Connected technology and broadband may have become seemingly ubiquitous - but for some, getting online remains a problem. It’s not just consumers who suffer the digital divide – industry suffers, too.
Being able to use an iOS app or Android gadget to monitor your oil rig’s safety systems and request maintenance sounds a lot less tempting if the drill is situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with no broadband connection or mobile phone tower around. If you’re on a ship it’s even more of a challenge.
These difficult, sometimes dangerous scenarios demand satellite broadband, enabling remote communities, industries and infrastructure to realize the benefits of being online.
Satellite-based solutions also deliver value to the new digital workspace, an office anywhere you happen to be, such as:
- Orange Business Services provides an end-to-end satellite communication solution for the BW Offshore fleet of highly-specialized oil and gas production vessels, enabling an “office on a boat”.
- Firms including ViaSat and ARINCDirect provide broadband services to large-cabin business aircraft, enabling high-speed Internet and VPN access – business jets have become “offices in the air”.
From shipping to air transport, satellite broadband provides a robust solution to enable the new workspace.
Satellite broadband is most prevalent in the US and Australia, where central policies and funding pots have helped boost adoption. This means that the US accounts for 44 percent ($85.9b) of the global satellite industry, according to the most recent Satellite Industry Association data. That’s not to say the need is less outside of those countries, but does mean the opportunity for this technology hasn’t yet been fully realized.
In Europe, the European Commission says: “Today satellite broadband is completely comparable with DSL broadband in terms of both performance and cost.”
The Commission see satellite broadband as providing the missing link for the millions of Europeans who have no access to fixed broadband and the millions more who can’t access fast broadband services.
Under 1 percent of EU broadband lines use satellite. To support deployment the EU’s SABER (Satellite Broadband for European Regions) has proposed a low cost voucher scheme to subsidize installation costs.
Despite this, “There are a lot of people who still don’t have a clue about satellite,” a distributor told PointTopic.
SABER’s move to invest in satellite equipment to help bring regions online makes economic sense. European SMEs could generate €40 billion if broadband were universally available, researchers claim, and satellite has a part to play in unlocking this economic value.
The mobile office and the need to get remote facilities and communities online is just part of the opportunity in this industry.
The proliferation of M2M solutions is driving a widespread adoption of satellite as oil and gas, transportation, energy and government services turn to the technology as a robust, mobile solution for remaining connected even in the most remote locations.
“In developing regions, terrestrial networks are often nowhere near as reliable as those in the North American region, or is often non-existent in other regions. Without near 100% reliability and availability, the value proposition derived from M2M communications by knowing where everything is at anytime, anywhere, begins to fall apart,” says NSR analyst, Alan Crisp.
“Beyond that, satellite-based M2M can offer truly global coverage, with applications such as trans-oceanic shipping being addressable only via satellite,” he said.
With down time costing thousands of dollars a minute, key industry verticals need quality of service and reliability at the core of the solutions they adopt.
The need for reliable service to underpin mission-critical M2M deployments is low-hanging fruit for satellite deployments. It will also foster creation of hybrid satellite/cellular services, in which connected devices will use whichever service gets them online at that time.
The need to connect remote locations, the explosion of M2M and the evolution of the new always-on workspace seems set to drive adoption of satellite technologies.
A recent Northern Sky Research forecast claimed wholesale mobile satellite broadband service revenue is going to increase three-fold over the next decade to more than $5 billion annually, of which L-band will constitute one-third.
Every enterprise should be a connected enterprise. If you want to find out how Orange Business can help you implement satellite services for your enterprise, why not take a look at what we’ve done already for the oil and gas industry?
Jon Evans is a highly experienced technology journalist and editor. He has been writing for a living since 1994. These days you might read his daily regular Computerworld AppleHolic and opinion columns. Jon is also technology editor for men's interest magazine, Calibre Quarterly, and news editor for MacFormat magazine, which is the biggest UK Mac title. He's really interested in the impact of technology on the creative spark at the heart of the human experience. In 2010 he won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award for his work at Computerworld.