Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Communications Network The Internet

SpaceX Hits Two Milestones In Plan For Low-Latency Satellite Broadband (arstechnica.com) 82

SpaceX is about to launch two demonstration satellites, and it is on track to get the Federal Communications Commission's permission to offer satellite internet service in the U.S. "Neither development is surprising, but they're both necessary steps for SpaceX to enter the satellite broadband market," reports Ars Technica. "SpaceX is one of several companies planning low-Earth orbit satellite broadband networks that could offer much higher speeds and much lower latency than existing satellite internet services." From the report: Today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed approving SpaceX's application "to provide broadband services using satellite technologies in the United States and on a global basis," a commission announcement said. SpaceX would be the fourth company to receive such an approval from the FCC, after OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat. "These approvals are the first of their kind for a new generation of large, non-geostationary satellite orbit, fixed-satellite service systems, and the Commission continues to process other, similar requests," the FCC said today. SpaceX's application has undergone "careful review" by the FCC's satellite engineering experts, according to Pai. "If adopted, it would be the first approval given to an American-based company to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies," Pai said.

Separately, CNET reported yesterday that SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch on Saturday will include "[t]he first pair of demonstration satellites for the company's 'Starlink' service." The demonstration launch is confirmed in SpaceX's FCC filings. One SpaceX filing this month mentions that a secondary payload on Saturday's Falcon 9 launch will include "two experimental non-geostationary orbit satellites, Microsat-2a and -2b." Those are the two satellites that SpaceX previously said would be used in its first phase of broadband testing.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

SpaceX Hits Two Milestones In Plan For Low-Latency Satellite Broadband

Comments Filter:
  • To short Comcast AT&T and Spectrum.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @03:52AM (#56127052)
    But, since he doesn't have a car any more, he went with satellite internet instead.
  • I just hope that ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Cisco Kid ( 31490 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @03:58AM (#56127058)

    they plan to offer this on a competitive basis in all areas of the US (especially rural or suburban areas that currently have none or maybe just one existing broadband option, but even in areas that have both cable and phone options)

    And that the pricing is within the reach of the average middle to low income person living in such areas.

    Previously I've only seen experiments that focus on providing service to third world countries but ignore the bast under or unserved areas in the US (cough, project loon)

    If this ever becomes fully available everywhere in the US, and is priced affordably, it may finally signal the start of the death of the monopolistic stranglehold the current broadband providers have on the market in the US.

    That the current FCC seems to be approving of it, suggests to me that it WON'T. It will probably be priced similarly to other Musk offerings, so high as to only be affordable to people with 6 figure or higher salaries.

    Because if there's one thing we know Pai protects, its the guaranteed mega profits of his corporate masters.

    • Project Loon was intended as a semi-charitable venture. Any purely commercial project like SpaceX's will be sure to cover the countries where the money is, like the USA. There's zero chance that the USA will not have access to this. And there's zero chance of it being priced like a Tesla, because there's obviously zero market for satellite internet that's more expensive than existing geostationary satellite internet. Also the whole design of the system is meant to make it cheaper than current satellite inte

    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @06:13AM (#56127338) Homepage

      The SpaceX constellation is essentially global, and the intent is to undercut most global wired broadband connections on both speed and price; it'll be capable of up to 1Gbps per user, and the costs of the service will be spread around the globe. Previously this would have been unthinkable, but over the past decade there's been both a massive advance in satellite capabilities (per unit mass) and a massive reduction in launch costs (per unit payload mass). And it's all to be in LEO (nearly 12000 identical, mass-produced, mass-launched satellites), not GEO, so latencies are as low as or lower than traditional net service.

      They may well pull it off. It's become so clear that such a service is now possible to implement that SpaceX's biggest problem is getting theirs in place before the competition; Samsung proposed such a constellation in 2015, and OneWeb (funded by Virgin Group and Qualcomm) is actively working toward one.

      One interesting theory that's been batted around is that Teslas (and presumably other cars) will quickly switch over to it for their connectivity rather than relying on 4/5G service. You can't switch phones to it because the receiver is a phased array antenna about the size of a pizza box - but you can certainly have such a receiver in a car.

      • by nasch ( 598556 )

        I'll believe it when I see it, but if I had four providers offering good broadband instead of one that would be awesome.

    • so high as to only be affordable to people with 6 figure or higher salaries

      To start, maybe. Musk realized that an electric car wasn't going to be cost competitive right off the bat. He had launch a luxury brand so that consumers would be willing to pay the premium until prices could be brought down. The base price of the Model 3 ($35,000) is 60% lower than the base price of the 2008 Roadster (~$90,000), and you get a much more practical car for your money.

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @04:41AM (#56127162)

    Seems Boeing is also making a swarm of LEO broadband satellites. Given they also have launch capability, they're likely to be the only company theoretically capable of competing with SpaceX. However, between Boeing and SpaceX, only one of the two companies has 'affordability' in their vocabulary. At best, Boeing will stave off antitrust complaints about SpaceX being able to undercut anyone else. From what I could find, SpaceX's swarm of >4,000 satellites will be far greater than what the competitors are planning, leading to higher max throughput, and ability to serve consumers via economies of scale. That said, SpaceX isn't really a broadband/satellite-making company, so they could screw up somewhere.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      OneWeb also exists (Virgin Group and Qualcomm). But they've hitched their horse to Blue Origin, so they better hope that Bezos pulls a rabbit out of a hat ;)

  • by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @05:17AM (#56127250)

    "SpaceX expects its own latencies to be between 25 and 35ms, similar to the latencies measured for wired Internet services. Current satellite ISPs have latencies of 600ms or more, " https://arstechnica.com/inform... [arstechnica.com]. Possibly dated information. But one has to wonder, even if you've fixed a latency issue, how is packet collision handled when ground stations can't hear each other? There's only so much bandwidth allocated. Should be interesting.

    • "SpaceX expects its own latencies to be between 25 and 35ms, similar to the latencies measured for wired Internet services. Current satellite ISPs have latencies of 600ms or more, " https://arstechnica.com/inform... [arstechnica.com]. Possibly dated information. But one has to wonder, even if you've fixed a latency issue, how is packet collision handled when ground stations can't hear each other? There's only so much bandwidth allocated. Should be interesting.

      Just the same as satellite phones and other "internet over satellite" (with uplink) providers... Time-division multiple access.

      Ground stations have to allocate some time/frequency space over a "management slot" before they are allowed to transmit their normal data.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      "When ground stations can't hear each other" - what do you mean by this? Are you referring to obstructions / interference with a given satellite? The receivers are phased-array (aka virtually instantly steered) antennas and there's always multiple satellites in the sky. The satellites have both satellite-to-satellite and satellite-to-ground communications. So data can be re-routed if there's need. That said, the internet gateways ground stations (unlike typical home receivers) will be positioned and lai

    • Is that just to the satellite? It's important for a lot of games and a few other things that the total trip is 25ms at most.
  • SpaceX is one of several companies planning low-Earth orbit satellite broadband networks that could offer much higher speeds and much lower latency than existing satellite internet services.

    How much lower latency? Any satellite service necessarily is going to have significant latency just because of the physics involved. Always nice to have options but what sort of speeds and how much latency are we talking about compared with existing wire line and wireless terrestrial options?

    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      Did you read? These will be (extremely) LEO satellites as opposed to geo-sync ones. That means not 32000 KM up, but much closer. The biggest contributer to latency is the distance, so instead of 250-300ms up and another 250-300ms back to ground, you get 5-15ms one way. Total bandwidth is of more interest/concern to me.
      • Did you read? These will be (extremely) LEO satellites as opposed to geo-sync ones.

        Did you? Do you see ANY numbers in the summary? "Lower" doesn't tell me shit. Being lower latency than a geo-sync satellite is the very definition of damning with faint praise. My question was HOW MUCH faster which means give me quantities.

        The biggest contributer to latency is the distance

        No shit Sherlock. The question (again) is how much better will these newer LEO systems be? If they are not faster and/or cheaper than the alternatives then they are dead on arrival. So give me a published number for what the latency and real world bandwidth is supp

        • by tsqr ( 808554 )

          In the coming years, the company hopes to launch 4,425 interlinked broadband-internet satellites into orbit some 700 to 800 miles above Earth, plus another 7,500 spacecraft into lower orbits.

          Source [businessinsider.com]

        • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
          TFA, not TFS states 25-30ms. If you have questions, maybe take time to actually read rather than shitpost. But, this is /.
        • Re:Give me numbers (Score:5, Informative)

          by torkus ( 1133985 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @12:26PM (#56128830)

          I mean, completely ignoring the article and referring to basic definitions of GEO and LEO

          GEO: 36,000km (72,000km round trip minmum)
          LEO: 1,000km (2,000km round trip minimum)

          Light flitters about at 300,000km/s

          Basic math here says GEO requires 240ms just to bounce a signal to GEO and 6ms for LEO.

          So THERE. It's two orders of magnitude better and I've fed a troll today to help prevent their extinction.

        • Yes, there's numbers in the article: 500km orbit. Meaning ~1000km ground-to-ground. Meaning roughly 3-1/3 ms of broadcast latency. Up to twice that for a link between points ~1,700km apart.

          I'll admit, it would have been nice if the writers had included such numbers themselves.

        • Maybe if you read the article, instead of complaining that there's not enough detail in the summary.

    • by b0bby ( 201198 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @10:01AM (#56127980)

      The most interesting part of the article was towards the bottom:

      SpaceX has said it will offer speeds of up to a gigabit per second, with latencies between 25ms and 35ms. Those latencies would make SpaceX's service comparable to cable and fiber. Today's satellite broadband services use satellites in much higher orbits and thus have latencies of 600ms or more, according to FCC measurements.

      The demonstration satellites will orbit at 511km, although the operational satellites are planned to orbit at altitudes ranging from 1,110km to 1,325km. By contrast, the existing HughesNet satellite network has an altitude of about 35,400km, making for a much longer round-trip time than ground-based networks.

  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Thursday February 15, 2018 @10:32AM (#56128118) Homepage
    This could mean good internet service at any point on the earth's surface. From the middle of the ocean to the most rustic remote unabomber cabin.

    On the highest mountain. In Antarctica. Even the most inhospitable places like New Jersey.
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Obviously, the service is only meaningful in places that are remotely livable. But it'll at least be nice to have service on mountains, oceans, cabins and Antarctica.

      • Check current monthly prices (and available bandwidth) for boat & ship-based internet service. 4-5 figures monthly for paltry Mbps... a pretty standard rate is $1 per MB for 4mb down/1mb up service - plus thousands in hardware and presumably a static monthly account fee...
    • by eth1 ( 94901 )

      This could mean good internet service at any point on the earth's surface. From the middle of the ocean to the most rustic remote unabomber cabin.

      On the highest mountain. In Antarctica. Even the most inhospitable places like New Jersey.

      Or, more seriously, unfiltered Internet in North Korea, China, etc. (although it does involve radio transmission, so would be vulnerable to easy detection by authorities)

  • by zenbi ( 3530707 ) <bryan@pipedot.org> on Thursday February 15, 2018 @03:12PM (#56130180) Homepage
    Starlink?! There will never be a more opportune time to name a service "Skynet"!
  • What speeds can we expect from this sat network?

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors

Working...