Satellite-Based Cloud Computing Competition

Russ Steele

I just returned from a trip to the Seattle area where cloud computing slipped into the conversation with Amazon announcing the formation of a low latency satellite internet network to provide services, including cloud computing. This new development could bring fast cloud computing services to billions of new customers.

What is cloud computing you ask? Generally, cloud computing services are categorized into three types:
1) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This service provides the infrastructure like Servers, Operating Systems, Virtual Machines, Networks, and Storage on rent basis. Recognized providers include Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Service

2) Platform as a Service (PaaS): This service is used in developing, testing and maintaining of software. PaaS is same as IaaS but also provides additional tools like database management systems and business intelligence services. Primary provider are Microsoft/RedHat, IBM, and Oracle

3) Software as a Service (SaaS): This service makes the users connect to the applications through the Internet on a subscription basis. Examples are Google Applications, Salesforce, and Microsoft.

Amazon AWS, Microsoft, and Google are all using their infrastructure to provide more cloud-based business services, but now Amazon has changed the game by joining the LEO satellite broadband internet providers. By using a space-based network, AWS is building out service infrastructure to provide cloud connectivity to global customers, faster than surface based competitors, especially over long distances.

The question is can Google and Microsoft stay in the game with Amazon satellite broadband delivered cloud computing services across the globe.

Google Filed patent US 20170005179, on September 30, 2014, for a constellation of 1000 satellites to cover 75% if the earth. However, Project Loon, a series of balloons to provide WiFi services for broad swathes of the unserved area around the equator seem to take priority. With billions in the bank, Google could act on its patented network to become a space-based cloud service company.

What about Microsoft? How do they compete in the cloud computing service business when they are confined to earth-based fiber networks? Satellites networks with laser interconnections are much faster than fiber networks. For example, studies have shown fiber latency between San Francisco and London is about 146 ms, whereas the SpaceX satellite link is about 50% faster at 73 ms, with twelve satellite hops.

Microsoft’s Azure cloud is a rapidly growing business segment. Fiscal third-quarter sales in the company’s Azure cloud computing segment rose 73% year-over-year according to 3rd Quarter Report.

“Leading organizations of every size in every industry trust the Microsoft cloud. We are accelerating our innovation across the cloud and edge so our customers can build the digital capability increasingly required to compete and grow,” Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said in the earnings release.

If I were a Microsoft advisor, I would recommend Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella investigate becoming a partner with SpaceX or one of the other LEO constellations that has an inter-satellite communications architecture to provide a suite of fast cloud computing service applications.  The game is changing and the winner yet to be determined.

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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

Microsoft Says the FCC ‘Overstates’ Broadband Availability in the US

Motherboard has the details:

Generally speaking, you can’t fix a problem you don’t fully understand. That’s particularly true of US broadband, where the government’s efforts to map the scope of the nation’s broadband coverage gaps have long been ridiculed as an inaccurate mess.

Microsoft this week was the latest to highlight the US government’s terrible broadband mapping in a filing with the FCC, first spotted by journalist Wendy Davis. In it, Microsoft accuses the FCC of over-stating actual broadband availability and urges the agency to do better.

“The Commission’s broadband availability data, which underpins FCC Form 477 and the Commission’s annual Section 706 report, appears to overstate the extent to which broadband is actually available throughout the nation,” Microsoft said in the filing.

“For example, in some areas the Commission’s broadband availability data suggests that ISPs have reported significant broadband availability (25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up) while Microsoft’s usage data indicates that only a small percentage of consumers actually access the Internet at broadband speeds in those areas,” Microsoft said.

Similar criticism has long plagued the agency. The FCC’s broadband data is received via the form 477 data collected from ISPs. But ISPs have a vested interest in over-stating broadband availability to obscure the sector’s competition problems, and the FCC historically hasn’t worked very hard to independently verify whether this data is truly accurate.

Continue reading the report HERE.

5G Stealing the Show at Consumer Electronics Show.

The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) officially kicked off in Las Vegas on Tuesday, and devices with 5G connectivity are stealing the show.

The annual conference, which is taking place January 8-11, showcases the latest mobile and connected technology from more than 4,500 exhibiting companies. CES is an important event for developers and manufacturers because it provides a peek at technological shifts.

Consumers Are Interested in Subscriptions for Connected Devices
Business Insider Intelligence
Devices with 5G connectivity were the chief focus at the conference this year, with Qualcomm and Intel making announcements that are poised to transform various industries.

Qualcomm’s chipsets will spearhead the first wave of 5G smartphones. Qualcomm expects its new Snapdragon 855 mobile platform and X50 5G cellular modem to power more than 30 5G devices, mostly smartphones, in 2019. The addition of 5G connectivity will provide considerable improvements to handsets, from more secure fingerprint scanning to faster AI-driven tasks, encouraging more users to upgrade.

Car manufacturers demoed Qualcomm’s 9150 C-V2X chipset, which set the future for connected cars with 5G. Automakers including Audi, Ford, and Ducati staged how the chipset, which will run on 4G and 5G networks, can be leveraged to enable vehicle-to-vehicle communications. Ford, for instance, plans to use the tech in all US models starting in 2022. Qualcomm’s chipset presents cellular carriers with an opportunity to add connected car subscriptions, which consumers are highly interested in paying for despite their lack of widespread availability. For instance, just 30% of consumers own a connected car, but nearly half (49%) are interested in paying a monthly subscription for a connected car, according to Business Insider Intelligence’s Telecom Competitive Edge report (enterprise only).

Intel will facilitate the shift to 5G-powered laptops. Intel lifted the lid on a new initiative, dubbed Project Athena, that aims to open the door to a new class of advanced laptops with 5G connectivity and AI capabilities. The company is developing a roadmap for PC makers including Microsoft, Google, Lenovo, Dell, and Samsung to bring Project Athena devices to market in the second half of this year. Integrated 5G connectivity will provide wireless carriers with an additional opportunity to diversify revenue streams and expand wireless subscriber bases.

Source: Business Insider

In 1996 I gave a presentation at a conference in Canada on Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems. In my slide presentation, I showed how vehicles would be integrated into the digital grid, the internet. When I predicted that in the near the future cars would have an IP address, there was a lot of snickering and laughter in the audience. Only later it occurred to me I had been laughed off the stage. Today 30% of consumers own a connected vehicle and soon with G5 built in it will become a standard feature. Too bad many citizens living in rural communities will not be able to take advantage of this connectivity until they drive to an urban location with 5G.

Microsoft: The Rural Broadband Divide: An Urgent National Problem That We Can Solve

In a blog post, Brad Smith gives an early introduction to his presentation at 9:30 PST today at a luncheon in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

Every day the world is becoming more digital. Cloud computing combined with new productivity, communication and intelligent tools and services enable us to do more, do it more quickly and in ways that were simply unimaginable a generation ago. But participating in this new era requires a high-speed broadband connection to the internet. While it’s a service that is as critical as a phone or electricity, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadband is unavailable to roughly 25 million Americans, more than 19 million of which live in rural communities. That’s roughly the population of New York state.

Over the past five years, the FCC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided more than $22 billion in subsidies and grants to telecommunications carriers to sustain, extend and improve broadband in rural America. Despite these efforts, the country’s adoption of broadband hasn’t budged much since 2013. This inability to build out the last mile of the 21st century’s digital infrastructure has exacerbated the country’s growing prosperity and opportunity divides — divisions that often fall along urban and rural lines.

The full presentation is HERE.

Airband is a more rural-friendly technology than 5G, rural communities need to embrace this interim technology until they can afford fiber to the home or office.

Microsoft Airband Update on 4 Dec @ 9:30 AM

A message from Microsoft: Broadband is essential to the way we work, live, learn, and play today. More than 19 million people in the rural U.S. don’t have a broadband connection. Lack of broadband prevents students from completing homework and research, limits agriculture and small-business opportunities, and results in less access to healthcare.

Technology offers an affordable solution. Microsoft has been working to close the broadband gap. Join Microsoft President Brad Smith, Packerland Broadband, Declaration Networks and nonprofit partners for an update on the Microsoft Airband Initiative Tuesday, Dec. 4, at noon EST/9:30 a.m. PST. Learn more here.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

 

Microsoft Airband Partner Added in Northwest, Aims to Reach 73K with Fixed Wireless

[…]

Microsoft Airband Partner

Through the partnership, Native Network will provide affordable, hybrid, fixed-wireless broadband internet access, including TV White Spaces, to tribes within Flathead Reservation in Montana as well as Lummi Nation and Swinomish Tribe in Washington.

The announcement is one of several Microsoft has announced recently to expand broadband in rural areas:

Microsoft plans to bring services to about 126,700 previously unserved people in rural communities in Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota, through a partnership with Network Business Systems.

The company partnered with Agile Networks and Airband to offer high-speed broadband to 110,000 people in rural Ohio.

Microsoft provided start-up funding to U.S. companies Numbers4Health; Skylark Wireless; Cy Wireless and Tribal Digital Village and four other companies.

“Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century and is critical for farmers, small-business owners, health-care practitioners, educators and students to thrive in today’s digital economy,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith, in a prepared statement.“The partnership with Native Network will help close the digital divide in rural Montana and Washington, bringing access to approximately 73,500 people within and around the tribal communities.”

Read more HERE.