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Does Colombia need a satellite?

satelite en colombia

We present the position of Miguel Eduardo Rodriguez, founding partner and vice president of countries and strategic accounts of AXESS regarding the discussion generated as to whether our country should have its own satellite in space.

“Around this question a constructive discussion has recently been generated, in which people linked to the satellite industry have expressed their opinions. As co-founder and promoter of the only multi-Latin satellite services company of Colombian origin, I would like to express my point of view.

It has been written about the importance of satellite technology as a key tool for the development of countries, which is indisputable. And with the growing need for connectivity, satellites take an increasingly important role in allowing people, businesses, public entities and devices (the Internet of things) to be interconnected at any time and from anywhere.

Therefore, the question is not about the importance of countries leveraging on satellite technology for their development and progress plans, but whether to do so they must develop their state industry, build, launch and operate their own satellites.

My opinion, in the case of countries like Colombia with limited investment capacities and with pressing priorities, is no. What should be done is to optimize public-private initiatives. My reasons for this opinion:

The private initiative has come a long way of investing in infrastructure, building experience, optimizing services, which can be put immediately to the service of the country’s needs.

The large multinationals owners of the satellite fleets are very interested in promoting their use in government development projects.

The government can facilitate, encourage and help improve project economies by reducing the costs of its implementation. The comparison in investments to use satellite technology leveraging on the existing at the private level, versus attempting to develop it autonomously is abysmal.

Satellite technology, like most technologies, evolves at a very rapid pace. Therefore, staying current is very difficult and requires permanent investments. Private initiatives have to do so to remain competitive and because the economies of scale of their businesses allow it. The development and construction of satellites requires years, and in most cases when they are launched into space, they are already obsolete compared to those in manufacture.

The function of the state in these cases is not to manage technologies, it is to use them in the best possible way to benefit the communities.

There are many successful cases of this type of public-private initiatives, including Colombia for fiber deployment that allowed to reach terrestrial coverage in much of the territory. These initiatives can be replicated at the satellite coverage level. And finally, without being the most relevant but philosophically important, governments must provide development opportunities to the private sectors, it must support and nurture them because they represent growth, job opportunities, rapid advancement in knowledge. They must rely on those who know instead of trying to compete with them.”  (See satellite phone).