|Issue:||Latin America I 2000|
|Topic:||Broadband via Satellite: Helping the Internet Meet Its Potential|
A growing number of people in Latin America and around the world are turning to the Internet for communication, commerce, and entertainment. But as more and more enterprises and consumers use the Internet, new technologies, such as the delivery of broadband via satellite, will be required to help guarantee that they can access the information and services they need and want easily and effectively.
The ability to provide broadband technology to end users makes it possible to deliver new content choices and applications that are not available from traditional cable or television networks. In addition, broadband satellite technology enables high-bandwidth access to the Internet so people anywhere on Earth can enjoy increased productivity and an enhanced Internet experience. But as access to cyberspace grows, so too do expectations by users that the delivery of the information they receive will be similar in quality to what they get from other sources: that is, a combination of text, video and audio. Not surprisingly, the use of the Internet as a communications and entertainment medium has attracted the interest of advertisers, who are anxious to sell their various goods and services to this growing and influential audience. Indeed, the marketing and buying of goods on the Internet has become an industry in itself, with advertisers expected to spend about US$7 billion this year, and consumers almost US$4 billion. Meeting Its Potential Whether and how the Internet lives up to its potential depends to a large degree on how well the different parts of the Internet – including those who provide services, technologies, and content – are able to serve the needs and meet the expectations of Internet users. Fortunately, technology is keeping ahead of the curve, enabling manufacturers to make and sell PCs with impressive multimedia capabilities, such as streaming media, and allowing content providers to offer customized information and entertainment, including movies and music. An important part of the delivery equation, is, of course, the availability of high-bandwidth Internet access, which allows the content to be sent and seen. Here too, the need for broadband access via satellite is keeping pace with the growing demand from Internet service providers, enterprises, and consumers. The Satellite Solution Today, satellites offer a low-cost delivery solution that assures that content can be sent from anywhere in the world to any targeted coverage area. That is because the satellite infrastructure bypasses the congestion of terrestrial Internet networks, while providing a direct link to thousands of rooftops and avoiding overcrowded Internet routers and switches. Simply stated, satellites provide two important advantages: Satellites can send large amounts of information to nearly an unlimited number of sites and users with a fixed amount of bandwidth. This economy of scale also helps to lower the cost of delivering the information in the first place. Satellites are able to provide services when and where other technologies do not exist. Challenges for ISPs The final part of the broadband equation is Internet Service Providers (ISPs), who, as the cost of access continues to plummet, find themselves competing for customers on the basis of access, service, and content. For the ISPs to succeed, however, they must constantly create and be able to deliver customized broadband multimedia content, such as advertising, entertainment, news, or information. Latin America is a good example of how regional content is being developed by ISPs to meet the needs, interests, and concerns of Internet users within a particular region. But their efforts depend on their ability to improve the traditional poor service that many people associate with narrowband delivery, such as slow download times. Again, technology is providing the solution in the form of content that is delivered by satellite, in which broadband content is sent directly from the originating server to the rooftop of the ISP. The result is a high-quality experience for end-users. Impact Seen Throughout Latin America The growing number of Internet users across the region, combined with the increased demand for broadband, are impacting Latin American consumers and businesses in several major ways: Over the last six months, ISPs have started to provide consumers with access to the Internet for free or at minimal cost. Big companies with large networks are starting to deliver Internet service so they can gain a piece of the market. U.S. and European ISPs are buying regional ISPs in order to gain market share and help deliver better service to subscribers while increasing their competitive advantage in the marketplace. Fibre and cable are being deployed to reach all major metropolitan areas. The impact on the business community has been just as important. Financial institutions are developing their network links to businesses in the region so they can provide new or expanded broadband services. The influence and impact of broadband services is encouraging the development and implementation of e-commerce applications between the financial world and business community. Businesses, such as Bradesco in Brazil, are adding Internet services and creating new companies to meet the growing demand for cyberspace access. Indeed, Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, is already developing its own Internet and the capacity to provide broadband connectivity throughout the country to deliver content. Interest in business TV is very strong and is creating demand for interactive and streaming services for corporations and organisations. In Mexico: Online users are driving the demand for even greater access and increased services. The market for Interactive Distance Learning is very strong, creating demand for large bandwidth. In Argentina: The demand for Internet services is starting to grow very rapidly. Unfortunately, the incumbent pro-viders are finding it hard to meet the demand. Encouraging Internet Development For its part, Loral CyberStar is implementing several projects to help encourage the development of the Internet and broadband services throughout Latin America. This includes: – Providing large amounts of capacity to ISPs and businesses (more than 50 megabits); – Providing DVB services-deploying a platform that can support Internet and other interactive services to the desktop; – Delivering IP-based Business TV for US and European companies that are reaching into Latin America, and providing a service, plus attracting new business customers within the region; – Partnering with many regional telecom providers to expand their networks and services to reach more users via satellite. Last year, Loral CyberStar was licensed by the Brazilian government to deliver domestic and international data communications services in Brazil. Under this license – one of the first to be awarded to a foreign company under the countrys recent market-opening regulations – Loral CyberStar can provide the Brazilian and the international business community with broadband data services that rapidly deliver business-critical content directly to the users desktop, as well as a robust network infrastructure for advanced telecommunications services. The new authorization allows companies to use Loral CyberStars satellite-based high-speed Internet services, broadband data and video, as well as managed data network services to and from Brazil. As a result, Brazilian ISPs will now have high-speed access to Internet content in the United States and other regions. Furthermore, multinational and regional businesses operating in Brazil will be able to take advantage of Loral CyberStars extensive international Infomedia services delivered directly to the business rooftop. Conclusion These applications, based on IP standards, include high-speed Internet access, multicasting, newsfeed distribution, caching, audio and video streaming, distance learning, business television, electronic cinema and video distribution to the desktop. Thanks to technologies such as the satellite delivery of broadband, it is more likely than ever before that the needs of millions of cyberspace users in Latin America and around the world will be met, and that the Internet will be able to fulfill its potential as an effective and affordable tool and resource for consumers and businesses alike.