Why The Future Of Satellite Internet Might Be Decided In Rural Alaska

Service in the rural areas of the state is abysmal, which makes it the perfect place to test next-generation satellite internet.

MIT Technology Review has the full story HERE.


Least Connected

This link is to an award-winning article examining the lack of connectivity on an Idaho Indian Reservation. The article reminded me of the struggle people who live in North San Juan have with connectivity. There was a ridge top with some connectivity. Each morning cars gathered on a temporary parking area and with coffee cup in hand passengers downloaded their mail and crafted some replies, collected product orders, and work assignments and then went home. Later in the evening, the same groups of vehicles assembled to repeat the processes, with an additional movie download for the evening entertainment.

While this article is about connective on a Reservation, many other communities across America struggle for some connectivity.

Full Article is HERE.


Presidential Candidate: Klobuchar Touts Broadband For 2020

— Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) last year turned heads in the tech sphere by suggesting Democrats could “run on” and even “win on” wonky-but-important issues like rural broadband on the 2020 campaign trail. On Thursday, she put that theory to the test by unveiling a major infrastructure proposal that seeks to “connect every household to the internet by 2022.” According to a blog post, the “plan will help close the urban-rural divide by creating accurate broadband maps to identify areas that lack adequate access … and provide greater incentives for existing providers to use funds to upgrade their networks to cover unserved and underserved areas.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

From the Amy Klobuchar web site:

Amy is proposing a bold, trillion-dollar plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure, invest in our future, and create millions of good-paying American jobs.

Broadband Infrastructure Proposal:

Connect every household to the internet by 2022. Roughly one in four rural Americans say access to high-speed internet is a major problem. That’s why as President, Amy will connect every household in America to the internet by 2022. Amy’s plan will help close the urban-rural divide by creating accurate broadband maps to identify areas that lack adequate access, focus on bringing high-speed internet infrastructure to areas most in need, and provide greater incentives for existing providers to use funds to upgrade their networks to cover unserved and underserved areas. Broadband creates jobs, opens new economic opportunities, and allows America to compete and succeed in an increasingly digital world.

I would like to have more information on the How. Throwing money at the problem has not solved it yet.


OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel On Big Tech’s Space Race

OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel joins “Squawk Alley” to discuss the company’s ability to secure its largest funding to date, and its first successful satellite launch.

The video is HERE.

Some high points, the satellites cost one million each. Airbus is currently building one a day, with a goal of two a day by end of the year.  The service will start when then satellites 650 are in orbit.  First customer targets are airlines, cruise ships, and marine transportation fleets.  Also, significant targets are schools around the world, with government sponsorship.  Over time the service cost will be reduced for standalone users.  Watch the video for all the details.

Added comment:

Starting around October, OneWeb expects to launch 30 or so more satellites every month as it looks to build a constellation of 650 satellites in low Earth orbit.

At that launch rate, it will take 22 months to reach 650 birds in orbit, assuming no failed launches and fully operational satellites.  Services could start in the summer of 2021.

If I were on the school board of a rural school with poor broadband,  I would be budgeting and writing grants for a OneWeb terminal for my school. Be prepared for the start of the 2021 school year, with a OneWeb Terminal using WiFi broadband distribution.

OneWeb Terminal

SpaceX Starlink Progress Report

SpaceX Starlink spacecraft design continues to evolve according to a 13 March letter to the FCC, responding to questions on the Constellation architecture. The initial fleet of 75 Starlink spacecraft will include iron components including hall thrusters and reaction wheels which could survive reentry.

According to the attached letter:

  • The new spacecraft design is 100% consumable during atmospheric reentry.
  • Spacecraft will initially be launched to ~350km for orbital checkout prior to rising to its operational altitude.
  • Failure to check out the spacecraft will fall back to earth in weeks or months depending on how active the sun is. An active sun expands the atmosphere increasing drag.

Attached Letter HERE.

CETF: Internet for All

Sunne Wright McPeak
President and CEO
California Emerging Technology Fund

. . . three in four unconnected households remain unaware that they may be eligible for discount home Internet service for as low as $10-$15 a month. We need Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to do more advertising to reach eligible households, including placing ads with community media and publicly reporting their progress.

Here’s what you can do: Help get all Californians connected by getting the word out about available affordable offers in your community. Go to the CETF-sponsored Internet For All Now website and spread the word in your neighborhoods and among your networks. Together, we can build a stronger, more connected California.

Full Document Access HERE.

OneWeb Time Line Impacts


OneWeb Constellation 

The timeline on the OneWeb website has some details, with operational launches starting in 2019 and continuing through 2020. Some exciting years ahead :

  • 2019: Start satellite launches every 21 days for two years, from multiple launch sites.
  • 2020: Turn on the services for early adopters. [ Ground terminals can provide, WiFI, 3G, LTE, and 5G signal modulation, depending on customer needs.]
  • 2021: Global G5 ready coverage to customer communities everywhere on the planet.

OneWeb Terminal

The FCC buildout schedule for rural community 4G LTE is over the next ten years, stating in 2019. If telecommunication providers are building out 4G LTE in rural areas on government subsidies they are not going to be building comp[eting 5G networks in the same market.  The expected build-out for 5G is ten years, starting with the dense urban areas, progressing to transportation corridors and then rural communities were population density is sufficient to cover the installation and operating costs.  Telecommunication is a return on investment driven business.  Investors want a return on their investment .

Given that 4G LTE and 5G  broadband for many rural communities could be years in the future, satellite broadband will be available in 2021, which is long before 5G will be available in many rural communities.  Assuming that satellite broadband is a viable business model and one or more of the planned services survive.  The competition is going to be vigorous with three or more LEO broadband providers offering services.

SpaceX is rumored to have the first 75 Starlink spacecraft build, and they could also start launching in the last half of 2019. The race is on to provide rural communities 5G levels of broadband service.  It looks like OneWeb is in the lead.

T-Mobile Home Internet

Telecompetitor.com has the details:

T-Mobile will begin a limited trial of its LTE-based fixed wireless service, dubbed T-Mobile Home Internet, this week, the company said today. The 50 Mbps service will sell for $50 per month without a data cap – although the company states that during congestion, “Home Internet customers may notice speeds lower than other customers due to data prioritization.”

The offering is by invitation only to existing customers in select “rural and underserved” areas, which the carrier did not specify. The company hopes to connect up to 50,000 homes this year.

In a press release, T-Mobile said the new offering was just the beginning of what the company could accomplish if its merger with Sprint is approved. The merger would bring Sprint’s broad mid-band spectrum holdings into the T-Mobile fold, which according to the release, would give the merged company the capability to offer T-Mobile Home with speeds up to 100 Mbps to more than half of U.S. zip codes by 2024, when the company potentially would serve 9.5 million U.S. households.
T-Mobile Home Internet

T-Mobile first began talking about the possibility of using Sprint spectrum to bring broadband to rural areas last June, when the plans came to light in a filing the company made with the FCC. Several months later, T-Mobile increased the number of homes it said it could reach with fixed wireless, and earlier this month the company previewed today’s news when it said it would be announcing something soon about fixed wireless. At that time, the company said it expected to use a mixture of 4G and 5G technology to support fixed wireless service.

The T-Mobile Home Internet news comes at a time when interest in fixed wireless is booming, although just how broadly it will be deployed remains unclear. A large percentage of the rural broadband funding recently awarded through the Connect America Fund auction will go toward fixed wireless projects. And major carriers, including AT&T and Verizon, have been deploying the technology.

Continue reading HERE. [Emphasis added]