SpaceX Starlink One Million Ground Stations

ARS Technica has the detail:

SpaceX is seeking US approval to deploy up to 1 million Earth stations to receive transmissions from its planned satellite broadband constellation.

[. . .]

A new application from SpaceX Services, a sister company, asks the FCC for “a blanket license authorizing operation of up to 1,000,000 Earth stations that end-user customers will utilize to communicate with SpaceX’s NGSO [non-geostationary orbit] constellation.”

[. . .]

FCC tells SpaceX it can deploy up to 11,943 broadband satellites
If each end-user Earth station provides Internet service to one building, SpaceX could eventually need authorization for more than 1 million stations in the US. SpaceX job listings describe the user terminal as “a high-volume manufactured product customers will have in their homes.”

“These user terminals employ advanced phased-array beam-forming and digital processing technologies to make highly efficient use of Ku-band spectrum resources by supporting highly directive, steered antenna beams that track the system’s low-Earth orbit satellites,” SpaceX’s new application says. “Consistent with SpaceX’s space station authorization, these Earth stations will transmit in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band and receive in the 10.7-12.7 GHz band… SpaceX Services seeks authority to deploy and operate these Earth stations throughout the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.”

[. . . ]

“The proposed user terminal is a flat phased array capable of steering its beams to track SpaceX’s NGSO satellites passing within its field of view,” the application also says. “As the terminal steers the transmitting beam, it also adjusts the power to maintain a constant level at the receiving antenna of its target satellite, compensating for variations in antenna gain and path loss associated with the steering angle.”

[. . .]

In addition to user terminals, SpaceX plans a smaller number of gateway Earth stations to “provide the necessary communications links back from the SpaceX satellites to the global Internet,” according to a previous SpaceX filing. SpaceX has estimated that it will deploy “several hundred” of these gateway stations across the US to be “co-located with or sited near major Internet peering points to provide the required Internet connectivity to the satellite constellation.” SpaceX also plans two tracking telemetry and control (TT&C) stations in the US, one on the East Coast and another on the West Coast.

Additional details HERE. [Emphasis added]

Launches are scheduled for mid-2019 with service starting in 2020. I am looking forward to having a terminal on my roof. Stay Tuned for more details.

 

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Indoors-Outdoors — 5Gs Dirty Little Secret

Mike Murphy, CTO for North America, Nokia Corp has some interesting insights into 5G, which will have some impacts on rural broadband. Eighty (80%) percent of traffic originates indoors and twenty (20%) percent outdoors. However mmWave 5G does not penetrate walls, windows, and trees very well if at all. It is important to remember that 5G is more than a cell phone carrier, it is being marketed as a broadband service, with some mobile phone capacity.

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Murphy explains:

. . . there is another dirty secret in the closet. The rule of thumb for capacity, as embedded in the 3GPP channel models, is that 80% of traffic originates indoors and 20% outdoors. Compounding that, there is a seasonal aspect to traffic. During the cold winter months in the north, there is even less traffic outdoors (likewise, in the hot summer months in the south). With LTE, indoor traffic is primarily served by outdoor cell sites, booming signals through walls and windows. This begs the question: What happens when 5G needs to handle that indoor traffic?

In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is planning to auction off Millimeter Wave (mmWave) (24GHz, 28GHz and 39GHz) spectrum over the next two years. But mmWave doesn’t like hard things such as walls, windows and trees. Penetration loss is significant. This means 5G mmWave, practically, will not really be able to service indoor demand from outdoors-in (unlike low band LTE). (For completeness, we should note that T-Mobile US Inc. ‘s 600MHz spectrum and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) Band 41 spectrum (2.5GHz) can help in this situation to a degree. However, the number of petabytes needed is very significant, and it is unlikely these solutions alone will suffice.)

So where does this leave us? There are only two options. The first is to use low- or mid-band spectrum outdoors, and blast millimeter wave indoors; the outside-in approach. But in the dense urban case, we are already using that spectrum! So, the only real alternative is new mid-band spectrum. For the moment, none is in sight in the US until about 2020+ when the 3.7-4.2GHz band — or parts of it — become available. The other is to deploy mmWave indoors. The problem with going indoors versus using the outdoors-in approach is that everyone wants to get inside. Imagine Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and all the others showing up at your building and wanting to deploy 5G mmWave inside every room. Perhaps neutral hosting solutions may help.

Before we finish, let’s dismiss one counter argument. Some will say, “But WiFi will fix that.” WiFi, however, has its own growth problems, thank you very much. WiFi demand is also growing, at least at 30% or more, and it too has looming capacity issues, with no significant new spectrum becoming available either.

Cellular demand, meanwhile, is separate, independent and additive. So, there is no getting around it. 5G needs to go and bang on some front doors.

Full Article at Light Reading 5G

Will the 5G providers be banging on the doors in small towns and villages to install mmWave 5G in multiple building after populating the town with small cell towers ever 500 feet. Not likely, as the costs would soon exceed the potential revenue. The mmWave spectrum is not the right technology for rural broadband, whereas LEO satellites seem to have more potential.

The rollout plan for 5G is to serve the dense urban areas and then the suburbs and finally some larger small cities in rural locations. The timeline is about ten years; thus the LEO satellite broadband will be available long before 5G gets anywhere near rural communities in the Sierra and elsewhere. LEO bandwidth should be available by 2020. Go Starlink and OneWeb!

starlink_graphic

Elon Musk Wants You to Stream Internet From Space

It’s yet another vision to completely remake an industry.

Elon Musk wants you to cut the cord to cable. He’s trying to raise $500 million for his SpaceX rocket company to blanket low-orbit space with up to 12,000 satellites to provide high-speed internet service — and he wants the first set of them in orbit by the middle of the year.

That might seem like an ambitious deadline, but anyone who’s watched Musk push SpaceX, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), or even his Boring Company forward knows he likes to go big. Making cheap internet available to everyone around the globe, and having half the world’s traffic go through his constellation of Starlink satellites? For the man who is arguably one of today’s most visionary leaders, it’s just another day ending in “y.”

Laser-fast communication

Early last year, SpaceX launched two prototype satellites into orbit, named Tintin A and Tintin B, and installed a series of ground stations around the country to communicate with them. SpaceX plans to launch 1,600 satellites over the next few years — the system will become operational when 800 satellites are in orbit — and to launch the full spectrum of 12,000 satellites by 2025.

Once in orbit, Starlink will receive signals from ground stations via radio waves. It will then transmit the signals between satellites with lasers; when a signal reaches the satellite over its destination, it will be beamed down with radio waves again. The process will speed communications to a rate that’s about twice what is possible with optical fiber.

The promise of the system is that it will provide direct-to-consumer wireless connections, instead of having signals rerouted through multiple waypoints as with cable and existing satellite TV, which results in relatively expensive service. SpaceX looks to dramatically reduce the cost of internet service for everyone.

Rest of the story HERE.  [Emphasis added]

If SpaceX starts launching in mid-summer, how long will it take to get 800 birds in space? I am thinking it will be 2020 before we see Internet streaming from space.  As for the low-cost projections, I will believe it when my first Starlink bill comes and it is less than expected.

Telecom Predictions for 2019

POTs and PANs as some insight to the future of telecommunications in 2019. Doug Dawson has these rural broadband predictions. My emphasis added in red.

Rural America Will Realize that Nobody is Coming to Help. I predict that hundreds of rural communities will finally realize that nobody is bringing them broadband. I expect many more communities to begin offering money for public/private partnerships as they try desperately to not fall on the wrong side of the broadband divide.

We’ll See First Significant Launches of LEO Satellites. There will be little public notice since the early market entries will not be selling rural broadband but will be supporting corporate WANs, cellular transport and the development of outer space networks between satellites.

Big Companies Will Get Most New Spectrum. The biggest ISPs and cellular carriers will still gobble up the majority of new spectrum, meaning improved spectrum utilization for urban markets while rural America will see nearly zero benefits.

Full Article is HERE.

 

SpaceX Low Latency Starlink Swarm

SpaceX received FCC approval to deploy 7,518 broadband satellites, in addition to the 4,425 satellites that were approved eight months ago. That amounts to 11,943 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband service.

starlink_graphic

The newly approved satellites would use frequencies between 37.5 and 42GHz for space-to-Earth transmissions and frequencies between 47.2 and 51.4GHz for Earth-to-space transmissions, the FCC said.

SpaceX’s initial 4,425 satellites are expected to orbit at altitudes of 1,110km to 1,325km, a fraction of the altitude of traditional broadband satellites. Because of the low orbits, SpaceX says its broadband network will have latencies as low as 25ms, similar to cable or fiber systems. SpaceX has also said it will provide gigabit speeds and that it will provide broadband access worldwide. No word on data caps or cost of access.  It is high latency, data caps and high cost that makes current satellite broadband so undesirable.

FCC rules require the launch of 50 percent of satellites within six years of authorization and all of them within nine years unless a waiver is granted.

While all this sounds positive for rural families and business seeking broadband access the deployments schedule and orbits will determine the access. Low satellites will pass overhead rapidly only providing a small window of access if another satellite does not pick up the signal and continue the connection. While low latency is good it does not mean much if there is no access window. This is area for more exploration. Stay Tuned.

A portion of this report was adapted from this Arstechnica article.

SpaceX Changes Its Starlink Internet Satellite Plans to Minimize Space Junk

starlink_graphicSpaceX has amended its plan to built out an array of internet-providing, Starlink satellites. Most recently, the company requested that a portion of its constellation of spacecraft be placed at a lower altitude to avoid creating any unnecessary space junk.

That’s according to a new application filed with the Federal Communications Commission on November 9, which requested that 1,584 of its satellites be placed 550 kilometers above the Earth’s surface instead of the originally planned 1,150 km. SpaceX maintains that this would reduce the risk of adding to the already thousands of tons of floating space debris orbiting the planet.

“This modest modification to the SpaceX Authorization will slightly reduce the total number of spacecraft in the constellation, meet all required protection criteria for other systems operating in the same frequencies, and cause no overall increase in radio frequency interference,” stated the document.

Read more HERE.

ALSO: FCC BLASTS OFF — Brace yourself for space puns, FCC-watchers. The commission votes today on a slew of space-related items, including orders aimed at granting satellite companies access to the U.S. market to offer broadband services. Another order will authorize SpaceX to use more spectrum for its broadband satellite constellation. And the FCC will consider a rulemaking to update its regulations of “space debris.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech