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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AIRWAVES, Take Two

— Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is working to reintroduce his AIRWAVES Act, a bill previously filed as S. 1682. The original legislation, backed by the wireless industry, would have identified spectrum bands for unlicensed use, freed up mid-band airwaves and set aside funds from spectrum auctions for expanding rural broadband.

— Gardner is working with Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) on a new version , he told reporters Monday night. Some of the initial elements of the bill have been “picked up by the FCC” while other issues like satellite “have been brought to our attention,” Gardner said, adding adding that he wants lawmakers to get the legislation “right and to make sure this is something that can pass.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech [Emphsas added]

Rural  Households Left Out of Internet Growth

Reading reports of internet growth over the past year, I learned that U.S. households consumed an average of 268.7 gigabytes (GB) of data in 2018. This is up from 201.6 GB for 2017, according to OpenVault, a leading provider of industry analytics and technology solutions for ISPs.

Some other findings by OpenVault:

In 2018 the percentage of households exceeding 1 terabyte of usage was 4.82%,

The rate of households using 1terabyte all more almost doubled in 2018, rising to 4.12% of all households up from 2.11% in 2017.

In 2018 the percentage of households exceeding 250 GB rose to 36.4% up from 28.4% in 2017.

Impressive growth across the board, indicating that consumption is growing across service providers’ entire subscriber bases, not just among the heavy users,  good news for everyone with one exception. Rural households that do not have access to high-speed internet did not experience any of this growth.

According to reports by the California Public Utilities Commission, less than half of roughly 680,900 households in rural California have broadband access. And, many of those that are connected have services which do not meet the minimum standards of 6 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, or the FCC standard of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.

It is highly unlikely that rural households will get any high-speed internet access in the near term. The brightest light on the horizon is service by the LEO satellites that will be coming online in 2020, maybe late in 2019 at the earliest.  

Video of SpaceX Simulations

This is a video of Starlink simulation by Mark Handley, a professor at University College London. This is a video of the Phase 1 revision. It shows now a Starlink network is created with inter-satellite links and then used to simulate communicate between major cities across the globe.

This Starlink network is 2X faster then fiber networks over long distances. This will be the bread and butter feature of the network that will ensure it’s a financial success. Rural communities can take advantage of this success by becoming Starlink users.

For the reader who wants more details on Starlink, read this Draft Paper —Delay is Not an Option: Low Latency Routing in Space

 

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.