Digital Connectivity and Low Earth Orbit Satellite Constellations: Opportunities for Asia and the Pacific


Digital Connectivity and Low Earth Orbit Satellite Constellations: Opportunities for Asia and the Pacific

28 April 2021


It is estimated that only 45% of the population across Asia and the Pacific is using the Internet and over three billion live farther than 10 kilometers away from high-capacity fiber-optic networks that provide access to fast broadband connectivity. Rapid technology advances in broadband satellites that can be arranged in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation are expected to dramatically expand the coverage area, improve the quality and lower the cost of high-speed internet. For rural and remote populations, landlocked countries, and small island developing states that face particularly acute challenges of accessing low-cost high-capacity internet, LEO satellite constellations may prove to be transformational, much like the expansion of basic mobile phones in the 2000s across developing Asia, and undersea fiber cable expansion in the 2010s. 

While commercial broadband LEOs constellations have been tried before, tens of billions of dollars of new investment are now pouring into the next generation of LEO constellations, such as Starlink by SpaceX, Project Kuiper by Amazon, OneWeb, and Lightspeed by Telesat. Each one is launching hundreds, if not thousands, of satellites into orbit and additional players have announced their intention to follow suit. This increase in bandwidth could be leveraged to increase economic and social development opportunities for individuals, organizations, businesses, and governments located in these areas. Since business models and go-to-market strategies are still evolving, a proactive engagement by Government and other development actors would be critical in shaping the impact this technology can have on development.

During the launch event, the key findings of ADB’s new working paper were presented and discussed by eminent experts who shared their perspectives on how to prepare for and engage with LEO satellite constellations.


Download the Working Paper:

Digital Connectivity and Low Earth Orbit Satellite Constellations: Opportunities for Asia and the Pacific” 



Thomas Abell, Advisor and Chief of Digital Technology for Development Unit, ADB

John Garrity, Co-Author and Consultant (Digital Connectivity), ADB

Arndt Husar, Co-Author and Senior Public Management Specialist (Digital Transformation), Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Jun Murai, Distinguished Professor, Keio University (Japan) and Founder, Widely Integrated Distributed Environment Project 

Atsuko Okuda, Regional Director, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, International Telecommunication Union

Program and Learning Materials: 
Date Session / Activity Presentation Material Speaker(s)
28 Apr 2021 Opening and Introduction Opening and Introduction
This presentation gives an overview of why the event focused on internet connectivity and how it is essential for economic growth and social development...
Arndt Husar
28 Apr 2021 Presentation 1 Digital Connectivity and Low Earth Orbit Satellite Constellations: Opportunities for Asia and the Pacific
This presentation highlights innovation in Low Earth Orbit Satellite Constellations and focuses on Starlink’s deployment, differentiation, and viability...
John Garrity
28 Apr 2021 Presentation 2 Where ADB sees opportunities for investment, technical assistance, and partnerships
This presentation gives an overview of what ADB can do on connectivity, investment opportunities, technical assistance, and partnerships.
Thomas Abell
28 Apr 2021 Perspectives from Partners Perspective 1
This presentation gives an overview of ITU’s Global ICT indicators for 2019 and 2020 and their experience from their projects on satellite communication...
Atsuko Okuda
28 Apr 2021 Perspective 2
This presentation gives an overview of internet impact of satellite internet and different satellite internet projects in Asia Pacific.
Jun Murai


The views expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) or its Board of Governors or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this publication and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. By making any designation of or reference to a particular territory or geographic area, or by using the term “country” in this document, ADB does not intend to make any judgments as to the legal or other status of any territory or area.