Will low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite companies become the internet providers?

Discussion in 'General Satellite Discussion' started by phrelin, Dec 17, 2019.

  1. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    On September 7, 2003, the thread Satellite internet, anyone? was started by TopCat99, but it really didn't attract much interest because the technology, while currently useful for some, is still not really competitive.

    Now it seems likely that by 2023 low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet service could become a real thing. Elon Musk's SpaceX, Richard Branson's OneWeb, and Jeff Bezos' Kuiper are moving from "interesting idea" to implementation. From Bloomberg:

    In May 2019, a single SpaceX rocket launched 60 of a planned 12,000 satellites; in October, the company sought permission for 30,000 more. Both Musk and Branson’s OneWeb have said that partial networks could go into service in 2021. China’s state-owned Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. is proposing a network of 156 satellites by 2022. Bezos’s Amazon.com Inc. has requested permission to launch 3,236 satellites.​

    Yes, there are hurdles and potential problems. But this technology is evolving and it appears that it can work well enough to be competitive with the likes of Comcast. And the advantage is you could be out of range for cell service, many miles from any cable internet, and watching TV on your foldable phone using LEO satellite internet. Oh and you can use it in New York City.

    As I look at various sources on the web, this does seem doable.
  2. TheRatPatrol

    TheRatPatrol Hall Of Fame

    Oct 1, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
    I thought satellites were on the way out in favor of 5G streaming? :D

    I wonder if service will be any cheaper then current internet options? Launching all those satellites can’t be cheap.
  3. grover517

    grover517 AllStar

    Sep 29, 2007
    They can launch dozens of these things at a time and with a global customer base to work with, it must make the numbers work for them. I am sure it will at least be competitive at first but if they don't perform as advertised, the amount of space junk just jumped exponentially.
  4. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    [​IMG] Since getting reliable 4G on our 11-home cul-de-sac in our Northern California community of Brooktrails (population 3,500±) adjacent to Willits (population 4,900±) is impossible, i really have no hope for 5G.

    What makes this interesting is who is behind it - Musk, Branson, and Bezos. At this time money does not appear to be the issue. But over the long term, assuming regulatory approvals and technology advances, the issues will become
    1. attracting a sustainable subscriber base and
    2. overcoming objections to not being able to see the Sun due to all that clutter. Oh wait, maybe we have a potential solution to global warming - put mirrors on these things to reflect incoming sunlight. [​IMG]
    Still, from the perspective of folks in my region where Comcast provides reliable high speed service to a very limited number of homes for $80± a month (and I don't complain because one of those homes is mine), this seems like a hope for the future of non-urban America as it would be a "utility" equally available to those spread out across mountaintops and rural valleys, as well as urban centers. It is almost as if someone asked "Is there any way to achieve the mid-20th Century goal of all America having access to communications utilities." I see the urban-focused 5G rollout by less than a dozen "phone" companies as a furtherance of the narrowing of access to 21st Century technology.

    I guess my hope is that all Americans can gain access to streaming high-definition video so they can all watch episodes of "The Bachelor" within a day of original airing. Or maybe have access to education and revenue producing opportunities on the web. Admittedly I don't see this being achieved in meaningful numbers until near the end of the next decade, beyond my lifetime. But I my hopes are for my grandchildren's generation.
  5. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2013
    It will not be competitive with Comcast and other major providers, because it can't provide even a fraction of the bandwidth that would be required to serve a decent portion of customers in urban or suburban areas.

    It will be a good thing for people who live in rural areas, but isn't going to make any difference for people who live where they have good broadband options now.
  6. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    Well, yes and no. Would I expect to replace my wired Comcast service with it? You're absolutely right, I would not. But the evolving climate crisis has had an impact.

    Here within California wildfire country, along with power we have lost Comcast service for a period exceeding 24 hours three times in the past two years.

    This last time, AT&T managed to keep their cell service going including 4G wireless service. I have a signal amplifier attached to an antenna on my roof and an extensive backup power suppy including two generators. Still 4G for watching TV was not viable.

    But we're still sort of satellite people who began in 1988 with a big dish and an Echostar receiver. Even though our redwood trees (we live in a forested area), due to decades of growth, have made our Dish satellite service unreliable on days with any wind, I still record cable channel content using our Wally with an external drive. So we had TV to watch.

    That combination of services doesn't cut it.

    The thing is, the loss of Comcast service for extended periods wasn't limited to our rural area. It affected the urban/suburban parts of nearby Sonoma and Marin counties. Our family members in Marin had apoplexy over the loss of both power and cable including internet. IMHO this is only the beginning period for these systemic failures.

    Bandwidth is a technology issue. What I can envision is the possibility of LEO satellite internet services with much greater bandwidth than is available now. Of course, I''m a scifi nut and that may be just a fictional possibility.

    And I love the idea of satellites still providing a viable means to watch TV. I know, every technology has its day, but it is a new technology on a vehicle similar to what I started using in 1988.
  7. Nick

    Nick Charter Gold Club Member DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    So, if 5G, 4G or any "G" is delivered via satellite, then those at higher elevations, upon mountaintops and flying in aeroplanes, will benefit from receiving said satellite signals ever-so-slightly ahead of those at lower elevations. Living at sea level, sadly, I will be among the last to know if the news comes by satellite that the world has come to an end. Damn latency! :cool:
  8. NYDutch

    NYDutch DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

    Dec 28, 2013
    Elon Musk has said repeatedly that Starlink will work best in suburban and rural areas more so than the crowded cities where subscriber density and limited LOS will be issues. Keep in mind when doing the subscriber cost numbers, LEO Internet services will ultimately be worldwide, not just a US enterprise.
  9. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    LOS is the issue that would keep LEO satellite service from being perfection in the mountains and in the middle of urban streets surrounded by high rise buildings. But for a scifi dreamer in a wireless 2030 world of...say...8G it is not hard to believe in the possible future integration of LEO satellite and 8G creating an effect similar to moving from cell tower to cell tower. (Yeah, I know the technology hurdles boggle the mind.)

    Today we are offered Amazon, Apple, Google and Zigbee join forces for an open smart home standard which in my view reflects the possibility of cooperation between Bezos' Amazon Kuiper and one or more cell providers, particularly given a potential worldwide market.

    It is, of course, still a dream. We don't even have a LEO satellite internet service provider. And just how a worldwide market can become viable in a growing climate of economic nationalism creates a cloud around the investments being made today.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2019
    NYDutch likes this.
  10. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2003
    That is an important fact, especially in a thread with the title "Will low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite companies become the internet providers?"
    The service can't become "the" provider until it becomes "a' provider.

    I remember hearing about LEO years ago but the use wasn't general Internet access. It was for low bandwidth telemetry (such as geotracking and alarm systems). Uses that I now see on cellular data.

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