How Small are SpaceX and OneWeb Satellites

Russell Steele


The OneWeb satellite has been described to be about the size of a beer refrigerator. That may be hard for some to visualize in the above graphic, so here is a beer refrigerator sold on Amazon.


The SpaceX Starlink satellite is reported to be 1.1 meters (39in) long and 0.7 meters (28in) wide and 0.7 meters (28in) tall. The beer refrigerator above is 37.5 x 26.4 x 21.2 inches a bit smaller than a Starlink bird, but it gives you a sense of the size.

So, we can say these LEO Sats are about the size of a large beer cooler.


Fearing Cancer From 5G, Portland City Council May Ask FCC to Investigate

Fearing unknown health risks, members of the City Council in Portland, Oregon, will vote Wednesday to oppose the rollout of 5G wireless networks.

In a proposed resolution, Mayor Ted Wheeler, along with Commissioners Chloe Eudaly and Amanda Fritz, write that there’s evidence suggesting wireless networks can cause health problems — including cancer.

They express concern that the Federal Communications Commission has not conducted enough research to demonstrate that 5G networks are safe, while at the same time prohibiting state and local governments from passing their own regulations on telecommunications technology.

And while Wheeler, Eudaly, and Fritz are correct about the FCC’s power to dictate how state and local governments manage wireless networks, the connection between 5G networks and cancer is a lot more complicated than they say it is.

What Does the Science Say About 5G and Cancer?

“There is evidence to suggest that exposure to radio frequency emissions generated by wireless technologies could contribute to adverse health conditions such as cancer,” reads the proposed resolution. This evidence comes from a large-scale study conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The final results of this study, published in November 2018, showed a strong association between the type of radiation used for mobile phone signals and certain types of cancerous tumors in lab rats.

But that’s where the situation gets tough.

how-4g-antennas-broadcast-signals-compared-to-how-5g-antennas-beam-signals-across-a-city4g vs 5g signals

How 4G antennas broadcast signals compared to how 5G antennas beam signals across a city.

The NTP study, which took place over 10 years and involved exposing more than 7,000 rats and mice to radio-frequency radiation — the type used in cell phones — didn’t actually involve 5G networks. It didn’t even involve 4G or 4G LTE, which are used today. It focused only on signals used by wireless technology under the 2G and 3G standards.

Continue reading HERE for a discussion of Local vs Federal Regulations

Here is some insight into the impact of 4G on brain cancer:


Use of 4G has not increased brain cancer rates,  there is a slight decline.  Your thoughts on the danger of 5G signals.

Here’s why Amazon is trying to reach every inch of the world with satellites providing internet

CNBC has the details:

  • Amazon is working on Project Kuiper, which would put 3,236 satellites into orbit to provide high-speed internet to any point on the globe.

  • “You can see the clear profit motive here for Amazon: 4 billion new customers,” Space Angels CEO Chad Anderson said.

  • CNBC spoke to more than a dozen space industry analysts and executives about Amazon’s proposal and the customers, competitors and costs involved.

In my opinion, this is the money quote:

Two industry officials said that this move “validates the market model” for these immense internet satellite networks, especially since “Amazon is a publicly traded company” with a broader shareholder base, unlike other space companies. Additionally, Amazon’s entrance “makes an already challenging market even more competitive,” one executive said.

Full Article is HERE.

There are still challenges ahead, as some dictator controlled countries do not want an open internet overhead, especially one selling ideas contrary to their socialist/communist doctrine.  Interesting times ahead.


CETF: Internet for All

Sunne Wright McPeak
President and CEO
California Emerging Technology Fund

. . . three in four unconnected households remain unaware that they may be eligible for discount home Internet service for as low as $10-$15 a month. We need Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to do more advertising to reach eligible households, including placing ads with community media and publicly reporting their progress.

Here’s what you can do: Help get all Californians connected by getting the word out about available affordable offers in your community. Go to the CETF-sponsored Internet For All Now website and spread the word in your neighborhoods and among your networks. Together, we can build a stronger, more connected California.

Full Document Access HERE.

OneWeb Time Line Impacts


OneWeb Constellation 

The timeline on the OneWeb website has some details, with operational launches starting in 2019 and continuing through 2020. Some exciting years ahead :

  • 2019: Start satellite launches every 21 days for two years, from multiple launch sites.
  • 2020: Turn on the services for early adopters. [ Ground terminals can provide, WiFI, 3G, LTE, and 5G signal modulation, depending on customer needs.]
  • 2021: Global G5 ready coverage to customer communities everywhere on the planet.

OneWeb Terminal

The FCC buildout schedule for rural community 4G LTE is over the next ten years, stating in 2019. If telecommunication providers are building out 4G LTE in rural areas on government subsidies they are not going to be building comp[eting 5G networks in the same market.  The expected build-out for 5G is ten years, starting with the dense urban areas, progressing to transportation corridors and then rural communities were population density is sufficient to cover the installation and operating costs.  Telecommunication is a return on investment driven business.  Investors want a return on their investment .

Given that 4G LTE and 5G  broadband for many rural communities could be years in the future, satellite broadband will be available in 2021, which is long before 5G will be available in many rural communities.  Assuming that satellite broadband is a viable business model and one or more of the planned services survive.  The competition is going to be vigorous with three or more LEO broadband providers offering services.

SpaceX is rumored to have the first 75 Starlink spacecraft build, and they could also start launching in the last half of 2019. The race is on to provide rural communities 5G levels of broadband service.  It looks like OneWeb is in the lead.

OneWeb Wants to Rebuild the Internet in Space

The Denver Post has the OneWeb story and Greg Wyler’s dream of connecting the world.

Wyler’s dream to beam the internet from space to remote corners of the world is finally here, he said. In February, the first of his company’s satellites launched from a remote launch site in French Guiana, a key step toward building a constellation that could eventually reach nearly 2,000 satellites.

If Wyler’s plans are successful, what he and his fellow executives at OneWeb envision is nothing short of revolutionary: becoming one of the world’s largest providers of internet service by building the architecture in space, allowing billions more people to use the web. Wyler founded the Britain-based company in 2012.

“The ultimate goal is to connect every school in the world and bridge the digital divide,” Wyler said in an interview after his pep talk. “We’re bringing connectivity and enabling it for people around the world, and in rural populations.”

If successful, remote areas all over the world — from Alaska to Africa — that are out of reach of fiber optic cables could suddenly join the world of Facebook and YouTube, a feat Wyler and others believe could be transformative.

But building the backbone of the internet in orbit is no easy task. Others have tried to put up constellations of communications satellites. The enormous cost is only outmatched by the risks of putting up hundreds of spacecraft in orbit.

Full Story is HERE


Rural California Should Not Fret Over 5G and Start Looking for LEO Satellites

By Russ Steele

Ever wonder what the LTE in 4G LTE stood for? I always thought that LTE was the abbreviation for 4G light. In one sense it is as 4G LTE does not meet the minimum ITE standard for 4G, so it was designated 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE). Almost 4G but not quite. It does not matter what LTE stands for in those communities that do not have any 4G LTE networks by any of the four telco providers.

As you can see on the map below, there are large swaths of California census blocks which do not have a single provider of 4G LTE. FCC has designated these rural blue areas eligible for subsidies, under the Mobility Fund Phase II Program.

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 4.03.51 PM.png

Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) will make up to $4.53 billion in support available over 10 years to primarily rural areas that lack unsubsidized 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service. MF-II is critically important to supporting mobile voice and broadband coverage, incentivizing the deployment of mobile wireless service through a reverse auction, and ensuring that 4G LTE service is preserved and advanced in those areas of the country that lack unsubsidized service.

Under this schedule, it could be another 10 years before some communities final get 4G LTE service, if at all. While the Federal Government is subsidizing the build-out, one of the four telcos has to decide to bid for the subsidy and then take the risk they can build a sustainable system, without additional subsidies.

The 5G rollout is expected to follow a similar path as 4G in the evolution from 3G. The 4G rollout started in the dense urban cities and then moved to the transportation corridors and then to the suburbs and final into some rural areas with populations density was high enough to support the telco ROI calculations. AT&T started offering 4G LTE in 2011, Verizon in 2010, Sprint in 2012 and T-Mobile in 2013. Eight years later many communities still do not have reliable 4G LTE coverage.

After eight years there are still rural communities with 3G service or no broadband service at all. It is highly likely that these rural communities will ever see 5G.

Digital Trends:

The ITU IMT-2020 specification requires 5G to feature peak speeds of 20Gbps, but as we saw from 4G LTE, we can realistically expect those sorts of speeds 10 years from now. Even then, those speeds are only expected when using short-range mmWave spectrum, not longer range sub-6GHz spectrum. That means as per usual, rural areas won’t feel the benefit for a while, if at all. For now, consumers living in urban areas should expect speeds in line with LTE Advanced (or, one might say, true 4G) that will incrementally improve each year.

For rural communities that do not have 4G LTE, it will be hard to benefit from an upgrade to full 4G which will take place over the next ten years. What are rural communities to do in the interim? Let’s look at some other timelines, the LEO satellite timelines.

Just last week (02-27-2019) OneWeb launched the first six of a 600 Satellite constellation, and under the FCC agreement must have all satellites launched in six years.

SpaceX will start launching phase one satellites in late 2019 with a full constellation of 4,425 by 2024. The SpaceX LEO constellations are expected to provide G5 level speeds at fiber network latency of 25-35ms.

Telesat, which operates a large fleet of geo sync statutes announced a smaller 117 satellite LEO constellation and plans to deliver the first service in 2021.

Given these timelines, if they hold up, rural communities could have access to space-based broadband long before some will see 4G LTE or 5G. It is time they stop fretting over when will they get terrestrial 5G and start thinking about how they can benefit from space-based broadband access.  Go LEO Satellites