RCRC: Broadband Update

This week, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), both members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced the introduction of their Broadband Parity Act, bipartisan legislation that would bring all federal broadband programs to the current definition of what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines as high-speed internet (currently 25/3 Mbps).

This bill would ensure that all communities receiving federal broadband support have access to internet service that is actually at “broadband” speeds.  Currently, there are over twenty federal broadband programs promoting access to fixed broadband service.  However, some programs define an area as “served” when service is at 25/3 Mbps speeds, while others define being served as having access to much slower 10/1 Mbps speeds.  This discrepancy in bandwidth speeds means that the federal government is often investing in inadequate broadband services.  This bill will remove such inconsistencies in service and improve broadband access for rural America.  Details on the bill can be accessed here.

Source: RCRC Newsletter

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SpaceX Just Launched 60 Starlink Satellites [Updated]

This morning I watched in realtime the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 with 60 Starlink Satellites under the shroud. An hour after launch the video showed the flock of 60 birds released as they floated away from the upper stage.

Space.com has more details and videos HERE.

What a thrill to see the booster stage land on the remote recovery platform, completing its forth mission and ready to be refurbished for a fifth. This mission also reused a shroud recovered from a previous Falcon Heavy launch.  According to Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX CEO most Starlink launches will be with reused boosters and when possible the shrouds which are being recovered also.

Elon Musk’s disruption of the telecommunications industry is beginning to accelerate. We live in interesting times. Stay tuned.

Update 11-11-19: Inverse Has More Details

SpaceX Starlink takes a big step forward with the second groundbreaking launch HERE

Update 11-17-19: The first 60 Starlinks were not fully operational satellites, they were test birds.  This second batch of 60 is fully operational birds, ready to provide broadband internet.  

 

 

Senators Capito, Rosen Introduce Broadband Parity Act

Sen Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)  |  Press Release  |  US Senate

Sens Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) announced the introduction of their Broadband Parity Act, bipartisan legislation that would bring all federal broadband programs to the current definition of what the Federal Communications Commission defines as high-speed internet (currently 25/3 Mbps). Their bill would ensure that all communities and entities receiving federal broadband support have access to internet service that is actually at broadband speeds. Currently, there are over twenty federal broadband programs promoting access to fixed broadband service. However, each program follows its own set of guidelines for bandwidth speed. While some programs define an area as “served” when service is at 25/3 Mbps speeds, others define being served as having access to much slower 10/1 Mbps speeds. The discrepancy in bandwidth speeds means that the federal government is often investing in inadequate broadband services. The bill will remove inconsistencies in service and improve broadband access across the country, which is an essential step toward all Americans having equal access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunity.

“Access to high-speed internet is essential for economic growth, job creation, and an improved quality of life. Unfortunately, in states like West Virginia, many of our rural communities are being left behind as the digital divide grows,” Sen Capito said. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Rosen on this bill that will contribute to our ongoing efforts to close the digital divide by bringing parity on what defines high-speed broadband across all federal broadband programs.”

Source: Benton Institute Newsletter

OneWeb 2019 Launch Delayed to 2020

Space Daily has the details

First launch of UK OneWeb communications satellites from Baikonur postponed

The first launch of UK communications satellites OneWeb from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome was initially supposed to take place on 19 December.

The launch of UK OneWeb space internet system satellites from the Baikonur space centre was postponed from December this year to January 2020, three sources in Russia’s rocket and space industry revealed.

“The launch is being postponed due to the fact that the spacecraft are not ready. Their delivery to Baikonur is delayed from November to December 2019. The planned launch is postponed from 19 December to 23 January,” one of the sources said, with two other sources confirming this information.

OneWeb plans to create a constellation of satellites that will provide broadband Internet access to users around the world fully covering the Earth’s surface. In cooperation with Roscosmos, the UK communications company sent up its first satellites in February and has planned its next two launches for the end of this year and the first half of 2020.

The Link is HERE

By 23 January SpaceX is planning to have 230 Starlinks in orbit, halfway to an initial operating flock of satellites. OneWeb seems to be stumbling at the gate.

Fast Company: OneWeb Wants to Blanket the Planet in High-Speed Satellite Broadband

[. . .]

In a July test, OneWeb reported download speeds of 400-Mbps to a Seoul location as it automatically switched from satellite to satellite—with latency under 40 milliseconds, versus 600 milliseconds and up for GEO satellite.

That would make this service competitive with many forms of wired and wireless broadband, even if that responsiveness figure can’t match the sub-10-ms latency figures touted for the fastest but shortest-range version of 5G wireless.

OneWeb sees that as less a bug than business opportunity, pitching its constellation-to-be as a worldwide solution for 5G backhaul, connecting 5G networks in less-dense markets with those elsewhere.

Fast Company has more details HERE

Some Thoughts on the Starlink User Terminal

Let’s start with what we know about the Starlink user terminal from news reports and then do some thinking about issues.

What we know from the news:

Described as being a similar shape to a family size pizza box, according to Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO

The terminal will be user-installed, arrived in a box with a power cord attached, Gwynne Shotwell, COO

The terminal will be placed in a window, on the roof or pole in the yard, Gwynne Shotwell

WiFi will most likely be the link from the terminal to user devices, computer, laptop, pad, or smartphone, Gwynne Shotwell.

Laser enabled satellites will not be available until the late 2020 launches, Gwynne Shotwell, COO

Bent pipe internet service to be available in mid-2020, Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO

Some assumptions:

A terminal will be a multi-user device with some limitations as to the number of users on the WiFi link

For maximum coverage, the terminal should have access to the open sky from horizon to horizon, as a single satellite is only visible for about 12 minutes before it needs to lock-on the next Starlink. In bend pipe mode, both user and ground station need to be tracking the same Starlink.

Bent pipe mode, with no laser handoff, will limit streaming connection time to about 10-12 minutes.

The service price will be about $80 per month, as Shotwell pointed out; this is what consumers are paying for crappy service now.

Some considerations:

Based on my experience as a non-profit ISP introducing the dial-up Internet to the community where none existed, shipping users terminal to end-users will work for some people, the techies. Early dialup users bought a modem, signed up for an account username and password, and then tried to get connected. The average consumer needed some help.

I think that the average Starlink consumer is going to need some help, especially in the early days when the network is not yet robust and has coverage limitations. Users will need to have some understanding of satellite dynamics and appreciate the horizon to the horizon line of site restrictions. They will need to understand the weakness of the system as well as the strengths. This information deficit opens the door for some entrepreneurs who might want to do some Starlink user terminal consulting.

LEO Economic Development Opportunities

by Russ Steele

The introduction of millions of satellite ground terminals into the consumer market open up some economic development opportunities. According to Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s President and Chief Operating Officer, the one million terminals will be shipped to the customer in a box, and they will do the installation. I do not have any information on how the 1.5 million OneWeb end-user terminals will arrive?

Based on my experience as a non-profit ISP introducing the dial-up Internet to the community where none existed, this will work for some people, the techies. Still, the average consumer is going to need some help. They will especially need some help in the early days when the network is not yet robust and has a limitation on coverage. Users will need to have some understanding of satellite dynamics and appreciate the line of site restrictions. They will need to understand the weakness of the system as well as the strengths.

As a non-profit, we put a significant volunteer effort into customer support, bring people up to speed on the Internet. This may be an opening for community colleges to offer courses for terminal customer service reps or hold on-campus classes on satellite Internet. The University of Arizona is offering online courses to train people to operate the network ground control terminals and associated satellite dynamics. So far, the end-user terminal training is not being provided. This opens some opportunities for entrepreneurs who might want to do some ground terminal user consulting.  

I am planning to be an early end-user and will report the results on this blog. Stay tuned.

Politico: Once More, With Broadband?

— FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks is calling on the commission to “conduct a data driven 10-year look-back on how our [broadband subsidy] program has effectively performed in bringing broadband to our remote areas,” as he put it during recent remarks before the Broadband Communities Conference: “I don’t want to wake up in 10 years and live in a world where the FCC does not have any better understanding of how and why we still find significant numbers of our communities left out of our digital world.” The Democratic commissioner said such an assessment would help the FCC develop its planned Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

OneWeb Update

Decmber 19, 2019 
Soyuz • OneWeb 2
Launch time: TBD [Will up date when known]

Launch site:
 Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch approximately 32 satellites into orbit for OneWeb, which is developing a constellation of hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit for low-latency broadband communications. The Soyuz-2.1b rocket will use a Fregat upper stage. Delayed from Nov. 20. [Oct. 4]
Source: Spaceflightnow.com