5G from Space Won’t Solve All Slow Internet Problems, Analysts Warn

earth-surrounded-by-starlink-satellites

HOUSTON — New phones will get faster internet than ever before thanks to improved 5G technology, but don’t expect to get blazing-quick speed overnight, a panel of analysts warned.

A discussion at space company forum SpaceCom here in late November went over the benefits and drawbacks of 5G, which is already available in limited markets in the United States and will expand even further in 2020. SpaceX and Amazon are among the companies racing into space to deploy satellites to support 5G.

Continue reading HERE

 

LEO Launch Schedules

SpaceX is launching 12,000 satellites, which can provide low latency “fiber-like broadband” to rural users around the globe. Initial Starlink service is projected to start in the Northern US by mid-summer, with full US coverage by the end of 2020. SpaceX has launched 120 Starlink satellites, with 60 more planned in December. SpaceX is planning two launches per month in 2020, adding capacity and customers with each new launch. By January 2021, the Starlink constellation will have 1610 satellites in orbit, providing high-speed broadband services to customers.

OneWeb, SpaceX’s nearest competitor, has launched six satellites, with more planned in 2020, starting in February, then again in October and November. Each launch will insert 32 more satellites in orbit. OneWeb is not expected to begin service until they have 350 satellites on orbit.

Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 2.03.00 PM
Red dates indicate satellites launched, blue scheduled launches.

Russian Soyuz-ST to Launch OneWeb Communications Satellites in 2020 [Update 12-8-19]

Three launches of the Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rocket, including with the UK OneWeb communications satellites, from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou are planned for next year, a space industry source told Sputnik.

“In 2020, three launches of the Soyuz-ST are planned from the Guiana Space Centre,” the source said on Tuesday, adding that the launches are planned for the months of February, October and November.

Update: First launch of UK’s OneWeb satellites from Baikonur now set for 30 January.

In November 2020, over 30 OneWeb communications satellites should be launched into orbit, the space industry source told Sputnik.

Last month, OneWeb announced that the launching of its satellites on Russia’s Soyuz rocket were being postponed until next year.

In June 2015, Russian space agency Roscosmos signed contracts with OneWeb and the French Arianespace company for 21 commercial launches – from the European Space Agency’s Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan, and the Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East.

Source: Space Daily

Comment:  According to some sources each Soyuz launch should carry 32 satellites into orbit, other sources 30.   In November 2020 OneWeb could have a constellation of over 90 satellites, perhaps as many as 102 (6+32+32+32).  The February launch should give us a clue as to the number of birds per launch vehicle.  By November SpaceX should have 0ver 1,500 Starlinks in orbit, given the aggressive two launches per month schedule for 2020.

 

SpaceX Starlink Broadband Services in Mid-2020

Engineering Today has the details in this video

SpaceX’s Starlink division is on track to offer satellite-broadband service in the United States in mid-2020, the company’s president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said Oct. 22. Getting there will require the company to launch six to eight batches of satellites, said Shotwell.

The video reveals that Starlink is being tested by the US Air Force. it shows a possible terminal configuration, similar to that proposed by OneWeb which is he first shown in the video, then one which could be the Starlink terminal.

Amazon Exec Dave Limp Expects Project Kuiper Satellites to Boost Sales and Cloud

Here’s how Limp explained the business case at the GeekWire Summit:

“There are lots of places on Earth that are incredibly well-served by wireless. But when you map it out, and we have done this pretty carefully, there are lots of blank spots. And by the way, immediately your mind goes, ‘Oh, well, there’s a big blank spot in sub-Saharan Africa.’ You don’t have to go that far.

“You just have to go to Eastern Washington, and you can find lots of areas where connectivity is very difficult to get. And if you do have connectivity, it’s not the connectivity that we’re now beginning to take for granted. It’s running off legacy copper, in many instances, or off satellite systems that, because of the constraints on how to get things to space, have very long latency and lower bandwidth.

“If you think about Amazon and what we want to do in the future, we want everybody connected. A, it’s good for society, and B, it also will be good for Amazon. Obviously, more people can shop, which we like, and more people can get access to things like Alexa, and more developers can get access to things like AWS.

“So, connectivity is kind of a primitive, first and foremost, but it’s getting close to a human right. If you were writing a new Bill of Rights today, you might put connectivity in it. It’s close to that. [There are] lots of things small companies can do. They’re nimble, they’re in a garage, they can invent super-fast. [But] there are some things that, for bigger companies — it’s on our shoulders to solve. This is an example of one of those.

“To solve that connectivity … on a global basis, we’re going to have to put 3,236 satellites up. That’s going to take billions and billions of dollars of capital. And by the way, it’s high risk. We’ve got a lot of invention ahead of us. But I like that we’re willing to take on the responsibility for trying to do that. I think we can also turn it into a good business. That’s not lost on us. But when you can get the overlap of the Venn diagrams of “good businesses” with “greater good,” those are the things you want to work on.

“Kindle was that way for me. That’s why I came to Amazon. If we can help with literacy and reading in the world, and also turn it into a pretty good business, that’s a good job to have.”

Full GeekWire article HERE.

Note: Amazon looks at Project Kuiper as just another segment of their sales infrastructure.  This is a strategic advantage.

Satellite Internet to Surpass Fiber Optic One in Vietnam

In the conference ‘Developments in Satellite Technologies’ co-held by the Ministry of Information & Communications and the Global Satellite Coalition (GSC), predictions revealed that in the near future, satellite Internet will become so popular that it will surpass its fiber optic counterpart.

Therefore, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Pham Hong Hai stated that this new tool is expected to alter the competition environment or even the traditional order of telecommunications.

Continue reading HERE

 

Would Elon Musk Become a Surveillance Capitalist?

By Russ Steele

Let’s start by examining surveillance capitalism:

Surveillance Capitalism is a unique method of behavior tracking created by Google and used by Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and others. All, Internet companies that gather compiles, analyzes and sells the personal information of their Internet users. These behavioral futures markets are producing vast wealth and power for tech companies. Predictions about your behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to this new “means of marketing — total predictability.” Amazon knows you need a new green wool jacket before you do. Political operatives know how you will vote in the next election and will modify that vote with behavior modification if necessary.
See this PDF for how surveillance capitalism functions:BK_HACH_004975

Now let’s examine the Elon Musk case for joining Google, Facebook, Amazons, Microsoft, and others to become another Surveillance Capitalist.

One feature that all the tech companies listed have is server farms spread around the world. Server farms that are equipped with AI software to process the growing flood of information collected on each individual, in many cases, without their knowledge. Tesla has servers farms that collect and transmit data from when Tesla leaves the production line until it is destroyed in a wreck or spontaneous fire. Tesla’s internet is always on.

How could Tesla and Elon Musk befit from an always-on vehicle? Always on cars can collect data on where you are, where you are going, how you’re feeling, what you have been discussing with a passenger or what you are shouting at other vehicles. The AI will know your driving habits and the conditions of you and your vehicle. Real-time risk assessment!

“According to the industry literature, these data can be used for dynamic real-time driver behavior modification triggering punishments (real-time [insurance] rate hikes, financial penalties, curfews, engine lock-downs) or rewards ([insurance] rate discounts, coupons, gold stars to redeem for future benefits).”

Your current monthly insurance bill could be displayed next to the speed limit on the dashboard screen. Exceed the posted speed limit, and your insurance bill starts to creep higher in real-time. Slow down, and the rate returns to normal.

When Starlink is integrated into Tesla vehicles, Musk companies will be able to increase the fidelity of behavioral tracking with HD video of the car and enhanced ability to monitor driver and passenger behaviors.

With Starlink becoming fully operational in 2021, all components of surveillance capitalism will be available for Musk to implement this highly profitable process. It will give SpaceX a chance to boost revenue by selling customer behavior the same way that Google collects behavior information on those who use its search engine.

The question is, will Elon Musk chose to become a surveillance capitalist, or decide to use the behavior information internally as a competitive advantage? I am voting an advantage.

Amazon’s Project Kuiper and OneWeb Raise the Curtain Higher on Their Satellite Plans

BY ALAN BOYLE at GeekWire.com

Filings with the Federal Communications Commission are providing fresh details about the plans being laid by Amazon and OneWeb to set up networks of satellites for global broadband internet access.

OneWeb, for example, is seeking FCC approval for up to 1.5 million ground terminals that customers would use to receive and transmit satellite data.

Amazon, meanwhile, is answering questions from the FCC about how the satellites in its Project Kuiper constellation would be maneuvered and deorbited. The answers make clear that Project Kuiper’s satellite design is still very much in flux.

That’s in contrast to SpaceX, which has already launched 60 of its Starlink satellites and is expected to send another batch into orbit as early as this month.

SpaceX, Amazon and OneWeb are considered the leading at competitors in the nascent market to offer high-speed internet access from low Earth orbit, or LEO, to the billions of people who are currently underserved. Other players in the LEO broadband market include Telesat and LeoSat.

In a recent FCC filing, SpaceX suggested that it could begin providing limited service to parts of the United States by the end of next year.

OneWeb launched the first six satellites of its constellation in February and is expected to launch about 30 more in December. The London-based consortium says it’s planning to offer satellite internet access starting in late 2020 — with the world’s Arctic regions as its initial focus.

OneWeb’s request for authority to operate 1.5 million user terminals in the United States was filed on Sunday. The terminals, which would be equipped with 18-inch-wide antennas, would work with OneWeb’s gateway facilities to process the signals beamed down from its constellation.

It typically takes months for the FCC to gather comment and make its decision about such a request. SpaceX filed a similar application for 1 million user terminals back in February, and that application is still pending.

Amazon isn’t as far along in its plans. It hasn’t said exactly when it intends to start building, launching or operating Project Kuiper’s satellites, and it hasn’t yet settled on a launch provider. But the Seattle-based company is nevertheless making a big commitment to Project Kuiper, which CEO Jeff Bezos called “a very good business for Amazon” during a Las Vegas conference in June. Amazon is listing about 100 job openings for the satellite project, virtually all based in Bellevue, Wash.

One recent FCC filing relating to Project Kuiper is a Sept. 18 letter from C. Andrew Keisner, lead counsel to Amazon’s Kuiper Systems subsidiary. The letter addresses a series of questions from the FCC asking about the project’s status.

Keisner told the FCC that the system’s “constellation design and implementation plan are well-developed, and Amazon continues to mature its satellite design and operational procedures.”

He provided a recap of the specifications for the satellite constellation, which were first laid out in April. The plan calls for putting 3,236 satellites into three sets of orbits, at 590, 610 and 630 kilometers (367, 379 and 391 miles) in altitude.

Keisner said the satellites would be deployed into an initial orbit that’s below the altitude of the International Space Station (roughly 250 miles or 400 kilometers). They’d be given a “comprehensive in-orbit performance verification” at the lower altitude, and only then would be raised to their operational orbits.

Emphasis Added.  Continue reading HERE.

OneWeb Terminal

This may be a OneWeb Terminal Gateway with an 18-inch antenna?  Thoughts?

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