Why choose between satellite or terrestrial coverage when there’s dual-mode?

satellite or terrestrial dual mode

Being reliably connected has never been so important. In a digitally driven world, being able to communicate, send and receive messages and access information remotely forms a significant part of many of our lives. In industry, this need for high-quality connectivity can be even greater, with innovative devices, such as IoT, enabling machines, assets and ‘things’ to provide two-way data communication that informs operational activity.

Supporting the connectivity needed for all our digital activity is network coverage. Selecting the type of coverage used will impact the capability of the connection, and factors such as its quality, speed and reliability. Coverage can be provided by terrestrial or satellite networks, and in this article, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of each.

However, to maximise the benefits of both, we offer terminals with a dual-mode capability. Read on below to discover what this is and how it can benefit a wide range of industries.

Terrestrial coverage

Terrestrial networks (such as 4G and 5G) use radio waves to send and receive data between terrestrial or Earth-based transmitters and receivers. Terrestrial coverage offers good connectivity in built-up areas, including indoors. It is considered fast, with 4G having download speeds of between 8 and 10 megabits a second (Mbit/s), with possible instances of up to 40 Mbit/s. Terrestrial coverage also provides good latency at around 15-30ms, as well as being cost-effective and reliable.

However, these advantages only apply within network coverage, and the distance that signals can travel is limited. 4G can generally travel around sixteen kilometres, while 5G’s range is shorter, at around 300 metres, due to the high volumes of data it can transmit. As terrestrial networks rely on physical infrastructure to send and receive data, devices are unable to communicate in places where this infrastructure has not been established.

Satellite coverage

With satellites communicating via radio waves sent from space to devices on Earth, one significant advantage is their ubiquitous coverage, meaning wherever your device is located and however remote, it can access connectivity via a satellite.

As satellite coverage does not require physical, land-based infrastructure, it is an easily scalable solution. Furthermore, it provides many advantages for companies with mobile assets, as there is no need to switch between different providers or roaming agreements. However, it does require an unobstructed view of the sky, meaning the connection can be hindered in certain built-up areas.

Satellite coverage generally offers better reliability than terrestrial networks. There’s no worry about lines being cut down or failing in bad weather. Furthermore, satellite services like ours that work in the S-band are much less likely to suffer from rain fade and will remain resilient in almost all harsh weather conditions.

Dual-mode capability

The best connectivity solution for an organisation will depend on its needs, as both satellite and terrestrial coverage have benefits and drawbacks. Satellite services have many advantages for businesses with widely distributed assets or those on the move but can be more costly than using terrestrial networks.

At EchoStar Mobile, we aim to bring high-quality connectivity to any business, whatever their budget. Therefore, by developing terminals with dual-mode capability, which roam between satellite and terrestrial functions to provide reliable connectivity for mobile, land, and maritime packet data network applications, we can effectively offer our customers the best of both worlds.

Dual-mode capability is a valuable connectivity solution for companies in a range of industries. For example, in the maritime sector, vessels have access to ubiquitous, resilient connectivity when far out at sea, then can access more cost-effective services for non-critical activity when close to shore. In the transport and logistics industry, as assets move between areas, they can be assured that they are accessing the most cost-efficient option at the time while they remain reliably connected.

Our dual-mode terrestrial and satellite module design has also been integrated into our new pan-European LoRa®-enabled network, offering seamless, real-time coverage across Europe, the UK, and Scandinavia. Negating the need for cumbersome roaming agreements, it provides the ubiquitous coverage sought-after from companies working across wide geographic areas or with mobile assets.

The communication needs of every business are unique and, therefore, will require different connectivity solutions. At EchoStar Mobile, we seek to design and implement the optimal solution for your requirements. To learn more about how our satellite and hybrid services and dual-mode capability can support your business, please get in touch with our team.