Zero recurrent-cost two-way satellite communications for humanitarian applications

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The great strength of satellite communications for humanitarian applications is independence of terrestrial infrastructure. However, satellite telecommunications systems typically suffer high recurrent costs, for example, monthly service charges, which are levied on each terminal device. This makes the pre-provision of satellite communications in disaster-prone regions very expensive. This is especially true for lower-income countries where the US-dollar referenced pricing of satellite services is particularly burdensome. Yet these are the very countries where such services are most needed. In this paper we describe a low-cost architecture for providing two-way geo-stationary satellite based telephony, text messaging and related services, such that the operational cost is independent of the number of deployed terminals. This model consists of a University-operated regional ground-station together with direct leased satellite bandwidth and low-cost low-power satellite receiver hardware. By having the entire system under non-commercial control and where the operating costs between activations can be eliminated by having the responsible personnel teach or research between activations, it is possible to remove the major cost drivers of traditional satellite services, while retaining the capability to deliver a scalable, robust and useful service, that can be rapidly activated when required. Using this model, total recurrent costs related to the space segment are as low as US$1,500 per annum for a regional system capable of supporting hundreds of terminals.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017
Event2017 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) - San Jose, United States
Duration: 19 Oct 201722 Oct 2017


Conference2017 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC)
Abbreviated titleGHTC 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose


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