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SpaceX plans worldwide satellite Internet with low latency, gigabit speed (arstechnica.com)
1111 points by phenylene on Nov 17, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 521 comments



Free, global internet access is the next step toward a smarter, more progressive planet. I don't even care about the speed - if the only thing users could access was wikipedia, I'd still personally donate to the project. I cannot emphasize how important democratizing knowledge is to me (and many others).


>Free,

Not free according to Musk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHeZHyOnsm4&t=12m37s

>Well it can't be free. Because then we'll, like, we'll go out of business. [laugh]

>No, no, it can't be free to the user. I don't think so.

>This would be... this would cost a lot to build. Ultimately over time to build the full version of the system, we're talking about something that would be 10 or 15 billion dollars to create. Maybe more. And the user terminals would be at least 100, to maybe 300 dollars, depending on which type of terminal.

>And this is intended to generate a significant amount of revenue, and help fund a city on Mars. So looking into the long term, and saying, "what's needed to create a city on Mars?" Well one thing's for sure... a lot of money. [laugh] So we need things that will generate a lot of money.


>And this is intended to generate a significant amount of revenue

You gotta appreciate the honesty. It is so unusual that we still look at this trying to see the angles.


One of the good impressions that I get from Musk: Money does not seem to be his goal, but rather a side-effect of good technology. Unlike a lot of other people who seem to use good technology as a means of achieving money. He seems genuinely eager to get projects started and self-sustainable so that they can outlive him and push humanity forward.


> Unlike a lot of other people who seem to use good technology as a means of achieving money.

There's nothing wrong with this. In fact many pure tech projects fail completely because they don't understand how to make money, ultimately helping no one.


that's the whole point of the GP: it's not the tech or the money that's the goal, it's the helping out part that drives both the tech and the money. i agree that this doesn't look usual and i applaud Musk for becoming rich and still being focused on his original goals instead of trying to make more money.


> being focused on his original goals instead of trying to make more money.

My point is that there's nothing wrong with trying to make more money as the goal. It's not some morally lesser option.


I think the intention isn't really to say that making money is a bad thing. But more that forgoing ideals/morals/principles/etc can lead to negative acts.

An extreme example is dumping industrial waste illegally to save on costs of safe disposal.


i'd rather not bring morality into this, because it's like an ass: everybody's got their own. my point is that 'making more money' is the easiest option if you're already at 'making money' stage, and it's not what Musk seems to be doing, unlike many.


Uh huh.

Or you know, he's already rich.


Not sure why you're downvoted. Very true statement, imo.


Nothing a company builds is free. And I think it's better to pay with money than with data. Not saying you're not paying with both here.


> Not saying you're not paying with both here.

If Facebook's "Open Internet" (Read: "Walled Garden") denied by India is any indication, you're unfortunately paying more for the service with your personal data than you are with any money.


Absolutely. Money is once...you pay it to someone, they pay it to someone else, they no longer have it. When you pay someone with your data, they have that forever and can monetize it hundreds of different ways over and over long after you've moved on or stopped using whatever you got from them.


One question we fail to ask, when we compare money to personal data, is how much is that data worth to you, when it's not being monetized by some company x?


Not much at all in most cases, at least not in a way you can easily monetize. To sum up others can get some money from it, you don't. So you are getting the short end of the stick. This made me delete most of my social media accounts.


15 billion to develop and deploy to space over four thousand satelites (not ignoring the fact that developing the prototype costs orders of magnitude more than simply assemblying the rest) seems like a gross underestimation...


Musk's real practical talent seems to be as a "scaling enthusiast". While I don't want to come across as a fanboy, I've been re-thinking my assumptions recently based on his perspective of what the real costs of things should be when manufacturing, testing and QC is mostly automated and I can't find fault with a lot of his calculations.


If they can put up 20 sats per launch, that's a cost of $75m per launch. With first stage re-usability each launch might cost ~$35m, leaving $2m to pay for each of those 20 satellites. This isn't taking into account the cost of ground stations and operational costs such as personnel, but it doesn't seem completely outlandish.


Presumably they've thought this through before announcing it.


Elon Musk != Donald Trump. When he makes statements/estimations, even if they prove significantly conservative, they are truly grounded in verifiable facts.


I certainly would not call Musk's statements conservative. He does ultimately deliver, but seldom on schedule.


People have been trying this for decades without success. McCaw and Gates tried it in the 90s with Teledesic, for example. Iridium also tried it without success. IIRC, Teledesic's early estimates 20 years ago were ~$10B.


But hasn't satellite technology changed significantly in the interim since 90's with much smaller payloads i.e CubeSats and FemtoSats. These should theoretically result in lower deployment costs:

small sattelites: http://news.mit.edu/2016/better-views-smaller-satellites-071... http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/04/the-next-big-thing-in...


Sure, but smaller payloads == smaller capabilities. Telecommunications satellites need massive switching capabilities and also massive power. They also need large antennas to service particular areas and they need propellant to maintain their orbits. How many CubeSats would be required to stream HD video to many thousands of people, for example? Not saying it can't be done, just saying that it isn't an easy problem to solve and there has been a lot of money already spent trying to solve it prior to Musk's announcement.


There was an article on HN at some point talking about how GPS is one of the first free-for-everyone services ever.

GPS requires maintaining an array of satellites, but governments have decided that footing the bill for maintenance is worth it to give the whole planet access to GPS.


First, GPS is the US, not "governments". The US owns it, period. There's only one reasonably functional alternative and that's GLONASS which is Russian. There is no communal body or activity supporting GPS other than the US (and by extension US taxpayers). The US can deny access to GPS anytime it wishes through a feature called Selective Availability (SA). This was turned off in the early 2000s and the official US position is that it "has no intent" to turn it on again but there's nothing preventing it. Second, access to GPS (the receivers) is further regulated by the US under certain conditions (ie those that would provide a military advantage) and require an ITAR license from the US. Third, GPS was developed and is maintained specifically for defense/military purposes. Public GPS is less capable and the more capable military signals are encrypted. Sure, it is used by the public, but that is not the primary use case. Granted, this is evolving as the US is at the forefront of things like autonomous vehicles and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications which require precise positioning data but the intent was and is to support US efforts primarily military. Any global benefit is purely incidental.


I guess the OP means "free" as in "freedom" not as in "free beer".


Even at 300 dollars a month if he throws in a decent hub or terminal it could be a net savings for any NGO, research team, or rural government or village. Especially on the last two if they're allow to resell a portion of their access to cover their costs. I hope the 100 dollar price point becomes viable, though. That would probably increase the market for them and just would be a boon for many more people.


I like Elon but think he is not thinking straight here. Eventually Internet will become free. No point in thinking of making significant revenue.


Why is that inevitable?


Spreading true (well, at least less wrong) information is a noble goal.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure we're not seeing such information availability providing avenues towards a smarter, more progressive planet.

Instead, the internet seems to be helping people create cocoons of ignorance and "evidence" to support even the most specious claims - such as the world being flat.

Knowledge does not seem to be enough. Wisdom and the ability to sift through knowledge with some degree of appropriate skepticism need to spread at least as fast as the knowledge if we are to get a smarter planet.


You're right: Knowledge shouldn't be the end goal, but I think you're overstating the effect of fringe communities on the internet.

Consider that for many people on Earth, getting access to the internet takes them from the knowledge shared amongst the members of their community to the collective knowledge of world. That's quite a leap, and I'd argue that having to read flat-earther nonsense once in a while is a price well worth the benefit


> I think you're overstating the effect of fringe communities on the internet.

Some believe that fringe information was a major factor in the U.S. Presidential election. A leader of a fringe community is the chief political advisor to the most powerful person in the world-elect.


Oy, give it a break. Not everything is about this election, and you can't just blame the internet for it.

Yes, the internet allows people to be mis-informed if they don't care for being informed. Still, not being connected at all is basically equivalent to not being able to connect meaningfully with modern civilization. I literally don't know anyone who isn't connected to the internet. It's simply a prerequisite for modernity.


> Oy, give it a break. Not everything is about this election

Very true, but not relevant: as a rebutal to the statement that "you're overstating the effect of fringe communities", they do have a point.


Look I don't think you understand, the internet did this, so let's just shut it down and go home.

(Does anyone have a map?)


Somehow calling the chief political adviser to the most powerful person in the world-elect "fringe" doesn't seem accurate.

Perhaps corporate media has defined the Overton window for so long that we've come to believe that they speak for the mainstream, even when millions of people send a clear message that that is not true.


Hitler and Lenin were fringe. I don't see a contradiction between fringe and power.

> Perhaps corporate media ...

There is so much confusion packed into that statement, it's hard to respond. All I'll say is that the election was in no way a mandate for racism. And why would anyone want to argue that it was?


Lenin, whose politics set the course of a world power for nearly a century, was fringe? What's your definition of fringe? "Things you disagree with"?

Bannon was Trump's adviser during his campaign and even before that, Trump's statements were consistent with Bannon's and Breitbart's. Whether those statements were racist is a debate that's been held a thousand times and is not worth rehashing.


My definition is the accepted meaning of the word.

> Whether those statements were racist is a debate that's been held a thousand times

I disagree; it is not a matter of debate. In fact, I've never heard anyone but the most dedicated apologists say otherwise. The racists generally have said that they don't care, which I believe.


If you mean the dictionary definition:

> Those members of a group or political party holding extreme views

Then that's simply a subjective term, as is "extreme". By that definition "fringe" expresses nothing more than your opinion.

Thus, when you say Trump and Lenin were fringe, all you've done is clarify where you stand politically.


I'd hardly call white nationalism fringe, it's self evidently been here a long time although in the daily discourse it's been ignored, or wished it wasn't as overt as it is. Well, this election showed otherwise.

But that is not the only factor. There are probably a dozen stewing issues and Trump managed to ride the coat tails of quite a few of them, not least of which is some people who didn't want Trump president couldn't be bothered to show up and vote. There's a roughly 8 million voter gap between 2012 and 2016.


This turnout estimate turned out to be wrong. See http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/no-voter-turnout-wasnt-w... for a closer-to-final number.


I don't know if it was necessarily that they "couldn't be bothered to show up and vote". My father decided not to vote on the grounds that he couldn't justify voting for either major candidate, and many other people who voted for Obama in the previous election cycle probably felt the same way.


What is the difference between "couldn't justify" and "couldn't be bothered to show up"? Sounds like they just want to shift the blame to the candidates rather than themselves and their own inaction. If they genuinely think both candidates are equally fit, then not voting makes sense. If they genuinely think both candidates are equally unfit, then voting isn't enough, they have to become politically active to convince people to vote for a 3rd candidate. Merely voting for a 3rd candidate without creating ground swell is likewise almost always, 9 times out of 10, punished by the American political system.

Most likely if we had compulsory voting in this country, most of the plurality, who did not show up to vote, would not have voted for Trump. It may have been a scant amount, but very clearly the more eligible voters vote, it favors Democrat candidates.


> I'd hardly call white nationalism fringe

I'd absolutely call it fringe. It has a very tiny base of support. It is also on the political extreme - far to the right of the mainstream.


I see, so you think Trump's attorney general pick is a good choice? That's the guy who once said the KKK was OK until they started smoking marijuana. Is the attorney general just a fringe position in the government? It'll be fun to see if this AG convinces the DEA to enforce federal marijuana laws on the states where it's legal. Fun meaning, I think there's a lot of dissonance on both sides just how much acrimony this election is going to continue to create - the nightmare isn't over, it's just started.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/18/10...


I'm not sure what your point is, but he said the KKK was ok around 30-40 years ago, and later disavowed it saying he was joking. In a era of much greater discrimination, that behavior and more like it cost him an appointment as a federal judge. And that incident, from 30-40 years ago, is seen as so bad that people are bringing it up again. I think that demonstrates how fringe those attitudes are - they certainly are not acceptable to the great majority of Americans. If he said it again now, his career would end in milliseconds.

Outside the racism, I agree that he is very conservative, in a way that used to be fringe, which has little support now, but is widely accepted as normalized. That, I strongly feel, is a serious error by us, the public.


As recently as the 50s, there were publicly active KKK groups throughout the US. Or at least, that's what I've gathered, from talking with locals who were adults then.

Edit: And there were (are?) "code words" for getting referrals. Some have even become everyday slang. But I've forgotten the specifics.


There are publicly active fringe groups of all sorts. You can join the Communist Party too.


I got the sense that this was far more than fringe.


And to expand/clarify, my point is that racism and xenophobia have been widespread among European-Americans since colonization. And they remain so, and not just in the "red states". Elsewhere, they're just hidden, especially by men from women. KKK may be a fringe, but there's a broad resonance. Consider, for example, that Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested for breaking into his own house!

Anyway, the Trump team has now somehow made European-Americans more racist and xenophobic. They just did an outstanding job with the Wallace strategy. Wallace was appealing to blue-collar union members in the North. But now unions are largely gone, and that demographic is either unemployed, or earning minimum wage. And arguably, that has exacerbated racism and xenophobia. Pushback against globalization and the concentration of wealth.


Damn! "... the Trump team has not somehow made European-Americans more racist and xenophobic. ..."


Breitbart is far from a fringe community. Just because you didn't see it growing dramatically over the past few years it doesn't mean they have a small audience.


Just because they're numerous doesn't mean they're not a lunatic fringe.


Lunatic, perhaps, but "fringe" actually does imply numeric inferiority.


no in politics it means on the extreme end of a spectrum eg the KKK or the equivalent on the left who where calling for the workers of the world to help our Baathist sisters and bothers crush the uprising.


It's both. It's a visual metaphor for the edge of something, such as the fringe of a curtain or scarf.

Something should be both extreme ideologically, and a relatively small minority to be "fringe".


Oh God, tankies. Can we just not talk about fucking tankies? They're disgusting.


I know :-) for those not who don't know what a "tankie" is its those small number Communist party members who supported the party line on Hungary.


Just because you disagree with them doesn't mean they're any more lunatic than, say, Podesta.


True. Some believe in an open global community and some freedoms that come with that, in many different nuances. So a global communication network that supports that is great. With an open society comes freedom of speech and other related freedoms. Most certainly freedom of opinions, even when the actual opinions and fervent activities from some groups contrasts fully with foundation of the open society.

Mostly, interestingly enough, the premise of these contrasting groups and opinions are actually based on the idea that some third party external group is imposing on their freedoms and well-beings. Romans laid continents under their taxing rule by fear mongering, nothing new and you hardly need a free and open digital global communication network for that.

My personal belief here is that these developments will self adjust. Unfortunately through great friction and pain. Any open society that eventually submerges into the rule of a "Trump/Bannon" group, will eventually self destruct slowly. If the core premise of a society is fear mongering of a third party external group (Jews, Muslims, Republicans, West-, East-, Capitalist-, Communist.. ) the core problem is that you're trying to fix your head ache by shooting yourself in the foot. And then the next foot from that..

Power is profoundly addictive and corrupting. If you've been a failure up to now, and suddenly you're in power for blaming some low influence group, that blame will only grow stronger and stronger with the failures of making a positive impact for the desperate people that put you in power.


> Power is profoundly addictive and corrupting.

I would argue that a small taste of power corrupted the left.

When they started censoring conservative views, banning conservative speakers on campuses, "no platforming", they were not defending freedom.


The corrupting aspect of power is nonpartisan. It affects the right, and it affects the left.


Indeed.

The comment I responded to, however, was partisan and I was simply adding balance.


It's not all relativism, subject to whatever people want to claim. Embracing an ideology of lies and hate fits the definition of lunatic, or close enough.


Yes lets legitimize white nationalism /snark


If snark is all you have...


It depends on how you define fringe. If you define it as something small on the edge of something much larger then being numerous would seem to preclude their being fringe. But if you define it as something extreme in relation to something else than it probably does qualify as fringe. Though it would help if you clarify how it is extreme in relation to something else (Seriously, this would be helpful. I have no time to follow politics and don't know anything beyond the big picture stuff like Trump being the president-elect).


Let me urge you to follow politics more closely; all our lives and welfare depend on an informed citizenry. Here are a couple of very efficient ways:

* Subscribe to The Economist and read it weekly. It's designed for busy people but has real, sophisticated information and exceptional breath of coverage. It's a bit right of center, but not ideological (except their obsession with the free market solving every problem), and very credible.

http://www.economist.com/

* Read this news summary daily. It's a bit left-of-center, but again non-ideological and the coverage is exceptional.

https://www.justsecurity.org/category/news/

* Check the headlines at the NY Times. They are criticized by all sides for being biased against them, an excellent sign of good journalism. Their editorials are left-of-center, but ignore them and read the news:

http://nytimes.com

In about 20 min a day, you'll be better informed than almost everyone you know. Final tip: Skip all editorials, columns, talk radio - 99% is either uninformed, intended to twist things and manipulate you, or both.


Surely the entirety of poltics is about fringe people pushing policies. We have just got used to the main parties and normalised them.


>Some believe that fringe information was a major factor in the U.S. Presidential election.

Yes, but Trump won despite the fringe information against him.

See why these political posts are vapid garbage that do nothing to add to the conversation?


I find this """fake news""" narrative that has popped up over the last few days very amusing. As if outlets like HuffPo, Vox, Salon, MotherJones, etc. weren't pumping out 100 slanted articles a day against his campaign. For every Breitbart, there is a Slate.com.


The internet is just allowing us to do the same things we've always done, but to scale. Pre-internet humans learned from each other, and there was a lot of mis-information then, just as there is now. Most people just weren't exposed to all of it. Now we're drinking from the firehose and that is scary, as it should be.

Now that everyone can communicate on the same system, the next issue to figure out is how to pick up the good bits and filter out the bad bits. But consolidating all that information (onto the internet) is a great way to start doing that.


I suspect this is just a phase. I don't have any hard stats at the moment to back it up, so it's just a feeling.

Internet culture is still very young. At least in the US based on the election last week, the majority of people 18-25 voted progressive in most states. These are people who have never known the world without internet access.

I guess that the people who voted the other way are folks who have transitioned into internet-required lifestyles later in life and had their young adult lifestyles set in the 80's and early 90s and earlier. This makes them less digital natives and more like immigrants (ironically).

Again, none of these are universally true of course and this is all just personal opinion.

I believe that in general, younger people have become better at filtering out bullshit because they've had access to much more information than older folks did growing up.

I was born in 1980 and while I'm technically outside the millennial cutoff, I still identify with that group more than any other. While we didn't have a computer in the house until the early 90's, I was always exposed to computers and the internet from a super early age. Most of my viewing habits are gaming and making on YouTube, some streaming, etc. Still haven't really gotten the value from Snapchat personally, but I think that's more of a function of not having much need to use it.

Overall I am hopeful things are getting better as boomers age out and die off and the younger folks are coming into their own.


I was with you up until "I believe that in general, younger people have become better at filtering out bullshit because they've had access to much more information than older folks did growing up." Um, have you actually talked to any younger people? I both teach young adults and have teenagers/kids in their 20s. They seriously believe anything they come across on the internet. They have no filter. It's incredible how little skepticism they have. And good luck trying to point out that something is BS, they don't have the attention span to hear it or they just don't care. Titillating trumps truth. At least that is my experience.


As a former teaching assistant at a university, I can confirm this is true.


> the majority of people 18-25 voted progressive in most states

This is entirely normal - the young like things to change, the old do not. This voting pattern well predates the internet.

> I believe that in general, younger people have become better at filtering out bullshit because they've had access to much more information

I disagree. It's about the same as it always has been. Yellow journalism exists now, just as it existed in the 19th century, and people still fall for it now.

If the internet stopped people from falling for bullshit, "post-truth" would not have been 'word of the year' for 2016.


> This is entirely normal - the young like things to change, the old do not. This voting pattern well predates the internet.

Makes no sense given the context. Clinton was absolutely not the change candidate in this election.

Old people predominantly voted for a shakeup, a radical change in the way American govt operates.


That "shakeup" was a vote to regress things to how they were in the past. It was a vote to rollback changes, not go in a new direction. It was a fundamental part of the campaign slogan: "again".

I'm not sure if you noticed, but both houses went Republican, and the Republicans who have been controlling congress for the past 6 years have been stonewalling and blocking everything. The people who were voted in? They actually aren't up for change.

edit: The Republicans in particular are not going to change the current system, and Trump, even if he wanted to, can't do it without a 2/3rds majority for the constitutional change. The Republicans don't want to change the current system, because it's their force multiplier - they are overrepresented because they've been able to more successfully bend the current system via gerrymandering and similar. They also will have serious trouble fiddling with the constitution, because in order to get where they are, they've made a lot of shouty people very religiose about the original document - changing their 'holy bible of politics' will be a very difficult sell.

Trump will change the rhetoric coming out of the oval office, sure, but he's not going to substantially change how government functions.


> The Republicans in particular are not going to change the current system, and Trump, even if he wanted to, can't do it without a 2/3rds majority for the constitutional change.

There are actually two ways to pass a constitutional amendment. 2/3 of both Federal legislative houses is one, but they can also do it with 2/3 of all state legislatures.

Republicans do very well in the state legislatures, they're only about five states short of the latter threshold.

2018 is likely to be a bad year for Democrats, there's a huge number of seats to defend and only a handful of Republican seats that must be defended, with only like 2-3 competitive seats. A very real possibility is that this turns into the usual midterm bloodbath and they pick up a few more seats/legislatures and start pushing constitutional amendments on wedge/social issues to lock in their wins.

People's adherence to this as a "religious document" is oversold - the document includes a method to change itself, and this is "playing by the rules". But frankly they wouldn't even think twice before rationalizing, when presented with the opportunity to lock in their wins for multiple decades.

You're right about it being in their best interest not to mess with the election system right now. The multi-level (state/federal) and district-by-district/state-by-state nature of the system favors them heavily compared to the popular vote. Republicans have near total dominance of all levels of government, with what amounts to a popular loss. One thing they may change is to have more blue states start splitting their electoral votes, like Nebraska and Maine do. States get to determine how their electoral votes are allocated, and Republicans control many of the "blue" states' governments (eg Michigan, Wisconsin, etc). Republicans can essentially make those states not count for Democrats electorally, since they will go half-and-half for both Republicans and Democrats (+/- a few seats).


There are 2 ways to propose constitutional amendments. And a constitutional convention is is unlikely.


> If the internet stopped people from falling for bullshit

the person you're replying to didn't make such a strong claim.


'stopped' does not necessarily mean 'ceased' when discussing human behaviour. Laws against murder and theft stop murder and theft, but doesn't zero them.


You're equivocating. You said

"If the internet stopped people from falling for bullshit, "post-truth" would not have been 'word of the year' for 2016."

which is making a general claim. Whereas now you're implying that you weren't making a general claim about "stopped".


Oh, for fuck's sake, stop being so goddamned literal. Do you also tell people off for calling children "kids", because "kid means young goat"?

If you 'stop' corruption, it doesn't mean you 100% eliminate corruption. A journalist can 'stop people in the street' to talk to them, but that doesn't mean that they stand still rather that walk-and-talk. If a parent is able to 'stop' a kid sleeping badly, it doesn't mean their kid never again sleeps badly, just that the incidence is considerably reduced. Even a traffic 'stop' sign doesn't completely stop people all the time. 'Stop', when applied to human behaviour, is not the fucking same as corking a bloody wine bottle.


My original point stands that the person you were replying to did not make the claim you're implying they did. Your response was to equivocate. Claiming that I'm being too literal isn't addressing your equivocation.

Let me put it another way: in your subsequent replies you are implying that what your original claim meant was "If the internet stopped even just a few people from falling for bullshit, "post-truth" would not have been 'word of the year' for 2016." which is clearly not what you meant (and, BTW, would clearly be a false statement) - hence the equivocation.


> I suspect this is just a phase. ... Internet culture is still very young

Maybe, but if so it's not like a phase of the moon, which changes on its own. This phase will only pass if we do something to make that happen.


Thankfully, old people die. No active action required.


And young people become old, gain more life experience and knowledge and change their views.


Too bad for all the people that suffer in the meantime. Said one smart person:

... this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists [and everyone else] set themselves too easy, too useless a task, if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us, that when the storm is long past, the ocean is flat again.


> none of these are universally true of course

Er... yes, I basically deeply disagree with all of your points :-)


Nah, those 18-25 year olds are ignorant idiots too. And when they get older they'll start voting conservative just like their parents generation. One anecdote about how ignorant they are... on three separate occasions I had a conversation with a Hillary supporter about her having destroyed subpoenaed evidence. Each of those three cited a factcheck.org article that stated in its third paragraph that she had in fact destroyed the evidence after the subpoena. They don't even read their own citations...

I didn't vote for Trump, so it's not like I was supporting him, but damn Hillary voters were so ignorant of her history. They were so mad that Trump didn't want to welcome more Syrian refugees. How many of them knew Hillary literally created the Syrian refugee crisis in a failed attempt at a coup? Not a single one I talked to.


>How many of them knew Hillary literally created the Syrian refugee crisis in a failed attempt at a coup? Not a single one I talked to.

There is no evidence that Clinton backed or supported a coup in Syria. The US did support elements of a popular uprising in Syria during the Arab spring, and then provided and continues to provide military support to Anti-Assad factions after Assad viciously cracked down on the uprising. A coup d'etat is a very different beast.

The refugee crisis is a result of Assad and Anti-Assad factions acting to change the demographics of Syria via ethnic cleansing. It is unclear, but seems unlikely to me, that the refugee crisis would be lower if the Anti-Assad factions had gotten less support from the US. The refugee crisis would have just happened over a shorter period of time. To avoid increased US involvement Assad regulated his behavior somewhat (see Chemical Weapons controversy). It seems likely to me that the US by providing limited support to Anti-Assad factions acted to limit/control military support given by gulf nations to the more extreme Anti-Assad elements. Such support would likely have made the more radical elements of the civil war much more powerful and likely increased the flow of refugees.

US involvement in the Syrian Civil War did in certain circumstances limit the refugee crisis and has allowed refugees to return home. For example the US/YPG defense of Sinjar Mountain in N. Iraq allowed refugees to escape genocide, then with the recapture of Sinjar, allowed refugees to return home. Another example would be halting of the Islamic State's campaign in N. Syria, which if continued would have generated hundreds of thousands of refugees. Not only was the Islamic State's advance halted, but it has been rolled back significantly with large numbers of refugees returning home. This would not have been possible without US support to the factions (YPG/SDF) fighting the Islamic State.

We can debate the exact nature of US responsibility for the refugee crisis, but (1). any direct responsibility for foreign policy at this level is with the President not the Secretary of State, (2). there was no coup d'etat attempted or otherwise in Syria.


The CIA trained, armed, and radicalized the Syrians to fan the flames of the "popular uprising" in Syria. Then, Iran and Russia came to the aid of their ally and the coup failed. Those Syrians migrated to Iraq and formed ISIS which is now active in over 30 countries. Of course, now that the coup has failed the Pentagon is backing Assad because... well I honestly don't know why.

http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-cia-pentagon-i...

>Srian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter five-year-old civil war.


Isis started in Iraq as Al Qaeda in Iraq, and is primarily led by former officers of Sadam Hussein's military. They certainly took advantage of the chaos in Syria, but it was the Iraq war that led to the formation of Isis. Syria just added fuel to the fire.


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/03/us-isi... A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state” – despite the “grave danger” to Iraq’s unity – as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.


1. US/CIA did not support a coup, no coup was attempted or has taken place in Syria, this is not even a point of controversy. Instead the US provided support to factions after a civil war had started. Revolution does not imply coup.

2. As another poster noted, ISIS started in Iraq not Syria.

3. The Syrian factions which the US supported are opposed to ISIS and fought several early battles against them. Some US allies in the region sent aid to ISIS, but the US worked to limit and stop that aid.

4. The Pentagon is not backing Assad and still provides aid to anti-Assad groups.


1. The CIA has been funding Syrian opposition forces since 2006, well before the civil war began in 2011.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_activities_in_Syria#Parami...

Wikileaks has reported that the US government has been covertly funding the Syrian opposition since 2006.[40]

2. Yes, ISIS started in Iraq, by not primarily by Iraqis. As I said, the Syrians who had been trained, armed, and radicalized by the CIA fled to Iraq when the coup failed and started ISIS.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/03/us-isi... A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state” – despite the “grave danger” to Iraq’s unity – as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.

3. See #2 above, we clearly funded and armed what became ISIS.

4. You're right on this one. The reports of the two parties backed by the CIA and Pentagon fighting each other had me mixed up. That doesn't change the rest of the stuff above for which I've provided citations.


1. Funding the opposition, is not the same as fund a coup or arming factions in a civil war. The US funds opposition movements in many countries. The link you give is about the US performing a raid into Syria against an Iraqi insurgent network.

2. What happened in Syria is a civil war not a Coup d'etat.

>"the Syrians who had been trained, armed, and radicalized by the CIA fled to Iraq when the coup failed and started ISIS."

The civil war was going well for the rebels all throughout the rise of ISIS, so I'm curious when you thought this was happening? All sources agree that ISIS was formed in Iraq and then infiltrated into Syria.

"the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups - they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state”"

Lets parse that carefully as it is deceptively written:

* "the US and its allies" that is, the US had one policy and its allies had another, but the author chooses to group them together to blame the US for activities undertaken by US allies which the US actively opposed and ran counter to US interests.

* "supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups" while true the US was going out of its way to arm the less extreme elements (unlike some US allies).

* "they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state”", that is, a DIA intelligence assessment considered the possibility that the Sunni population of Iraq might break away from Iraq. They didn't support this possibility, just said it could happen (and it did). This state need not be "The Islamic State", but author choose the name "Islamic State" to make it sound like the US supported the Islamic State.

The author of that piece is being willfully misleading. Note that it was published in the Opinion section of the guardian. Even with all that the author supports my claim that ISIS started in Iraq.


BTW thanks for an interesting conversation. I wish there was a better format for it than reply threads. It would be really helpful be able to address and counter-address claims. So much gets lost in the confusion of the format.


Your comment reeks of elitism. You think that Trump got elected because of "dumb people". If only they had read wikipedia their jobs would come back and their quality of life would have gone up.

I think you will find the opposite is true. You have completely out-of-touch elitists who think everything is great, and then you have people who voted for Trump who are extremely aware of the reality of the situation.

The people who voted for Trump had to actually seek out the truth because they realised that would they were being fed by the mainstream media and social media didn't match their reality.

The people who voted for Hillary just continued to be fed information. The end result is the Trump voters became extremely knowledgeable about all of the various issues, and Hillary voters look like products of brainwashing.

For example, Hillary voters would see the cnn article about how citibank predicted the sharemarket would drop 3% if Trump was elected and just take it at face value. Trump supporters know that citibank has strong ties to the democrats to the point that they selected the Obama team and can see that CNN is merely a propaganda arm of the clinton foundation.

Hillary was under investigation from the FBI at the time that article was written and their logic for suggesting the 3% decrease was supposedly that at some point Trump wasn't the favourite and so it would be an unexpected result. So being an unexpected result will cause a 3% drop, but not your president being under investigation by the FBI.

That is just one example of literally hundreds of examples. Hillary voters never bothered to seek the truth.


Trump has evaded taxes on a massive scale, colluded with a foreign government to impact the election, and sexually assaulted many women. The only reason he wasn't/isn't under investigation himself is that the FBI favors his police state mentality.


I agree with you -- but I want to point out another way that widespread internet access is insufficient. We need to update our laws to allow true information democratization. Right now, under dominant legal systems, information is far too easy for companies to box off and "own", even when they don't own it (extensive discussion about this earlier today on the thread about Google locking out people who resold their Pixel devices).

Yes, it's true that underground utilities and services can be produced that skirt legal responsibility for a good while, but without the legal ability to come into the sunlight and flourish, such things will always remain incomplete, spotty, and hard to come by, always denied a full resource allocation and full publicity profile.

We need to update copyright to something that's sane for the digital age, something that doesn't pretend like a RAM representation that exists for microseconds represents millions of dollars in damages. We need to update patent law to something that protects small innovators without becoming a club that can bludgeon competitors who are playing fair. We need to repeal and replace the Soviet-era CFAA and its copycats, which still govern most network access and allow tech monopolists to take your data, and thus your life (calendars, emails, photos, phone numbers...), hostage.

The true potential of a free internet remains unseen, stifled by greedy monopolists hiding behind their hypocritical rhetoric about freedom and openness while they prosecute and harass anyone that tries to ensure you can keep control of your most personal records.


Ok... where do we start?


I highly recommend reading Rich Falkvinge at [1]; he talks a lot about how copyright has to change for the modern day world.

[1] https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/blog/


> Unfortunately, I'm not sure we're not seeing such information availability providing avenues towards a smarter, more progressive planet.

The long-term view, spanning decades or hundreds of years, overwhelmingly argues in favor of information availability leading to progress. That progress doesn't happen all at once, gains are not always evenly distributed, it's gradual and eventual. All great leaps of human progress have directly coincided with immense increases in information availability. I'd be very skeptical that that is a coincidence. Ignorance is gradually boxed into smaller and smaller enclaves when confronted with unfettered access to information. The only way to truly retard that progression is through violence and that is always temporary.

What other explanation is there for seven billion people having such a drastically higher median when it comes to knowledge, versus what the median was 500 or 5,000 years ago? 500 years ago, the median on the planet was extraordinarily ignorant compared to today.

You can see ignorance collapse rapidly when confronted with information. Countries as varied as China, Vietnam, Romania, Colombia, Brazil, etc. have been or actively are incredible demonstrations of it in action the past few decades. Cuba will demonstrate it once again over the next ~20 years. China's last 30 years may be the single largest / greatest leap in history, going from a median that was hyper ignorant and impoverished agrarian to quickly closing the gap with the global median. That China leap directly coincided with a vast increase in knowledge availability for the median (even if state censorship is still present, the education level available to their median has skyrocketed).


Fake news targets people based on popularity if you look at the popular vote Hillary was actually more popular and thus the biggest fake news target. They're going to destroy Trump next it's not about politics it's about traffic and money , he's setting himself up perfectly to get torn to shreds if he can't deliver on practical issues like jobs and health care costs, if he brings in single payer he won't be so vulnerable but if he reverses his economic promises and goes for scapegoating vulnerable people the fake news will amplify his hypocrisy. Most likely he's planning in using scapegoating to have to cover for throwing his followers under a bus in order to please Wall Street.


> Most likely he's planning in using scapegoating to have to cover for throwing his followers under a bus in order to please Wall Street.

With Steve Bannon he has the best man on board to do exactly that /without even alienating his followers/, at least the loyal ones. We might see a propaganda alliance between the White House and far-right media, so it's not at all clear to me that Trump will be destroyed by fake news.


Don't worry - give it a few generations and the people in charge will have accumulated enough experience to handle the access to knowledge.


Mainstream social media is pretty much curated at this point.


Mostly by your selections in the media. And the good stuff isn't getting filtered out, just lost in the noise of the bad stuff.


Do you think that having workers/employees overwork, sometimes mindlessly; worrying about their jobs or otherwise go hungry - is a factor in the problem you described?


It definitely is. Plenty of evidence all around.


I suspect that if not for the internet, one wouldn't even know the cocoons existed.


I share your skepticism of the (inherent) potential of the internet. It's not a popular belief and I haven't seen a good solution... But in the mean time I watch as everyone heralds the dawn of the information age, awaiting the death of ignorance and bigotry... and I suspect we will find ourselves in a dark place in ten years wishing we had realized how much work we should have done because this gigantic confounding tool is just a tool and like all tools is not a neutral force. A tool's effects in history are those that its use/existence tends to promote.

I'm not sure discussions of a free and equal internet approach something that will be a net good.

I think there's ample evidence that the internet is really most similar to TV.


And I assume you or someone you know should be in charge of what is considered smart and progressive wisdom? No thanks, history has shown us that is the wrong direction, set it all free (as in freedom, not beer...unless you want/can) and let the public decide.



The flat earth thing is a joke, no? I mean it's gotten pretty elaborate, but it seems as though they're always dropping sarcastic hints here and there...


No, unfortunately it is not a joke. There are people sincerely believing that the earth is flat (some also believe it is hollow and we live inside it) and actively trying to convince others to believe the same. Search for "flat earth" on YouTube and you will see hundreds of videos by many different authors, sometimes with tens of thousands of views. They try to come up with arguments for pretty much any proof you will toss at them, like saying that things disappearing over the horizon are due to perspective or "light bending".


Hmm, I always thought the elaborate and ridiculous explanations were merely an embellishment of the joke. Kind of like the Church of the FSM. That's a lot of mental gymnastics, it's easier to believe the world is round and whatnot.


> Instead, the internet seems to be helping people create cocoons of ignorance and "evidence" to support even the most specious claims - such as the world being flat.

I've yet to see any evidence that it overall makes the world a worse place.

People give examples like immigration but leave out things like gay marriage acceptance which would have been unheard of pre-internet. Drug reform seems to be improving.

> Knowledge does not seem to be enough.

Correct, access to knowledge is useless, but the internet is more.

It's access to incredible AI machines and software, like Googles search engine. The ability for Uber to work. For free phone calls.


I actually lean on your side, I think free easy access to knowledge is awesome and is for the best, but to put a counter example, there was a Hackernews not too loNguyen about how the top result for election on Google was to a false news side.

So I do think we'll have issues controlling that false information doesn't spread faster and wider on the Internet then true info.


> > Instead, the internet seems to be helping people create cocoons of ignorance and "evidence" to support even the most specious claims - such as the world being flat.

> I've yet to see any evidence that it overall makes the world a worse place.

Donald Trump, potentially. We'll see.

> People give examples like immigration

They don't know what they're talking about. Migration isn't even a particularly modern phenomenon.


If home internet was fast enough to power a turnkey server with software to provide similar capability to what we get from Google and Facebook today then, yes, it would free information.


> such as the world being flat.

This doesn't harm anyone. People follow and believe in all kinds of unreal things - The Pope tweets, Dalai Lama has a website... at least there's not going to be Flat Earth terrorism.


Sadly, this is a naive view, and perpetuated by people who wants to push more ad channels in the name of "empowering" communities...

Access to information does not mean consumption. If you give access to internet to 100 people, 99 of them will use it for Facebook or Porn.

1. If you have enough motivation, learning about anything was already possible even before Internet (local libraries and resources)

2. If you don't have enough motivation, then providing access to Internet, is not going to make a difference.

So the key to a smarter planet does not lie in providing internet. But in installing enough motivation, imagination and a quest for knowledge and free thought in younger generations.

But sadly, the Internet of today seem to work against this by providing perpetual distraction and addictive/useless chitchat across the world......


I agree with your key points, but I'm a bit skeptical about this:

> If you don't have enough motivation, then providing access to Internet, is not going to make a difference.

I'd argue that because the barrier to entry is smaller, you need less motivation to learn about things. Going to libraries, scanning huge books for the few pieces of information you want is much more effort than looking it up online.

I'm not doubting that the internet might only make a small percentage change in the people willing to do it though.


More effort needed is less free time for nonsense and procrastination.


"If you give access to internet to 100 people, 99 of them will use it for Facebook or Porn."

This isn't a zero sum game, last night I used my internet access for porn, today I'm using my internet access to learn about a new 4,000 satellite constellation being built by SpaceX, later on today I'll use it to create a pull request on Bitbucket.


Totally agree. I think the disappointment is that in its earlier days there was hope that the internet would end up changing the world for the better but it ended up just magnifying whatever good and bad already existed in world before it came to the scene.

Still, I wouldn't want to go back to pre-internet era. With all the crap, it seems the bottom line is still a gain to humanity and hopefully that gain will increase with time.


> but it ended up just magnifying whatever good and bad already existed in world before it came to the scene.

And that's how technology works. While they are a lot of naive people around, it has been that way ever since, and humans would use what they got at their disposal to do what humans do.


Sadly, this is a naive view,

Views like this created the internet and wikipedia and we need more of them. Wikipedia is still going strong thanks to them:

[1] Assuming good faith (AGF) is a fundamental principle on Wikipedia. It is the assumption that editors' edits and comments are made in good faith. Most people try to help the project, not hurt it. If this were untrue, a project like Wikipedia would be doomed from the beginning.

As an example, the story with the teens from FYROM creating false news sites for the americans[2] could be avoided with better education from both sides, not by "stopping the internet" or putting them to prison.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Assume_good_faith

2. https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/how-macedonia-became...


One day people will grok that this "addictive/useless chitchat" is not good for them for any number of reasons. But in no way should anyone decide for anyone else how they should spend their time. You could empower thousands in the way you suggest and still end up with hundreds that simply just want to just go do a goods day of work and come home to family, beer and video games.

Providing access to the Internet will make a difference, because right now its gated and walled by every country on this planet...give me and the rest of the world direct satellite uplink sooner than later.


> "addictive/useless chitchat"

That's been part of our culture for a huge amount of time, widespread gossip and idle speculation didn't start in the era of modern technology.


>99 of them will use it for Facebook or Porn

You misspelled 100.


> Free, global internet access is the next step toward a smarter, more progressive planet. I don't even care about the speed - if the only thing users could access was wikipedia, I'd still personally donate to the project. I cannot emphasize how important democratizing knowledge is to me (and many others).

Come on... It was very fine to say this 15 to 20 years ago, but now we have had the ability to see what Internet evolved into during the last 5 or 10 years, and it has definitely not gone towards the achievement of this dream, but in a completely different direction.


http://www.subgenius.com/bigfist/answers/articles2/X0095_The...

>The Internet is a perfect reflection of the world at large. It has everything in it except homeless people and that's only because they can't afford the monthly hookup charge. The Internet is scary to people because it TRULY makes everyone equal. All the people who are invisible in the normal world (the world run by the rich and powerful), all those people you can dismiss on the street as powerless and harmless -- ALL THOSE PEOPLE are now in your face. You can feel their hot breath on the Internet.

>It's called "humanity."

---

Maybe you feel like comments have gotten too stupid or that too many people have backwards beliefs. Maybe you feel like that goes against the notion of a "progressive planet". But the way I see it you're absolutely wrong.


I think the quote contradicts itself: I find that "The Internet is a perfect reflection of the world at large" and "it TRULY makes everyone equal" are not compatible. I think the internet has gradually become a good reflection of the world at large, with plenty of its beauty and plenty of its ugliness and the person you responded to was just expressing sadness that we couldn't filter out the ugly.

Also, the word "equal" deserves some attention. There's "equally powerful" and "equally wise". The two are not necessarily related and today's internet does not guarantee either. While the internet levelled the playing field for a while (at least for those who had access to the field), things are getting back to their "natural" state of "whoever has the gold (or power) makes the rules". Venting one's beliefs on the internet (whether wise or moronic) is possible for everyone but the amount of impact it will make will usually depend on the amount of resources one has.


> Venting one's beliefs on the internet (whether wise or moronic) is possible for everyone but the amount of impact it will make will usually depend on the amount of resources one has.

This is so false I don't understand why you would write it. I listen to political commentary from this guy on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/Styxhexenhammer666/videos and he's just some guy with a camera and a microphone and he reaches thousands of people. More than ever are people able to share their beliefs and reach a huge number of people with little to no cost.

This is what scares the powerful and rich, and this is what makes everyone equal.


I think you'll find most of the rich and powerful are not scared of the internet at all but just happily use it to get what they want. Those that are scared of it (usually governments) take the appropriate measures to keep tabs and limit it where necessary (usually quite successfully).

As to the YouTube example you gave: I'm not saying the Internet didn't open more possibilities to the individual, but reaching thousands of people is still a long way from being able to make a difference and is not a threat to anyone. By the way, that channel is not available in my country so if he wants more listeners perhaps he should let his information be more free...


you could totally do this, almost free. I think the entire (pictureless) wikipedia is ~8gb ? maybe more ? That file could be broadcast over multicast off these things on their unused frames. For instance, the bird knows that when it flies over some impoverished region, there's maybe 0-3 paying customers probably not maxing out the capacity at any given time. They could freely broadcast wikipedia or other educational books on a multicast basis. It would just require word of mouth and equipment to tell them what to tune into. After, say, 5 days, you eventually get all 8gb and can unzip it.


Some Iranians are already doing basically this with satellite TV equipment: https://www.wired.com/2016/04/ingenious-way-iranians-using-s...

Definitely an interesting idea. Since SpaceX will control the pipe and terminal they could use some of the bandwidth to prime a cache in the terminal with content they know will be commonly accessed.

HTTPS makes doing this transparently difficult, though.


"Current revisions only, no talk or user pages; this is probably what you want, and is approximately 12 GB compressed (expands to over 49 GB when uncompressed)."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Database_download#En...


Ok, given the election I have to ask.... Who's knowledge will we democratize?


That's a very good point. I love seeing how many people on HN assume that, if everyone had access to the knowledge they have, everyone would vote D. Which isn't true and which is precisely the reason why R won. Furthermore, Pew Research has shown a lead of 9 points for D in college-educated population, which isn't very impressive given the dominance of liberalism at colleges.

Overall, it's a hard problem.

[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/behind-trump...


[flagged]


I've heard of Breitbart. Isn't that the site that encouraged people to "hoist the Confederate flag high and proud" because the Confederacy was a "patriotic and idealistic cause"? Same one right?


That's the one! Breitbart is all about killing foreigners and hating non-white people, right?


Well that's what the Confederacy was about.


Risible tirades like these is why people don't take you seriously.


Free, global internet access is the next step toward more ads.


Free global wireless internet lets every device in your home spy without an easy way to firewall it off.


They'll have local connectivity to the satellite antenna

> Home Internet customers would receive a "low-profile user terminal that is easy to mount and operate on walls or roofs."

You can place your firewall between your LAN and the antenna.

However there could be devices with their own antenna, much like iridium phones. I googled for them and they are not cheap. Mass production could shave off a zero and bring them under $50. Maybe.


And why was that down-vote worthy? Globally available FREE internet means that devices in our homes could bipass our routers to signal home with little ability to oversee and limit that signaling save throwing the device away and a faraday cage. Today the same is also possible with 3/4/5G antennas, true, but the cost of sending data over cellular networks on billable data accounts is probably just too cost prohibitive for IoT device manufacturers to do, so they just do it through your wifi.


An IoT device is not going to have a satellite hookup. The things are about the size of a pizza.


Who said anything about it being free?

And, increasingly, I'm not so sure the internet has been a good thing all told.


We didn't have internet when I was in high school

If I had Wikipedia and Khan Academy back then, it would have been life changing. I would have probably made very different decisions than I made


You may be interested in the Filecast https://outernet.is/filecast project in that case


The whole idea of "progressive" humanity is bizarre and absurd. Look at the world. I mean, what do you see? The world is a polluted, concreted over mess. Suicide rates are sky high and people work in shitty meaningless jobs they hate. We are all being stacked on top of each other in apartments.

Where exactly do "progressives" think we are progressing? Why don't other animals need to progress? What is having access to wikipedia even going to do? "Education" is basically just another term for brainwashing and the internet is largely about administering that brainwashing.

Silicon Valley has literally no idea what it is doing. The leaders don't realise they are not as smart as they think they are and are not actually right in the direction they are attempting to steer the world.

If I look at all of the areas where the internet has improved my knowledge and helped me in some way, it has only been to solve problems caused by "progress" in the first place.

For example, sitting down all day as part of my job led to a terrible posture. I used the internet to figure out how the muscles work and what needed to be changed to fix the problem.


Digital imperialism. Zuckerberg and Musk are competing who will control the means of communication and information. Zuckerberg tactic seems to be collecting data as much as possible with his drones and then sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for a free walled garden, while Musk has a more old school approach with his lobbying for privatization of public services.


> Where exactly do "progressives" think we are progressing?

Originally, the answer to that would be Communism. It was looming, remember? Just a matter of time and it could be accelerated through different kind of policies... Except it never happened.

But these days that's a bad word and some of them abandoned it, and others just don't say it anymore.


> But these days that's a bad word and some of them abandoned it, and others just don't say it anymore.

I don't think its seen as bad of a word amongst young progressives, however, those same progressives who are students of history know that some individuals in a Communist society are "more equal" than others.

If you're not catching my drift, Communism, historically, has been rife with hypocrisy WRT the "ruling classes" who instill it on the proletariat.


When one doesn't know what they don't know, where do they intuitively begin learning when given the firehose of data that is the internet?


I used to think that until smartphones became inexpensive ~3 years ago. Now twitter and facebook have stupidity poured into them rather than the people learning from it.


I agree with democratizing knowledge very important. The means to access it is also important to democratize. If you live in my country, you'd care about speed: https://www.reddit.com/r/Philippines/comments/2aurzq/how_pld...


Please, no. Keep your political views to yourself. Respect the others. We don't need more "democratized" countries like Lybia or Siria.


There's Wikipedia Zero. The goal is to provide free access to Wikipedia through mobile carriers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Zero


Can we get free clean drinking water first? That is more of a problem than free internet.


I live in a developing country. Much of the problem in the communities I've seen is a lack of knowledge.

I'd much prefer if local people become the experts through knowledge sharing / gathering than bringing in expensive consultants to train them and tell them how to do it. The most vulnerable places often slip through the cracks.

Smart phones are dominating these communities, not the latest and greatest but they are definitely starting to come online. By the way, there are plenty of videos to understand the different solutions on offer for clean drinking water. Email and VOIP allows community leaders get expert advice without leaving their shelters.

By empowering the community to chose and implement a solution most appropriate for them they will be able to achieve much more in the future. Teach a man or woman to fish and all that jazz...


That is a much, much, much harder problem to solve. You essentially have to fix politics before you can fix water. Information access gives people the ability to fix their politics. Then they can fix their water themselves.


He doesn't have to build business in parallel with the world's priority. Why not ask Apple to make schools instead?


This still requires ground stations. Though I guess you could pay for "censor resistant" traffic where your data is bounced among the satellites until someone has a US ground station in sight...


I agree that the US is above average in terms of protection against censorship, but I imagine that if it is an option a lot of people would specifically avoid US ground stations (US is above average in tracking online activity as well).


To some extent we just need something better than https and the various email protocols that we have for securely transmitting data, with built in blinding for sender and reciever. (Only the receiver knows it is a message for them). Stuff should never be in the clear on an intermediary server, and it should be at least resistant to MITM (everything should be signed). It isn't an easy problem. But you can't snoop on and censor what you can't decipher.


The problem is that blinding for sender and receiver is hard to achieve on a route-based mesh.

On the internet you need to know the receiver and sender of a message, otherwise you have no idea where it's going and the best method to from there is to use very inefficient methods.

HTTPS and IMAP over TLS already achieve MITM-resistance, as long as you verify the certificate.

With TLS (and SSL to some extend) you can't snoop on and censor data, not without compromising the sender (assuming you trust their certificate explicitly).


That still wouldn’t give you access to piracy sites, for which the FBI has required US ISPs to censor them from their DNS servers.

I’ve had this occur quite a few times now that 8.8.8.8 (yes, verified with DNSSEC to be the real one) and DNS servers of US ISPs returned different IPs than the authoritative nameservers, and the returned IPs always showing a neat "The FBI has seized this property due to piracy" link.


> he FBI has required US ISPs to censor them from their DNS servers.

That's a pretty serious statement, the government threatens infrastructure providers all the time but I haven't heard of the FBI requiring ISP level censorship of DNS.

> I’ve had this occur quite a few times now that 8.8.8.8 (yes, verified with DNSSEC to be the real one) and DNS servers of US ISPs returned different IPs than the authoritative nameservers

Can you give some examples?


Here's an example from the FBI website itself, announcing the seizure of 150 websites by taking over control of their domain name:

https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/washingtondc/press-release...


I believe the FBI seized the domain names, as in, from the registrars/registries themselves. They talk about some of them being forefeited, which would have happened at registrar-level. There's nothing in there that suggested manipulation of the DNS servers themselves.


Yes, I've seen those and FOIA'd for the rest (no luck). But this isn't the same as forcing ISPs to censor specific websites.


> That's a pretty serious statement, the government threatens infrastructure providers all the time but I haven't heard of the FBI requiring ISP level censorship of DNS.

It’s not unheard of the FBI just storming into data centers, seizing entire racks, just because some of the systems in them might be connected to piracy sites.

> Can you give some examples?

I’m sorry, I know this will undermine the credibility of the statement, but I won’t link to content where linking to it can potentially be a crime on here. Sorry.


> It’s not unheard of the FBI just storming into data centers, seizing entire racks, just because some of the systems in them might be connected to piracy sites.

Indeed, they regularly force cooperation by telling the accused that they will seize their hardware for forensic analysis and then drop them to the bottom of the priority queue.

> I’m sorry, I know this will undermine the credibility of the statement, but I won’t link to content where linking to it can potentially be a crime on here. Sorry.

I think you misunderstand how the law works (at least in the US). I suggest you read this guide put out by the ACLU[0].

[0] https://www.eff.org/wp/iaal-what-peer-peer-developers-need-k...


You were probably witnessing normal DNS propagation after the authoritative name servers had been changed. Keep in mind that the nameserver data you see in "whois" may not be up to date. When a site is seized, law enforcement goes direct to the registry (GLTD operator, such as Verisign), not the registrar.

See http://domainincite.com/2766-icann-had-no-role-in-seizing-to... for an example


For 2 years?

The authoritative nameservers still return the original IP, I can still access the site from anywhere in the world except the US.


That's different. Can you share the domain? I run my own name servers.


There is no such thing as free. Perhaps you mean included in developed country taxes and/or deficits?


Where does it say it will be free?


What if it was only Wikipedia but it was funded by facebook? I mean, hypothetically.


I doubt it would have caused as much of a fuss.

The problem was that they picked popular low-bandwidth public-good informational websites (like Wikipedia, mostly text), and Facebook which isn't either. All US websites.

The website selection was almost comical. No Google Translate, but ESPN, which is only relevant culturally in America...

And there's also a problem related to having large companies harm local ISP markets, which only providing just the non-profit Wikipedia would have mostly avoided.


As China proved, it is easy to blow up satellites. I don't know how reliable this will be under global pressure.


It's thousands of satellites. You're going to create a debris cloud so big to shutdown satellite access for everybody. Much better to go to the headquarter and tell them to shut down operation, or ban its usage in your country. I bet transmitting antennas can be detected even if hidden from sight.


napkin math (chemistry style): (4425 satellites * 23Gbps) / ((60,000PB of fixed internet traffic / 1 month [1]) * (12 months / 365 days) * (1 day / 24 hours ) * (1 hour / 60 minutes) * (1 minute / 60 seconds) * (8 bits / 1 byte) * (1024 Tera / 1 Peta) * (1024 Tera / 1 Giga)) =

An astounding O(54% of global internet traffic) [2]! Obviously there are many many more variables in this [3]. Nonetheless this will be super interesting to follow.

[1]: my estimated current data usage from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_traffic#Global_Intern...

[2]: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=(4425+*+23)+%2F+((60,00... (1024+%2F+1)+*+(1024+%2F+1))

[3]: Side note, someone should create a multi user algorithm website (it might be able to be done over google spreadsheets) but adding in extra factors like revenue streams and what not sounds like it would be fun to play around with.


But if everyone gets 1Gbps then each satellite can only service 23 people. Of course people who have that kind of bandwidth don't use it continuously. But what if we all try to watch some 4k video at say 20mbps? That's 50x23 = 1150 users per satellite or around 5 million users to saturate the whole constellation. It's still cool, but certain things will not be possible.


Key phrase in the article: "up to 1Gbps per user". They aren't providing an SLA of guaranteed 1 Gbps, but a maximum possible 1 Gbps. They will oversubscribe just like all WAN's do because thats what makes the most economical sense. Now, I bet you will be able to pay for your guaranteed IOPS but everyone who's used EBS knows that costs money.


Oversubscription isn't exactly a rare thing in the ISP world.


No, but cables can be duplicated, wireless bandwidth can't.


lasers are wireless and don't compete for spectrum. beam-forming with phased arrays is not quite as good, but still gives you more capacity than naively shared spectrum would.


This is laser based? Are the building ground stations everywhere too?


The links to end-users use beam-steered microwaves, sat-sat links use laser.

I was more making a more general statement: that wireless is not necessarily synonymous with shared medium.


>An astounding O(54% of global internet traffic) [2]!

Thanks for working this out. This matches with Musk's stated goals for the project from January 2015 ("the majority" of internet traffic): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHeZHyOnsm4&t=2m40s

>The focus is going to be on creating a global communications system. This is quite an ambitious effort. We're really talking about something which is... in the long term it will be like rebuilding the internet in space. The goal will be to have the majority of long distance internet traffic go over this network, and about 10% of local and business traffic. Probably 90% of people's local access will still come from fiber, but we'll do about 10% of business and consumer direct, and more than half I think of the long distance traffic.

>As you guys may know, the speed of light in a vacuum is somewhere between 40-50% faster than in fiber. So you can actually do long distance communication faster if you route it through vacuum than you can if you route it through fiber.

>And you can also go through far fewer hops. Let's say if you want to communicate from Seattle to South Africa. If you look at the actual path that it takes it's extremely convoluted[1]. It will follow the outline of the continents. It will go through 200 routers and repeaters, and the latency is extremely bad. Whereas if you did it with a satellite network you could actually do it in two or three hops. Well maybe four hops; it depends on what the altitude of the satellites are, and what the cross-links are.

>Let's say at least an order of magnitude fewer repeaters or routers, and going through space at 50% faster speed of light. So from a physics standpoint it's inherently better to do the long distance internet traffic through space.

[1] https://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/m.dodge/cyberge...


If it does actually work faster than fibre then some early high-paying customers could be high-frequency traders (HFT). Those folks already go to amazing lengths and great expense to shave milliseconds off latency. They could get a huge early cash injection by auctioning off exclusive, prioritised access between certain locations.


For [3], Guesstimate ( https://www.getguesstimate.com ) pretty much does that.


More numbers to crunch:

- Satellite with LEO orbit covers 1-2 percent of earth surface with 10 degree elevation.

- Land occupies less than 30% of earth's surface area. Urban areas occupy less than 3 percent of the Earth's land surface. That's where the customers are.

You have to divide at least by 100.


Urban areas already have high-bandwidth, low-latency internet service at more competitive rates, let alone 3-5 years from now. I'd think most target customers for this service are in rural areas, as well as those with a need for connectivity while traveling.


I'm not 100% sure I'm following your comment, but with LEO, you don't get to choose a location above earth for each satellite, as you would with GSO.


Half of those satellites will be over the Pacific Ocean at any given time.

On the bright side, this completely solves the bandwidth for adventurers. The farther you are from civilization, the less contention for the links.


it's about 100Tbs which is close to current US to Europe internet capacity. So it's definitely will not represent 1/2 of the world's traffic.


Per the wiki [1], Internet traffic is defined as: the amount of data sent and received by visitors of a particular web site.

The traffic between europe and the US is not solely dominated by the amount of data sent and received by visitors of a particular web site. It includes a lot of other background data such as backups between regions.

The analogy to economics would be the calculation of GDP in that you generally don't factor in B2B products/services when the end product/service is the consumer.

Obviously, this won't replace my "laptop -> router" communication nor "server -> server" communication but it's the consumer that matters.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_traffic#Global_Intern...


you conveniently ignore: Internet traffic is the flow of data across the Internet. The phrase "Internet traffic" is sometimes used to describe web traffic.


Something I find interesting about this: what does it mean for countries who monitor and filter/block content (think China)? Presumably since this isn't using their national infrastructure they would lose all control of it, no? I wonder how those countries would respond to SpaceX wanting to let their citizens use the service. Unless I'm missing something it seems to me like they wouldn't really be able to stop it.


Most likely SpaceX will do what those governments require. It's trying to charge for the service, after all, and that means going through normal financial channels.


They can always jam whatever bands it operates on. They can make it illegal to tx/rx in those bands.


I'm imagining a super narrow directional beam pointed at the satellites. You cannot jam that, and even detecting it would mean you need to be really close.

It can still be made illegal, of course.


A bad actor could also use a super narrow beam pointed at the satellite as a jamming signal that saturates the receiver, which prevents reception or even damages the satellite. Depends on the power.


Nah, it wouldn't be that hard to jam the inbound signal, especially within cities. The sat can't really focus a beam in the way you're imagining.


I don't know what technology you need to track and hit low-orbit satellites with a narrow beam, but I bet it's not as cheap as a dish?


A government still can get control practically. They cannot stop the service itself but can regulate payments from their citizens to the service. It is like online casino.

Of course, there may be some loopholes for payment and some citizens who access the service as well as online casino.


One example of a loophole: Pay with Bitcoin/have someone on the outside of censorship pay for the service and you pay them, then you connect with those paid for credentials.


What if SpaceX offers a free tier version. They can possibly double internet traffic with a flip of a switch.


Put three generations of your family in jail if they catch you?


I would imagine that they wouldn't be able to sell the hardware in china without a contract to redirect traffic through a terrestrial station that's inside the great wall. I doubt that's feasible.


Just make the necessary hardware illegal to sell or own and the problem is solved.


You need base stations to receive the signal. Governments could potentially limit access to those.


In order to xmit they need licensed spectrum from the government.


I don't understand the math. 800 satellites at 23 gbps seems to be able to provide 1 gbps to 18,400 connections at any given time. This seems to be many magnitudes off from what would be needed to have any impact. What am I missing?


People aren't generally using a 1 gbps connection at 100% capacity 100% of the time. If we assume customers use an average of 1 TB of data per month and the time they use it is pretty spread out (seems reasonable since they are going to be spread out accross timezones eventually), you can serve about 6 million customers with 800 satelites @ 23 GBPS, and with 4400 @ 23 GBPS you could do ~33 million.

Admittedly these numbers are all best case scenarios (except maybe the 1 TB average, that's probably generous), but even if you divide by 2 it's a decent number of people.


Using the 4400 example. People pay ~20$ per month for under 10GB cellular data. So 100GB for 150 million globally people globally seems viable. If that 150 million is paying 15$ per month that's 30 billion per year. Optionally, I suspect a few customers would pay a lot more for a larger monthly cap.

The issue is the antenna needs to be around 2 foot by 2 foot.

But, with autonomous cars people may want significant bandwidth in there cars. An hour or two of video a day seems reasonable especially if they can cache popular content.

Honestly, if they can get the price down this could be very profitable.


"People pay ~20$ per month for under 10GB cellular data."

It depends on a country. Where I live, you can get unlimited 4G Internet for 15-30 eur/month (depending on a provider).


This might primarily be for their autonomous vehicles. It makes sense for them not to rely on 3rd party for cost/reliability reasons.


Heck, the leap in positioning accuracy 4.4k satellites would make gps obsolete. Civilian gps accuracy is low enough that you cannot distinguish between lanes on a highway.


Do you need to track/tune them all at the same time, or can you mux between them? 12 channel receivers used to be common.

Edit: Maybe this has some answers: http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/11884/how-man...


Still. What's the cost of deploying 800 sattelites vs cost of fiber infrastructure for 6 million people?


I think it might be comparable.

It's really hard to estimate since we don't know their satellite costs, but $100 million per satellite (launched) is probably a good starting point. That ends up being $13k capital cost per customer. If they can borrow capital at 5% or less, that works out to ~$55/month.

But if they succeed with reusable rockets (and it sure looks like they will), they can probably drop the launch cost from $60m to $10m in the near term. If we assume the satellite still costs $40m, that still cuts the total cost in half to ~$27/month @ 5%. Maybe they can mass produce these satellites and get them to $10-20m each, which would reduce it to more like $15/month.

Again all these numbers are pretty rough/best case scenarios, but even if we multiply them by 10 we could be looking at 1 gbps connections for $150-500/month. That could be cheaper than fiber infrastructure in a lot of places and still immensely useful in applications where fiber isn't possible (in a car, plane, or boat). That's also assuming 1 TB/customer. In many cases you may just buy the bandwidth in smaller increments at $1-10/gigabyte which is a few orders of magnitude cheaper than current satellite internet and comparable with LTE cell coverage.


They're only going for 51 orbital planes and it's fairly simple to spread out many satellites from a single launch if they're in the same orbital plane. And a Falcon 9 can carry 20,000 kg to orbit whereas each satellite is pretty light. Some people on /r/spacex calculated that the binding constraint is actually the volume of the Falcon 9 payload fairing and they'll be able to launch 20-25 satellites at a go. And I would expect that mass produced satellites to be far cheaper on the margin than bespoke ones. All of which is to say that it's probably more like $10 million per satellite launched.


In cities, the fiber, or even some form of local wireless, is much cheaper. However, in more rural areas the satellite system can well end up the cheaper choice.

The interesting part is what building 4425 satellites does to the economics of making satellites. Right now, most satellites are one-offs, or at most made in a series of 10 or so, handmade to exact specifications for maximum reliability and built for 25+ year lifetimes. This fleet is meant to be mass-produced and built to last a much shorter time, 5-10 years at most. I am very interested in just how low can they drive the cost of making a single satellite.


"This fleet is meant to be mass-produced and built to last a much shorter time, 5-10 years at most. I am very interested in just how low can they drive the cost of making a single satellite."

One of the best points in the discussion. This has potential to produce side-effects more valuable than whatever they were attempting to do. As in, they can fail in their overall goal but a ton of great things would come from success in this part.


Interesting when you say "However, in more rural areas the satellite system can well end up the cheaper choice."

You mean a satellite system can well end up your ONLY choice. If you're rural there are no choices besides dial up and satellite. Satellite is a reseller selling hughesnet.


So long as it breaks even, SpaceX comes out ahead, since they're deploying the sats, and learning how to build the sats in a mass produced way.


+ economies of launch scale.


It depends on how far apart those 6 million people are and how much infrastructure is already in place.


Since satellites handle most worst-case distance scenarios with respect to fiber, it is reasonable to assume a connection spanning the world (including access to remote areas)


Depends where those 6 million people live. I've heard internet in Kilimanjaro is not that great...


So they'll be able to get awesome bandwidth (by today's standards, anyway), but the monthly plan is might be a little pricey.


Pretty much yes. It's not about giving $30/month broadband to remote parts of the globe...


But isn't it still cheaper to lay fiber cables?

For example, 23*4400 = 101Tbps, but I guess many of the satellites will end up above water, so maybe around 60Tbps. One cable by google did that for 300mil$ [1]

Maybe it is good for last mile connectivity, which is probably a good target, but only for less populated areas where LTE isn't available.

[1] https://www.extremetech.com/internet/231074-googles-faster-u...


Laying fiber isn't going to get your Tesla connected.


Interesting idea but wouldn't a satellite to car connection be pretty unreliable?

Since the line of sight would often have things in the way. I'm assuming trees, bridges, and being in a garage would interfere with it.


Well, there's going to be 800 of the suckers. There are only about 33 GPS satellites. Although 700 miles is lowish orbit, it's still above the horizon over 2000 miles away.


Wow. I read this comment and thought, "This has to be bullshit." But lo and behold, the core satellite 'constellation' is only 24 satellites[1]. That's mega impressive.

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/at...


Well, GPS is more like radio, you only listen to the broadcast, you don't talk back.

But this is more like cellular access points. You have a private channel.


And they transmit with about 50 watts.


Look up the connection between Einstein's general relativity and GPS accuracy for more fun. Especially early on in its deployment.


That's actually a myth, since the GPS satellites all experience a similar relativistic time skew.

http://www.alternativephysics.org/book/GPSmythology.htm

"The presence of Special and General Relativity effects has no bearing on the accuracy of GPS operation. In summary, it wouldn’t matter whether clocks aboard GPS satellites ran faster or slower than Earth’s clocks or even changed their speed each day. Just so long as the satellites’ clocks remained synchronised with each other and the time-difference relative Earth’s clocks didn’t become too large, GPS receivers would continue to calculate their correct position."


That page constructs its own argument and then deconstructs it. It doesn't actually disprove the OP's statement.

The reason that GR and SR have "no bearing" is because they've already been designed into the system...

From "Understanding the NAVSTAR" 2nd Edition, by Tom Logsdon ( one of the designers of the system ) the time-dilation is compensated through:

1. Off-setting the clock ticking-rate during manufacture of each satellite.

2. Applying a unique onboard corrective factor according to the eccentricity ( egg-shapedness ) of each satellite's current orbit. The latter is correction is constantly recalculated for each satellite.

Without these corrections against relativistic effects the accuracy would suffer by 14 nm after 24 hours ( without tick-offsetting ) and 100 feet or so per day due to orbital eccentricity.


That's the one. There's pages one can get from Google with some of the data and illustrations if they can't get the book. It tripped me out when I found out they had to design relativity into it.


I knew I shouldn't have questioned you so flippantly... Lesson learned.


Feel free to question as Im a human acting on incomplete information like the rest. ;) Just don't assume or read in too much as that can get you. Happened to me plenty here, too, haha.


You don't establish a communication channel with GPS. You merely listen to the broadcast.

Like a radio tower can service an entire town, but you need many many cellular access points.


I used to have a sat phone (Thuraya) and it was pretty reliable if you were outside. They don't work well inside buildings.


You'll get around that in your home by having the satellite module thing up on your roof and a cable to your wifi router.

What I don't understand about this though is the number of frequencies available to connect to all these satellites and how it might extend to ~300 million people (let alone a billion potentially).


I think they focus a beam on each user in turn and so don't need different frequencies.


Yet GPS works.


AIUI, GPS isn't a connection. It's broadcast, one-way communication. Also, I assume the information transferred is much lower, not much more than time and position, plus redundancy to handle things like interruptions due to landscape.


Can't lay fiber to the entire planet for $300mil


Yeah the cost advantage is entirely in last mile connectivity. It doesn't really make sense to compare the cost of a single cable to the cost of the end customer getting a connection. LTE is a much better comparison, but I think the cost will actually be pretty similar or cheaper than LTE (see my other post for napkin math) and cover a lot of areas/applications that LTE can't.


They're presumably aiming for some amount of economy of scale by using their own rocketry service. Dollar for dollar comparison doesn't account for the fact that they're investing some of that cost into further rocketry development.


Maybe it's a lot quicker - Google Fiber has been taking forever. Not that rocket science is easy, but it's probably a lot quicker than striking the earth.


It will be expensive bandwidth no matter what.

The way they can make this work is if they

1) are targeting traditional satellite internet customers (ships on the sea, commercial aviation, etc) and

2) integration with 5th generation mobile networks trough wireless network virtualization. Mobile network provider can sell a service where traveling customer pays extra for connection that works in the middle of nowhere. When the device is within normal cell network or WiFi, connection goes trough those networks, when they are sailing with their yacht, it can jump from the picocell in the boat or backpack to the satellite network. At any given time there may be millions of customers who pay little extra for coverage and just few tens of thousands who actually use it.


"commercial aircraft carriers"

That made me stop and think for a bit...



Exactly where my head started going... Then "No hang on. The rest of this comment isn't making sense now, back up bak up backup. Oh... _that's_ less interesting." :-)

(Gah - and don't you hate it when people stealth-edit their comments and make you look insane? For the record, the parent originally said "commercial aircraft carriers" instead of "commercial aviation". I may be insane, but there's a completely plausible explanation for this comment thread and it can't be used as evidence of my lack of sanity, ok?)


The frequencies they intend to use limit them to antennas roughly the size of a pizza box, which is a little bit too unwieldy for a backpack...


There are already satellite antennas larger than pizza box that fit into a backback.


Question: what sort of antennas would they use for this? A 1/4wave dipole at 10GHz would be _tiny_ (like 8mm or so, right?) - but presumably insufficiently sensitive for a satellite 800 miles up?

I've got a 5.8GHz "patch antenna" for FPV video from a quad copter which claims 12db gain - but I've got no idea what shape it is inside (it's small, maybe 70 or 80mm square, but it's a literal "black box" with an sma connector on it from my perspective).


They could sell bandwidth to LTE providers too who will upsell to cell consumers.


can the receiver/transmitter fit in a smartphone?


Unlikely. It will be a phased array so they will need some spacing between the antennas. I've heard mention of ~pizza box size


"I'm getting bad reception, hold on while I put on my antenna sombrero"


Great, now I need a tinfoil sombrero so they don't read my thoughts.


Lots of people have mentioned over-subscription, but another consideration is that while 1gbps connection speeds may be offered, they're likely to have other speeds as well at different costs. For a lot of people, even 100kbps would be an improvement over what they have (which might be dial-up, might be satellite with 2-second ping times, or might be nothing). I myself probably wouldn't notice much difference between 5mbps and 1gbps, as long as youtube works.

This could be a big deal for the huge under-served population in rural America and in developing countries. Incumbent telcos would have to have service at least as good/cheap as SpaceX's internet service to stay in business. I hope they introduce a low-cost, relatively low bandwidth plan that's accessible to the world's poor.


It might be good for people living in remote places in USA.

But the world's poor have internet connectivity, 3G/LTE is cheap and widely available. Don't go by US prices for data. Cellular plans here in India are cheap.


To take home users as an example, the residents generally sleep 8-10 hours a day, work 9 hours a day, commute ~1 hour a day, leaving only about 6 hours of free time at home a day. Assuming they spend that entire time watching 4K Netflix (25Mbit), they'll have used ~2TB in a month, or ~6Mbit/s total. Averaging bandwidth out over the whole month, each satellite would be able to support 3800 people. With the 4400 satellites they intend to deploy, they could support 16 million people.

Of course you generally need to provision for peak bandwidth rather than average so these numbers aren't even close to accurate but I think it's a rough explanation for why you don't need to fully provision every link.


But also bear in mind that the all the satellites over New Zealand (for example) will be wasted while we are asleep and at any given time a lot of satellites will be over empty ocean (sending 4K Netflix to cruise ships maybe).

I';; also counteract may own argument as to numbers with the idea that 16 million people could really mean 16 million households if they watch the movie together :-)


2TB/month is a lot. Home data caps tend to be more 10 - 40GB and I've got 4GB data on my phone which is fine for most stuff except video. I doubt the service will be very cheap - sat services are usually more than cellphone data.


Yeah, most people sleep at the same time.

Working for a CDN, we see our POPs gets about 4x traffic at peak compared to low times.


Most people sleep at the same time in one given geography, but if you're looking at the world, those times are pretty well distributed. Assuming I'm sleeping 8 hours a day, even the continental US only has 5 hours per day when everyone is asleep when you account for time zones. But APAC, ME/Africa, and Europe are all pretty reliably awake at that time.


Yeah, but that doesn't mean you can just put all the satellites right above the part of the world that is awake - so you are still going to not have a perfectly efficient system.


Why not? I wonder if you could construct a polar orbit that followed the daylight around the earth. Add higher concentrations of satellites to the orbits that correspond to the higher traffic hours of the day.


Yes, it's called a sun-synchronous orbit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun-synchronous_orbit

The exact orbit has to be arranged so that it precesses once a year, keeping it aligned with a particular local time of day. "Typical sun-synchronous orbits are about 600–800 km in altitude, with periods in the 96–100 minute range, and inclinations of around 98°"


There are 5 planes of 75 satellites planned by SpaceX later on for 81 degrees inclination which might be sun syncronous during the day but the initial 32 planes of 50 satellites are all headed for 53 degrees inclination which I'm sure isn't. You can't have sun synchronous orbits anyways for those satellites providing coverage during the night.


> You can't have sun synchronous orbits anyways for those satellites providing coverage during the night.

Um, what? Of course you can.


Well, I mean you can put a satellite in orbit so that it always goes over the equator at midnight local time. But then it's solar panels will never get any juice and it won't function.


If it's in a sun-synchronous orbit when it is crossing the equator at midnight local time, then it will also cross the equator at midday local time on the other side of the world.

We have weather satellites in this exact orbit right now.


You're right, my mistake.


Yet another reason to do away with DST


You're missing the current very high cost of crappy satellite bandwidth. This isn't competing with downtown fibre, it's competing with current solutions for way-out-of-town stuff, which are either very expensive or very low bandwidth or both.

Source: am outdoor robot researcher.


Satellite communication at the moment is very expensive (like dollars per kilobyte expensive) not because of the limitations of long distance wireless communication in general, but because most of our satellite equipment up there is old and outdated.

At some point as we developed world wide communications, laying down long distance fiber became cheaper than deploying communication satellites, and the existing satellites had enough capacity for the demand at the time.

We stopped shooting up sattelites, but we developed much better wireless technologies (e.g. MIMO) down on earth, and SpaceX now has the means to deploy those in space and undercut the competitions offerings that is still being used heavily for specific use cases (e.g. broadcasting, marine, etc applications)

It doesn't even have to be cheap, it just has to be cheaper than the competition. It's not quite world changing, but it's still a massive business (i guess) and would provide spaceX with some steady revenue stream. If it eventually becomes cheap enough for mass market that's just icing on the cake.

Also note that any competition also will have to pay SpaceX for deployment, so SpaceX wins no matter what.


It's nowhere near that expensive (dollars per kilobyte). I used the GlobalStar network on a project. The bigger cost for overage is 0.35 cents per second on data. The effective rate for a scp transfer (e.g., after all overheads) is about 750 bytes/ second. So you are looking at less than half a cent per KiB.

http://www.globalstar.com/en/index.php?cid=1470


I didn't know that. I got my numbers from [0].

Perhaps dollars are an overstatement, but your numbers are also for a best case scenario, when you have an application where you need to send data infrequently, in bulk, in an area with good coverage (not at sea) and no guarantees.

[0] http://www.rock7mobile.com/products-rockblock-plus.php


1gbps may mean the theoretical max physical-layer link from a terrestrial client to one or perhaps multiple, satellites, assuming 100% signal strength, no other users, etc. More than likely it would be 1gbps asymmetric from the bird and a much lower upload speed, just like DSL.


"Once fully optimized through the Final Deployment, the system will be able to provide high bandwidth (up to 1Gbps per user), low-latency broadband services for consumers and businesses in the US and globally,” SpaceX told the FCC. “Subject to additional development work, SpaceX plans to design and manufacture its own satellites, gateway earth stations, and user terminals.” Home Internet customers would receive a "low-profile user terminal that is easy to mount and operate on walls or roofs."

I guess the numbers depend on what "final deployment" means. Presumably more satellites with higher bandwidth.


The full constellation would be 4,425 satellites.


The same way terrestrial data links work - you work out your usage patterns and make compromises. You can't guarantee 100% bandwidth available 100% of the time.

This is some of the rationale behind data caps. While you can still exceed the available bandwidth if all your customers get on and use their connection to the max, a data cap forces your customers to meter their usage out over the month and reduce the impact of this concurrent usage pattern.


nobody uses their connection at full capacity 100% of the time


But a lot of people use it at near full capacity on Sunday evenings when a new episode of Westworld is out.


Well people that leave torrents on 24/7 can.


What if everyone starts streaming 4k?


what if everyone hits the road at the same time?

what if everyone withdraw their money from the bank at the same time?

what if everyone flushes their toilets at the same time?


Surge pricing, how does it work.


That sounds like a challenge


SpaceX plans worldwide satellite Internet with low latency, gigabit speed and very high price.


> [...] and very high price

Even if that's true they've effectively subsidized their rocket business and gained more experience through a greater number of launches. Often Elon is trying to kill more than one bird with every stone he throws - maybe he knows he'll need a solar network to support a Mars colony. This is how he gains the tools, people and experience to eventually roll it out.


Doubt it. Elon's made his fortune by replacing existing products with superior alternatives. He's said in every case that driving cost down is one of the most important parts of creating something people want.

Why do you think he wouldn't do the same here? He knows everyone hates existing telecoms. He's trying to create a better alternative.


> He knows everyone hates existing telecoms.

Not true everywhere. I'm paying < $40/month for a 100 MBit connection and I don't hate my telecom.


I'll hate on Comcast enough for two people, then. Or ten, or a thousand. It's unbounded, really.


Competition makes a big difference. Just over a year ago with Google Fiber rearing up, my ISP offered 150Mbps for $35. This year with Google Fiber downsizing, the big American ISPs are back to their duopoly: 25Mbps for $40 or 10Mbps for $30. Hopefully SpaceX is able to force them to lower rates for everyone.


It's not going to replace internet for cities/towns. Think of the latency!

It is directed towards middle of nowhere areas where nobody provides fiber.


If the satellites are in LEO, latency won't be that bad. At 700km height mentioned elsewhere in the thread, added latency might be 10-20ms based on halving the numbers at https://www.dslreports.com/forum/r100277-Whats-the-latency-p... (from 16 years ago).


30ms of latency is mentioned in the article, due to the low orbital altitude.


Which telecom provider?


I was wondering about the price too. If the bandwidth is actually going to be as limited as the numbers in this article imply then it'll probably be out of reach for most of the people who need it.


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