78 microsatellites to provide global wireless network

Microsat Systems Canada Inc. (MSCI), an established company, has announced that they are to launch a new worldwide polar communications constellation system comprising of 78 microsatellites. “The influx of millions of data-hungry mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, is causing unprecedented strain on mobile networks, which have already reached, or are nearing, capacity,” says David R. Cooper, President and CEO of MSCI. The new network is to be called COMMStellation™ and it's hoped that it will provide the essential capacity to network providers across the globe.

Companies such as RIM, Google and Microsoft have become increasingly reliant on service providers and mobile operators to provide a high-speed, reliable and uninterrupted Internet connection. “While demand for backhaul bandwidth grows exponentially, there is downward pressure on consumer wireless pricing. This situation, together with the need to reach economically challenged population centers, calls for an innovative, low-cost satellite solution.” explains Michael Neuman, former CEO of Bell ExpressVu Satellite TV. 

The satellites weigh just 12kg and cost a little over $12 million each. After launch, they will orbit the earth at 1000km. The close proximity means up to five times more data density, even at the equator. The hope is to provide 100% global coverage to all (approximately) 6.9 billion residents of Earth at a minimum of 3G speeds. MSCI is no stranger to this market. Since 1975, the company has specialised in building and launching low-Earth orbit satellites. 

Image Credit: MSCI

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45 Comments

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No room on the planet for garbage, so lets crowd our skies with it. Is it me or is there the possibility they could fall. At 1000km, you could see them with your naked eye from the ground. Even better when you are in an airplane at 37000FT.

Orbiting by definition is FALLING. Satelittes use rockets to susatin ordit...but for how long?

There is always the way if's. So what if one or several fall do to failure of equiptment...I mean it is a machine and machine do fail. They don't last forever. If a 757 can take down a 110 story building per se, imagine what one of these could take out...

Yes, my parents have been without a decent hi speed internet option - there is no cable, no dsl, and the cell signals are weak where they live. Dish is horrid - I've recommended against it as it is super expensive, have tiny daily caps and punishment for 24 hours if you go over it, and the speeds are terrible, on top of equipment costs. Hopefully this will rectify all of that.

This should have happened years ago!! I can't stand the fact that I'm up on a mountain and can see the top of a cell tower yet get hardly no signal mainly cause I'm "above" the damn tower and it acts like a blanket. A higher "blanket" would be very nice to have and I'm sure you would have all these companies like Verizon and Sprint jumping all over it to get a spot.

It sounds awesome, but I don't think their target will be individuals or smartphone users. It sounds more like they plan on having this function primarily as transport / backhaul for other providers to use, for example to get a connection with large capacity in remote regions to a provider to redistribute on the ground where no other connection (fiber/etc) exists.

It will probably be possible for mobile devices to communicate with the Satelites and there will probably even be devices released that will work that way, but the typical cell phone probably wouldn't have the power or antenna to make proper use of it.

Stupid company they invested a billion dollar on sat system and havent thought about latency issues. If only world had more brilliant minds like Skwerl...

=HyperViper= said,
Stupid company they invested a billion dollar on sat system and havent thought about latency issues. If only world had more brilliant minds like Skwerl...

like the latency is an issue for its intended use, which is mainly browsing the web, watching videostreams or listening to music streams... all which dont really have an issue with any latency lower then 1000ms

=HyperViper= said,
Stupid company they invested a billion dollar on sat system and havent thought about latency issues. If only world had more brilliant minds like Skwerl...
Actually they have. The height is only 1,000 km, not the 35,000-km height of a geostationary satellite. The extra latency will be minimal.

I don't see how cell phones, with its tiny battery, have the power to transmit data at 3G speed to satellites 1000km away...?

Hmm, this may be the honest launch of Internet 2.. the big brothered internet thats capped. Every device will require this connection obviously and it will actually hold the required files for boot... reduce manufacturing costs..

KavazovAngel said,
In the end, we will still be ... by the providers.

Bah!!

It's Canada! We only have the most expensive wireless service of any 1st world country. We'll be fine...oh wait....

ahhell said,

Bah!!

It's Canada! We only have the most expensive wireless service of any 1st world country. We'll be fine...oh wait....

We all complain and moan about prices yet we all have cell phones and expensive plans... Why would carriers want to change that?

This is such a great initiative! Impressive! I wonder if using this sattelite network will deprecate the use of mobile broadband. Here in Denmark, they still use GPRS and HSPA at many places.

Rudy said,
I'd like to see how much they would charge for that kind of service

Yeah I wonder if individuals are allowed to access them. I mean we can purchase a package or something for a month. Just like the ISP.

That sounds nice, but the latency will be horrid. If you're streaming video, it'll be just fine, but realtime communication will not be possible.

Skwerl said,
That sounds nice, but the latency will be horrid. If you're streaming video, it'll be just fine, but realtime communication will not be possible.

says who?

Skwerl said,
That sounds nice, but the latency will be horrid. If you're streaming video, it'll be just fine, but realtime communication will not be possible.

real time satellite communications is not new. there have been sat radios and sat phones for years.
take a look at http://www.iridium.com i've used their phones several times and while there is a short delay, it doesn't make it unusable.

Skwerl said,
That sounds nice, but the latency will be horrid. If you're streaming video, it'll be just fine, but realtime communication will not be possible.

Radio waves travel at 299,792 km per second. The satellites are 1000 km off the ground. At that speed, round trip (Ground station > satellite > receiver) to a ground station at its closest point will only be 0.0067 seconds.

Latency will not be an issue for real time communication.

StarLion said,

Radio waves travel at 299,792 km per second. The satellites are 1000 km off the ground. At that speed, round trip (Ground station > satellite > receiver) to a ground station at its closest point will only be 0.0067 seconds.

Latency will not be an issue for real time communication.

math++

Skwerl said,
That sounds nice, but the latency will be horrid. If you're streaming video, it'll be just fine, but realtime communication will not be possible.

You do realize these would be in Low Earth Orbit / ~600 miles / ~1200 miles round trip. The latency from Florida to California would be worse. Please don't spread FUD by confusing geosynchronous orbit (~22,000 miles) with LEO...

-- Brian

StarLion said,

Radio waves travel at 299,792 km per second. The satellites are 1000 km off the ground. At that speed, round trip (Ground station > satellite > receiver) to a ground station at its closest point will only be 0.0067 seconds.

Latency will not be an issue for real time communication.

Theoretically of course. This doesn't even account for the ISP's networking controller and other circuitry and routing. Even wireless signals at home can have several milliseconds of delay because of that the latency makes the connection unreliable for many types of communication. VOIP/Gaming/Other data with high priority.

if the system is properly designed from the ground up, latency shouldn't be an issue.
Battery life will be more of a problem...lol, cell towers these days are only a few km away from your phone, maybe more in rural areas, but bumping that number to 1000? if that's actually doable we really only need one cell base station per city

Tekkerson said,

Theoretically of course. This doesn't even account for the ISP's networking controller and other circuitry and routing. Even wireless signals at home can have several milliseconds of delay because of that the latency makes the connection unreliable for many types of communication. VOIP/Gaming/Other data with high priority.

\
I use 3G for online gaming all the time.

randomevent said,
\
I use 3G for online gaming all the time.

For starters, 3G is not satellite, the two are very different. While I do understand that LEO is better than straight satellite internet, it will certainly be worse than 3G as far as latency is concerned. Also... depends on the game, time of day and a bunch of other factors that you need to consider before claiming that online gaming through this form of connection is fine. Try some of the new WoW heroic bosses on anything over 300ms ping and you'll be munching on the floor more often than not.

StarLion said,

Radio waves travel at 299,792 km per second. The satellites are 1000 km off the ground. At that speed, round trip (Ground station > satellite > receiver) to a ground station at its closest point will only be 0.0067 seconds.

Then why do pings from EU to US servers take 200ms and more? It takes on average about 0.0067 just to ping user's ISP over FTTH

runningnak3d said,

You do realize these would be in Low Earth Orbit / ~600 miles / ~1200 miles round trip. The latency from Florida to California would be worse. Please don't spread FUD by confusing geosynchronous orbit (~22,000 miles) with LEO...

-- Brian

I really don't think he was thinking about the type of orbit; there are far more options between low earth orbit and geosynchronous anyway.

StarLion said,

Radio waves travel at 299,792 km per second. The satellites are 1000 km off the ground. At that speed, round trip (Ground station > satellite > receiver) to a ground station at its closest point will only be 0.0067 seconds.

go use satellite ISP, and then come back with the same statement.

Latency will not be an issue for real time communication.

theh0g said,
Then why do pings from EU to US servers take 200ms and more? It takes on average about 0.0067 just to ping user's ISP over FTTH

I was only speaking on the subject of wireless transmission and distance. Additional latency is added by the processing, switching, and routing that takes place along the way. This should be a given, as it is unavoidable on any connection.

Tekkerson said,

Theoretically of course. This doesn't even account for the ISP's networking controller and other circuitry and routing. Even wireless signals at home can have several milliseconds of delay because of that the latency makes the connection unreliable for many types of communication. VOIP/Gaming/Other data with high priority.


Besides, the Signal has to switch streams several times before it even reaches the ISP from your home. Satalite internet is fine for almost anything except FPS gaming, same as with 3G, any wireless form of internet has more latency then cabled, and unless they reinvented satalite datastreams for internet, it will still have quite a high latency.

OT:
awesome idea, a huge innovation and this will be a great technological advancement.

Skwerl said,
That sounds nice, but the latency will be horrid. If you're streaming video, it'll be just fine, but realtime communication will not be possible.
You're thinking of a geostationary height. The height of these satellites will only be 1,000 km. The latency addition will only be the equivalent of an addition of a cross-country distance. At most, an additional 20 milliseconds. That is definitely manageable.