tech2 News StaffMay 22, 2017 12:15:17 IST
Of the 1.3 billion people living in India, internet is available only to 350 million users. A massive 93 percent of these users access the internet through mobile connections. Most of the connectivity is provided through spotty 2G connections. ISRO has ambitious plans to launch a three communications satellites, which will significantly improve the speeds available to Indian users. The satellites will provide the infrastructure necessary for the smart cities projects cropping up across the nation. At the same time, the satellites will also revolutionise the TV and entertainment industries.
The idea is to increase the number of transponders available for communications, and reduce the dependence of the country on wired communications. Emerging smart cities not adequately linked to the existing infrastructure stand to benefit the most. The three communications satellites are GSAT-19, GSAT-11 and GSAT-20. The GSAT-09 and the GSAT-17 will also support the efforts. Each of the launches is planned to progressively improve the connectivity. The satellites are being built to meet the future requirements of the country.
ISRO chief Aluru Seelin Kiran Kumar told the Times of India that, "We will launch three communication satellites. GSAT-19 in June and GSAT-11 and GSAT-20 thereafter. GSAT-19 will be launched by GSLVMk III, Isro's next-generation launch vehicle boosted by an indigenous cryogenic engine that is capable of carrying a four-tonne satellite to the geosynchronous transfer orbit. These satellites will use multiple spot beams that will increase internet speed and connectivity. These multiple spot beams will cover the entire country."
ISRO started off 2017 with a record setting launch of 104 satellites in a single mission on 15 February. This was followed by a 5 May launch of the GSAT-09, Narendra Modi's pet project, and India's gift to neighboring nations in South Asia. The satellite had 12 ku-band transponders on board. The ku-band is a portion in the microwave range of frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum. Each participating nation is to have at least one dedicated transponder, and there may even be common programming for the entire region. Both of the launches by ISRO in 2017 have been historic so far, and the third one promises to be as well.
The GSAT-19 will be launched in the first development flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV MK III). The high capacity launch vehicle can place into orbit payloads of four tonnes. Weighing 640 tonnes, the GSLV MK III is the heaviest rocket built by ISRO yet. The launch vehicle uses a cryogenic engine made in India, and took over 12 years to develop. The rocket was originally scheduled to launch in May 2017, but was postponed to June so that ISRO scientists have ample time for thorough testing, to ensure that the launch takes place without any problems.
The GSAT-19 will place India in the league of countries with high-throughput communications satellites, which have revolutionised connectivity in developed economies. Tapan Misra, Director of Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre (SAC), an ISRO facility that develops satellites, told the Indian Express that "You are already witnessing a change in communication technology where voice and video communications are suddenly happening through internet. With future launches, television will come to your homes on the internet using wireless Technology. The effective date rate of GSAT satellites is one gigabyte per second. GSAT-19 will be able to transfer data at four gigabyte per second, thus making it equivalent to four satellites."
Instead of a single broad beam to cover more area, the GSAT-19 will reuse eight narrow beams to deliver connectivity to smaller areas. Services related to banking, healthcare, governance, and entertainment will be available reliably in remote areas because of the GSAT-19. The GSAT-19 offers speeds of four gigabytes a second, which is the equivalent of four communications satellites launched by India so far.
The launch of the GSAT-19 will allow for India to launch high capacity communications satellite from ISRO's launch facility at Sriharikota. The Lithium Ion batteries and the power distribution systems on board the GSAT-19 have also been developed indigenously. Apart from the Ku and Ka band transponders on board, there is an instrument to measure the affect that space weather and high energy particles have on communications systems. India has so far been using contracted launches to put its heavier satellites in space. Towards the end of June 2017, the GSAT-17 will be launched from an Ariane-5 launch vehicle, from Kourou in South America.
The next satellite to go up, will be the GSAT-11. This will be the heaviest satellite deployed by India. The GSAT-11 will make available high speed wireless internet to the towns and villages of India, as well as usher in the era of internet television. Television services will be delivered through the internet, and users can even browse the internet through their televisions. The satellite will transmit the data to Wi-Fi towers placed in the locality, and from there relayed to homes through dongles connected to the television sets.
Apart from integrating internet and entertainment services, the GSAT-11 will also support the smart cities initiative by eliminating the need for cables. Tapan Misra gave details about the satellite and its intended use to the Indian Express, "It will be a four-tonne satellite. We are very proud of this project at SAC. The GSAT-11 will not only link all the towns and villages in this country with quality high-speed Wi-Fi service, it will also integrate internet and television services. It will not only revolutionise entertainment, it will also provide a quantum jump to the entertainment industry."
The GSAT-11 will have two ka band beams dedicated to Delhi and Bengaluru. 16 Ka and Ku band transponders will be available for the mainland and islands of India. On baord, there are 32 user beams in Ku bands, and 8 hub beams in Ka band. The satellite is in the advanced stages of realisation. The GSAT-11 will also be launched from a commercially procured vehicle, and ISRO will be using the Ariane-5 for the launch of the GSAT-11 as well.
The GSAT-20, will be the communications satellite with the most capacity launched by India when it is deployed towards the end of 2018. There are forty beams on board, each with two polarisations, essentially making it 80 beams. The capacity in terms of speed will be more than four times that of the GSAT-11, at 70 GBPS. If the internet needs of India grows exponentially, the GSAT-20 is the satellite that will be able to meet the requirements. Together, the GSAT-19, the GSAT-11 and the GSAT-20 will be able to provide 110 beams, and 88 GBPS of connectivity.
India is on track to have 730 million internet users by the year 2020. Although telecom service providers are bringing internet service to an increasing number of people, India continues to stay behind in the regional and global rankings for internet performance. Apart from humans, connected cars, smart cities and the Internet of Things will all require more or less constant connectivity. The three satellites by ISRO are a way for India to meet this surge in demand.
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