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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday March 25 2020, @05:01AM   Printer-friendly
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?


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  • (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.

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  • (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]

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