FCC Funds Satellite Broadband in Nevada County

The Union has the details:

The FCC is giving Viasat more than $400,000 to bring high-speed satellite internet to Nevada County customers.

The funding is part of the Federal Communications Commission‘s Connect America Fund, whose second phase granted $14 million to California internet service providers to connect rural areas with high-speed internet. Viasat was the only satellite-based internet service provider to win funding and will receive $429,669 to service just over 1,000 customers in the county over 10 years.

According to Nevada County’s broadband strategy, low population density and rugged topography make providing broadband internet a challenge, compelling the county to rely on a patchwork approach that pulls from many different resources and brings together varied solutions throughout the county.

“All together, these challenges create a patchwork of coverage and non-coverage areas across our county,” according to the county broadband website. “It is common to find a home that has wireless or wired service, yet the next door neighbor cannot be served due to one of these challenges.”

Continue reading HERE.

Money Quote: “In the county’s broadband plan, satellite internet is an afterthought, finding the Connect America Fund as unreliable . . .”

The County Plan does not recognize there are three kinds of satellite internet provided by space-based ISPs: geosynchronous orbit, with high latency, mid orbit with lower latency and low earth orbit with low latency. The future is low latency high-speed internet from space.

A Viasat project that is going to take 3-10 years is too little too late. SpaceX will start offering “fiber-optic like services” from low latency satellites starting in mid-2020, with full service by 2012, in just two years customers will have access to higher-speed services than Viasat can provide from geosynchronous orbit over three to ten years. Amazon plans to have full ISP service from space in five years, OneWeb three years.

LEO broadband will be worth waiting for, 15ms latency, 1Gig + speeds up and down.

More details HERE and HERE

SpaceX Is Lobbying Against Amazon’s Internet-Beaming Satellites

Amazon is trying to get a waiver to FCC rules that companies like SpaceX and OneWeb had to follow.

Motherboard has the details:

When Amazon confirmed it was planning to launch 3,236 broadband internet-beaming satellites into low-Earth orbit, much of the media reported it as if it were a done deal—the latest, inevitable step in the corporation’s quest to conquer commerce, the cloud, and beyond.

Amazon officials said the massive satellite constellation, called Project Kuiper, would one day provide low-latency, high-speed broadband to tens of millions of underserved people around the world, no doubt also connecting them to the wide world of Amazon offerings.

But before Project Kuiper can launch, it must receive approval from the Federal Communications Commission to operate within a certain frequency spectrum. In an application filed this July, Amazon requested a special waiver to FCC rules that would grant it the necessary permission. The problem, though, is that the FCC already handed out licenses to that spectrum years ago to nine other satellite internet companies in a different, more complicated process.

Those companies—including SpaceX and OneWeb—are now lobbying the FCC to deny Amazon’s waiver request, according to FCC records. If successful, they could significantly reduce Project Kuiper’s viability in an already oversaturated market.

Top SpaceX officials have met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and other agency staff at least three times to lodge in-person complaints about Project Kuiper’s application, according to FCC records. The first meeting came several weeks after Amazon filed its application, the most recent took place on Dec. 2 and 3.

“Amazon’s overt attempt to override long-standing rules would undermine confidence in Commission processes, harm competition, and eliminate broadband options for consumers,” SpaceX lawyers wrote in a Nov. 25 filing. Project Kuiper would have a “significant detrimental impact [on] SpaceX … Amazon’s flawed analysis yields results that defy common sense.”

Industry experts said Amazon’s request is unorthodox, but there’s a clear reason why the company has tried a backdoor route to gain access to the coveted spectrum.

Continue reading HERE

“I’d sort of written Amazon off as not being viable simply because they hadn’t gotten started and these other guys—SpaceX, OneWeb—are already putting satellites up,” Roger Rusch, a satellite and telecommunications consultant with TelAstra told Motherboard. “By the time Amazon gets started, they’re already probably going to be years behind them.

Amazon Is Moving Project Kuiper Satellite Operation to Huge Redmond Facility

GeekWire the details:

Amazon announced today that its Project Kuiper satellite operation has outgrown its current office space, and will move into 219,000 square feet of space that it’s leasing in Redmond, Wash. — the same city where one of its chief rivals, SpaceX, has its own satellite operation.

The new headquarters facility, spread across two buildings, will include offices and design space, research and development labs and prototype manufacturing facilities, Amazon said today in a news release.

“Renovations on the facility are already underway, and the Kuiper team will move into the new site in 2020,” Amazon said.

Kuiper HQ will be in the same locale as Microsoft’s world headquarters, and within about an hour’s drive (on a good day) from the growing HQ for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ other big space venture, Blue Origin, south of Seattle in Kent, Wash.

Redmond Commerce Center, which is about a half-mile from SpaceX’s original Redmond office building, seems the likeliest prospect for Project Kuiper’s headquarters. It has two buildings that were recently leased to new tenants, with a total of just over 219,000 square feet. Renovation work is underway, according to Redmond city records. The property’s parking lot has spaces for 300 vehicles.

One real estate source told GeekWire that the site was being cleaned up this afternoon inside and out, apparently for the new tenants. Amazon would not confirm the location of Kuiper’s Redmond digs, but we’ll update this story with anything further we find out. (And for what it’s worth, SpaceX has moved its Starlink satellite operation a few miles farther out, to Redmond Ridge Corporate Center.)

Continue Reading HERE.

 

Dawn of a Decade: The Top Ten Tech Policy Issues for the 2020s

Microsoft President, Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne writing at LinkedIn.

Ten_issues

Continue reading HERE.

I think that ubiquitous global broadband will introduce some serious tech issues not covered in the list above.  For example, this one is currently boiling to the surface.

Elon Musk, SpaceX Unveil Latest Starlink Plans, Creating An Astronomical Emergency

Despite warnings and protestations from astronomers and skywatchers, Starlink is moving fast and breaking things.

Your thoughts on the issues. I have one to share after you have expressed your views. Please comment.

View at Medium.com

CNBC: Why SpaceX And Amazon Are Launching 42,000+ Satellites

Since the start of the space age, more than 8,800 objects have been launched into orbit, according to estimates from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. But in a few years, that number could increase significantly. Private companies plan to launch thousands of satellites to beam the internet to customers on Earth. SpaceX alone has announced plans to launch 42,000 satellites. If this happens, SpaceX will be responsible for about a fivefold increase in the number of spacecraft launched by all of humanity.

Satellite Mega-Constellations Stir a Debate Over Avoiding Catastrophic Orbital Crashes

GeekWire has the details:

The retired commander of the U.S. Strategic Command says the tens of thousands of satellites that SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon are planning to put into orbit over the next few years will require a new automated system for space traffic management — and perhaps new satellite hardware requirements as well.

Retired Gen. Kevin Chilton laid out his ideas for dealing with potentially catastrophic orbital traffic jams at the University of Washington on Friday, during the inaugural symposium presented by UW’s Space Policy and Research Center.

“We need to develop technologies that will improve space domain awareness, that will enable autonomous systems onboard satellites to automatically maneuver so as to avoid collision with another satellite, or with a known piece of man-made debris,” he said.

The issue is expected to become increasingly critical as commercial ventures deploy more satellites into low Earth orbit, or LEO, to widen broadband internet access to the billions of people around the world who are currently underserved. An estimated 2,200 active satellites are in orbit today, but if all the plans come to pass, that figure could go beyond 45,000 in the years ahead.

Continue reading HERE.

Money Quote:

Today the Los Angeles Times quoted SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell as saying that the company will take pre-sales for customer service, adopting a strategy that CEO Elon Musk has used for electric cars at Tesla, his other multibillion-dollar venture. Amazon’s Project Kuiper, meanwhile, is likely to follow a different business model: using its satellite data service to boost online sales well as its AWS cloud service, Alexa AI services and Amazon Prime Video.

SpaceX Working on Fix for Starlink Satellites So They Don’t Disrupt Astronomy

Space News has the details:

President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said the Starlink brightness problem caught the company by surprise

LOS ANGELES — One of the Starlink satellites in the next batch of 60 that SpaceX plans to launch in late December will be treated with a special coating designed to make the spacecraft less reflective and less likely to interfere with space observations, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said Dec. 6.

“We are going to get it done,” Shotwell said during a meeting with reporters at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne.

SpaceX already has deployed 120 satellites that beam high-speed internet, and thousands more will be launched over the next few years. Soon after the first launch in May, astronomers noted that the satellites were extremely bright, prompting concerns that the constellation will interfere with scientific research and views of the night sky.

Shotwell said the next batch has one satellite “where we put a coating on the bottom.” She noted that this is just an experiment and could not predict if it will work. “We’re do trial and error to figure out the best way to get this done,” said Shotwell.

Continue reading HERE.

 

Starlink Update: Terminal Pre-Sales

According to an LA Times roundtable discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX CEO, there will be terminal pre-sale.

When SpaceX’s broadband service starts mid-2020, the initial experience will be “bumpy,” company President Gwynne Shotwell said Friday.

However, she said she expects SpaceX to mature as an internet service provider by 2021.

The company will take pre-sales for customer service, similar to what fellow Elon Musk-led company Tesla Inc. has done for new vehicles, Shotwell said during a media roundtable at the company’s Hawthorne headquarters. And early customers will be part of that learning curve.

“We’re not going to fib and say it’s going to be the best thing ever,” she said. “When you get service, it’s going to be great. But it’ll be bumpy for a while.”
SpaceX has already launched two rounds of 60 satellites each. The company expects it will need 24 launches, with about 1,440 satellites, to have enough to provide full global coverage. SpaceX has not yet determined customer pricing.

Shotwell said subsequent launches will see satellites with experimental coatings to reduce their brightness in the sky, which has been a concern for astronomers who fear the satellites could affect telescope images. The satellites are in low-Earth orbit and there could be a lot of them — SpaceX has asked an international regulatory group for permission to eventually operate as many as 30,000 satellites.

Continue reading HERE.

I am saving my quarters for a pre-purchase of a Starlink terminal. Yea, I use to save my pennies, but I live in California, which distorts reality.

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.

Where were the Real Innovators?

Satellite Innovation Symposium has become the most important West Coast event for satellite professionals who follow the evolving technologies and market opportunities related to satellites and space.

Here is what the conference attendees were saying about the LEO companies, according to Wendy Lewis writing in SatMagazine:

How the proposed constellations of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites will impact the industry remains a key question.

There were multiple discussions about the potential for OneWeb, Project Kuiper, Starlink, Telesat LEO, LeoSat and others to succeed and speculation on which might merge with others and which might be left on the drawing board.

Continue reading HERE.

I would like to have overheard some of those conversations and discussions.  If the LEO operates as planned they are going to be taking customers from these MEO and GEO satellite communications innovators. LEOs have a latency advantage they can exploit, with no way for the MEO and GEO systems to match.

The LEO broadband companies are the leading edge innovators, yet they did not exhibit or present at the Symposium “the most important West Coast event for satellite professionals.” Why?  SpaceX is going to launch more satellites than all MEO and GEO sats ever launched. Is SpaceX too busy Innovating to go to conferences where they spend hours talking about innovation?

The Sponsors & Exhibitors are HERE.  Any insight from readers?