Monday, August 5, 2013

IPv6 & Satellite links: The right solution for rest of the world

 Nowadays, having Internet access is a right. It’s like having electricity or water. Being an extremist, I would even say it’s like oxygen in somehow.
  This small draft tries to summarize a simple combination of technologies that is supposed to be a long term solution to remote places where Internet access if generally difficult to get.
 One of the goals of mankind today should be to offer good and reliable Internet access to everyone, in despite of their location. Our current motivation is oriented to places where a terrestrial link is impossible to find.
 We basically want to mix two good technologies that unfortunately we believe are not working together today: 1) satellite links and 2) IPv6. The first one with its pros and cons -as all kind of technology- is a proven solution. The second one has also proved to be reliable, and is the de facto standard for the near future.

  In the last 13 years of my life I have been working in the satellite link area. Additionally, since 1998 I've been curious about IPv6 but it was not until six years ago that I've really been able to work with it. Finally, I have always been passionate about Internet, communications and freedom of information

As a technical person I have always preferred connections over fiber,  copper or even wireless links (microwave, Wi-Fi, WIMAX, etc.) however these are not always possible, mostly because of site location.

One of the goals of mankind today should be to offer good and reliable Internet access to everyone, in ispite of their location .

 One of the amazing things of satellite links, it’s their capability to reach virtually anywhere in the globe. I’ve had the chance to participate in satellite port installations in very remote places such as boats at sea or in remote rural or jungle sites where there isn't even cell phone signal. In turn I have seen all kinds of solutions deployed on these links: ATM (Automatic Teller Machines), PoS (Point of Sales), corporate private link and of course: Internet Access.

 During the last years I have been deeply involved with IPv6. I am a firm believer in the “Internet of things” concept, where most things need and will be connected to Internet .

  Unfortunately, for various reasons, the conventional thinking is that  Internet connections are suitable only for  home and office applications in urban sites. Even though  this is partly true, we cannot forget the great masses of people (and things) in non-urban areas, remarkably greater in developing countries. In the end, this fact becomes very negative. Millions of people are being left behind when the advantages of Internet access is taken away from them. i.e.: access to e-learning, e-nursering, telemedicine, research, cloud computing, online consultations and many other great benefits provided.

 Though fiber links, hybrid fiber-coax and very high-speed Wireless links are growing in all countries, there are places where these technologies will never be seen or will be missing for several decades. The solution I see coming, one we should not miss, is the pairing of the new Internet protocol (IPv6) and satellite communications. Of course Satellite links exist everywhere and IPv6 is coming forward, what propose is to keep those technologies together.

It is my point of view that this combination is the only one that really combines a long-term feasibility. And is currently achievable! This is the right way to connect everyone in the globe and also support the emerging new protocol and many Internet-based services that already exist and undoubtedly will be growing up at least during the next few years.

Unfortunately satellite technology providers have been among the last to offer IPv6 based solutions. At present, if you google something like: “IPv6  satellite hubs” you won’t get an easy link to click on, and then, if you hit on the results, you won't find  major Satellite vendors that specifically support IPv6 Hubs. As far as I know, last year there was only one Satellite Hub manufacturer that added IPv6 support to its solution. Saying that, we have seen a change, though small, by one  supplier.  There looks to be already products (very few) on the market with native -IPv6- implementations. My belief is that with some support from the community, and probably from some organization and collaboration we can do this combination a “must to have” among satellite hubs suppliers. We think that if the satellite industry  keeps growing without IPv6, it will be worse for it in the long term. Our assumption is based upon what IPv6 has to offer and what  the lack of it might do to remote locations: 1) missing IPv6 in satellite technology in those locations will hurt IPv6 deployment, 2) Those places won’t enjoy some benefits offered by IPv6.

 Finally, I would like to mention that traditional problems found in satellite links such as: 1) round trip delay and 2) costs; are being solved with new technologies. Also there are some new initiatives that will boost even more this situation.

 The combination of satellite links and IPv6 is the right way to provide Internet access in very remote places in order to prepare for the current and the future of Internet-based services.