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The Future of Satellite Broadband

People ask me a lot about what Starlink means for somebody building a rural broadband network. That set me to contemplate the long-term prospects for LEO satellite broadband. Today, the broadband provided by Starlink is a boon to rural subscribers who have had no alternatives. Hundreds of thousands of prospective customers have gotten onto the Starlink waiting list. It's not hard to understand why when the rural broadband alternatives are extraordinarily slow rural DSL, high orbit satellite broadband, or cellular hotspots. more

Fifty Years On – What to Expect in the Next 50 Years of the Internet

When did the Internet begin? It all gets a bit hazy after so many years, but by the early 1970s, research work in packet-switched networks was well underway, and while it wasn't running TCP at the time (the flag day when the ARPANET switched over to use TCP was not until 1 January 1983) but there was the base datagram internet protocol running in the early research ARPA network in the US. Given that this is now around 50 years ago, and given that so much has happened in the last 50 years, what does the next 50 years have in store? more

Multi-Orbit Broadband Internet Service

Three satellite companies, SES, Telesat, and Hughes, are working toward integrated, multi-orbit broadband Internet service and Eutelsat may join them... It is too soon for these companies to be offering integrated multi-orbit services, but they have begun testing and demonstrating switching and antenna technology. more

Explaining Growth in Broadband Demand

I haven't talked about the growth of broadband usage for a while. However, I was explaining the exponential growth of broadband usage to somebody recently, and I suddenly realized an easy way for putting broadband growth into context. The amount of data used by the average broadband user has been doubling roughly every three years since the advent of the Internet. This exponential growth has been chugging along since the earliest dial-up days, and we're still seeing it today. more

Our New Infrastructure

Today, there is demand for more broadband as people realize the importance of being connected to the Internet, whether to access websites, stream entertainment, attend school, attend family events, work remotely, and so much more. This demand has been driven by the success of today's Internet. It is now time to recognize the Internet as infrastructure. The Internet's best-effort approach has allowed us to share the abundant capacity latent in the existing facilities by converting all traffic into packets. more

Improvements in Undersea Fiber

We often forget that a lot of things we do on the web rely on broadband traffic that passes through undersea cables. Any web traffic from overseas gets to the US through one of the many underwater fiber routes. Like with all fiber technologies, the engineers and vendors have regularly been making improvements. The technology involved in undersea cables is quite different than what is used for terrestrial fibers. A long fiber route includes repeater sites where the light signal is refreshed. Without repeaters, the average fiber light signal will die within about sixty miles. more

The Beginnings of 8K Video

In 2014 I wrote a blog asking if 4K video was going to become mainstream. At that time, 4K TVs were just hitting the market and cost $3,000 and higher. There was virtually no 4K video content on the web other than a few experimental videos on YouTube. But in seven short years, 4K has become a standard technology. Netflix and Amazon Prime have been shooting all original content in 4K for several years, and the rest of the industry has followed. more

Now Available: Worldwide and Local Current Starlink Performance

The blue dot circled is our dish in the center of Vermont. Volunteers run software that collects statistics every 15 minutes and uploads them to update the tables and the map at https://starlinkstatus.space. You can see below that we have been averaging download speeds of 143Mbps, upload around 12Mbps, and ping times of 43ms. Below, you can see our most recent updates, including the percentage of time our dish was obstructed (0% happily). There are also tables with country and region-wide averages. more

Better Protection of Essential Power and Communication Grids From Storm Damage

After every major hurricane, like the category 4 Ida that recently hit Louisiana, there is talk in the telecom and power industries about better protecting our essential power and communication grids. There was major damage to grids and networks in Louisiana from hurricane winds and storm surges and massive flooding in the mid-Atlantic from Western Maryland to New York City. One thing that we've learned over time is that there is no way to stop storm damage. more

Satellite Companies Fighting Over RDOF

There has been an interesting public fight going on at the FCC as Viasat has been telling the FCC that Elon Musk's Starlink should not be eligible for funding from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). At stake is the $886 million that Starlink won in December's RDOF auction that is still under review at the FCC. Viasat had originally filed comments at the FCC stating that the company did not believe that Starlink could fulfill the RDOF requirements in some of the grant award areas. more

Google Cloud Lands Grace Hopper Subsea Cable in Bude, Cornwall

Google Cloud has landed its muchly anticipated subsea cable, Grace Hopper in Bude, Cornwall. The 16-fiber pair Google-funded cable will connect New York (United States) to Bude (United Kingdom) and Bilbao (Spain). more

Demystifying ISP Oversubscription

I think the concept that I have to explain the most as a consultant is oversubscription, which is how ISPs share bandwidth between customers in a network. Most broadband technologies distribute bandwidth to customers in nodes. ISPs using passive optical networks, cable DOCSIS systems, fixed wireless technology, and DSL all distribute bandwidth to a neighborhood device of some sort that then distributes the bandwidth to all of the customers in that neighborhood node. more

Supporting SpaceX Starlink in Remote Communities

Five companies are developing low-Earth orbit (LEO) broadband satellite constellations, but, as of now, only SpaceX is planning to market directly to consumers. What sorts of support will they require? A pilot study of Starlink connectivity in remote Chilean communities may provide some answers to that question. The Chilean regulator, SUBTEL, has authorized a year-long pilot study of Starlink connectivity in remote, rural communities and is committed to supporting them during the year. more

A Chance to Tackle the Urban Digital Divide

For the first time in my career, we face the possibility of some big changes for broadband in low-income neighborhoods in cities. The recent American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) gave cities significant funding that can be used for various kinds of infrastructure, including broadband. Cities have been handed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to fix some of the broadband deserts that have grown in poor neighborhoods. I'm already working with several cities that are taking this opportunity seriously. more

The Long-Run Effect of Cuba’s Recent Internet-Augmented Protests

It’s now more than 6 weeks since the Cuban political protests and accompanying Internet service disruption. Will they lead to a long-run change in the Cuban Internet or the Cuban political situation? Let’s start with the Cuban Internet. Many of the Internet changes during the protests have disappeared. Total daily traffic, the ratios of mobile to fixed traffic, and human to automated posts, and the proportion of blocked Signal sessions are about what they were before the protests. more

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