Optical ground satellite communications:
Quantifying Customer & User problems and benefits.
In 2012, 4G communication operated at 100 Mbits/s data rates, this had increased by a factor of 20 by 2020. With the arrival of 5G data rates are now up to 2Gbits/s. In terms of bandwidth and data rate demand, traditional radio frequency (RF) technology and the use of the associated RF spectra is working at its limits. The RF Hub & Spoke type network demands high bandwidth via fibre or microwave links between Hubs, but that network capacity is now overloaded and demand is rising. The solution is laser telecommunications between terrestrial and space assets. Many of the problems associated with high-capacity microwave links and fibre networks are removed. The OGS solution is seen as the next technology to drive the market. Costs are reduced because no RF spectrum licensing or RF link planning is needed, the data capacity is greatly expanded, the OGS and satellite capital costs per Gigabit are reduced, security is enhanced and services being faster, encourage business use expansion.
Considering the impact of planned 6G deployments, with data rates up to 1Tb/s or 500 times the data rates that is currently achieved by 5G, factoring in the increased demand for security, the emergence of quantum computing and the requirement for quantum key distribution, optical communication is emerging as a key enabling technology.
In terms of optical satellite space communications to ground, there is a supply chain issue in providing middle range optical instruments from 50cm to 150cm diameter telescopes (1m class telescopes). Manufacturers are limited in number and slow in terms of manufacturing turn-around times. Where the manufacturing process is “industrialised”, as with the SEL OGS, the outcome will be more instruments available in shorter time periods at lower cost.
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