Countries like India have very low internet coverage. Less than a quarter of India’s population has access to the internet or even a smartphone. A similar case may be found in emerging economies around the globe, like sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and most of Southeast Asia. While internet coverage is rising in these regions with new installations of cables and antennas, it’s a slow process to connect 4 billion people because of the large distances.
Now though, a few companies have bigger plans when it comes to connecting to the internet. They plan to connect to the internet from space!
Connecting more than half the world
Some firms plan on sending thousands of small satellites in low orbit Earth which will beam down internet signals to the surface of the planet.
OneWeb is one of the firms that have already sent up 6 small satellites in order to operate at 1,200km altitude which will transmit and receive in KuBand of the radio frequency spectrum. This is only the beginning of this major objective, OneWeb plan to quadruple the size of their satellite constellation by adding close to 2,000 additional satellites.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to send close to 12,000 satellites into space and started doing so from May 2019. Amazon under the project code-name Project Kuiper has also joined the satellite internet space race which means there may eventually be more than one satellite network competing to offer low latency, high-speed internet around the world.
Currently, there are approximately 2,000 commercial satellites in orbit so adding these additional numbers of satellites could create a genuine disruption to the space environment.
The entire concept will change the world of business and work but there are questions on how cost-effective these satellite constellations will be or if these will create space debris and traffic and pollute the orbital environment. On the other hand, the effects this could have on employment may be shockingly positive and will benefit countries like India and other countries around the world.
Internet coverage will increase productivity
In India, there are micro-enterprises where the majority of workers are engaged in informal or self-employed work, like lunch runners who deliver food on a bicycle which has been a trend for over a hundred years. Now with the new broadband internet satellite constellation program, this type of work in India can be arranged via online applications. If high-speed internet is accessible widely enough, it could enhance productivity and improve the economy in countries that have been suffering all this time without the use of the internet.
Greater connectivity will mean greater opportunities for remote workers. For example, bank employees can offer services to customers via their phones, other individuals can be trained remotely for advisory roles and do most of their work no matter how far they are. Broadband internet from space can change the way people work for sure.
In the next decade if not sooner, we will see at least one of these satellite networks come online and offer high-speed internet connectivity which will greatly improve the aforementioned countries workforce.