European nations |
| 2001 |
When Intelsat began to accumulate losses because of management failures and the increasing market share of fiber-optic cables, this organizational scheme came under attack. Lead by the USA, the Western industrialized countries successfully pressed for the privatization of all satellite consortia they are members of and for competition by private carriers.
As of February 2000, there are 2680 satellites in service. Within the next four years a few hundred will be added by the new private satellite systems. Most of these systems will be so-called Low Earth Orbit satellite systems, which are capable of providing global mobile data services on a high-speed level at low cost.
Because of such technological improvements and increasing competition, experts expect satellite-based broadband communication to be as common, cheap, and ubiquitous as satellite TV today within the next five or ten years.
Major satellite communication projects
| Project name |
| Main investors |
| Expected cost |
| Number of satellites |
| Date of service start-up |
| Astrolink |
| Lockheed Martin, TRW, Telespazio, Liberty Media Group |
| US$ 3.6 billion |
| 9 |
| 2003 |
| Globalstar |
| 13 investors including Loral Space & Communications, Qualcomm, Hyundai, Alcatel, France Telecom, China Telecom, Daimler Benz and Vodafone/Airtouch |
| US$ 3.26 billion |
| 48 |
| 1998 |
| ICO |
| 57 investors including British Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, Inmarsat, TRW and Telefonica |
| US$ 4.5 billion |
| 10 |
| 2001 |
| Skybridge |
| 9 investors including Alcatel Space, Loral Space & Communications, Toshiba, Mitsubishi and Sharp |
| US$ 6.7 billion |
| 80 |
| 2002 |
| Teledesic |
| Bill Gates, Craig McCaw, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Alsaud, Abu Dhabi Investment Company |
| US$ 9 billion |
| 288 |
| 2004 |
Source: Analysys Satellite Communications Database
Communications satellites are relay stations for radio signals and provide reliable and distance-independent high-speed connections even at remote locations without high-bandwidth infrastructure.
On point-to-point transmission, the transmission method originally employed on, satellites face increasing competition from fiber optic cables, so point-to-multipoint transmission increasingly becomes the ruling satellite technology. Point-to-multipoint transmission enables the quick implementation of private networks consisting of very small aperture terminals (VSAT). Such networks are independent and make mobile access possible.
In the future, satellites will become stronger, cheaper and their orbits will be lower; their services might become as common as satellite TV is today.
For more information about satellites, see How Satellites Work (http://octopus.gma.org/surfing/satellites) and the Tech Museum's satellite site (http://www.thetech.org/hyper/satellite).