The impact of orbital altitude on satellite internet network performance
Satellite internet providers offer different network solutions depending on the orbits available to them. Understanding how distance from Earth affects performance is crucial when evaluating satellite services. Here’s how Geostationary Orbit (GEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) stack up regarding some key aspects of delivering customer-driven services.
|Geostationary Orbit (GEO)||Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)||Low Earth Orbit (LEO)|
|Latency from altitude||Medium||Low||Very low|
|Coverage of Earth’s surface||Very large||Large||Small|
|Satellites required for global coverage||Three||Six||Thousands|
|Data gateways||Few, fixed||Several, flexible||Numerous, local|
|Antenna movement||Stationary||1-hour slow tracking||10-minute fast tracking|
|Technology readiness level (TRL)||Proven, deployable technology||Proven, deployable technology||Technology still in development for satellite internet|
Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbits (NGSOs), including MEO and LEO orbits many times closer to the Earth than GEO, reduce the comparative latency between the satellite and ground terminals. As orbits get nearer, exponentially more satellites are needed to maintain coverage of the Earth. LEO operators have planned thousands of satellites rapidly crisscrossing over the Earth, while juggling connections to ground terminals every few minutes. Meanwhile, at a MEO distance of around 8,000km, most enterprise-grade low latency applications, including critical cloud and edge services, can be handled without the extra complexity of thousands of satellites and quickly tracking ground stations. O3b mPOWER’s choice for NGSO is therefore in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).
MEO provides the ultimate partnership of fibre-like low latency performance with proven carrier-grade reliability. O3b mPOWER works on proven technology, uses simple gateways and requires only 6 satellites to provide coverage for 96% of the global population. Our proven low-latency services offer fibre-equivalent performance. When we match up the scale and power of our innovative payloads with low-latency, cloud-ready service possibilities, we provide market-proven value to network operators across fixed, government, and mobility industry verticals.
Key benefits of O3b mPOWER’s MEO constellation include:
- NGSO low-latency enables high-performance terrestrial network extension, 5G backhaul, and dedicated cloud connectivity.
- Large coverage area per satellite guides direct one-hop links over continents without inter-satellite data transfer.
- A uniform equatorial plane orbit ensures reliable constellation operation, link continuity, and ground system tracking, thereby driving carrier-grade, high performance services with strong service level agreements.
Connect with us to find out how O3b mPOWER can help you expand your network to bring cloud-scale connectivity to your customers everywhere.