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Proceedings Paper

Why commercial broadband satellites absolutely must have laser intersatellite links (ISLs) and how the free-space laser communications community could let them down
Author(s): James E. Freidell
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Paper Abstract

Large commercial satellite programs needing high bandwidth inter-satellite links (ISLs) are growing rapidly in number. Precious few are visibly maturing. These commercial needs present greater customer diversity and opportunity for free- space laser communications application than the current plans of all the world's governments combined, multiplied manyfold. However, commercial customers generally do not have access to the independent, knowledgeable, but often heterogeneous laser communications expertise upon which government programs have historically relied. Moreover, commercial needs differ substantially from those of governments, particularly in the areas of price sensitivity and assured delivery on schedule and meeting all requirements. And the number of would-be laser ISL terminal suppliers also grows despite little verifiable expertise in actually delivering complete, working space-based laser ISL terminals, regardless of price or performance. Consequently, the opportunity for mistakes, disappointments, and outright failure is intensified. More 'red meatballs' are unfortunately on the horizon and neither customers nor suppliers recognize the warning signs. Is ignorance bliss? Virtually the entire space communications community appears oblivious to emerging terrestrial broadband communications projects which appear better backed with superior management far more attentive to time-to-market and other schedule and business considerations than any space venture. Space systems offer advantages through realizing global network operations not possible terrestrially, yet few promoters recogni the potential. Might these be omens worth capitalizing upon, or perhaps from which escape may be warranted? This paper provides a commercial market status update to that presented in preceding years' papers. Laser ISL applications are reviewed which enable commercial broadband satellite customer opportunities not yet recognized among most in the customer community, despite considerable public and private exposure. Industry participant soon will collectively and individually have tough decisions before them. Failure to address these issues will be decisions nonetheless. This could very well be the last hurrah for many, companies and individual laser ISL professionals alike.

Paper Details

Date Published: 27 May 1998
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 3266, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies X, (27 May 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.308698
Show Author Affiliations
James E. Freidell, Daedalian Technologies, Ltd. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3266:
Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies X
G. Stephen Mecherle, Editor(s)

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