Wireless

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Starlink to Go - Stress Tested in Ukraine and Now Available to You

Russians have targeted Ukrainian electricity and communication infrastructure. In some areas, there may not be any utility poles left standing, and underground conduits may have been bombed to oblivion. Starlink has been an important tool for these brave people to coordinate their resistance to Putin's brutal invasion. Satellite communication doesn't require any middle-mile infrastructure. more

SpaceX to Launch Satellites for Competitor OneWeb

On March 2, Russia covered the US flag on the Roscosmos Space Agency rocket that was scheduled to launch 36 OneWeb broadband satellites on March 5. The Russians made two obviously untenable demands -- that OneWeb guarantee that the satellites would not be used for military purposes and the United Kingdom government remove its investment in the company. OneWeb declined, and the satellites were removed from the rocket. more

Starlink’s zoomready Rating Is Going Down

zoomready is open-source shareware I wrote to measure the suitability of an internet connection for teleconferencing. As you can see above, Starlink had an average zoomready rating of 2.66 out of a possible 3.0 over the four measured days. The problem is NOT bandwidth, which has fluctuated but stayed above the minimums needed for good teleconferencing. The problems are failures (most of them short), latency, and jitter. more

Why Did Russia Test an Anti-Satellite Missile and Why Doesn’t China Condemn the Test?

On November 15th, Russia used an anti-satellite missile to destroy COSMOS 1408, a defunct spy satellite. The explosion quickly created over 1,500 pieces of trackable debris and will likely generate hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces. As a precautionary measure, the astronauts on the International Space Station, two of whom are Russians, took shelter in escape shuttles during two orbits. The anti-satellite test was widely criticized, but the Russian defense ministry released a statement saying... more

Potential Impacts of Large-Scale Metaverses on Internet Governance: Bandwidth

Neal Stephenson’s foundational cyberpunk novel Snow Crash brought to the public the concept of a metaverse, a virtual reality in which people interact using avatars in a manufactured ecosystem, eschewing the limitations of human existence. More recently, Ready Player One capitalized on that idea and brought it back to prominence with a bestselling novel and subsequent film adaptation. Amid rebranding efforts and seeking a new way forward, Mark Zuckerberg has made it Facebook’s (now Meta Platforms) priority to build a platform that could enable the metaverse to become a mainstream technology with the sort of reach that their social networks and WhatsApp have. more

The Fight Over 12 GHz Spectrum

For an agency that has tried to wash its hands from regulating broadband, the FCC finds itself again trying to decide an issue that is all about broadband. There is a heavyweight battle going on at the FCC over how to use the 12 GHz spectrum, and while this may seem like a spectrum issue, it's all about broadband. 12 GHz spectrum is key to several broadband technologies. First, this is the spectrum that is best suited for transmitting data between the earth and satellite constellations. more

5G for Cars – an Idea That Won’t Die

An industry group calling itself 5G Americas has published a whitepaper that touts the advantages of a smart auto grid powered by 5G and the C-V2X technology. This technology is the car connectivity standard that much of the industry has gelled around, replacing the older DSRC standard. Over a decade ago, the FCC became so enamored over the idea of self-driving cars that the agency dedicated the 5.9 GHz spectrum band for the sole use of smart cars. more

Starlink Beta vs. Fiber

Last year we had terrible DSL from Consolidated Communications and much better, although not always consistent, service from wireless ISP GlobalNet. I signed up for fiber service from Stowe Cable for installation this year and also was accepted early as a Beta tester for Starlink. Now we have both Starlink and fiber and can compare the two. I was very happy to cancel my Consolidated service but felt bad about canceling GlobalNet, which was essential to me for many years. Most of the time, there are only two of us in the house. 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

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

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

Avoiding Low-Earth Orbit Collisions – the Clock Is Ticking

There was a recent dispute between OneWeb and SpaceX regarding the possibility of a collision between two of their low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. OneWeb's satellite (OneWeb-1078) was launched on March 25 and headed for its orbit at an altitude of 1,200 km when, in early April, it passed near a SpaceX satellite (Starlink-1546) in orbit at about 450 km. There was no collision, but subsequently, OneWeb's government affairs chief Chris McLaughlin said... more

Telling the Truth About 5G

I still run across articles that extol the supposed wonders of 5G. The most recent, published in Gizmodo asks "How 5G Could Replace Your Home Broadband Connection". I was surprised to see an article like this in a tech-oriented site because the article gets most of the facts wrong about 5G - facts that are not hard to verify. This article talks about 5G having "faster download speeds, faster upload speeds, more bandwidth, and lower latency" than landline broadband. more

Record $89B in China Means 2020 +4% Sales, $10B Profit

The US war on Huawei brought down sales internationally, but China's 700,000 5G cells and explosive cloud growth meant Huawei had an up year. The chip blockade did hurt in Q4 and will continue to hold down sales in 2021. Huawei has sufficient reserves to outlast the United States until China catches up in chip production. Perhaps the most important figure in the financial report was the $55 billion cash. Another $10 billion will come in from the sale of Honor/Glory. more

Trump’s Parting NTIA 5G Debacle

As Trump's horrific Administration of non-stop debacles and self-serving gambits headed toward the exit over the past few weeks, one last regulatory grab after another has been pushed out the door while the toddler-in-chief rants. Sure enough, the last of the 5G debacles just appeared in the Federal Register courtesy of the President's policy instrument, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA). It was titled the 5G Challenge Notice of Inquiry. more