SpaceX’s Starlink Constellation Construction Begins.

2,200 Satellites Will go up Over the Next 5 years

Elon Musk has made a lot of crazy promises and proposals over the years, which inevitably leads people to pester him about deadlines. Whether it’s reusable rockets, affordable electric cars, missions to Mars, intercontinental flights, or anything having to do with his many other ventures, the question inevitably is “when can we expect it?”

That question has certainly come up in relation to his promise to launch a constellation of broadband satellites that would help provide high-speed internet access to the entire world. In response, Musk recently announced that SpaceX will launch the first batch of Starlink satellites in May 2019, and will continue with launches for the next five years.

This represents a major milestone for the company, which has effectively moved from the development phase of this project to production. Another was reached back in February of 2018 when the company launched two Starlink demonstration satellites. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of details about this constellation that are still unclear.

Continue reading HERE.

May is only weeks away, but we do not know when in May the launches are scheduled.  There are no missions listed in the SpaceX launch manifest HERE.

It will be interesting to track the first Starlinks as they whizz about the planet. Stay Tuned.

 

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Broadband Caucus Co-Chair To Push For Better Mapping

— Wittman (R-Va.), a new chair of the House Rural Broadband Caucus, is set to speak this morning at rural broadband trade group NTCA’s legislative and policy conference about the need to have better maps of broadband availability and stronger coordination among key agencies like the FCC and Commerce and Agriculture departments, according to an aide. He will also advocate for future-proofing telecom networks, with an eye toward building out more fiber (which can handle large volumes of data, including to push traffic to and from wireless cell sites) and simplifying the federal permitting process, the aide added.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

It looks to me we are going to talk about the mapping problem into oblivion. Everyone agrees it is a big problem, with no workable solutions. It is impossible to solve the lack of broadband by throwing money at it if you cannot find where to through the cash. The users without broadband know where the problem is, why does the government have such a difficult time finding a solution? Crowd Source the solution. Send everyone who reports ten addresses without broadband a $10.00 gift card. Each user requests broadband from one or more providers and sends the reply denying availability along with the address lists to the FCC to collect the gift card. Yes, there will be fraud attempts, and they should be prosecuted to the maximum as a deterrent. Do you have a better solution?

A Cyber Economy: The Transactional Value of the Internet in Rural America

The above title is from an iGR White Paper on internet transaction and spending, including the spending by rural internet users. The details are in the study HERE and the Foundation for Rural Service infographic which provides an excellent summary if you are in a hurry.

From the website with links to the white paper and infographic.

This report examines the nature and quantifiable value of online transactions, and draws comparisons between online usage habits among urban and rural consumers. The report was produced by iGR, a market strategy consultancy focused on the wireless and mobile communications industry, and commissioned by the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS).

Major findings include:

  • Internet usage among urban and rural consumers is largely similar.

  • Rural consumers are responsible for approximately 15% of all consumer, internet-driven transactions annually, which equates to more than 10.8 billion online transactions altogether.

  • Internet-driven transactions make up nearly 50% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) or $9.6 trillion annually. These transactions are estimated to grow to more than 65% by 2022, to $14 trillion per year.

  • The estimated value of rural online transactions is nearly $1.4 trillion—or 7% of GDP.

This is an impressive study with some interesting numbers, but it only looks at the transaction made by those with a broadband connection, what about the potential of the 14 million rural citizens that do not have any broadband connection?

I predict these 14 million unserved are future users of satellite broadband.

The State Of Our Maps

— Senate Commerce holds a hearing this morning on the steps needed to improve the accuracy of broadband mapping data, particularly in rural communities where the lack of reliable information has become a source of frustration for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Panel Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has criticized the FCC’s handling of the issue and, six months ago, contemplated the use of a congressional spending bill to force the commission to revisit the problem. “Flawed and inaccurate maps ultimately waste resources and stifle opportunities for economic development in our rural and underserved communities,” Wicker said in an opening statement shared with MT.

— Witnesses include USTelecom President Jonathan Spalter, who is leading his own mapping initiative. (Charter Communications and Microsoft both outlined their own concerns with the mapping process and suggestions for improvement in blog posts this past week.)

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

SpaceX Starts Launching Starlink Network in May 2019

SpaceX has announced a launch target of May 2019 for the first batch of operational Starlink satellites in a sign that the proposed internet satellite constellation has reached a major milestone, effectively transitioning from pure research and development to serious manufacturing. R&D will continue as SpaceX Starlink engineers work to implement the true final design of the first several hundred or thousand spacecraft, but a significant amount of the team’s work will now be centered on producing as many Starlink satellites as possible, as quickly as possible.

With anywhere from 4400 to nearly 12,000 satellites needed to complete the three major proposed phases of Starlink, SpaceX will have to build and launch more than 2200 satellites in the next five years, averaging 44 high-performance, low-cost spacecraft built and launched every month for the next 60 months.

Source: Tesalarati

My question is how many in the first batch,  twenty-five, or more.  One estimate:

Using a Falcon 9 at 25 satellites per launch it would take 177 flights, about 36 flights per year. Using a Falcon Heavy with 40 satellites it would take 112 flights, over 5 years that’s about 22 flights per year. Using a BFR assuming 350 satellites per launch, until someone comes up with a better number, would need 13 flights total.

Source: Reddit Starlink FAQ

Can Social Media Handle Four Billion More Users?

Russ Steele

It has been reported that Facebook globally has two billion users, on today’s networks with large segments of the global population living in internet deserts. Places were there is no connectivity, making the use of social media extremely difficult. China’s social media sites are reported to have half a billion users. Add another half a billion to include all the other social network sites, and it’s clear we are becoming a connected world.

space_network_matrixSpace-based internet will cover the planet from 57 degrees North to 57 degrees South. Industry experts estimate this will bring 4 billion more users to the internet that do not have access today.

That would be four billion new customers for Amazon, many living in rural areas far from the local store. It is also four billion potential social media users. Social media giants Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a plethora of others are struggling to manage the current customer base, with news of data breaches in the daily news. Can they handle four billion more customers?

While writing this, I had another thought. Amazon Prime Members are offered free two-day shipping. Satellite internet is going to connect hundreds of millions of new rural customers, many at the end of a 40-mile driveway. Once Amazon has added hundreds of millions of rural customer will shipping still be free?

Here’s why Amazon is trying to reach every inch of the world with satellites providing internet

CNBC has the details:

  • Amazon is working on Project Kuiper, which would put 3,236 satellites into orbit to provide high-speed internet to any point on the globe.

  • “You can see the clear profit motive here for Amazon: 4 billion new customers,” Space Angels CEO Chad Anderson said.

  • CNBC spoke to more than a dozen space industry analysts and executives about Amazon’s proposal and the customers, competitors and costs involved.

In my opinion, this is the money quote:

Two industry officials said that this move “validates the market model” for these immense internet satellite networks, especially since “Amazon is a publicly traded company” with a broader shareholder base, unlike other space companies. Additionally, Amazon’s entrance “makes an already challenging market even more competitive,” one executive said.

Full Article is HERE.

There are still challenges ahead, as some dictator controlled countries do not want an open internet overhead, especially one selling ideas contrary to their socialist/communist doctrine.  Interesting times ahead.