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Starlink Has Begun Delivering Promised Latency Cuts

In his January 12 SpaceX update, Elon Musk said the biggest goal for Starlink from a technical standpoint is to get the mean latency below 20 ms. He expanded by saying that given the speed of light, 8 ms is the absolute minimum latency for a satellite at 550 km. He believes they can optimize terrestrial and inter-satellite links, and minimize queueing delays and dropped packets, to recude the the rest of the time to below 10 ms. more

Civilian Tech Mobilization in Ukraine

As was the case in the US during World War II, civilian volunteers are making important contributions to the Ukrainian war effort. On February 8, 2022, the first truckload of Starlink terminals arrived in Kyiv. A week later they were being used. By April 2022, there were 5,000 terminals in Ukraine, and 42,000 as of April 2023. (At this point, SpaceX and Ukraine have gone silent. Neither ChatGPT4, Gemini, Copilot, Perplexity, nor I could not find a current terminal count). more

Lies, Damn Lies, and Selective Statistics About Our Great Wireless Marketplace Thanks to the T-Mobile

In the February 13th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Professor Thomas W. Hazlett offers a breathless endorsement of market concentration with the T-Mobile acquisition of Sprint, his go-to example. Apparently, mergers and acquisitions benefit consumers because they enhance competition and generate all sorts of positive outcomes that could not possibly have occurred but for the reduction in the number of industry players. more

Supporting Rural Cell Towers

I work with a lot of ISPs that own rural fiber. Some rural network owners have been successful in providing fiber to cell sites near their networks over the last decade. A few sell directly to a cellular carrier, but most of these connections are sold to an intermediate carrier that bundles together cellular connections across a large geographic area. more

Amazon Project Kuiper vs SpaceX Starlink

In 2019, I wrote that Amazon would be a formidable satellite-ISP competitor. I still think so, but I didn't expect it would be over four years until they launched the first test satellites. In the meantime, SpaceX has put over 5,000 satellites in orbit and has over two million Starlink customers. Amazon has permission to launch 3,236 satellites. more

An Update on Satellite Broadband

Ookla recently published a blog that looks at the speed performance of satellite broadband, focusing mostly on Starlink. I haven't looked at this broadband sector for a while and thought it was time for an update. Starlink has had a busy year. At the end of November, the company had 5,500 satellites in orbit, up from over 3,200 at the end of 2022. The first constellation is still slated to reach almost 12,000 satellites, and the company has tentative permission from the FCC to extend to 42,000. more

The Trajectory of the Broadband Industry

For well over a decade, it was fairly easy to understand the trajectory of the broadband industry. In the residential market, cable companies snagged all the growth while telcos shrank as customers abandoned DSL. Other technologies like fiber or fixed wireless gained customers but were a blip on the national scale. more

It’s the Latency, FCC

Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 orders the FCC to "encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans." On October 25, The FCC issued a notice of inquiry (NOI) into how well we are doing and invited comments. The NOI points out that COVID and the concomitant increase in the use of interactive applications has "made it clear that broadband is no longer a luxury... more

Is Broadband Essential?

For many years, I've heard people say that broadband is essential. I read it in articles. I hear it on broadband panels and webcasts. I see it said in comments on social media. It's obvious that a whole lot of people think broadband is essential. But what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that broadband is important in a lot of people's lives, or does it mean that broadband is something that society can't live without? more

A Peek Inside the FCC

I write a lot about the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but I imagine a lot of folks don't realize the many functions the agency handles. Like any regulatory agency, the FCC staff and Commissioners have been tasked by Congress with a wide range of responsibilities. The public gets to hear from the FCC formally once each month ... more