Friday, June 6, 2014
Of late it appears that the FCC must be running a sale on merger authorizations given the glut of questionable attempts. With so much occurring in the incumbent world to retrench, buy market share and close ranks one can easily fail to see a major, forward looking initiative by Google.
Folks the prospect of overlapping and globally ubiquitous wireless broadband is REALLY BIG! See http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/satellites/google-aims-for-billion-dollar-satellite-fleet-to-spread-internet-access; https://gigaom.com/2013/06/24/googles-other-plan-to-connect-the-unconnected-satellites/. Google has the deep pockets to follow through and many factors now favor non-terrestrial options rather than handicap them.
Google can combine low earth orbiting satellites, blimps, drones and whatnot to cobble together a near complete footprint, not just one serving equatorial locations. Innovators, such as Iridium, Globalstar and Thuraya have proved the concept even if they led on a bleeding edge of innovation. Motorola showed that it could manufacture satellites on an assembly line, “off the rack” basis instead of designer, one-off birds. Inter-satellite linking works instead of each satellite having to make a downward transmission. Handsets have shrunk as has the cost of low earth orbiting (“LEO”) satellite networks.
More important perhaps we now have a better sense of how far terrestrial broadband can penetrate the hinterland, the cost of securing rural backhaul and challenges even for 4G and 5G networks to handle full motion video and peak demand.
By way of full disclosure, before accepting a professorial position at Penn State I worked for Motorola on the Iridium project. I preached the LEO gospel at the International Telecommunication Union and the FCC. Ample spectrum now exists to support mobile satellites and the relative close proximity to earth makes LEOs a low latency inter-modal alternative to terrestrial options.
If Leo Google enters the marketplace, it could disrupt many of the mergers aiming to buy out the competition and “stabilize” the marlketplace.