How Architecture Solves LeoSat Stranded Asset Problem

Stranded assets are a big problem for fixed network operators when markets are highly competitive.

The big issue is that, in an instance where there are two providers, equally competent, half of each network’s access assets are stranded.

In a market with three equally competent contestants, as much as 66 percent of deployed network assets could easily be stranded.

That is a similar problem, historically, for low earth orbit satellite networks, which “spend most of the time flying over uninhabited areas,” notes LeoSat CEO Vern Fotheringham.

But LeoSat thinks it has an answer for stranded assets. By using direct satellite to satellite links and a mesh architecture, LeoSat can carry live, paid-for traffic over the entire fleet, all the time. That means the stranded asset problem essentially is solved.

Even a satellite flying over an ocean can be relaying traffic, essentially functioning as a simple signal repeat station.

The state of the art today is about 6 Gbps between adjacent satellites, but speeds up to 24 Gbps might be possible if free space optics can be adapted. Intra-plane speeds would be higher than inter-plane connections, Fotheringham says.

There would be other advantages. The signals “can’t be tapped into, from the ground, so the constellation would have better security than a terrestrial network,” Fotheringham says.

In principle, LeoSat signals also would travel at the speed of light, with not glass-imposed impedance. Since the LeoSat signals would move through a vacuum, they would travel at the full speed of light.

And though the total amount of backhaul would be modest, compared to the undersea cable network, that could change, over some decades, he says.

On the Tokyo to New York route, undersea latency is 280 milliseconds. LeoSat believes it will feature latency of just 90 milliseconds. For some apps, such as high frequency trading, that might matter.

The big change in business case, however, is a huge reduction of stranded asset issues.
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