Cisco's ultimate vision is a large network of satellites with routers, which could carry out routing among themselves. "When the technology reaches the right level of maturity, it should be the main mission of the satellite," Pelton said. Cisco has no projection of how big the market for space-based routers will be, nor how much it has invested in IRIS, for which it funded development and manufacturing of the router. But the worldwide satellite market is about US$125 billion a year and growing at a double-digit rate, Pelton said.
There is a lot of interest in this idea, especially from the military, according to Chartrand. Armed forces need low-latency communications within war zones that are hard to predict, he said. Also, a routed network of satellites could continue operating even if Earth stations were destroyed. The U.S. Air Force has pushed back the launch of its own planned satellite router to 2019, a move that should benefit Cisco, Chartrand said.
How real Cisco's satellite dreams turn out to be will become clearer once the satellite is in orbit and test results come in, he said.
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