Meeting Short-Term Cellular Demand with Satellite Service

Events such as the Glastonbury Festival, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and Coachella are known for drawing hundreds of thousands of fans together. Although these events take place off the beaten path, their attendees still want to connect to friends and family members elsewhere by sending photos and videos, making calls, and more. In short, they expect the same high level of cellular service they enjoy at home. This demand for connectivity wherever and whenever presents challenges to mobile network operators (MNOs) and event planners who want to keep their customers happy. That’s because networks designed for only a few thousand year-round residents can quickly get bogged down in the deluge of seasonal traffic, equivalent to the demands of a small city. At the same time, permanently building out capacity to meet such demand can prove prohibitively costly. “The more rural and remote you get, the less likely that there is a business case to be made for installing fiber infrastructure or even microwave,” Raghu Ramaiah, senior principal product manager at Intelsat, says of cellular backhaul infrastructure. Cellular backhaul is what connects cell towers and mobile phone users to wider networks. And while MNOs can roll out temporary cell sites, it’s not so easy to beef up cell backhaul infrastructure, which typically requires laying miles of cable or installing expensive microwave antennas and supporting infrastructure.
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