In the developing world, we've seen a leapfrog effect in telecoms - they skipped over fixed-line phones and went straight to mobile phones. It's far easier to blanket a rural area or a dense slum with 3G signal than to run wires to every house.
That poses a problem when you need fast fixed broadband - there's only so much mobile spectrum to go around, you can't really cheat the Shannon-Hartley theorem, so you end up with tight data caps and unreliable performance. Rolling out fixed infrastructure can be prohibitively expensive, so a lot of areas are stuck on mobile-only.
Low-orbit satellite broadband potentially breaks this dilemma. The low orbit provides tolerable latency (within 30ms of fixed broadband), there's an abundance of spectrum in the Ku and Ka bands and you can steer a tight beam with a phased array. Starlink and OneWeb could potentially offer a satellite broadband product that is competitive with fixed-line broadband on cost, latency and bandwidth, but that is available almost anywhere on earth. Becoming the default broadband provider for half the world's population is Kind Of A Big Deal - maybe enough of a big deal to bankroll a Mars mission.
I think there's obvious potential for this to be Kind Of A Big Deal on a purely personal level. Is your local cable monopoly absolutely terrible? Within a couple of years, it might not be a monopoly any more. Huge amounts of rural real estate becomes a heck of a lot more attractive if literally everywhere has good broadband. This might just be one of those once-in-a-generation technologies that meaningfully changes human geography.
But limited mobile phone service and no high speed internet limits a lot of people. StarLink hopefully comes along by the time we start our planned future expansion.
At present we are three owners each building own house, we have 5 different people interested right now joining us to build their homes and our planning is no more than either 50 quarter acre or half acre lots which will let us leave about 15 acres untouched.
The real short term is just Wifi, with ethernet cables for the further homes. Once we get more people, we will look into fiber for everybody.
By building a GSV and naming it Kind Of A Big Deal.
With self driving cars you can go out, drink alcohol, socialize, and get back home whenever you want, you can even sleep in the car
No, but you can work within it's limits to achieve some fairly spectacular things.
I predict that if low-orbit sat service starts bringing competition to rural areas, we will see the cell companies start using spatial diversity antennae to dramatically up the available bandwidth.
Towers are not cheap to build or maintain, if you only get a couple hundred people per tower it may not make sense to do(and why you don't see a lot of community WISPs except in unique cases).
But it doesn't, despite the marketing of Starlink as a "broadband" network they simply can't service high population density areas.
So it might be a backbone to a 4G tower and possibly usable by consumers in rural areas, but it won't be installed on the roof of a car nor offer connectivity to individual consumers in urban regions.
I'm not saying that you're definitely wrong, but Starlink is designed to provide a truly phenomenal amount of throughput. The V-band VLEO constellation is clearly intended to serve urban areas.
Population density in Boston is over 5000/sqKm, so 250,000 people have to share that satellite. If 10% are subscribers and they use it 10% of the time, that's 2500 simultaneous users.
Starlink has claimed 20Gb/s per satellite, which gives 1 Gb/s per 125 simultaneous users in this high-density area. That's not great, but it's also not awful.
In any less population-dense area, it can be reasonably competitive, especially as the end-user deployment model is expected to be "here's a pizza-box sized antenna: make sure it's pointed in this general direction of the sky, and give it power and ethernet."
thats per satellite... wouldnt you, in theory, have access to multiple satellites? i though the theory was overlap, etc...
If I remember correctly, Starlink could potentially serve roughly 40 million customers globally in far to reach areas. Including ships and aircraft. It's not economic solution for the urban population.
Antenna alignment could also be a factor, which becomes more difficult if the antenna is attached to a moving object.
If a single satellite can cover a 9km diameter, I think it will be just fine for vehicles. Especially so as the idea is for overlapping satellites. Also, much of the starlink bandwidth will be used for extra cellular / wireless / internet backbone areas. Areas that need long haul fiber optics to have bandwidth suddenly won't, so it will actually improve existing internet service providers as well since their addressable market will increase.
Because net neutrality isn't exactly a thing everywhere, worldwide.
I was all aboard the SpaceX hype train until that comment. I remember looking into his argument, and it seemed like everything checked out.
Personally I pay $30 a month for 15 Mbps. I remember EarthLink or Prodigy being like $15-20 a month for 56Kbps. I remember leaving the modem on all night to download a 30MB demo of Monster Truck Madness in Elementary School. Now speeds are ~250 times what they were and the price has only doubled in the past 20 years? That's f-ing amazing. Prices are not getting out of control if you stick to the bottom end. I'm not even sure what I'd do with gig internet.
For areas going from no internet to satellite internet it's probably going to be amazing, but going from high latency satellite internet to low latency satellite internet will not be a huge game changer.
Adoption of http2 would probably help the quality of existing satellite internet more and be cheaper than this endeavor. As everyone started moving to HTTPS, the handshakes take much longer on a high latency connection and multiplexing would help alleviate that issue.
It absolutely makes a difference. Rural/isolated communities are being left behind in terms of access to what are now basic staples of modern life: inexpensive, high-quality VoIP and video telecom, diverse sources of streaming video and audio media, real-time online gaming, telecommuting, etc.
The satellite internet available to most consumers today is cost-prohibitive garbage. Most options are doing satellite downlink paired to dialup uplink, and even the stuff that does two-way satellite links provides abysmal performance. All of it usually has a $100+ USD per month cost. Compared against 3G mobile, the latter is a far better deal.
I'm not sure if you're talking about the U.S. or not, but my parents have satellite internet and they don't even notice a difference unless the dish is full of snow, which I'm not sure is a problem Starlink will solve. They stream, use Skype, and wifi calling. I don't notice much of a difference when I visit. If I try to log into a remote terminal, sure, but I'm not doing that. Internet might be more expensive, but rural properties are cheaper.
Hi, I'm your counterexample. I held out moving to a rural area until the internet situation got better. It's great out here with a yagi on the roof.
Definitely not true. It is a big decision point for a lot of people.
We're going to find out and that's the most interesting part.
I don't have it available and I live in an urban area. Hell, I don't even have a viable alternative to my cable company. There's a ton of bureaucracy around all of it.
Political nonsense aside, we rarely see the use for something when it first comes out. That includes really useful things. e.g. all of the super important inventions that were straight up accidents.
Sure, it could take years, but I can't imagine having faster communication between more people not having a huge effect.
The cars will use LTE, although the backbone of those base stations could very well be Starlink.
Maybe future iterations will have extra hardware for terminal friendly applications, but I'd guess you'll see level 4 autonomy in a model 3 before they can upgrade Stsrlink to do that.
Never have needed a faster Internet in a Tesla and all passengers will be carrying their phones anyway.
People have driven them around Australia. Can't get much further away from populated areas than that.
Also, this guy has some serious driving PTSD or something, he's so scared of cars that he thinks its dangerous to drive on an empty highway at night. Yikes.
https://i.imgur.com/leKbJ4k.jpg (Map from April this year)
Most super chargers are within about 120 miles of each other, so at 65mph, you have about 2 hours between them. They've done a pretty impressive job building out the infrastructure
Also, what are those white spots on the map? Unpopulated areas with no charger in a 2h radius?
Most of the car trips that I do are round trips... and I would guess that yours are too?
Makes more sense?
plugshare.com is a good site that shows all the chargers. supercharge.info is a 3rd party site that shows tesla chargers only, plus where the ones under construction are. tesla.com has one too.
I go skiing a lot, and there's one thing you learn - you use a lot of energy going uphill. An ev has much more accurate energy usage so you notice, gas cars of course use more energy doing more work too. But the huge difference is going back, going downhill, your electric car basically glides down hills for free, and because you are recharging the battery when you do moderate breaking, I can drive 20+ miles back and end up with more range than I started out with.
In Seattle I can easily go round trip to the 3 ski areas around town.
Basically I don't worry about it because I could charge on the way back if I needed it, and in 6 years of day trips I only charged once or twice on the way home - the one I remember was when I went to mt rainier for a week with no charging.
I'm willing to bet that you are an outlier
The latest model goes 370. not 500.
They could colocate the teleoperators at Starlink ground stations to minimize latency, and prioritize teleop traffic.
At the speed of light latency to/from the satellite (3.5ms) and a vehicle speed of 60mph, that's about 4 inches of vehicle travel. Sounds pretty great-- probably better than almost any human driver.
At terrestrial latency (30-60ms), thats a few feet, maybe nearing 10. You're still in the margin for human reaction times.
Doubling that to account for compute latency and such is actually still in the noise for car brakes available today.
Cool how far things have come.
Assuming Starlink also works, I suspect the first company to make this work would make an absolute killing.
Why? Build on the ground with a fibre, far cheaper and far lower latency.
For certain global applications, a low orbit cloud consisting of many datacenters has some advantages. The virtual servers could virtually migrate to "hover" wherever they are needed, or to wherever would minimize latency.
Yes. But your reading comprehension is spotty. Look at the cousin comment:
The way the "hovering" would work, is that the entire state of one virtual server would be serialized, then sent via line-of-sight high bandwidth comms to the next satellite to go over the region of interest. This way, the entire application's server cluster could incrementally migrate to remain over one geographic area, but do so at a much lower altitude than geosynchronous orbit.
You're not understanding the proposal. The way the "hovering" would work, is that the entire state of one virtual server would be serialized, then sent via line-of-sight high bandwidth comms to the next satellite to go over the region of interest. This way, the entire application's server cluster could incrementally migrate to remain over one geographic area, but do so at a much lower altitude than geosynchronous orbit.
Will definitely be getting service for some family members in Northern Africa where incredibly slow speeds are charged high prices if Starlink can compete on price.
this is compulsory anyway due to physics.
Or, you just use thrusters, like the ones that launched from the Shuttle did.
> autonomously perform maneuvers to avoid collisions with space debris and other spacecraft
Also, the north and south pole are conspicuously avoided by Starlink, confirming my suspicions about the locations of intergalactic space ports.
Are you saying that there will be intergalactic space ports at the poles in the future?
In the pre-flight press conference the topic of krypton thrusters came up, and at first he made a superman joke, but then said the real answer was the lower cost of krypton.
> Starlink is the first krypton propelled spacecraft ever flown.
So they're using non-flight-proven technology (Technology readiness level at most 6)... impressive!
Deorbit is a fancy word for burn up in the atmosphere.
They are within earths gravitational pull, so if they have a hard failure or run out of fuel to the point they can't "push back" they get vaporized on reentry. It's a clever fail safe.
Every satellite going around earth is "within earth's gravitational pull". The starlink satellites are so low that they are inside the rarefied upper layers of the atmosphere, meaning they have low but constant drag pulling on them. When they stop thrusting, they will eventually fall out of the sky.
They definitely de-orbit. Half of the reason their orbit is so low is to ensure that they de-orbit quickly once they are out of fuel (the other half is latency).
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Without them, Facebook/Twitter/etc. have to guess what the most representative image and introductory paragraph describe the link. They often miss.
As a foreigner living in China, I'm wondering if such network can be technically prevented from being used in covered land/countries? How cool would it be to finally get an unrestricted access to the Internet here.
But I'm probably just dreaming.
I can't imagine finding a transmitter capable of reaching LEO being all that hard for a country.
This sort of thing works for militaries (e.g. for GPS) because you can assume that the receivers are secure, i.e. they're guarded by people carrying guns.
That's not really a viable plan when a hostile state can just buy a receiver with the built-in hopping algorithm from a retailer.
Starlink could implement something similar where the schedule is seeded using a key stored on the device, the day, and the receivers serial number (or other unique value). Supporting a million receivers is the same as supporting one, it is basically just one more input to a hash function.
It absolutely will be.
What they have said is that it won't be Starlinks main line of business at the beginning, until the receiver costs have been driven down and the constellation is much more dense. At that point, they very much intend to provide internet access directly to millions of people.
So I think China will innovate and find ways to block access to starlink, without attacking the satellites.
They don’t just sit over China. There’s no way they could just start shooting them down without repercussions.
The laser comms are very much on the roadmap, however they were not ready in time for the first launch, and SpaceX has a hard deadline to meet for getting sats up there, so the first generation is going to just bounce your signal back to a ground station. (Which will bounce it to the next visible sat to push it forwards, unless it has fiber.)
No it doesn't. Satellite-satellite lasers can follow a direct route at the speed of light in a vacuum, much like those microwave towers used by high-frequency traders. Done right it'll be lower latency than ground-based fiber optics (which snake over the terrain and only transmit signals at about 2/3 the speed of light).
If Starlink were to pose a problem in China, that's how they'd go about it. Destroying the satellites would be way too flashy. There's also the added benefit--from their perspective--that Starlink's mere presence would be a filter for their domestic surveillance; anyone willing to go through the effort of buying a likely illegal antenna, setting it up, and then trying to disguise it is the exact sort of person they'd want to monitor. Which is a pretty depressing thing to think about.
> Conversely, it could be used as an entirely uncontrollable tool to spread dissent and propaganda. The same issue has played out on the current internet.
No conversely about it. Who wants to control dissent and propaganda? The Chinese government. The Russian government. The US government, with the cooperation of Google, Facebook, et al. Not all dissent is good. Some of it will be downright bad. Some of it will be immensely valuable, however. The truth will out, so long as no one is empowered to decide "the truth" on behalf of everyone.
If the government and big corporations can lock out and stamp out everyone it deems to be "bad people" they can do it to anyone. No one should have that power, no matter how hard they promise they'll follow a motto like, "Don't be evil."
One of my managers from Sun, Don Hoffman, left and went on as an early employee of Teledesic, a LEO satellite broadband company in 1990 :-). But the prohibitive cost to get to space, and the size of their satellites, ultimately doomed them.
Starlink is a good example of an idea that failed but could succeed now because technology has moved far enough forward to actually do what the engineers envisioned in a more cost effective way.
That said, its a risky move for SpaceX which has the potential to be considered as having a launch monopoly given their costs structure, and using that to get into adjacent markets is something that is the kind of thing that antitrust lawyers go after.
This is the only thing that would allow SpaceX to have non-linear growth and ultimately fund their grander ambitions, ie Mars. Given the potential rewards, seems like a very worthwhile risk.
Because there'll be a ton of Starlink satellites up there once the constellation has been completed (and they'll be much closer than geostationary), the acceptable arc for the dish to be aimed should become wider, and it will likely become possible for SpaceX to use the Starlink network instead and maintain a good connection the whole time.
The antenna for reaching the starlink constellation will look more like the ones you see on the iridium handsets rather than the directional dish that is characteristic of geo-synchronous satellites. Regardless of orientation or vibration, the signals can be effectively transmitted (and received) from ground to orbit.
Now they still have the option of cutting off our access to the video when things aren't going in a way that is favorable to SpaceX of course :-).
The satellites themselves, the way they're being deployed, what altitude they'll be in orbit...all of that is really fascinating, but I'm very curious what this is actually going to look like to use.
This could have a huge impact on people wanting to live out of a van remotely and still be connected.
When I can get cheap high-speed low-latency internet in the middle of the ocean then I'm buying a boat and going to sea.
I can see price for older boats increase purely due to Starlink. It's already somewhat cheap way of living and I do hope special tax provisions are made for people out in the ocean (I don't use any social benefits for paying my taxes in country X...)
And that's assuming there's any difficulty to aiming. Phased array radars have shown that merely sweeping the beam around in a predetermined pattern can be very quick. I don't know how much harder it would be to adjust that based on input from gyros.
Roll on monohulls is pretty big. Current generation of Youtubers seem to have switched to catamarans, which makes me too envious - I am not sure I can save up that much before responsibilities catch up on me.
As long as the "pizza box" can track the sats, it should be able to communicate through some pretty intense speed and acceleration changes.
I'm thinking some sort of stabilization technology similar to how they manage to land rockets on ships. But not rocket-powered, of course!
Or an anarcho-capitalist hyper libertarian micro-nation perched on top of a spar buoy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=504&v=riBaVeDTEW... is when you can first see it. It's visible in the top view looking at the satellites as well.
Is it a $8000 base station + $200 a month for a 1 GB capped connection?
Or a $500 base station + $50 a month for 1 TB of bandwidth?
I hope for the latter but fear the former.
I'd be more than happy getting say a guaranteed 5 MB/s (~50 mbps) steady with super low latency on the cheap everywhere on the earth. I'm currently getting about 1-2 MB/s on 4G mobile internets for ~25 eur a month but at least it's _real_ unlimited.
Future versions will have laser interconnections and route traffic through space.
Or those, with prices around 50usd/gb:
I doubt every Tesla will have one on board. LTE is so much cheaper.
Quite useful for medium and large marine vessels, or truly remote locations tho.
22,236 in Lightseconds: 0.11936716 (one way)
400 in Ls: 0.0021472775.
(assuming directly overhead)
~250ms round trip for GEO vs 4.2ms for LEO
So my question is: how likely is it that something like Starlink could provide an alternative in any meaningful timeframe?
It’ll be amazing for mobile users and developing countries though.
And where do I sign up? :-)
Of course it does matter, a phased array isn't magic. A steered antenna will have much better gain when the target is at low elevation, when a fixed phased array will be operating at very oblique angles.
> Instead, it will be linked to flat user terminals the size of a pizza box, which will have phased array antennas and track the satellites. The terminals can be mounted anywhere, as long as they can see the sky
the GPS birds are in a 20k km orbit and you should be able to use them just fine at lower orbits (starlink sats are planned to be in several fairly low orbit shells 320/550km).
I suspect you can even use GPS all the way out to say the moon if you are a bit creative. (catching GPS sats coming aroud the earth for positioning, or using a special dish antenna to get reflected GPS signals)
A double metric "kilo" prefix like that feels awkward. I know it's common, but I've always felt that we should just say "megameter" instead. (Also, a metric ton should just be called a "megagram".)
Wouldn't reflected signals be inaccurate due to additional time of flight?