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How Will Rural Chileans Use SpaceX Starlink?

The Chilean Undersecretary of Telecommunications (SUBTEL) has begun a year-long pilot study of SpaceX's Starlink satellite Internet service. I don't know how many test locations they are planning, but the first two have been selected. Last week I discussed the first, the John F. Kennedy school in Sotomó, an isolated town at 41.6° South on a fjord in Chile's Lake Region, and the second will be in Caleta Sierra on the coast about 1,200 miles north of Sotomó. SpaceX is also considering a European pilot study in Georgia and perhaps (hopefully) others. more

SpaceX Starlink Comes to South America

SpaceX has roughly 90,000 Starlink beta test customers in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand and now they have one in South America -- in Sotomó, an isolated town at 41.6° South in Chile's Lake Region. Chile's second terminal will be online at a school in Caleta Sierra in a few days and other pilot locations will follow. Twenty families live in Sotomó and it is only accessible by private boats or subsidized services that navigate the Reloncaví Estuary on which it is located. more

Let’s Not Forget the Lobbyists

Common Cause recently released a report, Broadband Gatekeepers, that describes the influence that lobbyists have on broadband policies. The numbers are staggering -- the ISP industry spent $234 million lobbying the 116th Congress (2019 and 2020). That number is likely understated since the rules on reporting lobbying are lax, and enforcement is almost nonexistent. That number doesn't include the huge amounts of lobbying efforts at State legislatures. more

Satellites and Cellular Backhaul

Elon Musk recently announced that he was going to be providing cellular backhaul from the Starlink constellation of satellites. This makes a lot of sense from a financial perspective in that it avoids the costly wired fiber networks needed to reach rural cell sites. This is clearly a shot across the bow for companies that currently bring fiber connectivity to rural cell sites. more

Computing Clouds in Orbit – A Possible Roadmap

Last week, I predicted that much of the Internet and most cloud datacenters would launch into space in the next ten years. Today the only part of the Internet in space is a very small amount of "bent-pipe" access: signals which go from a user to a satellite and bounce back down to a ground station which feeds them into the terrestrial internet where all processing is done and all queries answered by internet-connected servers, many of them in cloud data centers. more

The Internet and the Cloud Are Going Into Space

Unlike Bezos and Branson, they're going to stay there. Today we have space-based internet access and a terrestrial internet; within ten years, we'll have a space-based internet. Internet traffic will travel more miles in space than on terrestrial fiber. By that time, the great cloud data centers of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and their competitors and successors will mostly be in orbit as well. Five years from now, this transition will be obvious, accepted, and well underway... more

A Simulation of the SpaceX, Amazon, Telesat and OneWeb Broadband Satellite Constellations

Over two years ago, an MIT research group ran a simulation of the low-Earth orbit broadband constellations of OneWeb, SpaceX, and Telesat, and last January they repeated the simulation updating with revised constellation characteristics and adding Amazon's Project Kuiper. They ran the new simulation twice, once using the planned initial deployments of each constellation and a second time using the configuration shown. more

5G Base Stations $13,000 in China

Most carriers don't order 200,000 5G base stations, so they will pay more, but that's the actual price for the joint procurement of China Telecom and China Unicom. The 200,000-300,000 cells the two jointly are upgrading are probably more than the entire rest of the world will add. The second Chinese network, jointly built by China Mobile and China Broadcast, is growing even faster. more

New Innovations in Free Space Optics

I read an article on the Finley Engineering blog that talks about new research with free-space optics. For those not familiar with the term, this means communication gear that communicates directly using light without any wires. The article talks about a Chinese team of scientists who have used light to transmit ultrahigh-definition video signals between high-rise buildings. more

Elon Musk Interview: SpaceX, Starlink and His Motivation and Philosophy

Elon Musk packed a lot about SpaceX and Starlink into a 32-minute interview at the 2021 Mobile World Congress and ended with a discussion of his motivation and the roles of his three companies - SpaceX, Starlink, and Neuralnk. Let's start with the SpaceX and Starlink update and conclude with the philosophy and motivation. (Scroll to the end of the post for the video of the interview). more