Some of the most path-breaking innovation in recent times has centered around the internet — be it internet of things, connected devices, augmented and virtual reality or cloud. Paradoxically, internet connectivity continues to be a challenge in many parts of the world. And this is the very challenge that Neha Satak and Prasad Bhat are trying to solve through their start-up, Astrome.
Founded in 2015, Astrome is a technology company that aims to provide high-speed broadband internet from space. Over the past three years, the team at Astrome has been working hard at perfecting the core technology of their microsatellite, which will provide high-speed internet connection of 100 Gigabits per second (as opposed to current capacity of 8-10 Gbps) with their patented MM wave technology. “Our MM wave technology transmits information in the form of radio waves whose wavelengths are a few millimeter long. Traditional cellular systems also transmit information in the form of radio waves, but those waves have longer wavelengths. The product we are developing will have 10 times higher data transmission capacity than any of the products that are available,” says Satak.
The start-up currently has a working lab hardware, which demonstrates this high-speed connectivity in a controlled environment. In 2019, Astrome plans to launch one test satellite, and a constellation of 200 microsatellites in the low earth orbit (LEO) by 2020. Once launched, Astrome will be able to provide internet connectivity in any developing country in a cost effective manner. Although launching satellites is expensive, just four satellites will cover the entire length and breadth of India. Compare that to the number of mobile towers that would be required to do the same and it is easy to understand why beaming internet from space is a better solution than optic fibre cables. Similarly, a satellite serving users in India now, might serve users in Indonesia a few minutes later, and go over South America a few more minutes later.