Spacing Out for Resiliency – Why Satellite Technology is Vital to Resilient Networks

Ukraine has suffered a number of web and connectivity outages for the reason that Russian invasion started.  In search of to restore very important connectivity to his residents within the face of the Russian army menace, Vice Prime Minster Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted at SpaceX CEO Elon Musk asking for assist. After receiving what is arguably the primary regulatory approval by Tweet, Musk and SpaceX responded by transport the Starlink consumer terminals to Ukraine on March 1, 2022.1  The non-geostationary satellite tv for pc orbit (“NGSO”) satellite tv for pc broadband service now serves as a significant device for connectivity the place conventional terrestrial infrastructure fell quick.2

Over the previous twenty years, there have been quite a few examples of the fallibility of terrestrial telecommunication infrastructure when pure or man-made disasters strike, leaving hundreds with out dependable communications, together with emergency responders.  So as to restore community connectivity, federal and native governments, in addition to emergency response groups, usually flip to satellite tv for pc community operators to present speedy, dependable, easy-to-deploy connectivity options to hold communities linked.  Regardless of the reliance on satellite tv for pc connectivity within the wake of devastating emergency conditions, governments—together with america—have failed to place important emphasis on or funding into satellite tv for pc know-how throughout communications resiliency planning.3  Given some great benefits of satellite tv for pc connectivity in emergency response and preparedness, the Federal Communications Fee (“FCC”) and different authorities companies, such because the Federal Emergency Administration Company (“FEMA”), ought to proactively plan for its use, relatively than merely as a reactionary response throughout and within the aftermath of a disaster.

Satellite networks might be integrated into resiliency frameworks to present true path and know-how range.  As soon as a satellite tv for pc community is launched into orbit, all that is wanted to ship dependable connectivity service is a terminal on the bottom, which might usually be arrange in a matter of minutes.  Within the occasion of energy disruptions, satellites might be powered by photo voltaic panels and battery packs, making the know-how uniquely suited for pure disasters and armed conflicts, throughout which energy outages are frequent.4  As such, satellite tv for pc know-how has a vital position to play in guaranteeing connectivity within the face of pure disasters, fiber cuts, and different emergency conditions.  Satellite connectivity supplies a lot wanted redundancy, extra resilient networks, and in flip, higher emergency communications and response.

Actually, satellite tv for pc know-how has performed an essential position in emergency response in america for a long time.  One week after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, 9-1-1 companies remained compromised and over 90 p.c of cell websites have been out of service.5  Satellite know-how was very important to restoring connectivity within the aftermath of the storm.  FEMA distributed satellite tv for pc telephones to the island’s management.  Firms deployed VSAT terminals, base stations,  satellite tv for pc cell units, and photo voltaic mills to restore 4G/LTE, create sizzling spots, allow medical amenities and pharmacies, and facilitate insurance coverage declare processing.6

Stakeholders within the satellite tv for pc business have lengthy inspired the FCC to take proactive steps to explicitly combine satellite tv for pc know-how into its resilience planning.  Annually, there are numerous situations the place satellite tv for pc firms are known as upon to restore connectivity following pure disasters, fiber cuts, and artifical crises.  As satellite tv for pc know-how continues its speedy evolution, its vitality to community resiliency will solely develop.

Current historical past has once more demonstrated the clear worth of satellite tv for pc communications know-how in emergency response.  This “life saving” know-how, within the phrases of Vice Prime Minster Fedorov, permits households displaced or separated by battle to talk and aids emergency staff in finding and aiding the injured, not to point out fostering strategic authorities and army communications.7  The Ukraine-Russia battle supplies one other clear illustration of why satellite tv for pc connectivity needs to be a key element within the FCC’s pre-existing plan to handle communication resiliency preparedness.  By getting ready for use of satellite tv for pc know-how earlier than the necessity arises, the U.S. authorities can guarantee minimal disruption in essential communications at these distinctive and surprising moments when they’re wanted most.  So as to foster networks which might be extra resilient to excessive climate occasions, conflicts, and accidents, the FCC ought to prioritize, plan for, and incentivize using satellite tv for pc know-how.


[1] Mike Ives, Satellite Web Terminals, Despatched by Elon Musk, Arrive in Ukraine The New York Occasions (Mar. 1, 2022), https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/28/world/europe/elon-musk-satellite-internet-ukraine.html.

[2] Chelsea Gohd, How Will Ukraine Maintain SpaceX’s Starlink Web Service On-line?https://www.space.com/ukraine-russia-war-spacex-starlink-satellite-internet (final visited Mar. 30, 2022).

[3] See, e.g., Emma Schwartz & Laura Sullivan, FEMA Report Acknowledges Failures in Puerto Rico Response, PBS (July 13, 2018) https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/fema-report-acknowledges-failures-in-puerto-rico-disaster-response/.

[4] Chelsea Gohd, How Will Ukraine Maintain SpaceX’s Starlink Web Service On-line?

[5] Communications Standing Report for Areas Impacted by Hurricane Maria,  FCC (Sept. 28, 2017) https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0928/DOC….

[6] Tony Bardo, Path Range with Satellite Connectivity Fortifies Comms for Power Response, SatMagazine, http://www.satmagazine.com/story.php?number=437372268 (final visited Mar. 11, 2022).

[7] Chelsea Gohd, How Will Ukraine Maintain SpaceX’s Starlink Web Service On-line?

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