Tech Titans Start Internet Space Race

Irina Slav writing at Oilprice.com

Last week, when CNN reported SpaceX planned to start beaming Internet from space next year, it drew attention to a fascinating and potentially extremely lucrative topic: space Internet.

The idea of using satellites to beam Internet to large parts of the planet has undoubted benefits. It can bring the Internet to many of the 3 billion people who currently don’t have access to the Web and cannot therefore take advantage of all the opportunities it offers, whether it’s for job searching, education, or something else.

Yet the challenges and drawbacks are significant as well. For starters, it will be expensive, writes Tali Arbel for the AP. One would need tens of thousands of satellites, and although these are smaller and hence cheaper than other satellites, the sheer number pushes the total cost up. So does the need for extensive and complex infrastructure on Earth: dishes and antennas. SpaceX alone has filed a request for one million so-called earth stations” as part of its space-based Internet project. Because of these high costs, it will be quite a while before this project and others like it start making money, if they are completed at all.

“I would be surprised if something were profitable in 10 years,” an aeronautics and astronautics professor from MIT told the AP’s Arbel. Kerri Cahoy added that space-based Internet is also at least three years from widespread commercial use. Yet SpaceX wants to do it next year, and there’s a good reason for that: competition.

This year, Elon Musk’s space company launched the first group of satellites for what it calls Starlink—the constellation of satellites it will use to beam Internet to Earth. Next year, the company is planning on 24 launches for satellites that will become part of Starlink—an unprecedented number of launches as SpaceX rushes to be the first in a new market that could turn it into a $52-billion company, according to Morgan Stanley.

Its competitors here include Amazon, which undoubtedly has the financial means to stake a claim in the future space-based Internet market, as well as OneWeb, a venture financially backed by Virgin’s Richard Branson, along with Qualcomm, and Japan’s SoftBank. And these are just the large players.

For now, SpaceX and OneWeb are the frontrunners in the nascent race. OneWeb also said recently it planned to start beaming Internet signal from space next year. Its target will be Alaska: one of the places where regular Internet connection is difficult to come by, with only 52 percent of Alaskans enjoying broadband access.

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Yet it is far from certain this will happen as planned. The AP’s Arbel notes OneWeb’s original plan had envisaged the launch of its satellite constellation by the end of this year but the company has had to push back the launch date.

Amazon is kind of late to the party. It only recently asked the Federal Communications Commission to conduct tests on a new broadband Internet service and to launch more than 3,000 satellites in orbit. It has the capacity to catch up quickly to its rivals, but ultimate success remains uncertain for all of them.

The satellite constellations will cost billions of dollars to send into orbit. The earth stations will also be expensive: after all, to bring Internet to remote regions you’d need stations in those regions, and in this context, remote means expensive. Finally, your future clients need to be able to afford Internet services, the AP’s Arbel says.

While the main runners in the race have the means to cover the costs of installations and satellite clusters, there is nothing they can do about the wild card: the potential users of their space-based Internet services. True, Jeff Bezos is talking about beaming Internet to the whole world, but only half of this world or even less can actually afford Internet access, and that’s at current prices for the service. Space-based Internet needs to become a lot cheaper to become viable.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

Intelsat Sues OneWeb Broadband Satellite Venture Over a Mega-Deal That Went Sour

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Illustration of OneWeb Satellite from Internet

GeekWire has the details:

One of the world’s biggest satellite operators, Intelsat, is accusing the OneWeb broadband satellite venture and its biggest investor, SoftBank, of breach of contract, fraud and conspiracy in a lawsuit seeking what could amount to tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

In the course of laying out its case, Intelsat told the New York State Supreme Court that it paid Redmond, Wash.-based Kymeta, a venture backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, $10 million for development of a flat-panel antenna for OneWeb’s constellation.

Intelsat’s Sept. 10 filing also said OneWeb has pivoted from its original plan to provide broadband access to underserved regions of the world to concentrate on the very markets that Intelsat was planning to serve under the terms of the deal it struck in 2015 with OneWeb: maritime and aviation mobility services, oil and gas industry services and government services.

Continue reading HERE.

This could slow down the OneWeb service activation. In a press release, OneWeb touted it initial capability to focus on Alaska and Northern Canada end-users and businesses, with service starting by early 2020.  Any slow down could give more advantage to the other potential LEO broadband providers, SpaceX, Amazon, and Telesat.

Doyle Previews Broadband Mapping Markup

— The House Energy and Commerce telecom subcommittee will soon move to mark up legislation to improve the government’s mapping of broadband data, which lawmakers have long complained is riddled with errors. And the panel will likely use the Broadband DATA Act, H.R. 4229, from Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), as the base. “I think the Loebsack bill will be the vehicle it runs through,” subcommittee chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) told reporters this week. “But I think we’re going to be taking bits and pieces of the other bills, too.”

— Taking out the ‘garbage’: “We can’t have a system at the FCC when it comes to mapping where it’s garbage in and garbage out, because that’s what it is,” Loebsack said. Ohio Rep. Bob Latta , the top Republican on Doyle’s panel and a backer of the Broadband DATA Act, said, “This is something we can get done.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Make policy on bad maps is not good policymaking.  Good maps are essential to good governance, and it is time for the FCC to step up to the challenge.

Iridium and OneWeb to Collaborate on a Global Satellite Services Offering

SpaceDaily has the details:

Iridium Communications and OneWeb have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together toward a combined service offering. This combined service offering would be designed to make it easier for their mutual partners to offer unique bundling and co-marketing opportunities for the Iridium Certus L-band services and OneWeb’s Ku-band service. The offering would leverage the strengths of their respective low-Earth-orbit (LEO) networks. This is the first time that LEO operators have collaborated to deliver services in L-band and Ku-band.

The MoU also creates opportunities for companies that manufacture both OneWeb and Iridium CertusTM terminals. Such new options could include Iridium-OneWeb companion packages in addition to providers being able to offer combined equipment or even new dual-constellation terminals.

While both are LEO constellations, Iridium and OneWeb services have different capabilities on their respective bands (L-band and Ku-band), which can create a complementary, full-service option for applications such as heads of state comms, critical tactical services, maritime, disaster response and more.

“It’s an exciting time for the industry, and we see great potential for this offering,” said Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium. “Our services are unique and complementary, and we know that customers are looking for the capabilities of both our low-Earth-orbiting networks.”

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb said: “We believe our new offering can bring many benefits for our distribution partners. By combining the strengths of our services, we can ensure our partners are able to deliver the most innovative, seamless services to their subscribers across many markets, and in all the places that don’t yet have access to the internet.”

Due to the physics associated with L-band and Ku-band spectrum, the two come with different yet complementary attributes. The OneWeb network will deliver very high-speed broadband connectivity that transfers large amounts of data. It is ideal for applications including Inflight WiFi, Government, and Maritime networks that require global reach, high speed and low latency.

Continue reading HERE

With the first six satellites already launched, OneWeb’s system has already demonstrated broadband speeds of 400 Mbps and an average latency of 32 milliseconds. OneWeb will begin monthly launches of more than 30 satellites per month starting in December enabling OneWeb to provide partial service in late 2020 and global coverage in 2021.

Emphasis added.  SpaceX and Starlink are promising partial service in 2020 and full service by 2012, the race is on.  Stay tuned!

What is Starlink Really Worth to SpaceX?

The Business Insider has some insight and some questions

SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, plans to surround Earth a gigantic network of internet-providing satellites called Starlink.

In May, Musk said if Starlink could get a few percent of the global telecommunications market, SpaceX could net $30 billion to $50 billion in annual revenue.

Financial analysts at Morgan Stanley Research said in a report sent to Business Insider on Tuesday that they now considered SpaceX’s base valuation to be $52 billion.

However, the report notes a wide margin of error: If SpaceX is wildly successful with Starlink, their “bull case” suggests the company could be worth $120 billion — but in a “bear case,” it could be worth $5 billion if it falters.

How much could SpaceX, the fast-moving private-rocket company founded by Elon Musk, actually be worth?

Continue Reading HERE.

 

Tesla, 5G, and Starlink

Elon_starlink_photo

By Russ Steele

One of the essential G5 marketing messages is that autonomous vehicles will require broadband access to function in automated mode. Today, when your Tesla rolls off the production line, it comes equipped with an AT&T Smartphone built-in, providing internet connectivity. Tesla owner vehicles are in constant communication with Central Control, which is collecting data while you drive. It is providing you relevant traffic information and in some cases entertainment, when parked for a charge.

So, high-speed internet connectivity is an essential element of Tesla autonomous vehicle operation. The Telcos are promoting 5G as the solution. Is there another solution? Perhaps low latency internet from low earth-orbiting satellites. SpaceX is planning to launch 12,000 Starlink LEO satellites covering the planet with “fiber network like services.” Elon Musk’s Tesla vehicles equipped with Starlink internet might not need 5G for autonomous mode, for entertainment, for offering other services like real-time insurance monitoring.

Tesla offers some unique insurance options when it can observe all your driving habits when Central Control has HD TV recordings of all collisions and other roadside accidents. When the reporting systems can detect and warn you of future mechanical failures or roadside hazards. Insurance pricing can be based on your specifics behavior rather than statistical guesses by data analysis. Insurance could be a potential revenue stream for Tesla via Starlink.

What kind of entertainment could a Starlink provide? Indeed streaming music for normal driving and possibly streaming video for autonomous driving vehicles. These could be existing services like Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora or Netflix, and Amazon Video. Or, it could be by SpaceX Entertainment, producing yet another revenue stream for Elon Musk’s digital empire.

With your Tesla connected to a Starlink network and an in-vehicle WiFi, it would be simple to use a tethered device to make calls on your Tesla and any other nearby Tesla with access to the sky. Unfortunately, Starlink needs line of sight access to the LEO satellites So, why does a Tesla owner need 5G? They probably don’t, as 5G will not work in a parking garage either.

Do you think that a Starlink integrate Tesla has been part of Elon Musk’s plan from the beginning?  A desire to become his own Telco?  To open an App Store that sells the genius of Tesla owners and developers via Starlink.  The potential revenue streams are huge!

Rural Telecom Economic Impact Report: $10 Billion Impact in 2017

by Joan Engebretson @ Telecompetitor

Rural telecom companies supported $10 billion in economic activity in 2017, according to a new report from the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS). The rural telecom economic impact report also found that rural telecom companies contributed over 77,000 jobs that year.

The FRS is a non-profit organization that provides education, information, products and programming to support rural telecom companies.

Rural Telecom Economic Impact Report
The FRS findings were based on information gathered from approximately two thirds of the members of NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association. NTCA members are rural telecom service providers. Collectively, NTCA members employ more than 77,000 people nationwide. Those people received more than $2.3 billion in compensation in 2017.

Researchers also used the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and the Chmura economic model to assess rural telecom’s broader economic impact. The NAICS and Chmura information enabled FRS to determine the impact that telecom companies had on other industries on a state-by-state basis.

Broadband provided by rural telecom companies has a positive impact on 29 different industries, according to the report. Industries impacted include banking, health care and others.

For every job created by an NTCA member, almost two additional jobs were created in other industries, according to the researchers. This is “due to the interaction with other industries served by or supported from the spending by the telecom employees,” the researchers explained.

As rural stakeholders continue to push to make broadband available nationwide, reports such as this one may be useful in helping to persuade policymakers to support those efforts

Continue reading HERE.

Some rural communities benefited from broadband, on the other hand, those sitting on their hand’s waiting for the big telcos and cable companies to bring them broadband did not.  It is in the best interest of all rural communities to take charge of their economic destiny.   Over 800 rural towns and cities have developed community networks, assuring a more promising economic future.  What about your community?

 

Introducing the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

By the Executive Director

Broadband has quickly emerged as the most transformative technology of our generation — delivering opportunities and strengthening communities. As broadband’s capability to transform lives and society has grown, so too has it become the driving mission of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.

Connecting our entire nation through High-Performance Broadband will bring remarkable economic, social, cultural, and personal benefits. In the Digital Age, open, affordable, robust broadband is the key to all of us reaching for — and achieving — the American Dream.

Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. has struggled with a persistent dilemma called the digital divide — the unfortunate reality that for too many people, meaningful connectivity is out of reach. As we enter a new decade, America encounters three inter-locking challenges:

Closing the Geographic Divide. In both rural and urban areas, millions of Americans are waiting for the deployment of robust broadband networks. Broadband is advancing in some places, which is good, but the fact is we don’t have an accurate count of how many people are on the wrong side of the digital divide and where they live. What we know is that places without robust broadband are falling further and further behind. We cannot let where we live determine our potential to connect.

Harnessing Competition. Even in areas that are served by adequate broadband networks, consumers lack choice of providers. Without competition, consumers are threatened with artificially high prices, lower-quality service, and little innovation. We cannot let lack of choice harm consumers.

Boosting Affordability & Adoption. For too many people, the cost of broadband is too high and the digital skills needed to use broadband effectively are absent. The result is people disconnected from continuing their education, gaining new job skills, and finding employment. We cannot let high prices divide people from opportunity.

Confronting these divides requires bold leadership and informed solutions.

Continue reading HERE.

SpaceX Wants to Rearrange Its Starlink Satellites for Faster Broadband Ramp-Up

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An artist’s conception shows the deployment of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. (SpaceX Illustration)

GeekWire has the details:

SpaceX is seeking approval from the Federal Communications Commission for changes in the spacing of its Starlink broadband satellites, in order to extend internet services to a wider swath of the United States on a faster timetable.

“This adjustment will accelerate coverage to southern states and U.S. territories, potentially expediting coverage to the southern continental United States by the end of the next hurricane season and reaching other U.S. territories by the following hurricane season,” SpaceX said in an application filed on Aug. 30 and accepted last week.

If SpaceX follows that schedule, Starlink coverage could be available throughout the 48 contiguous U.S. states by November 2020, when next year’s hurricane season ends.

The implication is that the adjustment would serve the public interest because territories in the potential path of a hurricane, such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, could have Starlink’s satellite broadband service available to them sooner than previously planned.

SpaceX emphasized that the shift in spacing wouldn’t require a change in the satellites’ authorized altitude or inclination, their operational characteristics or the effect on orbital debris. Instead, the 1,584 satellites covered in the application at issue would be shifted around in their orbits, tripling the number of orbital planes (to 72) but cutting the number of satellites in each plane by two-thirds (to 22).

Continue reading HERE.

First Launch of UK’s OneWeb Satellites From Baikonur Planned for Dec 19

OneWeb_Sat
Illustration from SpaceDaily

SpaceDaily has the details:

The first launch of UK communications satellites OneWeb from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome is tentatively scheduled for December 19, a spokesperson for Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos told Sputnik.

“Glavkosmos, Arianespace and Starsem have prepared joint proposals for launching OneWeb spacecraft from the Baikonur spaceport tentatively on December 19,” the spokesperson said.

According to the spokesperson, this date is to be approved after the detailed planning of technological operations, although everything is in the state of high readiness.

In April, OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel told The Australian newspaper that starting in December, OneWeb will be launching 30 satellites per month aboard Soyuz carrier rockets during a period of 20 months.

[. . .]

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 full article is HERE.