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Satellite Internet News, Part 1

Seaport Telecom, Island Satellite, and POW Satellite have enjoyed (or has endured) a very busy 10 years serving POW with varied satellite services. As we all know, the development of competing technologies, applications, content provisioning, and demands for remote access have effected great change in the industry and that change only accelerates with need and capability. With the advent of Space X Starlink to come within the next few months, Oneweb declaring bankruptcy, Amazon announcing, and better terrestrial services now available locally we felt that it might be timely to try to report on some of the developments and intended directions.

Space X Starlink is expected to be operational on the East Coast for private testing within a month, and public testing within 2; with probably rollout of residential service before end of the year. It has been stated by the company that they intend capability of 1G download speed at a price of $10 or so for third world consumption; and pricing competitive with Hughes and Viasat in North America. In that this service will be mobile – with an antenna resembling a flying saucer on a stick – a customer can put it on a boat, a plane, or move it easily from place to fixed place. With respect to our business, we are trying to put new customers with lease arrangements, so as not to own obsolete stuff. The Space X launches in real time, with the engines, boosters, and main fuselages being recovered are pretty cool to watch. Space X has placed 540 or so satellites as of last week. The Low Earth Orbit arrays will allow latency less than fiber; the latency problem that is part of the GEO satellites such as Viasat and Hughes and iDirect will disappear, as will VPN problems.

Oneweb recently filed for protection, but Hughes is still making their modems and ground stations, and the 55 or so satellites up are working fine in the tests. Industry insiders think that the originators wanted to capitalize early, that there will be a buyer soon, and Oneweb will progress as a competitor to Starlink. Pricing and plans are projected to be as Starlink – competitive with Hughes and Viasat, with low latency and speeds equivalent to fiber today.

At this point relatively slow terrestrial service from microwave or fixed wireless or cable is better for gaming and for a lot of VPNs because of the half second latency induced by the physics of packet round trips to the GEO satellites in the Clark Belt 22,400 miles up. While iDirect and Sagenet/Spacenet and some other KU band such as Hughes HX band service push their envelope with perhaps 10M of speed down – at costs of $10,000/month and up – Hughes Gen 5 and Viasat 2 both provide the true Broadband Speed as defined by the FCC since 2015 25M download and 3M Upload. Companies that are advertising that anything other than those parameters are “broadband” are misrepresenting the service as defined. Hughes Gen 5 is unlimited at 3M after the data cap is reached, and for the last 3 years in SE Alaska has run at 47M down when not fapped for reaching data cap. Viasat available in the lower 48 is sold by speeds of up to 150M and little throttling in what they call “small beams” where the compete in urban areas. The Alaska service available in a small slice of the interior is only 15M and has severe caps. But is better than an older Hughes 7000 don’t we know.

Stay tuned for part 2, next week!

Submitted by Joe Ashcraft, Seaport Telecom

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