Let us talk about the price point
Voice and Data|August 2021
LEO, MEO, ICO, or GSO satellites? The government needs to take a serious look at how effective any of these could be for India before saying yes
BRIJENDRA K SYNGAL

There is so much of print media space being occupied with various satellite companies vying for the burgeoning data-hungry market in India knocking away at the doors of Sanchar Bhawan a tall building in the center of Delhi, and custodians of anything telecommunication. The tagline of all is fast speed broadband, without ever mentioning or defining fast broadband, that moving forward how it will gel with Aatamnirbharta (self-reliance).

These projects some three of them, and of course the ubiquitous, tried, and tested old horse of geosynchronous satellites, which barring latency for certain applications is ideally suited in terms of throughputs, capacity, and deployability. They are being bandied around as the savior of broadband internet connectivity; anytime and anywhere to watch Netflix inside, say Atal Tunnel in the hills, in the name of low latency that it offers.

What has low latency to do with Netflix, one might ask? This is quite akin to the Pepsi way of hyping their drink. PepsiCo had envisioned marketing Frito-Lay snacks alongside Pepsi-Cola soft drinks. In an interview with Forbes in 1968, PepsiCo CEO Donald Kendall summarized this by noting that “Potato chips make you thirsty; Pepsi satisfies thirst.” His plans of jointly promoting soft drink and snack products were thwarted later that year when the Federal Trade Commission ruled against it.

So is this a case of creating Netflix addiction to create demand?

Geosynchronous Satellite Orbit (GSO) can carry far more powerful signals than needed for Netflix. As the story unfolds about the real efficacy of these systems and price points well beyond the pockets of ordinary Indians, it appears much ado about nothing. The past record of these systems has not been that great. At the best, they can be described as hobbies of the promoters, like building Meccano sets.

Unless questions like real capacities, the audience they can address simultaneously, and the applicability in our environment is asked, the systems are pure simple glitzy, pipe dreams. Let the price points be produced in terms of tariff per bit/byte.

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