In the fast-paced world of satellite communications, it’s easy to get caught up in traditional methods and overlook groundbreaking innovations. I’m Derek Phillips, the Managing Director of Clarus Networks, a proud global reseller and distributor for both Starlink and OneWeb. Having been at the forefront of these technologies, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the transformative impact Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) networks are having on connectivity across the globe. Despite this clear shift towards more efficient and reliable services, there persists a debate—often fuelled by vested interests—about the reliability of these LEO networks in comparison to their Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) counterparts. As someone deeply involved in multiple deployments worldwide, I’m compelled to set the record straight and shed light on why it’s time to look beyond VSAT for both single and multipath connectivity solutions.
The Rise of LEO
Just a few years ago, the mention of Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite networks might have drawn blank stares from industry professionals. Fast forward to today, and it’s clear that we’re witnessing a seismic shift in the satellite communications landscape. LEO networks, represented by game-changing services like Starlink and OneWeb, are disrupting the status quo in profound ways. Unlike traditional geostationary satellites, which orbit at much higher altitudes, LEO satellites fly much closer to Earth. This results in several tangible advantages: significantly lower latency, higher data throughput, and the capability to offer near-global coverage.
But the revolution doesn’t stop there. LEO networks are not only technologically superior but also more cost-effective in the long run. They require less power and offer the kind of scalability that traditional networks simply can’t match. Add to this the constant updates and technological advancements that companies like Starlink and OneWeb are committed to, and it’s clear that LEO networks are not just a fleeting trend but the future of global connectivity.
Starlink’s Proven Reliability
When Starlink first entered the satellite communications arena, there was a mixture of excitement and scepticism. Detractors were quick to label it as an experimental, ‘best-efforts service,’ unsuitable for serious enterprise use. However, the data paints a different picture. At Clarus Networks, we’ve spearheaded hundreds of Starlink deployments globally, from remote offshore platforms to bustling urban centres. The verdict is unequivocal: Starlink delivers on its promises.
Our real-world experience has shown that Starlink consistently offers high-speed, low-latency connectivity. Downtime is virtually non-existent, and the network adapts dynamically to various environmental challenges, making it a reliable option for businesses that can’t afford interruptions. And it’s not just us singing its praises—our satisfied clients, spanning multiple industries, stand as testimonials to Starlink’s robust capabilities. Their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, reporting not only operational efficiencies but also substantial cost savings when compared to traditional VSAT solutions.
The Benefits of Multipath Connectivity with Starlink and OneWeb
In today’s hyper-connected world, where every millisecond counts, having a resilient and robust connectivity solution is non-negotiable. Even though Starlink has proven to be highly reliable, some organisations still require a secondary connection due to critical communication needs. In such instances, the conventional wisdom might point towards supplementing with a VSAT system. However, the smarter, more future-proof alternative is to employ a multipath connectivity strategy with both Starlink and OneWeb.
Utilising these two pioneering LEO networks in tandem delivers an unprecedented level of redundancy and availability. By doing so, you’re not just doubling down on the already impressive low-latency and high-throughput capabilities that each offers individually; you’re also creating a robust failover strategy. If one network experiences any issues—be it from solar flares, satellite maintenance, or other unexpected scenarios—the other can seamlessly assume the workload, ensuring that your mission-critical communications are never interrupted.
Moreover, this dual-LEO setup brings additional layers of network security and resilience to the table. You’re not merely staying ahead of the technological curve; you’re constructing a communications framework that is agile, efficient, and exceptionally reliable.
Debunking the VSAT Argument: Why LEO Networks Are More Than Just a Trendy Alternative
Many competitors continue to champion VSAT as the gold standard for reliability, often pointing to its long history and established presence in the satellite communications sector. But it’s important to scrutinise these claims, especially when they come from parties with vested interests in the continuation of VSAT systems.
Firstly, it’s worth noting that VSAT’s long history is a double-edged sword; while it’s had more time to establish its service, it’s also saddled with outdated technology that has struggled to keep pace with modern demands for speed and efficiency. Often, these systems require costly and cumbersome hardware, not to mention the additional operational expenses for maintenance and upgrades.
Secondly, VSAT’s supposed ‘reliability’ is frequently overstated. Yes, they have been around for a while, but that doesn’t make them infallible. They are susceptible to latency issues, weather-related disruptions, and limitations in data throughput—issues that are notably mitigated in modern LEO networks like Starlink and OneWeb.
Lastly, one of the most persuasive arguments against VSAT is the inevitable obsolescence. As technology continues to evolve, the capabilities of LEO networks will only improve, making VSAT increasingly irrelevant. Given the pace at which companies like Starlink and OneWeb are innovating, clinging to VSAT is akin to holding onto a relic.
Conclusion: Embracing the Future of Satellite Communications
As we navigate through this pivotal moment in satellite communications, it’s essential to weigh our options judiciously. The future is not just on the horizon; it’s already here, encapsulated in the revolutionary capabilities of LEO networks like Starlink and OneWeb. These aren’t just better alternatives to traditional VSAT systems; they represent the next evolution in global connectivity.
Our experience at Clarus Networks confirms that Starlink is a highly reliable standalone system. But for those organisations requiring an additional layer of security for their critical communication needs, a multipath connectivity strategy featuring both Starlink and OneWeb offers unparalleled resilience and efficiency.
While some may argue in favour of the ‘tried and true’ VSAT systems, such adherence to the past neglects the rapid advancements we’re witnessing in LEO networks. As business leaders, it’s our responsibility to stay ahead of the curve, making decisions today that will future-proof our organisations tomorrow.
So, if you’re considering a satellite communication solution, remember that the smartest investments aren’t always in what has worked before, but in what will work best moving forward. And with that outlook, it’s clear that the paths leading to Starlink and OneWeb are the ones worth taking.