Satellite Broadband Again?

Om Malik is pointing to yet another misguided attempt at satellite broadband. We’ve gone through this many times before, but just for repetition’s sake: the technology isn’t great. Yes, you can reach remote areas, but you have ridiculous lag time. However, much more importantly, the cost is ridiculous. Launching a bird is not a cheap endeavor. Maintaining it is not cheap. And, to top it all off, most communications satellites don’t last very long. So, you’re talking about huge capital expenditures upfront. It’s not worth doing unless you have a huge untapped market — and not one where there are decent substitutes. Just ask the original planners behind Iridium. To make this case worse, the company is making it nice and expensive to sign up. $300 for your CPE with a dandy $180 installation charge. Just how badly do you want your high latency broadband? The claim, of course, is that they’re targeting rural areas under-served by wired broadband providers. That’s great… but it’s also a shrinking market, that will increasingly have competition from wireless providers who have much lower capex and opex issues. And (oh yeah) better technology as well.

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