Satellite vs. Fiber-Optic Technology: Which Is More Eco-friendly?


For years, satellite and fiber-optic technology have provided homes with Internet and TV service. When comparing the two technologies, there’s little competition. Fiber-optic technology offers faster speeds, better reliability – and it’s more eco-friendly.

Satellites harm the environment in multiple ways

Even though satellite technology doesn’t use wires to provide Internet and TV, it still is not very eco-friendly. It presents an environmental hazard both when it is launched into space and when it is in orbit.

  • Satellites damage the ozone layer

    Satellites are launched into orbit by rockets. The launch requires fuels that end up damaging the ozone. One of the main chemicals in this fuel is aluminum oxide. When released into space, this chemical depletes the ozone layer. A

  • Satellites leave debris in space

    When satellites are in orbit, specifically low-Earth orbit, there is a chance of collision with other items. According to The Economist, “at orbital velocity, some eight kilometers a second, even an object a centimeter across could knock a satellite out. The more bits of junk there are out there, the more likely this is to happen. And junk begets junk, as each collision creates more fragments.” B

    This phenomenon, where more debris leads to additional debris, is known as Kessler syndrome. As expected, these collisions are continuously increasing. Just in the past decade, the European Space Agency reported that collision alerts have doubled.

Fiber-optic technology requires less energy and materials

Fiber-optic cables use fewer materials and generate less heat than other technologies. For these reasons, fiber-optic technology is better for the environment.

  • Less energy used to cool data centers

    Compared to other types of Internet, TV and home phone service, fiber-optic is a green technology. For example, fiber-optic cables do not generate much heat, so data centers do not require a lot of energy for cooling. C

  • Longer lifespan and fewer materials

    Additionally, fewer materials are required because fiber-optic technology requires little insulation and jacketing. Fiber-optic cables can last 25 or more years, so these networks do not need to be replaced with new material for many years. D

The Eco-Winner

Overall, satellite and fiber-optic technologies have many differences; one is that fiber-optic technology is greener than satellite technology. While fiber-optic technology uses fewer materials and requires less energy for cooling, satellite technology depletes the ozone layer. Because of this, fiber-optics are a more eco-friendly technology for providing TV, Internet, and phone services.


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This post was written by the Beacon team.

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