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ISRO to usher in era of superfast Internet by launching 3 high-throughput satellites in the next 18 months

Out of the three, the first satellite, known as GSAT-19, is expected to be launched in June this year.

In spite of being the second largest internet user base in the world, after China, and having overtaken even the United States last year, when it comes to Internet speed, India still continues to lag behind several Asian countries. In order to change that, however, ISRO is going to be launching three heavy duty communication satellites within the next 18 months, the GSAT-19, GSAT-11 and GSAT-20. These satellites are expected to drive all the future communication needs of smart cities, besides completely transforming the way we use televisions and smartphones.

Tapan Misra, Director of Space Applications Centre (SAC), an Ahmedabad-based branch of ISRO which builds satellite payloads, stated that the launch would start in June with the GSAT-19, ushering in an era of new age high-throughput communication satellites in India for the first time. With voice and video communications already taking place via the Internet, Misra said that the launches would lead to even television being viewed using the Internet and wireless technology.

Providing incredibly fast, smooth, and cheap Internet connectivity, high-throughput satellites have completely revolutionised several developed countries already. While the effective range of GSAT satellites is one gigabyte per second, Misra stated that the GSAT-19 is equal to four such satellites, being able to transfer as much as four gigabytes of data per second! He also added that the GSAT-11, on the other hand, is expected to be launched in January next year, and is one of the heaviest satellites to have ever been built by ISRO, with a capacity of transferring 14 gigabytes of data per second. Lastly, he concluded that the GSAT-20 is scheduled to be launched by the end of next year, with a plan of covering the entire nation using a satellite with a data rate of 70 gigabytes per second, in order to match up to the demand for high data-rate transmission by smart cities.

The launches will be carried out by GSLVMk III, a next-generation launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle is boosted by an indigenous cryogenic engine which can carry a four-tonne satellite to the geosynchronous transfer orbit. This would mark the initial testing of the GSAT-19, the first one to be launched, after which, if successful, two more launches will be carried out before the vehicle is officially declared operational. The launches will also test the new 25-tonne cryogenic engine which is thrice as large as its predecessors.

The difference between regular satellites and high-throughput satellites is that the latter reuse satellite signals countless times over smaller areas, while the former use a wide, single beam to cover wide regions. As such, the GSAT-19 will have eight narrow beams, while the GSAT-11 would have 16 such beams, churning out that much more power that is sent through the antennae located on them.

Photograph: NASA/Patrick H. Corkery/Creative Commons 

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