Issue No. 4
Spring 2000
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“Internet Delivery Via Satellite” A report by Irwin Communications. Project director Susan Irwin; principal author Adam Toll; contributing authors Stephen Blum, Peter Brown, Robert Bell, and Max Smetannikov. Published by Phillips Business Information, 1999.

[Editor’s note: please see our feature interview with Susan Irwin in this issue.]

This report is jam-packed with data and analysis on one of the hottest trends in technological convergence: the marriage of satellite and Internet. Calling this pairing “the perfect match,” because of the possibility for real-time content delivery, the authors predict a bright future for satellite-delivered internet services.

The next five years should see a growth in demand for Internet delivery via satellite (for example, the authors forecast that the world total demand for this service will leap from 38 GBSP of bandwidth used in 1999 to 236 GBSP in 2003). The fastest-growing region, they predict, will be Asia, because of its greater prospects for economic growth than Africa or Latin America, on the one hand, and a terrestrial infrastructure less developed than the US and Europe on the other. Asia’s 20-30 million people estimated to be online in 1998 is expected to double by 2002, opening the door for rapid growth.

The report looks closely at the current business opportunities in the various fields that converge to make these technologies possible. Internet service providers such as AT&T, MCI, and GTE are using satellite technology. Companies like WebTV and OpenTV are bringing interactive services to the customer. This report overviews literally dozens of companies—satellite, multimedia, ISPs, wireless, web hosters, and more—who are today’s major players.

One critical question is that of one- versus two-way information streams. An estimated 80 percent of Internet content is in the United States, meaning that users around the world send brief html requests and receive in return large multimedia files, creating an “asymmetrical” flow of Web traffic. Two-way satellite links, allowing for truly interactive content and faster delivery. The strengths and weaknesses of satellite internet delivery are considered, and issues such as comparative costs of satellite versus terrestrial examined.

The final section of the report deals with the current status of regulations, from sources such as the FCC and the ITU, that bring both obstacles and opportunities. Satellite communication and the Internet are both global media, while many decisions are still made on the national level, meaning that issues such as governmental control, trade barriers, and licensing are key questions. Also, the Internet is a difficult medium to regulate, and many countries and international bodies have raised questions such as that of online privacy, dealing with undesirable content, and intellectual property rights.

As vast as scope the information in this brief outline is, it is but a glimpse at what is truly a comprehensive state of the industry picture—or more accurately, the state of several converging industries and the net impact they will have on future communications. The depth, breadth, and careful research of this report make it an invaluable resource for anyone involved in these converging fields. TBS

For more information on this report or obtaining copies, contact Phillips Business Information at or visit

Copyright 2000 Transnational Broadcasting Studies
TBS is published by the Adham Center for Television Journalism, the American University in Cairo