Report: Ka-band satellite broadband on its way

Ka-band satellite broadband service is on its way, provided it is marketed to business and a pioneering provider is willing to kick-start the market, according to an analyst report released Thursday.

Burlingame, Calif.-based Karim Nour, an industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan and the author of the report entitled Ka-band: The Next Step in Satellite, said North America will lead the pack with Ka-band implementations – although there is currently no Ka-band broadband satellite coverage in North America. He added that business stands to benefit most from this technology because of broadband satellite’s ubiquitous coverage, and peer-to-peer applications.

However, because financial institutions are unwilling to invest in the technology, first implementations will have to be spearhead by companies with large parent organizations or by current satellite array owners, according to Nour.

“The market will develop once at least one satellite operator launches a dedicated Ka-band system and demonstrates the system’s usefulness,” he said in a statement. “Operators, service providers and their financial backers will then begin to consider the prospects of developing more systems.”

Nour said it is expected that first implementations will be seen in 2004. For example, SpaceWay, owned by Hughes Networks Systems, based in Germantown, Md., a division of Hughes Electronics Corp, plans to launch Ka-band that year. And WildBlue, based in Greenwood Village, Co., plans to jump into the industry at the same time.

Most dedicated Ka-band satellite broadband companies went bankrupt or were swallowed up by takeovers in the mid-1990s, when enthusiasm was at an all-time high, Nour said. But in the last year, interest in Ka-band has swelled.

Broadband satellite right now is dedicated to the Ku-band and C-band frequencies, but Nour said those are being rapidly used up. Ka-band will offer faster speeds and can accommodate more traffic because the same frequencies can be re-used as long as they point at different geographic locations.

While there is no Ka-band broadband satellite coverage in North America today, there are small implementations in both Europe and East Asia.

For more information about the report, visit