A satellite dish is seen at the Ultra Electronics stand at Satellite2019 in Washington, DC May 6, 2019. — AFP pic
WASHINGTON, May 8 — Anxiety has set in across the space industry ever since the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, revealed Project Kuiper: A plan to put 3,236 satellites in orbit to provide high-speed internet across the globe.Offering broadband internet coverage to digital deserts is also the goal of the company OneWeb, which is set to start building two satellites a day this summer in Florida, for a constellation of over 600 expected to be operational by 2021Billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX is equally active: It’s just received a clearance to put 12,000 satellites in orbit at various altitudes in the Starlink constellation. Not to mention other projects in the pipeline that have less funding or are not yet as defined.Is there even enough space for three, four, five or more space-based internet providers?At the Satellite 2019 international conference in Washington this week, professionals from the sector said they feared an expensive bloodbath — especially if Bezos, the founder of Amazon, decides to crush the competition with ultra-low prices. “Jeff Bezos is rich enough to put you out of business,” said Matt Desch, the CEO of Iridium Communications.Iridium knows all about bankruptcy. The company launched a satellite phone in the 1990s — a brick-like set that cost US$3,000 (RM12,444) with call rates of US$3 a minute. Barely anyone subscribed at the dawn of the mobile era.The firm eventually relaunched itself and has just finished renewing its entire constellation: 66 satellites offering connectivity, but not broadband, with 100 per cent global coverage to institutional clients including ships, planes, militaries and businesses. “The problem with satellites, it’s billions of dollars of investments,” said Desch. And if “you spend billions and you get it wrong, you end up creating sort of a nuclear winter for the whole industry for 10 years. We did that,” he added.“These guys coming in, I wish them really well... I hope they don’t take 30 years to become successful like we did.”Streaming on the planeHaving internet beamed in from space is more of a priority for isolated zones than it is for cities, where users have fiber optic or cable connections. With satellite constellations, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world: An antenna is all you need to get broadband.“It’s just like having a very tall cell tower,” said Al Tadros of Maxar, which builds satellites.The other advantage of the newly announced constellations is their relatively low orbit, which is important for reducing latency, key in curbing lag in video calls or games, for example.Isolated areas may be where the technology is required, but there may not be enough customers to make the endeavour profitable. That’s why OneWeb has lowered its sights and will first target providing internet services to planes (imagine getting Netflix on your next long haul) or to ships, where there is a huge demand.“The challenge in monetizing is being able to get through those first few years, where you have to put in all your capital expenses, but not being able to get enough revenues to keep you afloat,” Shagun Sachdeva, a senior analyst at Northern Sky Research, told AFP.Sachdeva expects most of the companies to die off, adding that the market will eventually have room for “maybe two” and that space-delivered internet services won’t be commonplace for at least five to 10 years. Amazon is only just getting off the ground, and faces the hurdle of acquiring rights to the frequency spectrum.By arriving late, they’re already behind the curve, said Michael Schwartz of operator Telesat, which is building its own constellation to be used by companies. “People don’t pay enough attention about the need for spectrum rights.”But Amazon’s many advantages are abundantly clear: The group has a formidable IT infrastructure on the ground that can support the satellite network.And Bezos finances his own rocket company, Blue Origin, which should be able to secure him a competitive price for the dozens of launches needed for the constellation.These are factors that OneWeb’s chief financial officer Thomas Whayne acknowledged during a panel Monday: “If they are serious, they will do it and will do it well.” — AFP [...]
Darell signing the plaque at the launch of the MARii Satellite network yesterday.
KOTA KINABALU: MARii’s first centre outside of the Klang Valley opened in Kota Kinabalu yesterday, its first ever under the MARii Satellite network, to allow for more extensive reach for technology adoption within the automotive, robotics and IoT (Internet of Things) sectors as well as overall mobility.
MARii Satellite Sabah was launched yesterday by Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Darell Leiking.
The six-story MARii Satellite Sabah houses advanced product design, process design, data analytics and special training facilities, developed to immediately allow participation of Sabahans in advanced technology applications for automotive manufacturing, aftersales and overall mobility, which can be commonly utilised in other sectors such as furniture, agriculture, plantation, oil & gas and fisheries.
“Since its establishment as the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI), centres of competency have been established such as MADeC, MAReC and NETC within the Klang Valley. Technology application that has been developed by MARii is not just for the automotive sector, but can also be applied within numerous sectors in Sabah”, said Darell.
He added that yesterday’s materials and manufacturing technology is transforming towards more advanced materials such as composites, carbon-fibre and graphene, while manufacturing technology is increasing its levels of automation that requires the adoption of robotics and IoT.
MARii CEO, Dato’ Madani Sahari further explained that the MARii Satellite bridges the geographical divide between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, as it allows access to technology adoption which are specific to the needs and requirements to the localities and communities in Sabah.
“The Satellite is also a gateway for Sabahans to access MARii’s expanded network of expertise and other facilities throughout the country”, he added.
The MARii Satellite Sabah is located in Donggongon Avenue, only 15 minutes from Kota Kinabalu International Airport and the Kota Kinabalu city centre.
Fully functional design and training facilities
The Satellite is equipped with a Design Lab, hosting advanced product and process design applications such as Computer Aided Design and Additive Manufacturing facilities and equipment.
At the same time, the Satellite also acts as a big data management and telematics centre to enhance information and data analytics, allowing for better insights and decision making for businesses.
In the areas of human capital development, the Satellite is equipped with a complete training Dojo for manufacturing, aftersales and remanufacturing.
The Dojo system in the Satellite uses the same experiential training system that has been implemented in the MARii Resource Centre (MAReC) located in Bukit Beruntung, Selangor, and will be the center for MARii’s training programmes such as IPC, AICE, MARii Graduate Apprenticeship, DEP, LPS and PIMA (see below).
Programmes to be implemented immediately
Darell announced several programmes would be implemented immediately with Sabah stakeholders.
A total of five schools have been identified MARii Adopted Schools (Sekolah Angkat MARii), which will receive assistance through direct access to the Satellite, while 400 trainees from Sabah will enrol in MARii’s Industry-Led Professional Certificate (IPC).
MARii also signed two Certificates of Collaboration (CoC) with Kinabalu Coders and Syarikat Perniagaan Perabot Nuri in the areas of robotics, IoT and also upstream furniture design for the Sabah market.
Among the aims of the CoC is to enhance awareness and application of IoT and robotics technologies, as well as establishing a pool of local experts in Sabah to further develop local capabilities in customised furniture design, through the MARii Satellite Sabah.
MARii and Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) also announced a collaboration to bring the International Conference on Advances in Mechanical Engineering (ICAME 2019) to Kota Kinabalu. [...]