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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday March 25 2020, @05:01AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the space-is-becoming-a-crowded-place dept.

SpaceX gets FCC license for 1 million satellite-broadband user terminals

SpaceX has received government approval to deploy up to 1 million user terminals in the United States for its Starlink satellite-broadband constellation.

SpaceX asked the Federal Communications Commission for the license in February 2019, and the FCC announced its approval in a public notice last week. The FCC approval is for "a blanket license for the operation of up to 1,000,000 fixed earth stations that will communicate with [SpaceX's] non-geostationary orbit satellite system." The license is good for 15 years.

[...] One million terminals would only cover a fraction of US homes, but SpaceX isn't necessarily looking to sign up huge portions of the US population. Musk said at the conference that Starlink will likely serve the "3 or 4 percent hardest-to-reach customers for telcos" and "people who simply have no connectivity right now, or the connectivity is really bad." Starlink won't have lots of customers in big cities like LA "because the bandwidth per cell is simply not high enough," he said.

SpaceX's main Starlink constellation competitor is running out of money

OneWeb, the only pressing competitor facing SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet constellation, has reportedly begun to consider filing for bankruptcy shortly before the London-based company completed its third dedicated launch.

Following the completion of its first full 34-satellite launch with a Russian Soyuz rocket on February 7th, OneWeb managed to complete a second launch on March 22nd just a few days after Bloomberg revealed its bankruptcy concerns. OneWeb now has 74 ~150-kg (330 lb) satellites in orbit – roughly 11% of its initial 650-satellite constellation. Like SpaceX, OneWeb's goal is to manufacture and launch an unprecedented number of high-performance small satellites for a per-spacecraft cost that would have previously been inconceivable.

[...] Requiring numerous revolutions in satellite manufacturing, antenna production, and launch vehicle affordability, as well as a vast and complex network of ground terminals, numerous companies have tried and failed to rise to the challenge over the decades. Original Globalstar, Teledesic, and Iridium constellations all raised more than $10 billion in the 1990s under the promise of blanketing the Earth with internet from space. All wound up bankrupt at one point or another.

See also: The true impact of SpaceX's Starlink constellation on astronomy is coming into focus

Previously:
SpaceX Seeks Approval for 1 Million Starlink Ground Stations, Faces Pentagon Audit
SpaceX and OneWeb Clash Over Proposed Satellite Constellation Orbits
OneWeb Joins the Satellite Internet Gold Rush this Week
OneWeb Launches its First Large Batch of Broadband Satellites, Plans March Launch and April Break
How Does Starlink Work Anyway?


Original Submission

Related Stories

SpaceX Seeks Approval for 1 Million Starlink Ground Stations, Faces Pentagon Audit 15 comments

SpaceX seeks FCC OK for 1 million satellite broadband Earth stations

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

The Federal Communications Commission last year gave SpaceX permission to deploy 11,943 low-Earth orbit satellites for the planned Starlink system. 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."

The application was published by FCC.report, a third-party site that tracks FCC filings. GeekWire reported the news on Friday. An FCC spokesperson confirmed to Ars today that SpaceX filed the application on February 1, 2019.

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."

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

OneWeb Joins the Satellite Internet Gold Rush this Week 11 comments

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

For the better part of a year, SpaceX has gotten the lion's share of attention when it comes to mega-constellations and satellite Internet.

[...] But it was actually another company, OneWeb, that launched the first six satellites of its mega-constellation back in February, 2019. Initial tests of those satellites went well, the company said last summer. Now OneWeb is preparing for its second launch of 34 satellites on board a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The launch is scheduled for 4:42pm ET (21:42 UTC) on Thursday, February 6.

On the eve of Thursday's launch, Ars spoke with OneWeb Chief Executive Officer Adrián Steckel about the company's plans and how it will compete with half a dozen other firms looking at providing Internet from space.

[...] "Right now, we’re the largest buyer of launch in the world," Steckel said. "In the future, as we look to our next phase of deployment, we're willing to buy rocket launches from SpaceX, Blue Origin, or whoever."

OneWeb has taken a different approach than SpaceX in terms of how it plans to interact with customers on the ground. SpaceX has opted to offer direct-to-consumer services with the intention of selling user terminals to acquire satellite from space and essentially functioning as a new Internet provider. OneWeb plans to partner with existing telecommunications companies, Steckel said.

[...] It's a model the company believes makes sense because the right answer for getting regulatory approval and delivering service in the United States or the Philippines or Indonesia will vary, Steckel said. "We're going to be doing business with partners around the world," Steckel said. "Our style is not confrontational. We're using a different model. It's a big world."

OneWeb plans to offer its first customer demonstrations by the end of 2020 and provide full commercial global services in 2021.


Original Submission

OneWeb Launches its First Large Batch of Broadband Satellites, Plans March Launch and April Break 6 comments

OneWeb's first large batch of satellites launch on Arianespace Soyuz rocket

A Soyuz rocket launched 34 small broadband satellites for OneWeb Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, marking the beginning of a multi-launch campaign for the company.

[...] The launch expands OneWeb's constellation of low Earth orbiting satellites to 40, following a Soyuz launch last February that carried six satellites.

Adrian Steckel, OneWeb's chief executive, told SpaceNews the company has another batch of 34 satellites launching from Baikonur in March before the company plans to take a monthlong break to implement spacecraft software and hardware changes. After that pause, OneWeb plans to launch once in May and once in June before potentially shifting out of a monthly launch cadence, he said.

Steckel said OneWeb still plans to achieve global coverage by the end of 2021. The company is building its satellites in Florida through a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space called OneWeb Satellites.

Counting Thursday's launch, OneWeb plans to conduct a total of 17 or 18 Soyuz launches and one Ariane 6 launch with Arianespace to orbit 588 satellites before the end of next year, Steckel said. After those launches, OneWeb will pause again before deciding a schedule for launching 60 spares, completing the 648-satellite first-generation constellation, he said.

See also:
Op-ed | SpaceX's adaptation to market changes
SpaceX Starlink is a step closer to beaming satellite internet to Australia

Previously:
OneWeb Joins the Satellite Internet Gold Rush this Week


Original Submission

How Does Starlink Work Anyway? 35 comments

How Does Starlink Work Anyway?:

No matter what you think of Elon Musk, it's hard to deny that he takes the dictum "There's no such thing as bad publicity" to heart. From hurling sports cars into orbit to solar-powered roof destroyers, there's little that Mr. Musk can't turn into a net positive for at least one of his many ventures, not to mention his image.

Elon may have gotten in over his head, though. His plan to use his SpaceX rockets to fill the sky with thousands of satellites dedicated to providing cheap Internet access ran afoul of the astronomy community, which has decried the impact of the Starlink satellites on observations, both in the optical wavelengths and further down the spectrum in the radio bands. And that's with only a tiny fraction of the planned constellation deployed; once fully built-out, they fear Starlink will ruin Earth-based observation forever.

What exactly the final Starlink constellation will look like and what impact it would have on observations depend greatly on the degree to which it can withstand regulatory efforts and market forces. Assuming it does survive and gets built out into a system that more or less resembles the current plan, what exactly will Starlink do? And more importantly, how will it accomplish its stated goals?


Original Submission

OneWeb Emerges from Bankruptcy, Set to Launch More Satellites in December 2020 7 comments

OneWeb exits bankruptcy and is ready to launch more broadband satellites

OneWeb has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy under new ownership and says it will begin launching more broadband satellites next month. Similar to SpaceX Starlink, OneWeb is building a network of low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites that can provide high-speed broadband with much lower latencies than traditional geostationary satellites.

After a launch in December, "launches will continue throughout 2021 and 2022, and OneWeb is now on track to begin commercial connectivity services to the UK and the Arctic region in late 2021 and will expand to delivering global services in 2022," OneWeb said in an announcement Friday.

[...] OneWeb previously launched 74 satellites into low-Earth orbits and said it plans a launch of 36 more satellites on December 17, 2020. The Friday announcement also said OneWeb plans "a constellation of 650 LEO satellites," but that could be just the beginning. OneWeb in August secured US approval for 1,280 satellites in medium Earth orbits, bringing its total authorization to 2,000 satellites.

Previously: SpaceX Approved to Deploy 1 Million U.S. Starlink Terminals; OneWeb Reportedly Considers Bankruptcy
OneWeb Goes Bankrupt, Lays Off Staff, Will Sell Satellite-Broadband Business
OneWeb Seeks Permission to Launch 48,000 Satellites Despite Bankruptcy
UK Government and Indian Mobile Operator Acquire OneWeb and its Broadband Satellites


Original Submission

OneWeb Seeks Permission to Launch 48,000 Satellites Despite Bankruptcy 12 comments

Bankrupt OneWeb seeks license for 48,000 satellites, even more than SpaceX

SpaceX and OneWeb have asked for US permission to launch tens of thousands of additional satellites into low Earth orbit.

SpaceX's application to launch 30,000 satellites—in addition to the nearly 12,000 it already has permission for—is consistent with SpaceX's previously announced plans for Starlink.

OneWeb's application to launch nearly 48,000 satellites is surprising because the satellite-broadband company filed for bankruptcy in March. OneWeb is highly unlikely to launch a significant percentage of these satellites under its current structure, as the company reportedly "axed most of its staff" when it filed for bankruptcy and says it intends to use bankruptcy proceedings "to pursue a sale of its business in order to maximize the value of the company." Getting FCC approval to launch more satellites could improve the value of OneWeb's assets and give more options to whoever buys the company.

Previously:
SpaceX Approved to Deploy 1 Million U.S. Starlink Terminals; OneWeb Reportedly Considers Bankruptcy
OneWeb Goes Bankrupt, Lays Off Staff, Will Sell Satellite-Broadband Business


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @06:54AM (29 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @06:54AM (#975353)

    Muck like the coronavirus has really nailed us all into social media platforms, what will incentivize the future use of satellite internet? I'm asking for a billionaire investor friend.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @07:08AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @07:08AM (#975357)

      I don't use the internet so I couldn't tell you.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by deimtee on Wednesday March 25 2020, @07:43AM (17 children)

      by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @07:43AM (#975365) Journal

      what will incentivize the future use of satellite internet?

      People getting the hell out of disease filled cities, but still wanting to see their funny cat videos.

      --

      No surprise that it's not much use in cities, but it looks set to beat the tar out of current satellite internet for speed, bandwidth, and latency, and to be much cheaper for the isolated user to deploy than fibre or wire.

      There will be competition in some areas with 4G and 5G. Starlink looks to be a killer in sparse areas, but to lose out to other systems as the user density goes up. Still, there is a lot of open countryside out there, it should be around for a while.

      --
      No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by takyon on Wednesday March 25 2020, @11:46AM (16 children)

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday March 25 2020, @11:46AM (#975407) Journal

        Even potential suburban customers might only have access to slower, more expensive internet. If Starlink comes out swinging with $80/month for 1 Gbps, with less anti-user and bundling BS than its competitors, that could do just fine in more populated areas.

        For rural, a 100 Mbps tier would be more than enough. Some people can only get 0.5-3 Mbps trash.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Immerman on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:55PM (15 children)

          by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:55PM (#975456)

          Sounds like per-satellite max throughput bandwidth is 20Gbps - assuming you could use all of that for customers on the ground (I would assume the reality would be most of that goes to inter-satellite relays) That would mean a single satellite coverage area "cell" could only support at most 20Gbps/100Mbps = 200 simultaneous people at 100Mbps. And likely only a fraction of that.

          Potentially a few neighboring satellites could overlap their service area to increase that a bit, provided the surrounding area was empty. But with 12,000 satellites covering most the Earth, the average cell size is going to be in the ballpark of 200e6mi2/12,000 = 17,000square miles (roughly 130 miles across).

          So, *really* not a viable mass alternative in urban, or even suburban areas. Perhaps an option for a relative handful of people that want high availability or low latency, and presumably are willing to pay for it. I imagine hospitals operating remote surgery centers might benefit, and of course scum like high-frequency traders are probably a primary funding source. And those who are willing to pay a premium for not dealing with their local monopoly. Mostly though I suspect it will go to low-bandwidth connections (1Mbps) for people who don't really have any other options.

          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday March 25 2020, @02:31PM (1 child)

            by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday March 25 2020, @02:31PM (#975467) Journal

            I don't think they can stop people from trying to use it in suburbs. It's usable since the sky can be clearly seen and the instructions are "plug in and point at sky, in either order". 5 homes in a row might get it for an RV but try to use it while at home. Unlikely, but it could happen.

            Maybe it just won't be very popular with people who already have a half decent connection, and that will limit the problem.

            --
            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
            • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:29AM

              by Immerman (3985) on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:29AM (#975695)

              Actually, it'd be pretty easy to stop: just don't send or acknowledge any data associated with rural accounts trying to connect within an urban area. Every satellite knows what area it's currently serving, and your ISP always knows whose account to bill for every byte of data.

              Even if they didn't though, it'd be fairly pointless to do. That basic service package that gets you 100Mbps in the far end of nowhere? You get within 70 miles of a city and you'd have to start sharing that bandwidth with many thousands of other people instead of only hundreds. Your performance is going to tank. Especially since you'll almost certainly be sharing whatever bandwidth is left over after the high-dollar premium accounts have tranceived their fill.

          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by deimtee on Wednesday March 25 2020, @03:03PM (12 children)

            by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @03:03PM (#975480) Journal

            It's not quite as bad as that. The maximum orbital inclination is supposedly 70° so the coverage will be higher near the equator, with uncovered areas near the poles. Also, not many connections max out full time - it might work out to 200 customers per cell by your math, but every existing telco would happily sell 2000 connections per cell and cheerfully claim they are all 100/100Mbps.

            Aside from that though, while 100/100 is a nice connection, I know people in remote areas who would be very happy with low-latency 5/1Mbps if they could get it. Current satellite internet is ok for downloads once it gets going, but it's really poor for surfing with the lag being applied to the hundreds of consecutive requests bloated websites make.

            --
            No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
            • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:00AM (11 children)

              by Immerman (3985) on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:00AM (#975675)

              I was simply showing that even 100Mbps in the suburbs is not realistic. Even in most semi-rural areas it would be a stretch. And sure, an ISP would sell 10x that capacity, mostly without trouble - but if there's 200 people that want to actually use the speed at the same time you start to run into problems. 200 people in 17,000 square miles? Not that hard. Even 100 square miles would hit that limit almost instantly if it intersected a metropolitan area.

              Hey, I'm not one to dis low bandwidth - I only recently upgraded from 1Mbps to 20 and, aside from downloading large files, the functional difference is not that great. Being able to offer 20,000 people in a poorly-served area simultaneous 1Mbps is a wonderful thing, especially since you can probably actually deliver those speed on demand to 100,000 or more. It's just not something valuable to most people, because most people live near an urban area that would be grossly underserved if more than a tiny fraction of people used the service.

              • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday March 26 2020, @03:43AM

                by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday March 26 2020, @03:43AM (#975715) Journal

                I don't see SpaceX targeting very low bandwidths, even if it is an improvement for some. Maybe 50 Mbps at the lowest. Hopefully we will be able to stop speculating about this soon, but the service will probably be delayed by coronavirus like everything else.

                It would be helpful if new versions of the sats could do better than 20 Gbps total. The current versions don't have sat-to-sat links either. But the more pressing design issue right now might be a sunshade [spacenews.com] to lower the impact on astronomy.

                --
                [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
              • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Thursday March 26 2020, @05:16AM (9 children)

                by deimtee (3272) on Thursday March 26 2020, @05:16AM (#975748) Journal

                Actually, another way to look at it would be to count how many satellites are over the country at any one time and assume you could support n customers where n = (no. sats) x (bandwidth / (bandwidth per cust)) x (capacity factor)

                no. sats = 12,000 / (2 x 10) : half in N hemisphere, USA is about 1/10 of circumference of the world.
                b/(bpc) = 20
                CF probably 10

                = 120,000 customers in USA.
                @ $50 p/month = $150M per year return from USA.

                ----

                19/20ths of the time the satellites won't be over the USA. Somewhere up to half the time they will be over another country. I think the profitability of Starlink is really going to depend on being able to sell in other countries. (I am actually more interested in AU, cos I live here. About the same size, and could probably supply just as many customers.)

                --
                No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
                • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:09PM (8 children)

                  by Immerman (3985) on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:09PM (#975869)

                  Don't forget the high frequency traders - they made it worth laying new trans-atlantic cable to shave a few milliseconds off lag times. They'll probably be major profit centers for Starlink as well.

                  I think you made a mistake in your math as well, at least in the intermediate step. Given, say 20Mbps bpc, - b/bpc is = 1,000 customers per satellite. Even 100Mbps = 200 cust/sat
                  x (CF of 10) x (600 satellites) = 1.2 to 6 million customers
                  x$50 = $60M to 300M revenue

                  But I believe Musk has projected 3% market penetration, which would be ~10M USA customers at ~12Mbps

                  My point though was just that most of those customers would have to be rural. Each individual satellite will have to target a relatively small area of the surface. Even if they have enough flexibility for several to join forces to cover a city,you're still only talking about supporting thousands of customers out of millions of people living there - a tiny faction of a percent, compared to 3% overall.

                  • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Thursday March 26 2020, @03:23PM (1 child)

                    by deimtee (3272) on Thursday March 26 2020, @03:23PM (#975914) Journal

                    Oops. Yeah, I cribbed 20Gps total from your earlier post and then used takyons 1Gps / connection.

                    My $150M was per year. X 10(custs) / 12 months = $125M p.m. Brings it back to the same ballpark as yours.
                    I've also seen a projected user price of $80/month which is 60% more. Given the uncertainties your range looks pretty good.

                    The 10M USA customers might be after he gets all 42,000 satellites up. He isn't going to match that in AU, but if he gets permission to operate then half a million AU customers wouldn't be an unreasonable goal. Still a nice little earner for satellites that would otherwise be idle at that time.

                    I would expect that small communities will band together and get one or two links, and then wifi everyone in range. There are places still on dial-up here, and a lot more on 2M/250K ~ 5M/500k ISDN or laggy GEO satellite. They could share 100Mbs between 10 houses and still be very happy.

                    I really hope that they aren't location locked. There are a lot of reasonably well off "grey nomads" in Oz, retired people that live in caravans and head north for winter and back to the south for summer. A pizza box antenna and a tracking mount is well within their budgets. It sounds like a fun lifestyle.

                    --
                    No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
                    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday March 26 2020, @03:53PM

                      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday March 26 2020, @03:53PM (#975927) Journal

                      Oops. Yeah, I cribbed 20Gps total from your earlier post and then used takyons 1Gps / connection.

                      [...] He isn't going to match that in AU, but if he gets permission to operate then half a million AU customers wouldn't be an unreasonable goal.

                      Here is a source for 1 Gbps speculation:

                      Elon Musk's SpaceX clears first hurdle to Australian broadband market [theguardian.com]

                      Much remains a mystery about what Starlink’s internet services will be like in reality. In a November 2016 filing [fastcompany.com] with the US federal communications commission (FCC), SpaceX said it would be able to offer speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second for users, at “low cost”.

                      1 Gbps is a magic amount that is impressive (which is why Google Fiber went for it) but can still be handled by most consumer equipment (maybe we'll see in uptick in 2.5 Gbps fiber soon?). But clearly a lot of people could get by with 100 Mbps, and would like to save a few bucks if they can.

                      Australia's telecommunications regulator gave initial approval for SpaceX to operate its Starlink satellite network in the country. [cnbc.com]

                      Australia could be one of the first major countries after the U.S. to get service, although the article notes some problems.

                      I really hope that they aren't location locked. There are a lot of reasonably well off "grey nomads" in Oz, retired people that live in caravans and head north for winter and back to the south for summer. A pizza box antenna and a tracking mount is well within their budgets. It sounds like a fun lifestyle.

                      The ability to get as much as 1 Gbps connectivity while living almost anywhere on the planet (outside of the extreme latitudes) or camping out somewhere will make those lifestyles more accessible and attractive to people. Get ready for the articles about literal "Digital Nomads" (with yurts). It may halt the outflux of young people from less populated areas.

                      Des Moines is 'flyover country' no more: Millennials choose Heartland [desmoinesregister.com]

                      --
                      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
                  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday March 26 2020, @03:30PM (5 children)

                    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday March 26 2020, @03:30PM (#975919) Journal

                    Military is also a probable premium customer.

                    SpaceX sees U.S. Army as possible customer for Starlink and Starship [spacenews.com]

                    Air Force enthusiastic about commercial LEO broadband after successful tests [spacenews.com]

                    A program known as Defense Experimentation Using the Commercial Space Internet, or DEUCSI, recently tried out SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband services and demonstrated download speeds of 610 megabits per second into the cockpit of a C-12J Huron twin-engine turboprop aircraft.

                    --
                    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
                    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday March 27 2020, @12:48AM (4 children)

                      by Immerman (3985) on Friday March 27 2020, @12:48AM (#976149)

                      Heck yeah they would be. Especially since we tend to fight our proxy-wars in out-of-the-way places that aren't easily connected to high-bandwidth, low-latency connections back to the drone-operators at home.

                      Of course you probably wouldn't want to rely on a satellite signal on the battlefield proper (though it might be option #1 with a fallback). The transmission powers are low and easily jammed. But deliver that bandwidth to your base of operations and you can handle the last miles as appropriate.

                      • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Friday March 27 2020, @01:05AM (3 children)

                        by deimtee (3272) on Friday March 27 2020, @01:05AM (#976153) Journal

                        It mightn't be that easy to jam. The ground station is highly directional and looking roughly straight up. The satellites are 500km away and moving fast. Swamping the signal might be doable, but then the ground station might simply switch to the next satellite if it loses the connection.
                        Not to mention anything putting out that much interference on a battleground is radiating a "bomb here" message.

                        --
                        No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
                        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday March 27 2020, @03:23AM (2 children)

                          by Immerman (3985) on Friday March 27 2020, @03:23AM (#976201)

                          Bet you a $50 commercial drone with a $10 transmitter could do the job quite nicely over an impressive area. What's it cost you to shoot down a dispersed $1000 swarm worth of softball-size objects?

                          • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Friday March 27 2020, @12:30PM (1 child)

                            by deimtee (3272) on Friday March 27 2020, @12:30PM (#976263) Journal

                            No bet. :)

                            Doesn't mean that the military won't pay a shit load to use it in any area that isn't an actual battlefield.

                            --
                            No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by rigrig on Wednesday March 25 2020, @10:48AM (8 children)

      by rigrig (5129) Subscriber Badge <soylentnews@tubul.net> on Wednesday March 25 2020, @10:48AM (#975393) Homepage

      Tourists are happy to depend on possible flaky hotel WiFi, but business people traveling to china would like a reliable link to the home office.
      Which is why I expect these things to be banned inside the Great Firewall pretty soon after they become practical.

      --
      No one remembers the singer.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:25PM (7 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:25PM (#975441)

        How small can SpaceX make these "user terminals"? If they get down to a USB stick (plus remote antenna that folds up?) the international business travelers can bring their own with them. Of course they may still be illegal to use in certain countries...

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:51PM (6 children)

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:51PM (#975452) Journal

          Not very small. Terminal is 0.48 meters in diameter. From the Ars comments:

          Max Gains(s):34.6 dBi @ 14.2500 GHz 33.2 dBi @ 11.8300 GHz
          Maximum total input power at antenna flange (Watts) = 4.06
          Maximum aggregate output EIRP for all carriers (dBW)38.2

          Lower power than I expected. I was guesstimating around 10 to 15W. Still way too high for smartphone applications even if you didn't mind wearing a pizza shaped antenna-hat. Well maybe if you have a backpack for the batteries to go with your pizza-hat.

          All kidding aside lower is better especially for semi-mobile applications (rv, small boat, remote operation running on solar). The gains are good but not impressively so. SpaceX is using conventional mechanically steered antennas for their test ground stations (snopped by fans). Those are in comparison ~40 dBi @ 14.25 GHz.

          But then there is a competitor that wants to do smartphones:

          Megaconstellation startup raises $110 million to connect smartphones via satellite [spacenews.com]

          AST & Science’s demonstration nanosatellite, Bluewalker-1, launched on an Indian PSLV rocket last April. Built by NanoAvionics, Bluewalker-1 proved that it could link directly to cellphones, Avellan said.

          Either way, it might not be smart to use it to try to pierce the Chinese firewall. They might be able to detect you and hunt you down. Might work out better in less resourceful countries/dictatorships.

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          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday March 25 2020, @03:31PM (3 children)

            by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 25 2020, @03:31PM (#975486) Journal

            Terminal is 0.48 meters in diameter.

            But officer, it's not an antenna, it's a new high tech electronic Wok for cooking my favorite Asian foods.

            --
            Biden needs to mandate an official static TCP port for running 'finger' with TLS 1.3.
            • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday March 25 2020, @03:32PM

              by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 25 2020, @03:32PM (#975487) Journal

              . . . for cooking my favorite Asian foods.

              Like Tacos!

              Or Pizza!

              --
              Biden needs to mandate an official static TCP port for running 'finger' with TLS 1.3.
            • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:11PM (1 child)

              by Immerman (3985) on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:11PM (#975873)

              I believe it's a flat phased array antenna rather than a dish. A dish would have to be constantly moving to stay pointed at the satellite, and temporarily lose connection every time it had to switch to a new one.

              • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:17PM

                by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:17PM (#975880) Journal

                Not a dish. Maybe a fairly flat dome. I've heard it "looks like a UFO". But rumors are just rumors.

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                Biden needs to mandate an official static TCP port for running 'finger' with TLS 1.3.
          • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Wednesday March 25 2020, @06:51PM

            by Freeman (732) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @06:51PM (#975565) Journal

            I know there's definitely this capability with radio transmissions. Ham Radio clubs practice that sometimes. I would assume, tracking Satellite transmissions would be doable, but more difficult.

            --
            Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26 2020, @12:18AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26 2020, @12:18AM (#975648)

            Half a meter isn't that bad for hiding if your creative.

            If subsidizing SpaceX is part of the purpose of this project, then they should probably open source the base station designs. My expectation is that if they did, they would sell more service contracts to people in totalitarian states. Free speech is at a premium over there (at least for now), so that is where the market is most profitable.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @10:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @10:36PM (#975619)

      Muck like the coronavirus has really nailed us all into social media platforms

      What are you even talking about? "Everybody" was already on social media before coronavirus; and for those who weren't, why would they be now?

  • (Score: 2) by progo on Wednesday March 25 2020, @04:58PM (1 child)

    by progo (6356) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @04:58PM (#975532) Homepage

    OneWeb now has 74 ~150-kg (330 lb) satellites in orbit

    I browsed the second article and didn't see a clear answer: If OneWeb ceases to be a functioning company, what happens to those 74 satellites? Who will give them navigation commands? Who will make the call to de-orbit them before they die and stay in orbit?

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday March 25 2020, @05:27PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday March 25 2020, @05:27PM (#975545) Journal

      Deorbit plans likely have them passively deorbiting in a worst case scenario. Which would not take too long in LEO.

      I imagine they would attempt to sell them off first before abandoning them.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OneWeb_satellite_constellation [wikipedia.org]

      The satellites will be designed to comply with "orbital debris-mitigation guidelines for removing satellites from orbit and, for low-orbit satellites, assuring that they reenter the Earth's atmosphere within 25 years of retirement".

      [...] By October 2017, OneWeb had filed documents with the US FCC with their space debris mitigation plan. OneWeb "satellites are designed for mission lives of at least five years, and 'the post-mission disposal operation is anticipated to take less than one year'. OneWeb also said it has designed its satellite network to avoid collisions with space stations and debris, and that OneWeb 'will actively and regularly screen for conjunctions between its own satellites and other objects in the Joint Space Operations Center's ('JSpOC') published catalog."

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @07:29PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @07:29PM (#975578)

    maybe all tesla recharge stations will be ground stations with a 1Tbit/sec fiber link in the ground?

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