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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday February 23 2020, @05:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-it-works-is-up-in-the-air dept.

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?


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  • (Score: 2) by Revek on Sunday February 23 2020, @08:59PM (3 children)

    by Revek (5022) on Sunday February 23 2020, @08:59PM (#961550)

    I live in a area where outside of towns the only option anyone has for internet is using a wireless carrier. So the size of the NID isn't going to matter. People in rural areas would not care if it was the size of a fridge.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday February 23 2020, @09:19PM (2 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday February 23 2020, @09:19PM (#961558) Journal

    Thanks for the clarification. Yup, rural folks have it real bad. Do you think the wireless carriers will even try to build up and compete with broadband constellations? It seems like a lost cause if you can get 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps from satellites.

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    • (Score: 2) by Revek on Sunday February 23 2020, @09:34PM

      by Revek (5022) on Sunday February 23 2020, @09:34PM (#961567)

      Its mostly at and fee so no. They are all about the numbers and they have no idea how to build a market.

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    • (Score: 2) by edIII on Monday February 24 2020, @07:06AM

      by edIII (791) on Monday February 24 2020, @07:06AM (#961742)

      It is a lost cause. Whether you're talking about wireless carriers as the cellular companies, or wireless ISPs pushing data services.

      Although, I highly doubt they're going to get the bandwidth out the satellites. Assuming that sat-to-sat comms are multi-gigabit, that's only going to carry one of your 1 Gbps service packages. The downlink to Earth is going to have to be low-latency and huge, not just 1 Gbps. More likely they're going to have a LOT of downlinks in different major cities coming from the sats, trying to route as efficiently as possible across the least number of sats.

      Assuming they've got all of that..... how much bandwidth can one sat, in one coverage map, offer rural customers? I'll be very shocked if it's over the base of 8 Mbps.

      As far as the ground is concerned, you have to run fiber. Even with wireless ISPs, you're pushing the end of that fiber out across dozens of miles. Ultimately though, it's gotta come back to fiber. Otherwise the cost of creating multi-gigabit links across 30+ miles is going to make that rural connection hundreds per month. Power backups, outdoor rated equipment, redundant links, all result in an expensive network. You can get 20 Mbps, but the farther you are from fiber, and the more hops you need to get back to it, the more expensive it is. Out at the fringes of the network the costs of increasing capacity can be very considerable. You have to increase capacity all the way back to fiber.

      Why would you invest in that at all, when a sat company is going to offer 3 Mbps for 90$?

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