Robert Bell’s View on Satellite Technology

Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers plenty of courses on satellite technology.  We thought the view expressed by Executive Director of SSPI and WTA; Senior Consultant, Alan/Anthony, Inc., Robert Bell would be of interest to our readers. The satellite business is a technology business with enormous impact on business, government and human welfare. So what do […]
Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers plenty of courses on satellite technology.  We thought the view expressed by Executive Director of SSPI and WTA; Senior Consultant, Alan/Anthony, Inc., Robert Bell would be of interest to our readers.
The satellite business is a technology business with enormous impact on business, government and human welfare. So what do all of us inside the industry spend all our time talking about? Bit rates and look angles. Ephemeris data and electric propulsion. How HTS will affect FSS and the enticing attractions of DVB-S2 extensions. It’s enough to make ad man Don Draper start crying into his Canadian Club. Over the past few years, the industry has woken up to the risk that we will get our clocks cleaned by a terrestrial wireless industry that is hungry for spectrum. Waking is up is good, and SSPI is putting its shoulder to the wheel with other industry associations in the run-up to the World Radiocommunications Conference of 2015. But it is worth taking a moment to think about why our clocks are available for cleaning. If you were looking for an example of a technology business with enormous impact on the world, the mobile industry would be top of the list. Take just the example of Safaricom in Kenya. Safaricom created a money transfer service called M-PESA, which lets users load money onto their cell phones just as they would load prepaid air time. The service made Safaricom a lot of money last year. It also let Kenyans make US$19.6 billion in payments and money transfers– a total that exceeded Kenya’s national budget. With 70 percent of adult Kenyans – and 50% of the poor – using it, The Economist estimates that M-Pesa has boosted national GDP by as much as 25 percent. So popular has the service been that it drove an overall increase in mobile penetration from 49% in 2008 to 77% in 2012 – and greater phone penetration alone has generated $2.4 trillion in economic growth, according to a report by Deloitte (Mobile Telephone and Taxation in Kenya 2011). That’s an appealing story, right? But our industry accomplishes miracles like this on a regular basis. It’s just that we prefer to keep it a secret from the world because…because – well, raise your hand if you can think of a reason. At SSPI, we are determined to start telling secrets. We are inviting our members, sponsors, academic researchers and other industry trade groups to submit case studies of satellite changing the world. We want to create a set of powerful, emotive stories that dramatically illustrate how much our planet relies on the faint radio signals that travel between earth and space, from supporting free elections to improving education, providing news and entertainment to raising crop yields, saving lives to maintaining security in a dangerous world. We will publish those stories for the use of our partner associations, from ESOA and GVF to SIA, whose job it is to lobby for our industry. While they present the rational case for protecting C-Band, we will make the human case: why business, government, health, safety and welfare rely on interference-free access to space. In the end, spectrum decisions are political decisions, and powerful stories can have a major impact.
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