How could telecommunications change without satellites

If for some reason the atmosphere changed and there were no more satellites how would it change telecommunications. Wouldn’t the fiber optic cables alone running all over land and connecting Europe & North America via the sea still provide telecommunication for the world or do we need satellites? Plus there would still be microwaves and radiowaves, but without satellites they may not travel far enough.

IMHO, which is where this may end up . . .You would see an explosion in the use of cell towers in the rich nations that could probably take care of thier communication needs. The third world countries would be thrown back into the dark ages (i e 1950’s).

Actually, most of the traffic on high volume routes like across the Atlantic and Pacific is carried by cable, which is much cheaper. There is less cable bandwidth to less developed nations, such as Sri Lanka , so they would suffer more.

When I was in Bell Labs I got to go to some seminars about undersea cables. Improved lasers for fiber optic transmission has been improving capacity, and another study I saw showed that undersea cable is much cheaper than satellite. I’m sure that is still true, because of launch costs.

Then there is the obvious lack of satellite TV, which might either increase the monopoly power or decrease it, if regulators don’t see dish companies as providing competition. Satellite phone service never caught on, and Iridium was a costly disaster. I guess there would be increased work on laying cable to places like Sri Lanka without it now.

Within the US, I think almost all traffic is carried by cable, with some microwave stuff where that is not economical. I don’t think there is satellite long distance except across oceans. My reference says that they have beaten the communications delay problem (I can’t even guess how) but satellite is too expensive, and there is overcapacity in the US thanks to the buildup during the bubble.

GPS and satellite radio would be no more, of course.

Dish Network and DirecTV would be out of business. TV networks would also be out. TV watchers would be thrown violently back to about the 1950’s as all that would be available is three or four local channels. Network programming would be distributed across the country via tapes or DVDs. Better use FedEx, or the Friday Night Movie might not be shown until next Monday. Even local TV news would be different as live remote crews would no longer be able to uplink the video to the studio by satellite.

Howard Stern would be out of work when XM/Sirius radio goes dead, and a lot of people would be utterly lost when GPS disappeared. People in far-flung places will loose Internet connections if they were using DirecWay data service.

All in all, television is the one industry that would have devastating losses. Almost everything else could be dealt with. We’d go back to compasses and star charts for navigation, and back to regular AM-FM radio. Those distant Internet connctions - well, back to dial-up for them.

Undersea Cable Traffic Map

I don’t think that’s true here in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The local TV stations have remote vans, with extendable antenna towers on them, but I believe they connect via microwaves to the local headquarters. They certainly spend time aiming their transmitter toward their studios. I’ve often seen a news event with several trucks parked outside, with antennas pointed in different directions. WCCO points toward downtown, KSTP east toward St. Paul Midway, KARE-11 west toward Golden Valley, etc., all in the direction of their main studios.

So I don’t think our local TV news remote trucks use satellites to communicate back to their studios.

That will depend on the area. I’m guessing the MSP area is flat enough to make pointing a terrestrial microwave antenna at a downtown building practical. The San Francisco area has plenty of hills and even mountain ranges to make that idea impractical, so most of our news remote trucks have satellite gear as you can almost always see the sky, wherever you are.

It’s not just a matter of practical. It’s often a matter of Possible.

Microwave links are highly directional. The antennas you see transmitting back to the main studio locations are line of site. Trees in the way? No signal. Buildings? No signal. Mountains/hills? No signal.

I once sold wireless networking equipment (local loop replacment, T1-T3 speeds) in the mid90s, and my biggest obstacle in New England was line of sight. You just couldn’t see the other side of the link.

In wide open areas, near state lines, I’d have made a mint. But alas, If you can see 200yds in New England, you’re either in a field, or on a road.