Tag: satellite Internet

Starlink to offer portability for their satellite platform

Article

Starlink satellite launch photo courtesy of SpaceX

Starlink to allow semi-portable use of their satellite terminal

Starlink Internet Will Now Let You Take Your Dishy on the Go (gizmodo.com.au)

My Comments

Starlink is offering the ability to use your Starlink dish terminal and Internet service in a transportable manner around the same continent.

Here, this will be offered as an extra-cost feature to your subscription with costing USD$25 per month. You can enable and disable this feature as required which can come in to its own with those of us who use Starlink when camping or caravanning during the holiday seasons, or when running a temporary remote worksite.

The requirements for Starlink’s portability feature include:

  • The device to be used within the same continent as the registered address of service and to be within Starlink’s coverage footprint
  • To change the registered address of service if you are away from your current service address for more than two months
  • To use the Starlink terminal in a stationary location rather than in a vehicle or craft that is in motion
Pleasure-boats at a marina in Melbourne

.. to come in to its own with caravans and boats and similar scenarios

You will expect best-case performance at the location you are temporarily using Starlink at because this low-earth-orbit satellite system is currently engineered to prioritise uses who have registered their Starlink service at that location.

The fact that the Starlink setup is not fully mobile and requires you to have equipment stationary while in use would come in to its own with certain use cases. For example, a recreational-vehicle or boat user who moves around would set up their Starlink setup when they have set up camp or moored their boat and only while they are at that location. Similarly a temporary mobile office would set up their Starlink terminal when they have arrived at where they want to work at.

There doesn’t seem to be any information about permanently installing a Starlink dish terminal in a vehicle, transportable building or boat. This approach may satisfy those of us who regularly take that vehicle, building or vessel to a particular location but want to reduce the number of tasks required to set oneself up at that location.

Another question that will come up regarding the “same continent” rule is whether islands that are located close to the continent but are politically separate from that continent are considered thus, even though they have Starlink service. This may be of concern where the island or islands are separated from the content by a day or overnight trip in a car ferry or, in the case of UK and France, a short train trip through a tunnel.

There is still the intent to offer a fully-portable service where the Starlink satellite Internet service can be used in a moving vehicle or vessel. This may have to be initially offered as an inland / coastal service relative to a continent which may satisfy most use cases like trains and coaches moving across a country or boats that are “under way” in inland or coastal waters.

I suspect that this will come about when Starlink is offered in more areas as an Internet backbone for general public-transport situations like air travel, cruise ships and long-distance trains.

Boeing to launch LEO satellite network

Boeing logo image courtesy of the Boeing CompanyArticle

FCC licenses new LEO constellation from Boeing | (advanced-television.com)

FCC Authorizes Boeing V-Band LEO Broadband Constellation – Via Satellite – (satellitetoday.com)

My Comments

The Puget Sound area of Washington State in the USA now has two actors in the low-earth-orbit satellite broadband game.

This was initially Jeff Bezon’s Project Kuiper effort that is starting to pick up steam, but Boeing, associated with the likes of some well-known airliners which you most likely have flown on many times, is now getting the go-ahead to build a constellation of these satellites.

The initial FCC permit will allow Boeing to launch 147 LEO satellites which will be for civil-use cases like residential, commercial and institutional use initially within the USA then globally. The wavebands they will be licensed to work in are part of the V-band radio spectrum for both space-to-ground and inter-satellite communications. They have six years to develop the constellation and launch half of the satellites as part of the licence.

Here, it will be about Boeing joining a relatively-crowded market for LEO satellite broadband which will be a boon for use cases like real broadband in rural and remote areas; alongside broadband Internet within transport services.

But how will Boeing join this market? Could this be through offering a retail service like SpaceX’s Starlink or to offer it as a wholesale service in a similar manner to OneWeb. That is where retail ISPs could resell Boeing’s service to local customers.

There will be the issues of having a retail service licensed for operation in multiple countries especially where some countries are particular about preferring companies chartered in their jurisdiction offer telecommunications and allied services. A wholesale approach can allow a country’s own telcos and ISPs to resell satellite broadband to all user classes.

There is also the question about Boeing being tempted to vertically integrate this service with their lineup of civil aircraft. This could mean that they could get more airlines who fly the likes of the 737 or the 787 Dreamliner to offer a high-bandwidth Internet service provided by their LEO satellite constellation as a passenger amenity.

If Boeing can get these low-earth-orbit broadband satellites off the ground and yielding a viable service, this could be a viably competitive market when it comes to satellite broadband.

German government subsidises Starlink satellite Internet

Article

Starlink satellite launch photo courtesy of SpaceX

German government to subsidise satellite Internet installations for Starlink and similar setups at the consumer end

Germany to subsidise Starlink subs | (advanced-television.com)

Germany readies subsidies for satellite internet providers such as Starlink | Reuters

My Comments

The rise of low-earth-orbit satellite technology to enable decent Internet service for regional, rural and remote parts of the world has gained a bit more traction.

This time, it is the German Federal Government (Bundesregierung) with its Transport ministry who are subsidising Starlink installations across rural Germany. The US’s FCC has engaged in some form of subsidisation for Starlink but this is at a corporate level as part of their US-government-based program for enabling decent rural Internet service there.

The German approach is to provide EUR€500 towards Starlink hardware purchase for installation in Germany’s rural areas. This doesn’t just apply to Starlink but to any satellite or other radio-link-based Internet service provided on a retail level. It is intended to be consumer-focused and provider-agnostic in the same manner as what is expected for the provision of broadcasting and telecommunications in modern Germany.

It doesn’t apply to ongoing service costs that customers pay to keep the service alive. In the case of Starlink, the monthly service costs are EUR€99 / month at the time of writing.

German countryside - By Manfred&Barbara Aulbach (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

.. to improve access to real broadband in German rural areas

This was just announced as Tesla were about to commence work on building its European Gigafactory near Berlin and was riding on the fact that Tesla and SpaceX Starlink are owned by Elon Musk. The Bundesregierung need to seek approval from all of Germany’s 16 Federal States for this retail-level subsidy to go ahead.

The question that will come up is  whether public subsidies for satellite or other radio-based Internet service is the way to go to bring decent broadband Internet to rural areas. This is compared to current efforts by local or regional governments in cohort with local chambers of commerce to bring fibre-optic Internet to rural and regional areas.

There will also be the issue of whether to extend this kind of subsidy to people living in boats along Germany’s inland waterways. Think of retirees who have riverboats on the Rhine, Elbe or Wupper rivers or cabin cruisers on the likes of Lake Constance (Bodensee).

Personally, I would see Starlink and similar technology come in to play for sparse rural areas while fibre or similar deployments are considered for more dense settlements. The long fibre-optic trunk link between towns or to serve a remote employment / industry area should never be forgotten as a way to encourage economic growth along its path.

At least Germany is taking another approach to dealing with the rural Internet deficiency issue by subsidising the installation of Starlink and similar technology in its rural households.

Project Kuiper about to compete with Starlink

Articles

Starlink satellite launch photo courtesy of SpaceX

Amazon’s Kuiper low-earth-orbit satellite service could compete with Starlink very soon

Bezos vs Musk: Let battle commence | (advanced-television.com)

Musk Vs. Bezos: The Battle Continues – SatNews

Previous Coverage about low-earth-orbit satellite Internet

Low Earth Orbit satellites to improve rural broadband opportunities

My Comments

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has on the 21 April 2021 made his Project Kuiper low-earth-orbit satellite effort ready to launch. This, like OneWeb, will be in competition to the SpaceX Starlink low-earth-orbit satellite effort driven by Elon Musk of Tesla fame.

This will be about providing affordable reliable credible satellite broadband Internet service primarily to rural and regional areas.

Initially the satellites will be launched using Atlas V rockets owned by the United Launch Alliance that is established by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. But Amazon are wanting to work with other space-tech consortia like Arianespace, Bezos’s own Blue Origin company or Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

The Kuiper constellation consists of 3236 satellites that work at an orbit of 590-630 km. The customer’s installation for the Kuiper setup will be based around a 12” flat-dish antenna, something equivalent to the size of an LP vinyl record. It will be about making such equipment affordable and portable for most users.

But Musk’s Starlink service has a head start with coverage of the Earth, Earth-station installations and service licensing in a significant number of countries. As well Starlink even has got going with seeking regulatory approval for mobile equipment intended to be installed in road and rail vehicles, maritime vessels and aircraft.

But to achieve the desireable amount of competition for the satellite Internet service, there will be a significant number of hurdles. There will be the launch frequency issue i.e. how frequently Jeff Bezos can get satellites in to space to cover the Earth. There is also the issue of establishing ground stations and licensing end-user device designs and legitimately providing service in many jurisdictions. It also includes the design and licensing of mobile stations for installation on vehicles, vessels and aircraft to allow use of Kuiper on the move.

Both the tech visionaries are in a bitter fight to the end with the FCC regarding licensing of satellites and similar technology. But when in full flight, expect competitive service and low prices for broadband at your bush block.

I do still see a significant number of questions come about regarding low-earth-orbit satellite broadband in its current form. Firstly, there needs to be a wide variety of customer equipment that suits different use cases, such as satellite modems that work with broadband routers that have Ethernet WAN connections,

There will have to be the issue of assuring the legitimacy of satellite-broadband service within peri-urban rural areas. These are the rural areas that form the hinterland of a city or large town and some of these areas do not have access to broadband service of a decent standard due to the settlements being relatively sparse. Here, if there is a requirement to assure “rural-only” service for a satellite-broadband service, the peri-urban areas could be deemed legitimate based on the absence of wired or terrestrial wireless broadband service providing a minimum bandwidth.

Similarly there will be the issue of facilitating mobile and portable satellite broadband services whether to serve campers or to serve airlines offering inflight Wi-Fi. For countries with international land borders or airlines and ships that offer international transport, it will encompass providing mobile satellite broadband on an international form.

But what I see of the Starlink and Kuiper efforts is that they are about providing decent and affordable broadband service to rural and remote areas of the world. This year could effectively be the year of a race for this goal.

Low Earth Orbit satellites to improve rural broadband opportunities

Starlink satellite launch photo courtesy of SpaceX

Starlink and similar satellites could give satellite broadband more credibility (Credit SpaceX)

 

Article

Report: Satellite broadband market to triple | (advanced-television.com)

How Is Low Earth Orbit Changing Satellite Internet? – X2nSat

Elon Musk’s Starlink poised to shake up Australia’s broadband (smh.com.au)

Low-Earth-Orbit satellite operators

OneWeb

Starlink

My Comments

A consistent problem associated with bringing broadband Internet to rural and remote places is the cost and time involved in bringing these services there. But there have been various efforts by public and private sector entities to implement satellite broadband to serve this need.

Most of these have distinct disadvantages such as the equipment and service being very costly and a lot of these services not offering great bandwidth and latency. Let’s not forget that the deployment of this technology isn’t all that scaleable.

The COVID-19 coronavirus plague has underscored how dependent we are on Internet connectivity for our business and social lives. The role of rural areas has even been underscored with these areas gaining increased appeal to live or do business within because of the pandemic. A recent Euroconsult report has stated that satellite broadband will gain its value over the next decade as a way to enable access to the Internet from remote areas.

The new low-earth-orbit satellites

Yorkshire Dales By Kreuzschnabel (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

… allowing more rural and remote areas to gain real broadband

But a new form of satellite broadband is being pushed out at the moment. This is based on low-earth-orbit satellite technology which uses a very large constellation of satellites that are closer to Earth than traditional satellite technology. This improves on latency and on bandwidth available to the end users.

Silicon Valley visionaries like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have been behind this technology in order to have Internet all over the world, even in the remotest areas thereof.

But Elon Musk has got this idea off the ground with Starlink which is a subsidiary of his SpaceX venture. Most of his constellation of Starlink satellites are in orbit now while he has more being manufactured and set up for launch. The service is in beta testing for the USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Germany  at the time of writing but more areas are expected to be covered soon. They have also started establishing their presence in Australia.

Elon Musk’s service isn’t just for rural and remote areas at the moment. He is seeking FCC type approval for equipment that is to be installed on vehicles, ships and aircraft and to be operated while the vehicle, vessel or aircraft is moving. This is to court the provision of Internet service aboard the likes of commercial jets, the merchant navy and long-distance land transport. Who knows when Musk will then have consumer equipment designed to facilitate ad-hoc use of Starlink from caravans, motorhomes or remote camping locations.

Another service being pushed out at the moment is the OneWeb service that is pushed out by a UK and Indian consortium. Let’s not forget that Amazon is working on their Project Kuiper low-earth-orbit satellite service but they want to make sure everything is perfect before a single satellite is launched.

The idea of having many satellites is being made feasible with reuseable rockets like the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket, which effectively reduces the cost of launching many spacecraft.

What I see of the low-earth-orbit satellite constellations is that they are intended to be viable competition in the satellite-broadband Internet service space. This could allow the idea of cost-effective high-throughput low-latency broadband to be made available to rural and remote areas or long-distance transport applications.

Fixed-wireless and satellite NBN bandwidth to increase for the bush

Article

NBN wireless, satellite speeds to double

From the horse’s mouth

NBN Corporation

Press Release

My Comments

Rural Internet in Australia is to get a shot in the arm with the National Broadband Network to double the bandwidth available for the fixed-wireless and satellite rural services. This is through a technical improvement that is being made available for the satellite

The quoted improvements are from an initial 12 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload to 25 Mbps download 5 Mbps upload. The NBN spokesman was even saying that the speeds would be better than the current ADSL2 copper deployments in urban areas. I would see this as yielding some real bandwidth for today’s requirements, especially catering for teleworking, small business and farming requirements as well as families separated by distance due to people heading for the country.

An issue to raise is how much of this bandwidth would be shared amongst the rural households and this could become an issue when neighbourhoods become more dense which can affect the the rural areas as people move to these areas. Personally, I would like to see some of the denser areas like small towns be able to consider the fibre-optic technology. On the other hand, the NBN fixed-wireless technology could support a “master-antenna” setup for those dense neighbourhoods that are at risk of experiencing reception difficulties due to topographical constraints.

At least this is the right step towards real Internet for people who live in the rural and remote areas in Australia.

DirecTV to bundle satellite broadband with satellite TV in the US

Article

DirecTV to offer broadband to the boonies, teams up with ViaSat and Hughes Satellite providers — Engadget

My Comments

Another effort is taking place in bringing real broadband to rural USA. This time, DirecTV, who are one of two major digital satellite TV players in that market are working with ViaSat and Hughes satellite-broadband providers to sell their services as a bundled retail package. This is in addition to teeing up with the main telcos in the US to provide multiple-pipe triple-play communications services to that market.

The Hughes satellite broadband partnership capitalises on pre-existing business partnerships that Hughes Satellite had with DirecTV, by extending this to broadband Internet service.

One of the main problems at the moment is acineving a price parity to what most wireline broadband service providers would charge for providing this service. This includes the bandwidth allowable through the satellite setup as well as equivalent quotas that match most Internet use.

Another problem that will also affect DirecTV’s satellite-broadband bundling efforts is whether there will be more than one satellite dish needed to provide both the pay-TV service as well as the broadband service. This can be of concern when it comes to the aesthetics and cost of these installations and whether people will buy a bundled satellite-TV / satellite-Internet package or not. Here, I would like to see these setups proven to work using one dish and multiple antennas.

Similarly, an “SMATV” setup which services multiple TV and Internet subscribers in a multi-tenancy location such as a ski resort should also be assessed so that proper Internet bandwidth and DirecTV multi-channel reception can occur in these locations.

CNET article on one’s experience in getting rural access to real broadband

Article

At last, broadband in the boonies, but at a price | Crave – CNET

My comments

I have run regular coverage about the provision of real broadband Internet service in to rural areas and is something that I stand for as the author and owner of this site. Just lately, I have come across this CNET article about how Crave writer, Eric Mack had succeeded in bringing real broadband to his mountain home in New Mexico, USA.

He was detailing how the WildBlue satellite broadband service was treated as a costly rare premium service compared to the wider availability of satellite pay-TV service in that neighbourhood. Then he talked about the inconsistent provision of ADSL broadband in that neighbourhood by the local telephone company which works in a similar manner to Telstra in Australia or British Telecom in the UK.

Later on, he pointed out the arrival of an “open fibre” network that was laid by a local co-operative who was addressing the need of “real broadband in the bush”. The concept of this “open fibre” network was to allow any and all ISPs and telcos to make use of the fibre-optic infrastructure rather than it being for the exclusive use of a particular company. It is in contrast to the typical cable-TV infrastructure that is for the use of the company that owns it.

Then, in the last article, Eric talked of the possibility of mobile-telephony providers rolling out 3G or 4G mobile-broadband service to these areas. He summed it up very well in the fact that it takes a lot of work to get communications infrastructure providers to establish infrastructure to provide a decent standard of broadband Internet in to these areas.

I see this as a “chicken-in-egg” scenario that if you don’t provide the infrastructure, you won’t get “serious money” in to the neighbourhood in the form of industry, commerce or similar high-value activity whereas you wait upon the arrival of a significant population set and economy before you deploy the infrastructure. This can be more so with neighbourhoods that are outside the commuting distance of a major metropolitan area or don’t have a very significant core economy about them.

The NBN and rural Internet is seconded by Indigenous people

Article

Indigenous plea for NBN in remote areas | The Australian

My Comments

I have previously stood for rural access to broadband Internet as an enabler for the rural communities when it comes to commercial or government services. But this latest article underscores my standpoint for rural broadband from the arts and culture perspective and enabling indigenous communities located in rural and remote areas.

This was highlighted by the National Congress Of Australia’s First Peoples who wanted to see increased effort in providing the National Broadband Network to the Indigenous Communities around remote Australia. This is in the form of access to arts and culture for these communities, including integration of urban and rural communities.

The same argument could be iterated in other countries that maintain scattered indigenous-people communities like New Zealand with their Maori people or North American with their Red-Indian communities. Here, they would have their unique cultures enhanced by the technology such as through “large-area” ceremonies or similar activities. Similarly, this argument could be raised for the Gypsy and Traveller communities in Europe when it comes to their access to broadband technologies.

In Australia, the remote communities that are outside the reach of the fibre backhaul would be covered by fixed-wireless or satellite links. But I would also like to see the feasibility of fibre links for community clusters with closely-located households, so as to provide higher-quality service in these communities.