While Internet service providers and exchanges are thriving in more developed and industrialized locations, nearly 40 percent of the world’s population still lacks reliable Internet access. That means over a third of our population is currently struggling to communicate with loved ones, participate in the digital economy, and access education, healthcare, and other essential services.
Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites are creating new, more economical opportunities for delivering the Internet—and all its content, commerce, services, and applications—by establishing more potential connections to the digital superhighway. However, simply connecting users to a satellite isn’t enough to improve connectivity in the way that we’ve come to expect and demand. For satellite networks to provide that level of connectivity, they themselves also need to be connected to high performance interconnection infrastructure on the ground. Effectively, LEO satellites act as the cell phone towers of space: the satellite receives and transmits information to and from a ground station or access point, just like the connection mechanism between a mobile phone and cell towers.
So how can LEO satellites go from providing a satellite network to satellite Internet?
Through one of their most innovative programs to date, Space-IX, DE-CIX has a strategy for bridging that access gap by backing satellite network operators with reliable, accessible, and readily available infrastructure on the ground. Through this approach, underserved, underrepresented remote regions can access the Internet with better performance and lower latency than has previously been possible.
Space-IX (not to be confused with Elon Musk’s SpaceX!) is the infrastructure support every satellite network operator needs to be able to deliver content, clouds, and applications to their end-users at the lowest latency possible, even in the most isolated of regions.
Adaptable to a wide range and scope of different satellite operators, the Space-IX program links these frontier systems to content, cloud, and application networks back on Earth and allows them to exchange data traffic to serve their end customers. By uniting all types of networks—satellite, mobile, and terrestrial—into one thriving digital ecosystem, Space-IX enables quicker, more flexible connectivity options with better user experience for both providers and customers.
No network can single-handedly supply their users with the Internet; they need to connect with other networks. As DE-CIX is home to the largest neutral interconnection ecosystem on the planet and has IXs on almost every continent, their Internet Exchanges are perfectly placed to offer diverse hubs of all the networks a satellite provider could want to give users the accessibility and speed they need.
Currently companies like SpaceX, Amazon, OneWeb, and Inmarsat are driving LEO satellite projects, but it will be interesting to see what projects lead to success and where. However, connecting a satellite to the Internet is still only part of the equation. In order to achieve the best connectivity in communities beyond the digital superhighways, these communities will also benefit from localizing interconnection where possible. To do this, they need the necessary interconnection know-how to get a local IX up and running. Through the DE-CIX as a Service program, these communities can receive plug and play interconnection infrastructure so they can quickly begin to build their own digital ecosystems.
Between LEO satellites, Space-IX, and DE-CIX as a Service, DE-CIX is taking yet another momentous step in digitalization and helping everyone, everywhere catch up in connectivity.