Mobile satellite systems, which are largely used in Brazil due to its extensive territory, represent a flexible way of communication for areas in which regular telephone services do not cover. In this article we will discuss how the satellite communications operate in Brazil.
The satellite communication system was created to supply the demand for long distance data transmission in the 1980s. Later on, mobile telephones led these companies to drastically lose market share and in some cases, bankruptcy. Companies see Brazil as a potential market, so they are focusing their efforts on building a new image among consumers and expanding the market. Today, the mobile satellite service, MSS, is attending areas where regular telephone does not cover or is logistically impracticable, like in remote areas, high seas, vessels, aircraft, mining and oil sites. The MSS market revenue is around USD 550 million in Brazil.
In order to provide mobile satellite communication services in Brazil, companies require a special license for the satellite usage, that is specified according to LGT, or General Law of Telecommunications. After the documents are verified and approved by ANATEL, the company must pay the PPDESS, Public Fee Over the Right of Telecommunication Service Use and for the Right of Satellite Use, of BRL 9.000. Then, instructions are sent for building the proper satellite station for the service. This regulation is valid only for non-geostationary satellites, but can be applied to geostationary satellites when suitable.
Equipment for mobile communications operate in the C and Ku band, with an specific spectrum determined by ITU-T and satellites working in different altitudes, from low earth orbit, or LEO, to high earth orbit, or HEO. Most of the Globalstar and Iridium satellites are in low earth orbit.
Largest communication service providers in Brazil
The largest communication service provider companies in Brazil are Globalstar, Iridium and Inmarsat. The last two operate through distributors who sell their services and develop added value solutions. These companies offer voice services that include voice communication, broadband internet, data services, tracking and monitoring. Iridium is the only one with global coverage, including offshore, with 66 satellites in low orbit and more than 300 thousand clients.
Globalstar is a North-American company with headquarters in the state of Louisiana and offices worldwide that offers satellite communication services with one of the broadest territory coverage in this segment. The company has 32 satellites in low earth orbit that operates in the S and L bands. Globalstar offers different pricings plans for voice services, starting from BRL 2.50 per minute.
Iridium is an American company that develops technology for satellite communication. The company has scheduled 2015 to launch their new architecture of satellites constellation. Their services are distributed and billed by local partners, with a cost of BRL 5 per minute for voice calls to any location in the world. The data package pricing varies according to the partners policy, Blue Sky Network, for example, charges approximately BRL 225 per device on its basic plan.
Inmarsat is an English company founded in 1979 that offers equipment for global communication over satellite and recently started selling mobile devices. Their services use a large variety of devices according to the needs of the client, such as fixed installations, vessel, vehicular and mobile terminals. Each minute of voice service is charged about BRL 6 by local partner Blue Sky Network, depending on the plan chosen by the consumer.
Embratel Star One offers satellites for telecommunications companies, covering all Brazilian territory and almost all of Latin America. Their services include the deployment of public telephones in remote areas in the country and the expansion of the mobile communication of companies to locations where there is no infrastructure for the service. The IPSAT service provides internet via satellite to all national territory and access to the public telephone network.