Internet in the Sky
"Internet in the Sky"
A new company called Teledesic is
in the middle of developing an amazing technology that would take near impossible Internet
tasks, and turn them into everyday solutions. Through use of Low-earth-orbit-satellites,
Teledesic aims to create an end to end technology that would meet the high broadband
demands of businesses, schools, and individuals. In essence, they are creating a broadband
"Internet in the Sky" that will create the worlds first network to include
computer networking, broadband Internet access, high-quality voice, and several other
digital data needs.
Today, advanced telecommunications infrastructure is limited to developed urban areas of
the world. This leaves most of the worlds population without access to even basic
communications services. Even those areas with basic voice service get access through
100-year-old technology, mostly analog, copper networks that for the overwhelming part
will never be upgraded to support digital broadband services. Areas that do have broadband
access are often unable to receive a guaranteed end-to-end quality of service that meets
the needs of growing enterprises. Teledesic is making an effort to bring advanced
communications to everyone on a global level. The Teledesic plan will be able to reach 100
percent of the worlds population, and 95 percent of all land mass. The network will
consist of 288 operational satellites organized into 12 plans with 24 satellites each.
Users will be able to access speeds 2,000 times faster than todays standard modem.
Most users will have two-way connections that provide up to 64 Mbps on the downlink and up
to 2 Mbps on the uplink. Broadband terminals will offer 64 Mbps of two-way capacity.
The project has received backing from such strong-arms as cellular pioneer Craig McCaw,
Microsoft Chairman William H. Gates, and billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. In
addition, Teledesic also has financial backing from communications giant Motorola, and
aerospace leader Boeing.
Essentially, Teledesic will provide its worldwide access by using low Latency of a low
Earth-Orbit Constellation of satellites. The network will be able to serve as the access
link between a user and a gateway into a terrestrial network, or as a means to network
The Teledesic Network consists of terminals, network gateways, network operations, and
control systems, along with the satellite-based switch network that provides the
communication links among terminals. Teledesic terminals communicate directly with a
satellite network and support a wide range of data rates. The terminals also interface
with a wide range of standard network protocols such as IP, ISDN, and ATM. Although
optimized for service to fixed-site terminals, the Teledesic Network is able to serve
transportable and mobile terminals, such as those for maritime and aviation applications.
The network combines destination-based packet addressing and adaptive packet routing
algorithm to achieve low delay and low variability across the network. Each one of these
packets carry the network address of the destination terminal, and each node selects the
route with the least delay to get to the destination. In terms of network, a large
constellation of interlinked switch nodes offer several advantages in terms of reliability
and service quality. The network, richly interconnected, is a robust fault-tolerant design
that adapts to topology changes and congestion. To achieve high system capacity and
channel density, each satellite is equipped to concentrate a large amount of capacity in
small coverage areas. Should a satellite fail, the network would remain functional by
having overlapping coverage areas plus backup spares. Therefore, reliability has been
built into the whole network rather than on the individual satellites. The network also
supports bandwidth on demand, which allows users to request and release capacity as
needed. Therefor, users only pay for the capacity they use, allowing available space for
other users in return. With the increase in usage however, Teledesic has only to add more
satellites to meet a growing demand.
In 1990 Craig McCaw founded Teledesic with his great new plan to revolutionize the
communications industry. After four years of research and development, Craig McCaw becomes
Chairman and CEO of Teledesic in 1994, and also becomes the companys primary
shareholder along with Bill Gates. In 1994Teledesic submits their first application to the
FCC for a license to build, launch, and operate a global broadband satellite
communications network. In November of 1995, the World Radiocommunication Conference
provisionally designates 500 MHz of satellite spectrum, in each of the uplink and downlink
bands, for use by NGSO FSS systems such as the one proposed by Teledesic. In March of
1997, the Federal Communications Commission granted Teledesic their license to build,
launch and operate the Teledesic Network. Making history, Teledesic becomes the first
satellite communications network approved by the FCC that will enable affordable,
worldwide "fiber-like" access to telecommunications services.
Later that year, Boeing announces it will invest 100 million dollars in Teledesic, and in
April of 1998, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal invests 200 million. In May of 1998 Teledesic
and Motorola form a partnership in the development and deployment of Teledesic's satellite
communications network. Confirmed in 1999, Teledesic completes system agreement with
Motorola, and signs major launch contract with Lockheed Martin. If all goes well in
development, Teledesic looks to be available in 2004.