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Japan launches high-speed internet satellite

27 February, 2008
By Allison Orr

This week Japan has launched an experimental Internet satellite that will deliver the fastest Internet speeds in the world to Japan and Asia.  It is designed to provide Internet coverage even when terrestrial infrastructure is down and can also be used for remote and mountainous regions. 

JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, asked the public to name the satellite, and after nearly 10,000 entries were received, it was named Kizuna, which means "bond" or "ties" in Japanese.  (As is common in Japan, the satellite also has a cute mascot named "Kizuna-chan").

As outlined on the JAXA website, urban areas have better Internet connections, whereas mountainous regions and remote islands are not well-equipped.  With Kizuna, a user can receive high-speed Internet, up to 1.2Gbps, by installing an antenna, which means areas without major ground infrastructure can receive the same level of Internet service as that in urban areas.  According to the promotional video, this technology is "eliminating the digital divide on a global scale".  It will also allow Internet connections to stay up and be of use during times of natural disasters, a major concern for earthquake-prone Japan.

The project plans to provide high-speed satellite Internet to Japan and across Asia (the footprint can cover half the earth), and it will be put to many uses:

"For example, we will be able to contribute to "remote medicine" that enables everybody to receive sophisticated medical treatment regardless of time and location by transmitting clear images of the conditions of a patient to a doctor in an urban area from a remote area or island where few doctors are available. In academic and educational fields, schools and researchers in remote areas can exchange information easily. To help cope with disasters, information can be swiftly provided through space."

For further information, the JAXA website has detailed information on the design and launch of the satellite.

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