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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday January 20 2015, @11:48PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the cloud-above-the-clouds dept.

Ars Technica On Sunday reported that Elon Musk (of SpaceX and Tesla fame) and Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic, etc.) are each preparing to launch LEO (low earth orbit) constellations of satellites to provide world-wide internet coverage:

It was an interesting week for ideas about the future of the Internet. On Wednesday, satellite industry notable Greg Wyler announced that his company OneWeb, which wants to build a micro-satellite network to bring Internet to all corners of the globe, secured investments from Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Qualcomm. Then in a separate announcement on Friday, Elon Musk said that he would also be devoting his new Seattle office to creating "advanced micro-satellites" to deliver Internet.

[...] OneWeb, formerly WorldVu Satellites Ltd, aims to target rural markets, emerging markets, and in-flight Internet services on airlines, the Wall Street Journal reported. Both Branson and Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs will sit on the company's board, but Wyler did not say how much Virgin and Qualcomm invested in his company.

Wyler said that his company's goal is to create a network of 648 small satellites that would weigh in at around 285 pounds each. The satellites would be put in orbit 750 miles above the Earth and ideally cost about $350,000 each to build using an assembly line approach. Wyler also said that Virgin, which has its own space segment, would be launching the satellites into orbit. “As an airline and mobile operator, Virgin might also be a candidate to resell OneWeb’s service,” the Journal noted. Wyler has said that he projects it to take $1.5 billion to $2 billion to launch the service, and he plans to launch in 2018.

[...] On the other hand there's Musk, who's a seasoned space-business launcher that's starting fresh in the world of satellite Internet services. The Telsa and SpaceX founder announced his plans to launch 700 satellites weighing less than 250 pounds each in November.

His satellites would also orbit the Earth at 750 miles above. Musk spoke to Bloomberg on Friday evening explaining that 750 miles above the Earth is much closer than the tens of thousands of miles above the Earth at which traditional telecommunications satellites operate.

Then it got even more interesting.

Ars is now reporting Google might pour money into SpaceX — that it really wants satellite internet:

The Information reported on Monday that, according to “several people familiar with the talks,” Google is considering investing in SpaceX to support its plan to deliver hundreds or thousands of micro satellites into a low (750 mile) orbit around the globe to serve Internet to rural and developing areas of the world. The Information's sources indicated that Google was in the “final stages” of investing in SpaceX and valued the company at “north of $10 billion.” SpaceX is apparently courting other investors as well.

[...] The Information added another interesting tidbit that was not widely reported in previous discussions of SpaceX's plans for global Internet service: “Mr. Musk appears to be trying to get around his lack of spectrum rights by relying, in part, on optical lasers.”

Related Stories

SpaceX and OneWeb Clash Over Proposed Satellite Constellation Orbits 6 comments

SpaceX's Starlink satellite lawyers refute latest "flawed" OneWeb critique

After years of relentless legal badgering from internet satellite constellation competitor OneWeb, SpaceX's regulatory and legal affairs team appears to have begun to (in a professional manner) lose patience with the constant barrage.

On February 21st, SpaceX published a withering refutation of OneWeb's latest criticism that offered a range of no-holds-barred counterarguments, painting the competitor – or at least its legal affairs department – as an entity keen on trying to undermine Starlink with FCC-directed critiques based on flawed reasoning, false assumptions, misinterpretations, and more. Alongside a number of memorable one-liners and retorts, legal counselors William Wiltshire and Paul Caritj and SpaceX executives Patricia Cooper and David Goldman openly "wonder whether OneWeb would be satisfied with SpaceX operating at any altitude whatsoever."

In late 2018, SpaceX filed a request with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) that would allow the company to significantly modify parts of its Starlink satellite constellation license, cutting 16 spacecraft from the original total of 4425 and moving Phase 1's now-1584 satellites from an operating altitude of ~1100-1300 km (680-810 mi) to just 550 km (340 mi). Aside from further reducing the latency of communications, SpaceX also argues that "the principal reason" behind lowering the operational altitude of the first ~37% of Starlink satellites was "to [further] enhance the already considerable space safety attributes of [the] constellation."

[...] [There] is a great deal more irony to be found in OneWeb's attempt to block SpaceX from lowering the orbit of its first ~1600 satellites. In 2017 and 2018, the company repeatedly complained to the FCC about the fact that SpaceX's Starlink constellation was to nominally be placed in orbits from ~1100-1300 km, effectively sandwiching OneWeb's own ~1200 km constellation. OneWeb continues to demand an unreasonable level of special treatment from the FCC, hoping that the commission will allow it to establish a sort of buffer zone extending 125 km above and below its own constellation, basically demanding that a huge swath of low Earth orbit be OneWeb's and OneWeb's alone. In reality, this is likely nothing more than a thinly veiled anti-competitive tactic, in which success would almost entirely bar other prospective space-based internet providers from even considering the same orbit.

Starlink and OneWeb satellite constellations.

Related: Competing Communications Constellations Considered
Airbus and OneWeb Begin Building Satellites for Internet Constellation
FCC Authorizes SpaceX to Provide Broadband Satellite Services
U.S. Air Force Awards SpaceX $28.7 Million to Study Military Applications of Starlink
Blue Origin to Provide Multiple Orbital Launches for Telesat
SpaceX Seeks Approval for 1 Million Starlink Ground Stations, Faces Pentagon Audit


Original Submission

Airbus and OneWeb Begin Building Satellites for Internet Constellation 3 comments

European aerospace giant Airbus and its partner, OneWeb, have begun the production of a satellite mega-constellation. The network will comprise at least 600 spacecraft in the first instance, but could eventually encompass more than 2,000. The aim is to deliver broadband links from orbit to every corner of the globe. In particular, the project wants every school to have a connection.

Building so large a constellation requires a step-change in the manufacture of satellites - especially for Airbus. It can take Europe's biggest space company many months and hundreds of millions of dollars to build some of today's specialist platforms. But for the OneWeb venture, it is all about high volume and low cost. That means new assembly line methods akin to those in factories producing cars and planes. The idea is to turn out three units per shift at well less than a million dollars a piece. The boss of Airbus, Tom Enders, concedes he initially thought the OneWeb concept to be fantasy. "Everything in space as you know traditionally has been 'gold-plated'; it had to work perfectly, [and have] the most expensive materials, etc. "Here, we've had to go other ways, to be really commercial and calculating according to the target cost because that is very decisive in the whole business case for OneWeb," he told BBC News.

[...] The establishment of the OneWeb constellation requires the greatest rocket campaign in the history of spaceflight. More than 20 Soyuz vehicles have been booked to throw clusters of 32-36 satellites into a web some 1,200km above the Earth. There should be just under 300 on station by the end of 2020, the start of 2021; more than 600 about a year or so later; and then over 800 by the middle of the decade.

OneWeb and Airbus are not the only companies planning a mega-constellation in the sky. SpaceX, Boeing, ViaSat and others have all sought regulatory approval. But not everyone will succeed in getting the necessary multi-billion-dollar financing, and Airbus believes the OneWeb concept has first-mover advantage.

BBC News

additional coverage:

previous story:
Competing Communications Constellations Considered


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21 2015, @12:16AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21 2015, @12:16AM (#136548)

    Captivating Customers with Competing Communications Constellations

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21 2015, @12:25AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21 2015, @12:25AM (#136550)

    The math checks out - it's only 3% of the distance of Geosynchronous orbit. If it's 125ms to GEO, 125 back, goes through the intertubes (assume better than best case, 0ms!), 125 ms back up, then 125ms back to the client, you have to wait at least half a second every time you click a link. That doesn't make AJAX happy.
    That same voyage up to these small satellites would be 4,828,032 total meters traveled, you'd have a full round trip time (all four) of 0.016 seconds, or 16ms -- finally satellite FPS gameplay!

    • (Score: 2) by Arik on Wednesday January 21 2015, @07:16AM

      by Arik (4543) on Wednesday January 21 2015, @07:16AM (#136619) Journal
      While I am always in favor of lesser ping times, your insinuation that this is a strategic move to improve the performance of AJAX forces me to rethink this.

      If it killed AJAX, a half second ping time might just be worth it.
      --
      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday January 21 2015, @11:05AM

        by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @11:05AM (#136663) Journal

        Amen! I have never seen a more performance-killing and usability-killing feature than AJAX. Yes, let's think of an even better way to get pages to hang, crash browsers, and have page elements jump away from you as you, the user, tries to click on them: AJAX!

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 2) by tibman on Wednesday January 21 2015, @08:52PM

        by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @08:52PM (#136792)

        You prefer full page refreshes every time you send any data to a server? You prefer full page refreshes anytime you want to check for new data? ajax is sweet : )

        --
        SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Arik on Wednesday January 21 2015, @09:06PM

          by Arik (4543) on Wednesday January 21 2015, @09:06PM (#136795) Journal
          I prefer that web pages be web pages, and executables be executables.

          When I am dealing with documents I do not expect to be sending data to the server very often. If you are running a program on my computer that is engaging in chitchat with your server on a regular basis, you should have to be upfront and offer a downloadable program instead of being able to pretend your program is a webpage.
          --
          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
          • (Score: 2) by tibman on Wednesday January 21 2015, @09:17PM

            by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @09:17PM (#136797)

            Then it doesn't sound like you are against ajax (or javascript) but perceived abuses of ajax (and javascript).
            For example:
            You like that you can expand a comment's response and it will ajax in those responses.
            You dislike that stats.soylentnews.org/piwik.piwik.js is talking to someone else about you.

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            SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
            • (Score: 2) by Arik on Wednesday January 21 2015, @11:29PM

              by Arik (4543) on Wednesday January 21 2015, @11:29PM (#136838) Journal
              Err, no, actually.

              I configure my browser to ignore all that junk, and it works wonderfully.

              --
              If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
              • (Score: 2) by tibman on Thursday January 22 2015, @01:00AM

                by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 22 2015, @01:00AM (#136850)

                Every time you click a comment header (to read the comment, since you cannot expand) you discard the entire page and make a request to SN. If you are logged in then you probably won't be getting cached content. SN will build you a page dynamically from templates and data, send it to you, you parse the entire page, and finally render it (around 40kB in html i think?). Pretty wasteful if all you wanted was another 300 bytes of content or so. Or, you could allow javascript to send a request for only the comment you wanted to read. It would return only the data required to display that comment.

                It really all depends on what someone considers junk or wonderful. While i do like a lot of the benefits that javascript brings, i also dislike a lot of the ways it is often twisted. I wouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater though. There is dynamic stuff happening no matter what. It's either happening on their server back-end or your browser (likely both!). AJAX is a wonderful way to grab the raw data needed to update only the portions of a page that a user wanted to change. In my opinion, obviously : )

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                SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
                • (Score: 2) by Arik on Thursday January 22 2015, @08:18AM

                  by Arik (4543) on Thursday January 22 2015, @08:18AM (#136893) Journal
                  Approximately 40kb including graphics and css. That's cached, however. The actual page comes to 24kb (testing on this comment.) And no updates are needed. You posted the comment, I come along later and load it. I compose a reply and post mine. There are two page loads involved, ~25kb or so each i.e. negligible even by the standards of a challenged old network, and so there would appear to be absolutely nothing to gain with ajax here. You turn it into, what, ~400k on the initial load? I'm just guessing but it seems likely to be on the right order at least. And the updates are still going to be 10s of kbs to accomplish the same task without a page reload. What's the point?

                  Even if I did see an advantage to using ajax here though (and I'll certainly concede for the sake of argument there must be some applications where it's handy) what you are ignoring is the price. And it does come with a price - chronically insecure computer systems. That is a very high price to pay to avoid a 25kb reload.

                  --
                  If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
                  • (Score: 2) by tibman on Thursday January 22 2015, @03:51PM

                    by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 22 2015, @03:51PM (#136973)

                    I think the price is the center of the discussion. Do you trade features for safety? When is that trade worth it and when is it a terrible idea? For you, it is never (or very rarely) acceptable to sacrifice security for responsiveness. For some people they run their browsers in self-destructing containers and care very little about what active content runs inside the browser. To each their own : )

                    --
                    SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
                    • (Score: 2) by Arik on Thursday January 22 2015, @04:53PM

                      by Arik (4543) on Thursday January 22 2015, @04:53PM (#136988) Journal
                      "acceptable to sacrifice security for responsiveness."

                      I don't think that's an accurate formulation. The handful of ajax monstrosities that I am forced to work with certainly are not 'responsive.' The one that comes to mind immediately just got an ajax makeover and as a result it is FAR from responsive - it has a maddeningly awful UI and even if it were "responsive" it would still suck. The new version costs me at least 5 minutes every day versus the old page (which was pretty awful to begin with, actually.)
                      --
                      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
                      • (Score: 2) by tibman on Thursday January 22 2015, @07:05PM

                        by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 22 2015, @07:05PM (#137023)

                        You can make terrible implementations of any technology. Including straight html pages. I've used plenty of straight html pages that had overlapping divs that hid scrollbars or buttons. UI has nothing to do with AJAX. AJAX is just a method to fetch data (usually raw JSON). UI is html and javascript that manipulates it. Responsiveness could be something like form validation before a user submits. Say you had a registration form, you can give feedback on password strength, that all required fields are completed, and so on. Without that responsiveness you'll have to post to the server and regenerate the entire page (hopefully with the user entered data dynamically inserted into the fields) with a server-side validation message. That's costly. All of that responsiveness had zero to do with AJAX and everything to do with javascript. There were terrible and slow websites long before AJAX existed (and javascript even). Bad UI and poor implementations cannot be pinned on any technology. That blame goes to developers/designers.

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                        SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
                        • (Score: 2) by Arik on Thursday January 22 2015, @10:15PM

                          by Arik (4543) on Thursday January 22 2015, @10:15PM (#137067) Journal
                          "You can make terrible implementations of any technology. Including straight html pages. I've used plenty of straight html pages that had overlapping divs that hid scrollbars or buttons."

                          That's not really proper html either.

                          "Say you had a registration form, you can give feedback on password strength, that all required fields are completed, and so on. Without that responsiveness you'll have to post to the server and regenerate the entire page (hopefully with the user entered data dynamically inserted into the fields) with a server-side validation message. That's costly."

                          Again, not nearly as costly as loading your 'webapp'.

                          "Bad UI and poor implementations cannot be pinned on any technology. That blame goes to developers/designers."

                          To a degree that's true, but AJAX seems to be a particularly effective way to get a bad UI, without a single example to show that it's capable of being used to produce a good one.
                          --
                          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
                          • (Score: 2) by tibman on Thursday January 22 2015, @11:05PM

                            by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 22 2015, @11:05PM (#137074)

                            AJAX is not UI related at all. It is as related to UI as SQL is related to UI. It is just a way of making a request for data, that is all. I also don't think form validation qualifies as a webapp. My test for webapp qualification is: "does the page still function if javascript is disabled." In the case of form validation, the page still functions only is far less responsive because it requires round trips to the server.

                            I'm not trying to convince you to use javascript. Maybe trying to convince you that javascript isn't evil though : ) It sounds like you really hate it. I think it's only going to get worse. More and more sites are completely unusable with javascript disabled. I browse with noscript on in FF and often have to switch to Chrome to use some sites. Especially if trying to buy something. I've had too many credit card transactions freeze because some javascript was required and whitelisting the payment provider caused a page refresh which then starts a chain of ut ohs.

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                            SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
                            • (Score: 1) by Arik on Friday January 23 2015, @12:22AM

                              by Arik (4543) on Friday January 23 2015, @12:22AM (#137083) Journal
                              You're trying to shift the definition of AJAX to not include ecmascript but I believe that is what the 'J' stands for, no?

                              "I also don't think form validation qualifies as a webapp."

                              I used to agree with you, a few years back. Ecmascript is harmless in and of itself, a little extra flash here save a pageload there it can be used right!

                              Over time I have seen I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

                              OK, it *can* be used right but it almost never has been historically and as time goes on that just gets worse. And even if it was always used right (instead of almost never used right) it *still* wouldnt be worth the security nightmare it unleashes.

                              It is *in principle* impossible to secure any system that executes 'webapps' handed out by random web pages. And in practice that is the single security hole through which virtually every mass exploit of the past decade and more has been delivered through.

                              "I browse with noscript on in FF and often have to switch to Chrome to use some sites. Especially if trying to buy something."

                              I switch to a different browser for those websites in certain cases, but NEVER to buy something. I only go to those websites if it is officially required for me to get paid (intranet, bleh.) I've switched suppliers more than once rather than give them control of my computer in order for ME to give THEM money. That crap will not fly.
                              --
                              If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by caseih on Wednesday January 21 2015, @01:46AM

    by caseih (2744) on Wednesday January 21 2015, @01:46AM (#136561)

    Every time I hear about this sort of thing I wonder how it is going to affect our space junk problem. Already low-earth orbit is a fairly hazardous place. At what altitude will satellites deorbit when their lifespan is over and they are junk? We've got GPS constellations, Glonass constellations, Galileo constellations, whatever they call iridium these days, etc. I suppose there's plenty of room for more. But when it's all over there's going to be a lot of cleanup needed!

    • (Score: 2) by tibman on Wednesday January 21 2015, @09:05PM

      by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @09:05PM (#136794)

      Think of it kind of like this:
      1) If the entire surface of the earth was flat land (509 million km^2)
      2) There was a population of 1 million deaf and blind human beings driving race cars across it's surface (each centered on a 500km^2 section)
      3) The human beings drove in any direction they wanted for the next 200 years

      Would any two humans ever crash?

      Obviously space has the extra problem with debris basically being bullets. So maybe somehow work a bunch of machine guns into the above scenario to fix it?

      --
      SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
  • (Score: 1) by cngn on Wednesday January 21 2015, @02:08AM

    by cngn (1609) on Wednesday January 21 2015, @02:08AM (#136567)

    I have absolutely no idea why companies are up to this crap.

    I'd be more interested in bringing people better schools, drinking water and just basic effin amenities. But then I think there's not much profit in those other than educating the young and keeping them healthy.

    Still beats me why a frickin farmer in the bush needs "satellite Internet" services compared to the basic internet they already have, which in many cases is already subsidised by the govt.

    Elon (who I sorta think is okay) and that idiot Richard Branson, who thinks the world is his sandbox need to wrap their heads around doing something that intrinsically enterprising but also useful to future generations and good for the environment

    The above is just my opinion, myabe I'm narrow-minded and don't have a clue.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by gringer on Wednesday January 21 2015, @02:34AM

      by gringer (962) on Wednesday January 21 2015, @02:34AM (#136575)

      I'd be more interested in bringing people better schools, drinking water and just basic effin amenities.

      I think one of the ideas is that the Internet does bring people better schools, and technology in general is improved, through the abundance of freely-available information on the Internet.

    • (Score: 2) by Leebert on Wednesday January 21 2015, @03:01AM

      by Leebert (3511) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @03:01AM (#136580)

      Still beats me why a frickin farmer in the bush needs "satellite Internet" services compared to the basic internet they already have, which in many cases is already subsidised by the govt.

      You're assuming that everyone has basic Internet, or that it's always a reasonable approximation of reliable. Ubiquitous connectivity is extremely helpful.

      The farmer, for example, is implicitly likely to live outside of a population center where mobile connections are available or reliable. (FORGET about anything attached to a cable. Especially a copper cable...) But being able to do research on farming techniques can pay major dividends in crop yields.

      Even if it weren't helpful for the locals, having spent a fair bit of time on a mission in Haiti, I can assure you that such connectivity is extremely helpful for aid workers to be more effective and efficient in providing basic needs. Things like allowing mission doctors to consult with far away specialists, or even helping poor me look up the wiring diagram on a control system for circulating water in an aquaculture system that grows fish for people to eat.

      How about the mobile phone-based electronic payment systems have taken off like crazy in Africa?

      There's plenty of other reasons why having ubiquitous communication is helpful to underdeveloped areas. You're right that, ultimately, basic needs are critical. But things like this are critical building blocks to improving the delivery of those basic needs and constructing a more robust society.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bziman on Wednesday January 21 2015, @03:04AM

      by bziman (3577) on Wednesday January 21 2015, @03:04AM (#136582)

      I'm sure they're doing this for profit and blah, blah, blah. But when you think about it, as soon as anyone has a choice of two or more independent internet providers that can provide them with fast, reliable service, anywhere on the planet, and service is very difficult for local governments to interfere with, that's a game changer. It means people can actually communicate with each other. They don't have to worry about local telco and cable monopolies. It's not like Comcast will go out of business - Comcast is likely to always be able to provide more bandwidth via copper or fiber than even a LEO satellite... but it will provide enough competition that they, and others like them, will have to suck much less if they want to stay in business. And that's good for everyone.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday January 21 2015, @06:00AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @06:00AM (#136602) Journal

      I'd be more interested in bringing people better [snip], drinking water and just basic effin amenities.

      Why... with a good internet pipe, you can download them! Even better, pirate them!!

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by martyb on Wednesday January 21 2015, @06:05AM

      by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @06:05AM (#136604) Journal

      I have absolutely no idea why companies are up to this crap.

      Though I often disagree with him, Joel Spolsky (author of "Joel on Software") has written what I think is a tremendously insightful post which I believe covers this spectacularly well: Strategy Letter V [joelonsoftware.com]. Don't let the fact that it was written June 12, 2002 throw you off — I think it is as meaningful today as when it was written way back then.

      In summary: Commoditize your Complement. Here's an excerpt, though I highly recommend reading the entirety of the short article.

      Once again: demand for a product increases when the price of its complements decreases. In general, a company's strategic interest is going to be to get the price of their complements as low as possible. The lowest theoretically sustainable price would be the "commodity price" -- the price that arises when you have a bunch of competitors offering indistinguishable goods. So:

      Smart companies try to commoditize their products' complements.

      If you can do this, demand for your product will increase and you will be able to charge more and make more.

      When IBM designed the PC architecture, they used off-the-shelf parts instead of custom parts, and they carefully documented the interfaces between the parts in the (revolutionary) IBM-PC Technical Reference Manual [com.com]. Why? So that other manufacturers could join the party. As long as you match the interface, you can be used in PCs. IBM's goal was to commoditize the add-in market, which is a complement of the PC market, and they did this quite successfully. Within a short time scrillions of companies sprung up offering memory cards, hard drives, graphics cards, printers, etc. Cheap add-ins meant more demand for PCs.

      When IBM licensed the operating system PC-DOS from Microsoft, Microsoft was very careful not to sell an exclusive license. This made it possible for Microsoft to license the same thing to Compaq and the other hundreds of OEMs who had legally cloned the IBM PC using IBM's own documentation. Microsoft's goal was to commoditize the PC market. Very soon the PC itself was basically a commodity, with ever decreasing prices, consistently increasing power, and fierce margins that make it extremely hard to make a profit. The low prices, of course, increase demand. Increased demand for PCs meant increased demand for their complement, MS-DOS. All else being equal, the greater the demand for a product, the more money it makes for you. And that's why Bill Gates can buy Sweden and you can't.

      He goes on to give other examples such as how Netscape open-sourced their browser (Netscape Navigator) so they could sell their server software. So you might think that's all very interesting, but what does it all have to do with Internet Satellites?

      Google has been following the very same plan. Don't just take my word for it. Consider these examples which illustrate just some of the ways it has been doing this.

      They provide free search so they can find out what people are searching for so they could better target (charge more for) advertising. They provided free e-mail so they could scan your messages and sell targeted advertising. They provided free and fast DNS so they could get a better handle on who goes where and who looks at what so that they could better target the advertising and charge more for it. They created and gave away the Chrome browser so they could better track where people go on-line. They hosted, and provided rapid access to, huge libraries of open-source javascript (such as jscript.js) so developers link to Google's copy of it on each of their web pages — Google get's a hit every time a user hits that page. They host on-line font files to do the same thing. Google maps and Google earth — again finding out where people are and what they are looking at. Google's scanning entire libraries of books and making them free on-line. They're rolling out Google Fiber for much less than the competition does (but still at a profit) so as to commoditize internet access and thus be better able to monitor where people go on-line.

      Never mind "Do no evil" — their goal is nothing short of having a collection of all the world's information. The more they have of what you want, and that they can make available to you quickly and at no cost, the more they can gain access to information about you and your interests and what you spend money on.

      As I see it, a constellation of satellites providing high-speed and world-wide internet coverage is just another step along the same path. Commoditize their complement (internet access) to build demand for their targeted advertising, for which they can charge higher rates. Imagine if they were the world's ISP? How much Google would love to be able to monitor all of your on-line access? Every web site you go to. Every song or video you stream. Sure, "https everywhere" is putting a damper on that, but they still have their DNS servers and they have an index of the entire internet, remember?

      Are the other webmail, search, or social media companies any better? I have no illusions that the other companies are entirely blameless. Still, I try to not keep all my eggs in one (google-sized) basket. I have my own web host through which I can get e-mail. I primarily use DuckDuckGo for search. I've stopped going to /. and now to my soical networking here on SoylentNews.

      Some might well argue that my tinfoil hat is fitting a little too snugly and it's blocking the blood flow to my brain. Actually, my main concern is what areas have I missed? Where else does it have its tendrils? It has gotten to the point that there are times when I feel like going on-line is akin to volunteering to be stalked. I wouldn't stand for someone following me around all day making note of everywhere I go and everyone I see so that they could sell this information to someone else; why should I be expected to accept it when I am on-line?

      Please note that I singled out Google for the preceding only in light of their being mentioned as a possible party to the proposed system of internet satellites. A similar case could be made (admittedly to a lesser extent, perhaps) were one to consider Twitter, Instagram, Apple, or Facebook among countless others.

      P.S. Please forgive any typos or grammatical errors as it is now just after 1:00 AM and I am finding it hard to stay awake, let alone write cohesive sentences.

      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday January 21 2015, @11:02AM

        by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 21 2015, @11:02AM (#136662) Journal

        Thank you for posting this. I've never taken the time to think about Google's business model, but I'm going to read Spolsky's essay in depth when I'm more awake.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21 2015, @10:54AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21 2015, @10:54AM (#136659)

    Avoid alliterations. Alliterations are almost always awful.