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LEO Satellite Service

Discussion in 'The OT' started by NashGuy, Nov 19, 2018.

  1. NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    Just to focus on one potential change in technology that could effectively collapse the market for DBS TV by the mid-2020s: low earth orbit satellite. Just last week, SpaceX got FCC approval for their Starlink constellation of 12,000 satellites. Other companies plan to launch similar, though smaller, constellations. These systems are intended to offer low-latency high-bandwidth internet service everywhere.

    But why would Starlink or other LEO satellite systems aim to provide only IP data service, given that video is what folks largely use the internet for? Assuming that lots of Americans still want live linear channel pay TV (and, if that's where live sports still largely reside, they will), why wouldn't Starlink devote a fraction of their total system bandwidth to multicast the most popular channels (i.e. managed IPTV) and take a cut as an MVPD? I expect that T-Mobile is going to do the same thing (perhaps using LTE-Broadcast, a form of multicast) when they launch their own pay TV service and, I'm sure, offer to bundle it with fixed 5G home broadband over 600 MHz.

    If a home or business needs a DBS dish for TV, why not just switch out that dish for one that works with Starlink or a similar system if it can provide not only the TV channels you already have but also broadband service too?
     
  2. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    It sounds like SpaceX will be constantly launching and replacing satellites. They must launch 6,000 satellites in the next six years and the satellites have a lifetime of five years. If they want to reach 12,000 they will need to launch 200 satellites per month for the life of the service.
     
  3. NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    Here's an interesting article about the economics of SpaceX that Bob Cringley wrote earlier this year:
    The space race is over and SpaceX won - I, Cringely
     
  4. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    By the time SpaceX has those in orbit (assuming they even get the financing for this at all, even though I'm sure Musk would claim its a "done deal") everywhere that has any cellular coverage at all will have 5G. There's no way the economics of LEO satellites beat the economics of cellular - it won't even be close - and cellular could do multicast also though they wouldn't need to.

    SpaceX won't become an IPTV player, because the market segment of "people who are out of range of all cellular" is too small. Their internet service will be niche like Iridium's, and like Iridium priced MUCH higher than equivalent service via cellular/broadband. Probably their biggest customer (and the one that would be required for the service to be financially viable) will be the DoD.
     
  5. NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    Well, per the FCC approval, they must have the first 6,000 sats in orbit by 2024. Not sure when phase one of the project -- which will apparently be 1,600 sats -- would be in place, but obviously before 2024. And even at that point, SpaceX's Starlink would be quite a formidable network. See here:

    SpaceX's Starlink internet constellation deemed 'a license to print money'

    I'm pretty sure that the plan for Starlink has always been to begin offering commercial service, at least in some limited form, well before the entire constellation is in place.

    As for the economics of 5G beating Starlink, I'm not sure how you figure, given all those towers and small cells involving real estate access and which must be fed by fiber backhaul. (Actually, it's possible that some of those towers end up using LEO satellites for backhaul rather than fiber.) Those little sats that SpaceX will launch for Starlink are much, much cheaper to produce than traditional sats and much of the launch costs will be borne by third parties that will pay SpaceX to launch their payloads. Here's a page that digs into the economics of 5G vs. SpaceX's Starlink: After SpaceX Starlink upgrading to terabit space satellite internet - NextBigFuture.com

    SpaceX isn't getting into this huge endeavor just to replace Iridium, HughsNet and other existing satellite-based internet providers. They plan to offer gigabit, low-latency broadband that can compete with cable and fiber companies.
     
  6. Bigg

    Bigg Godfather

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    Let's flip that question around. Why would they provide multicast IPTV channels via LEO? DBS already does what commercial installations need in an extremely efficient manner. It's possible, but what's the business model that DBS doesn't already do cheaper and more efficiently? I think LTE-Broadcast is more likely, since people want to have video on mobile devices, although as the number of video options explodes, and networks densify, it may remain as unicast streaming, other than for specialized applications like at a game itself where a lot of people on the same site would be streaming the same video.
     
  7. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Wow, lots of hand waving that article! "IF" they can get point to point lasers between satellites working. "IF" they can upgrade those lasers to terabit speeds. "IF" they can reduce latency from 30ms (which is worse than LTE) to 10ms, which is still worse than 5G. "IF" they can develop 'hyperefficient propulsion systems' to orbit 3x closer to the Earth. How about linking to articles on sites that aren't one step above Electric Universe level bullshit?

    AT&T at least has the backhaul problem solved with AirGig. They don't need to run fiber to rural cell towers, so long as they have aerial power lines running to them.

    The absolute largest the potential market for this is are the people who are currently purchasing high latency satellite internet. That's what, a few million people in the US? Then it depends how many people fixed wireless delivered via cellular carves off before they can get it up and running. Surely that will leave a potential market of less than a million - and a shrinking market. The idea that this can compete with cellular, let alone cable broadband, on price is ridiculous. Maybe if we were starting from scratch and had to build all the towers, run all the fiber, run all the coax - that's the same reason that third world countries that never had good wired telephone service went directly to cellular. But we aren't starting from scratch, almost all that infrastructure already exists.
     
  8. Bigg

    Bigg Godfather

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    The lasers sound tricky, but 30ms is fine to compete with slow DSL or geosynchronous satellite in rural areas, do in-flight Wi-Fi, and a lot of other applications that don't directly compete with 5G.

    You're complaining about lasers on satellites being tricky, and now you're referencing AT&T's AirGig nonsense? They've been talking about that for years, and other than a few tests, they've never done anything with it, and there's no proof it will ever do much of anything. If they have sites that aren't connected to the power grid (which provides a route to run fiber), then they use microwave backhaul.

    I could see this competing with slow DSL, and used for bus, train, and plane Wi-Fi backhaul, among other applications. It also depends on how many places still have cable broadband monopolies that are charging $75-$100/mo for cable broadband that should be $40/mo, they may be able to peel some people off there.
     
  9. NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    Um, provide double-play TV + broadband through the same connection (which is why Dish and, to a lesser extent, DirecTV, can't compete with cable). As far as LEO offering IPTV, who knows, I'm not saying that they will but I'm not sure why they wouldn't, assuming that it adds anything at all to their profit margins. Nearly every home broadband provider I'm aware of in the US chooses to also offer TV service.


    Not sure why you see 1 Gigabit service with cable-like latency (which is what LEO will supposedly offer) only being able to compete with slow DSL.

    How about you ever linking to anything at all, or providing any sort of intelligent reasoning or factual basis for your claims rather than just continually throwing stuff out there and expecting folks to believe that you're some sort of credible authority on any of this stuff?
     
  10. Bigg

    Bigg Godfather

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    Not slow DSL, although some bundles with DISH (Frontier) or DirecTV (AT&T). I suppose that they could bundle double play with their own streaming IPTV, but it seems like a lot of work to enter a dying market.

    I was responding to slice1900's comments about not having as low latency as 5G. I see lots of places it could compete. If the cost scales down to cable, it could compete directly with cable, but I sort of doubt it, as densely populated areas still wouldn't have enough bandwidth to scale out cheaply enough. The prices might be lower in rural areas where there is more bandwidth available and fewer potential customers. I'd suspect that the first markets it would compete in are vehicles with mobile Wi-Fi, and where good cable internet isn't available, as they can charge a price premium to those customers for cable-like service. If you have 3mbps DSL, and someone offered you 100mbps symmetrical service with 30ms latency for $100/mo or even a bit more, you'd be very likely to go for it, versus someone with cable where they are paying $75/mo for 100mbps now.
     
  11. dmspen

    dmspen Hall Of Fame

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    How long does it take your current receiver to sync with a satellite? Imagine having 1000 satellite in your field of view of your dish. Chances are you would switch from sat to sat for different channel. I think the receiver sync would be unmanageable at a fair price. You can get very fast switching receivers but at a cost.

    Unless every sat carries every channel...but why have 12,000 of them?
     
  12. NYDutch

    NYDutch DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    My understanding of the multi-sat LEO Internet service is that signals will transfer seamlessly from satellite to satellite as they pass along their orbits much as cell signals shift from tower to tower seamlessly as we pass in and out of range. The large number of small satellites is needed to insure full coverage of the globe at all times. The closer the orbits are to the earth surface, the smaller each satellite's footprint becomes.
     
  13. NYDutch

    NYDutch DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    SpaceX is currently conducting final pre-launch inspections of the SSO-A mission that will launch 64 satellites with a Falcon 9. The Indian space agency recently launched 104 satellites with a single launch, so getting the needed sats in orbit for the Starlink system is well within reach.
     
  14. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    So two launches per month forever if they can do 100.
     
  15. NYDutch

    NYDutch DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    That's what the numbers seem to say...
     

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