Report Notes Musk's Starlink Won't Have The Capacity To Truly Disrupt U.S. Telecom

from the not-good-enough dept

We've noted a few times that while Space X's Starlink will be a very good thing for a limited number of rural customers out of the range of traditional broadband options, it's not going to truly disrupt the busted U.S. telecom market in any revolutionary way. The service should be a step up from traditionally expensive, capped, and sluggish old-school satellite broadband, since new low-orbit satellites can provide lower latency service at a price point Elon Musk insists will be competitive.

That said, the financial analysts at Cowen came out last week to note that even at its current maximum of 12,000 such satellites, Starlink will never have enough capacity to truly service more than 485,000 subscribers at full capacity:

"While Starlink has the ability to provide a practical satellite-based broadband solution for the underserved, the capacity has limitations in most of the US especially considering the growing demand for bandwidth driven by in-home data-rich applications and devices," the firm wrote in a research note first spotted by Light Reading.

Starlink currently has 650 satellites in orbit, with 12,000 planned by 2026. But even at full capacity the researchers estimate the service won’t be able to service any more than 485,000 simultaneous data streams at speeds of 100 Mbps.

Granted most ISPs operate under the "oversubscription" model, which correctly assumes that not all customers will be using the full throughput of their connection all day, every day. So Starlink can certainly offer slower speeds to notably more people. Especially if (with no net neutrality and a Trump FCC that couldn't care less about it) Starlink utilizes strange throttling technology that limits what users can do with those connections. But even that would barely dent the estimated 42 million Americans that lack access to any broadband, or the 83 million currently stuck under a broadband monopoly (usually Comcast).

Musk himself has acknowledged this limited capacity means Starlink won't be a major player in any major urban or suburban U.S. markets. That brings us to the other problem Cowen raises, namely that low orbit satellite will never really be able to scale with consumer demand the way traditional fiber optic broadband can. Especially not in the cloud computing, 4K game streaming era:

"US broadband consumption, and the speeds that users demand, is continuously growing," Cowen wrote. "Thus, as satellite throughput and technology continues to progress, so too will demand for faster speeds. As such, our analysis shows that LEO satellites will continuously be a step behind wireline telco/cable operators in meeting US consumer demand for broadband."

So yes, Starlink will be a good thing for a limited number of folks out of range of decent broadband or somewhere on a boat. But anybody framing this as a massive disruption to the status quo (something the press tends to enjoy doing when Musk is involved) is misrepresenting what the service will actually accomplish. As Starlink lobbies the FCC for up to $16 billion in subsidies, it's also worth remembering that U.S. taxpayers have thrown countless billions at existing monopolies for fiber optic networks that routinely wind up only half deployed.

Which is to say we could focus on state and federal corruption, and the decades of fraud and cronyism that have gifted entrenched telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon massive geographical monopolies. Then finally just deploy the coast to coast fiber networks American taxpayers have likely already paid for several times over with the help of pissed off communities. Or we could do nothing about that problem, over-hype half-measure efforts to re-invent the wheel, then grumble in a few years about the fact we never seem to quite fix America's stubborn "digital divide."

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Filed Under: broadband, capacity, competition, elon musk, satellite, starlink
Companies: space x, starlink


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  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 29 Sep 2020 @ 6:40am

    While he hasn't manage to disrupt telecoms, he's managed to disrupt earth based astronomy, so that's something... Not something he should be proud of, but he probably is.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 7:09am

      Re:

      While Starlink is being incubated in the contiguous US, it is when it expands that it will become valuable. Alaska, Northern Canada, Most of Australia and Siberia will benefit from this type of service, as will large parts of Africa, along with the high Andes, islands and similar difficult to serve places. A lot of the places that will benefit are places where delivering experimental hardware, or sending in an engineer become logistic nightmares.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 29 Sep 2020 @ 7:40am

        Re: Re:

        "A lot of the places that will benefit are places where delivering experimental hardware, or sending in an engineer become logistic nightmares."

        Well, yes...but, you know, for emergency communications there's already satellite communication. The only thing Starlink offers is wider bandwidth.

        With a cap of half a million customers Starlink subscriptions are going to be for luxury and bragging - not exactly catering to communities of mountain men or Podunk county, pennsylvania.
        It might not be bad business for Musk. He'll be able to charge an arm and a leg for the system once it's operational - and he'll have to, since maintenance alone will be going at a solid 2 billion USD per year to keep the constellation at full strength, plus operations cost.

        What is really interesting about that is how he's begun asking for billion-dollar subsidies to build the network, meaning the taxpayers are going to foot much of the bill for a network which will primarily be the stomping ground of the truly rich. Honestly, I find myself wondering how americans - particularly with middle and lower income - could possibly find socialism objectionable as compared to what they currently have, which appears to be the state spending the tax money on what benefits the wealthy rather than on the people who might need it.

        I dunno. Just seems a bit evil to me that 3000 communities in the US are drinking the Flint River, dams and bridges are falling apart, major parts of the power grid is a quarter-century past its retirement date and half of the US population lives within three miles of dangerous hoards of hazardous waste no one knows what to do with.
        The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates it'll cost 4.5 trillion USD to take US infrastructure out of critical condition...and yet Musk asks for - and will propably get - a massive subsidy for a nonsustainable cubesat network which'll eventually let half a million of the 1% play League of Legends on their remote vacation homes.

        Perspective is a hell of a thing.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 8:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          With a cap of half a million customers

          Is that the cap on the test customer base?

          That looks like a limitation of the initial test setup, probably due to ground station limitations. Increase the ground stations and more customers can be served. Also move to a different continent, and the same number of customers can be served there as an effectively separate system that just happens to share the same satellites, but at different times.

          Also the capacity of Star link will far exceed existing satellite systems.

          Well, yes...but, you know, for emergency communications there's already satellite communication

          Why should people working and living in remote areas be limited to only having emergency communications?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 10:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            No, but if you are that remote from what we euphemistically call civilization, how are you going to be billed or even pay for the service? Also, stuff like 4K is a waste (fine if you are swimming in bandwidth, whatever), as well as i don't even know how much pointless internet traffic. It isn't crossing the net to make things actually work, it's just there because some company wants it to, and because application design is some lazy shit. Fix some of that and people won't even need so much bandwidth.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 10:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              No, but if you are that remote from what we euphemistically call civilization, how are you going to be billed or even pay for the service?

              Have you not heard about email, banks, and credit cards etc. Also, have you not heard about the Internet, it allows you to operate you bank account from anywhere in the world that has Internet connectivity, even if only dial up speeds.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2020 @ 12:52am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Also, have you not heard about the Internet, it allows you to operate you bank account from anywhere in the world that has Internet connectivity, even if only dial up speeds."

                ...see my earlier comments about ordinary satellite communications for this one. If all you need is high-latency low-bandwidth communication then that already exists.

                Starlink will change that...for a total of half a million customers. Those accounts will end up costing enough that only part of the 1% will obtain one.

                If you're a mountain man, an island dweller, or live in the rural backend of Podunk county where phones are still by landline then starlink will change nothing for you...except that Musk will probably be able to use a lot of your tax money in subsidies from the FCC to build it.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2020 @ 3:50am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Two points, Starlink will provide world wide coverage, and remote places, include many place where people go to work for months at a stretch, including places like offshore platforms and ships at sea. Why should people in such places be limited to low bandwidth high latency communications, when the likes of Zoom would make keeping in touch with their partners and families that much easier, and enable consulting with doctors in the event of a medical emergency

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Oct 2020 @ 5:47am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "Starlink will provide world wide coverage, and remote places, include many place where people go to work for months at a stretch, including places like offshore platforms and ships at sea."

                    Even if we inflate the number of accounts by a multiple of ten none of that happens - with or without Starlink.

                    "Why should people in such places be limited to low bandwidth high latency communications..."

                    Because of two reasons; One, they fail to win the bidding war with the top 1% who really want broadband on their yacht, and Two; because of physical reality which dictates that satellite constellations aren't magic.

                    "...and enable consulting with doctors in the event of a medical emergency"

                    You still don't get it. If Starlink could cure cancer, reverse global warming, feed the world and extend the lifespan of it's customer by 500 years it still won't end up with anyone who isn't already a billionaire.

                    Starlink will be - in absolutely best case - a naturally scarce luxury. Literally NO ONE you envision has a single hope of getting it.

                    So stop using manifestly false arguments to make the case.

                    Starlink is a gimmick which will cater to the very wealthy. With half a million accounts - or if reduced to 10 Mbit, 5 million - globally it's pretty damn clear that the entities which will obtain an account will be, in order;

                    1) The supremely wealthy.
                    2) Governments.
                    3) Nobody else.

                    And that already assumes Starlink isn't one of those 9 out of 10 Musk projects which just doesn't work. Absolute best case scenario, theoretical limit reached and exceeded, that's what you may get.

                    And to be fair that's actually all Musk ought to say. Instead he's persistently repeating the mantra about "rural internet" as if he hadn't already had to back down on that, requesting government subsidies to expand a network which can't do what he says it will in his application form.

                    The primary reason I'm leery whenever people start raising Starlink to the skies is just this; It would already sell even if Musk just told people the truth about what it can and can not do. But he's not.
                    And that leaves it a project which is begging tax funds for a fraudulent purpose.

                    Anything beyond that - impact on astronomy etc - becomes a different topic.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 10:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The only real hard cap is the number of user terminals the FCC allows Spacex to support. We don't currently know what that is. Currently I believe the've applied for a million.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2020 @ 12:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "The only real hard cap is the number of user terminals the FCC allows Spacex to support."

              I'm sure that's why network researchers are putting the hard cap at - specifically - 485k connections.

              I'm afraid the hard cap is governed by physical rather than legislative reality.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2020 @ 12:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Is that the cap on the test customer base?"

            No, as the OP clearly states that's the hard cap of a fully functioning 12k cubesat network when it is completed in 2026.

            "That looks like a limitation of the initial test setup"

            Read the OP again. It says the complete starlink network will be hard capped at 485k subscribers in 2026.
            Can you imagine how much fiber you can lay in six years, spending the amount of money Musk is burning on Starlink?

            "Also move to a different continent, and the same number of customers can be served there as an effectively separate system that just happens to share the same satellites, but at different times."

            That's not how a network works. Almost all my communication, at work or in private, spans across at least one continent so it's the other way around - customers in one continent will burden the available bandwith of customers in another continent. That, essentially, is why the T1 trunks are built with the assumption that it has to carry the load of multiple continents worth of data.

            "Why should people working and living in remote areas be limited to only having emergency communications?"

            Because they work and live in remote areas? That's actually the very definition of "remote". Sometimes physical reality is why you can't both have the cake and eat it. If your choice of residence is as far from civilization as you can get then that's a choice with consequences. The question you pose might as well have been "Why do I have to get wet just because I'm taking a bath?".

            And those people in remote areas will be stuck on emergency communications with or without starlink.
            With half a million customer accounts available the only ones who will possess a starlink setup will be roughly half of the US 1%, for their vacation homes, because those accounts will be a scarce luxury subject to market pricing.

            That's reality for you. In practice what Musk does here is to create a niche market for the incredibly wealthy which will enable them to play online games while on their private islands and remote vacation resorts.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2020 @ 4:19am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              customers in one continent will burden the available bandwith of customers in another continent.

              Starlink satellites are best compared to phone towers, served by the nearest, at the time, ground station. Therefore to claim that traffic in say Russia will impact traffic in the US, is the same as saying mobile phone traffic in New York take capacity from mobile Phone traffic in Moscow.

              There are plans, allow satellite to satellite links, but that is a means of extending coverage into areas where it is not economic, to build a base station. For instance, with low orbit satellites, satellite to satellite relay is required to serve the middle of oceans.

              Managing traffic in a low orbit satellite system is an interesting problem, as satellites are moving into and out of view of users and ground stations at interval measured in minutes. Also, maintainng a link to other satellites other than the one in front and behind in the same orbits a really challenging compared with the ground routing problem. Same orbit linking does extend the number of satellites that a ground station can service.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Oct 2020 @ 6:12am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Therefore to claim that traffic in say Russia will impact traffic in the US, is the same as saying mobile phone traffic in New York take capacity from mobile Phone traffic in Moscow."

                It does, but that is irrelevant when national backbone networks are built to accommodate multiple 100 GBps lines. The US backbone network may have to handle the call originating in Russia but they have about four or five orders of magnitude more bandwidth than Starlink to do it with.

                1) Within urban areas Musk has already admitted there's a hard cap; 50000 simultaneous account within any major city covered by a cubesat cell. That's one bottleneck.

                2) Traffic between starlink cubesats - if it ever works - will be going transcontinental. That's why networks between continents are - again - built to carry multiple times the expected load of either continent. There's another bottleneck. See my brief commentary on backbone networks.

                The reason Starlink doesn't scale well is simply because once it hits the maximum capacity of account connections per cell it essentially tries to push the mississippi river through a bundle of straws.

                "There are plans, allow satellite to satellite links..."

                Well, without that the whole premise of supplying global - or even national - coverage sort of falls apart, yes.

                "For instance, with low orbit satellites, satellite to satellite relay is required to serve the middle of oceans."

                And no one has managed to demonstrate even a proof-of-concept on whether this is doable at scale. It's a bit like Musks intended 2 million USD/launch cost on Starship, much like Henry Ford promising a car which costs 10 bucks and runs at 200 mph, powered, by, apparently, Ford's Hopes and Dreams.

                "Also, maintainng a link to other satellites other than the one in front and behind in the same orbits a really challenging compared with the ground routing problem. Same orbit linking does extend the number of satellites that a ground station can service."

                And this problem is a bigger issue in itself than most envision. In Musks own words we can forget about laser interlinking for a while. Seems he's also discovered the issue of targeting a laser pointer across a 1000 km of space while maintaining coherence and having the receiver be able to discern it well enough to push actual bandwidth through it.

                Now if Starlink actually works with every bug ironed out and performs to every intention envisioned and then some...great, there'll be a new gimmick for the VERY rich to brag about having low-latency internet in the middle of the pacific.

                But with all the questions currently without any solution Starlink just looks like something which at best may deliver half a million people with "last mile" gap closure to the closest network backbone relay. And at that scarcity it certainly isn't going to be rural mountain men, Hicksville Alabama, or Siberian miners and geologists getting an account.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2020 @ 9:15am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  1) Within urban areas Musk has already admitted there's a hard cap; 50000 simultaneous account within any major city covered by a cubesat cell. That's one bottleneck.

                  That does not agree with your 'a total of half a million customers' as there are more than 10 major cities. Also note, that figure for a major city is only using a fraction of the satellites over the US at any one time, and an even smaller fraction of all the satellites. How many areas the size of New York City, or New York State even are there in the world. Even if you take the latter, that is a lot of 50,000 user cells. While the system is dynamic as to which satellite serve which area, and the cells are large, it is a cellular system, and traffic in one cell does not impact or limit traffic in another cell using a different ground station. Also, it is only those who do not have a basic understanding of the system who look at its abilities in relationship to urban and suburban areas.

                  As to impacting Intercontinental capacity, Starlink will have less demand than a major city, as there are not that many people living and working in remote areas. Also, as is already happening, it is a boon to emergency workers dealing with the widespread fires in the western US.

                  As I have said before, the limitation on capacity is the ground stations, and currently there are only a small number licensed for testing purposes. Elon is already planning for a really useful expansion, that of Northern Canada and Alaska, not place that even the Insane would consider for laying fibre, outside of serving a few large, for the area, population centres.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 2 Oct 2020 @ 1:27am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "That does not agree with your 'a total of half a million customers' as there are more than 10 major cities. "

                    It certainly does. 485k is the total cap a fully developed 12k cubesat network can handle.
                    50,000 is the cap on what each individual satellite can handle. An individual satellite is what will be covering a given area of ground-based communications, which is where Musk's estimate that Starlink won't ever be able to handle urban areas comes from.
                    So these are just the two currently known bottlenecks.

                    And the one will certainly impact the other. Bear in mind it's not just outbound communication which matters when it comes to covering network load.

                    "As I have said before, the limitation on capacity is the ground stations..."

                    I don't think ANY network technician, EVER, was happy with being told the bottleneck will exist in the physical existing part of the network rather than in the parts which have yet to be built or proven to work at scale.

                    If Starlink works as advertised, fine. it'll be a new gimmick for the people who will be able to afford it once the price stabilizes. The numbers still don't make it any form of gamechanger when it comes to rural and remote areas.

                    "Also, as is already happening, it is a boon to emergency workers dealing with the widespread fires in the western US."

                    ...for which purpose normal emergency satellite communication already exists. Unless those emergency workers need full video I fail to see the point.

                    Right here and now Starlink is insubstantial hype which has the promise of delivering a gimmick for a very few people. It's not infrastructure but a service which requires highly expensive and persistent continual maintenance. And that's not going to change with currently imaginable technology.

                    If Starlink has a solid hope of delivering on the reasonable expectations asked of it then fine. The market decides whether Elon gets investors enough to cover the creation cost.

                    However, the current situation is that Elon has gone to the FCC asking for subsidies and to my understanding tax money should never be used to cover investment costs of purely private enterprise except where there's a clear public benefit.

                    Starlink can't even remotely be said to hold such a promise. Better to spend that public money where it can do the most people the most good.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2020 @ 2:01am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Go and learn how a Starlink like system works. Low orbit satellites move around, and so for reliable communications you nee to be able to see at least two, and in practice more like 5 or 6. Also, while there are plans for some satellite to satellite relays, the base system is user to satellite to ground station.

                      How do you go from 150,000 to 12,00050,000 = 480,000. the math does not compute. Now, 480,000 per ground station would make some sense, and we are back to the system scales by the number of ground stations.

                      You seem to have grabbed a figure that suites your narrative, and are refusing to find pout how the system will really work.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Oct 2020 @ 12:54am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        "How do you go from 150,000 to 12,00050,000 = 480,000. the math does not compute."

                        That's the number in the OP so that's the one I'm going with.

                        "You seem to have grabbed a figure that suites your narrative..."

                        It's the figure quoted by an investment firm who's researched the issue. A deeper look at that research provides that it was cobbled together by sources which include official SpaceX data, FCC filings, and Elon's own tweets which admittedly renders it less viable than a full investigation made by network technicians.
                        Nevertheless it's the only investigation to date which attempts to put ANY number on the amount of accounts to be provided - and that includes Elon Musk.

                        "...and are refusing to find pout how the system will really work."

                        A system which has - as of yet - barely proof of concept and where no one wants to quote a any tangibles? That's like Trump shouting "It's gonna be great!" - and refusing to answer any how, what, why or where.

                        If the designer of said system can not or will not answer what a given system will accomplish or how then that's not the time for anyone else to do so either because at that point the "system" is as substantial as Nikola's electric truck.

                        The important point of note is that Musk is applying for a multi-billion subsidy to develop what, apparently, the market will not bear on its own. That is the key issue here, the real question being; "Why should the US citizenry pay for the development of Starlink?"

                        And all you keep coming back with is a Trumpian "It's gonna be great! Look at my imaginary numbers, they're better than yours!".

                        Do I really have to point out that unless there's solid data on what to expect the answer ought to be; "Let private investors decide"?

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 11:14am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The only thing that starlink offers is bandwidth? What about low latency, which the current alternatives cannot offer (due to, you know, physics) and which is probably more important?

          The "cap" of half a million customers is a consequence of poor understanding, not a physical limit. Even if only 485,000 simultaneous full-speed stream can be supported with the initial constellation and the initial satellites, this doesn't limit the number of customers to that. More customers doesn't mean more people continuously streaming at maximum speed. Average usage will be much lower. Also, the US is fairly widely spread out, geographically speaking. This means peak usage will be at different times in different places, further increasing the practical maximum. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the practical number of customers that starlink can support is 10 times that. Not enough to cure the problem, but enough to make a real dent. Plus that's with the current planned constellation and current satellite tech. Both could change, the satellites within 5 years, given their planned life.

          Now your maintenance estimate looks quite reasonable - for current satellite and launch costs. A 12000 satellite constellation with satellites lifetimes of 5 years will need to replace 2400 satellites per annum. (Note that this doesn't start for another 4-5 years). Assuming an internal launch cost of $40,000,000 for a Falcon 9 launch, each carrying 60 starlink satellites wroks out to annual launch cost of $1.6 billion. Assuming $300,000 per satellite (a bit high, I think, but in the ballparg), that would be $720 million in satellites, to a bit over $2 billion per year plus ground based maintenance, which will probably be trivial by comparisson. However, satellites costs will almost certainly drop and are the smaller component anyway. Iif starship succeeds, it will be able to launch 400 per mission, with an internal cost of $2 million per mission, per Musk. Say $4 million per mission, and suppose the satellite cost can be halved, annual maintenance drops to around $400 million.

          As for the "request for subsidies", you do know that that money is already budgeted and WILL BE SPENT, whether spaceX gets a penny of it or not, right? The alternative to spaceX being subsidized and probably spending the money on somewhat worthwhile endeavours is the big incumbents making promises they have no intention of keeping and, judging by the record so far, pocketing the money for later splitting between shareholders and executives. By all means lament the subsidy, but it's not reasonable to blame spaceX for trying to tap it. It's not going to change how much money is wasted. Personally I'd be more than happy to see spaceX get nothing and the whole program be cancelled.

          There is much that is still unknown, and much that is misunderstood. Things will change, probably greatly and much of the anger currently being directed at SpaceX (or more likely Elon Musk) is misplaced.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2020 @ 2:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "The "cap" of half a million customers is a consequence of poor understanding, not a physical limit. "

            Uh, yeah...I'm sure network researchers have "poor understanding" about network issues. Good grief.

            "More customers doesn't mean more people continuously streaming at maximum speed. Average usage will be much lower."

            That's why they call it "at full capacity". Sure, settle for 10 Mbit/sec connections rather than 100 Mbit and you end up with 5 million accounts. That's not even enough to provide an account to the top 5% of the US. And if you think that'll go to rural mountain men unable to pay quite as much instead you're dreaming.

            "Not enough to cure the problem, but enough to make a real dent."

            Not really, no. If we assume a 10 Mbit/sec connection rather than the estimated 100 that might help 5 out of 42 million americans get broadband. Assuming that the 3,5 million in the top 1% of the US alone aren't willing to pay 10k a month for an account at their private island, vacation home, etc.

            "Plus that's with the current planned constellation and current satellite tech. Both could change, the satellites within 5 years, given their planned life."

            Not enough. We're hitting the ceiling on microchip tech as it is, so unless there's a real revolution in materials and computer tech within those years we might see, at most, about a 5-10% increase, the same way we currently see CPU manufacturers struggle to issue chips capable of higher speeds without melting.

            "A 12000 satellite constellation with satellites lifetimes of 5 years will need to replace 2400 satellites per annum. (Note that this doesn't start for another 4-5 years)."

            Well, yes, I'm not counting the cost of building the network initially. Musk has 650 cubesats in orbit or so, so right now the initial cost is way, WAY more than 2 billion USD per year. I guess that's why he's looking for a 16 billion USD subsidy with the FCC.
            Maintenance costs will start before Starlink is fully developed, with the oldest satellites needing replacement a year before planned completion.

            Starship is currently a pie-in-the-sky. Sure, the heavy booster shows promise, but the 2 million USD/launch cost is what Musk pulled out of his ass when he said what they were aiming for. There are some very real and very hard physics surrounding why an orbital launch currently costs 57 mil.

            "Say $4 million per mission, and suppose the satellite cost can be halved, annual maintenance drops to around $400 million."

            That's some free fantasy envisioning right there.
            Looking at ways costs have been reduced over all areas of industry it takes a lot more than five years to accomplish a cost cut of 75% or more, and requires, as an absolute, that logistics scale up by significant orders of magnitude.
            The cubesats, using relative off-the-shelf hardware for some components, can be reduced more in cost, but the launch cost reduction assumes a lot with no backing. Falcon 9 was supposed to cost 15 mil per launch but is about 4 times that expensive. No one knows what the plausible number for Starship is, only that Musk has set 2 million per launch as a goal.

            That's like Henry Ford giving the goal that the model T would break 250 km/h and cost 10 bucks per car.

            "As for the "request for subsidies", you do know that that money is already budgeted and WILL BE SPENT, whether spaceX gets a penny of it or not, right?"

            Yep. And from where I'm sitting and looking at every model proposed for US capitalism so far tax money is not meant to be a subsidy for private industry. It's meant to maintain and progress infrastructure which benefits every citizen. Consider that US infrastructure vital to the actual lives of hundreds of millions of americans is - literally - falling apart.

            Granted, it's not as sexy as the promise of "internet everywhere!" but when you've got dams, bridges, power grids, and toxic waste deposits within miles of large populations which are all currently failing there's no real excuse to burn the money you have in the budget on "nice to have" rather than "need to have".

            "By all means lament the subsidy, but it's not reasonable to blame spaceX for trying to tap it."

            Naturally. I have no anger against Musk. He's an innovator and a dreamer. nine out of ten of his projects fail, and the last one is a humdinger which tides him over to his next set of projects. This is not bad per se. What is bad is to take his words and projects at face value until they are delivered.

            "...much of the anger currently being directed at SpaceX (or more likely Elon Musk) is misplaced."

            Of course. There are plenty of actively malicious people to be mad at within US politics and industry. Compared to the avaricious conscienceless malice of Larry Ellison or Sony, Musk and SpaceX are simply possibly unrealistic dreamers.
            I have no doubt that when Musk says 2 mil per launch for Spaceship that's what he intends the cost to be. I don't believe Musk set out to create Starlink to be a network almost exclusively used by the 1% - that's just what's likely to happen, the same way, but to a much greater degree, that a Tesla isn't affordable for the average middle class citizen, and won't be for a long, long time.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2020 @ 4:31am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Uh, yeah...I'm sure network researchers have "poor understanding" about network issues.

              As mentioned in a prior post, Starlink is a complex phone tower system, providing 'final mile' connections. Like phone towers, frequencies can be re-used where satellites do not see the same area of the Earth. The number of ground stations will have a big influence on Starlink capacity.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Oct 2020 @ 6:19am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "As mentioned in a prior post, Starlink is a complex phone tower system, providing 'final mile' connections."

                ...and that already limits the ways it can and will be used significantly.

                I'm objecting to two things - the extreme hype around Starlink, ironically much of which Musk himself has already debunked, and the fact that even if it works as advertised it still won't scale to the point where it'll be affordable. It's going to be a rich man's gimmick, not actual infrastructure.

                Cubesat to cubesat interlinking won't change that, except that a few government vessels, a great number of private yachts and possibly a few cruise liners will be able to remain online in the middle of the ocean.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Oct 2020 @ 6:21am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Eh, and the other thing I object to is that for THAT sort of proof-of-concept the FCC is likely to throw 16 billion which would have been better invested into replacing a few thousand miles of old copper wires in core infrastructure laid almost a century ago and falling apart at speed.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Rocky, 1 Oct 2020 @ 2:02pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    16 billion which would have been better invested into replacing a few thousand miles of old copper wires in core infrastructure laid almost a century ago and falling apart at speed.

                    Which they have tried, several times, and the majority of that money was pocketed by the big telecoms and the minuscule amount left was spent on some token projects here and there.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 2 Oct 2020 @ 1:31am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "Which they have tried, several times, and the majority of that money was pocketed by the big telecoms and the minuscule amount left was spent on some token projects here and there."

                      It must suck to live in the US if it's truly that impossible to ensure tax money goes to infrastructure maintenance in that country.

                      Well, the alternative here seems to be to give that money to Musk who promises to deliver an expensive gimmick likely to only provide the very wealthy with broadband for their private islands, once the frenzied bidding war has stabilized the prize of the scarce accounts.

                      It may be a culture clash. Where I'm from we expect the money from the public purse to go to projects which further the public good, not primarily as investment in private enterprise catering a luxury service to miniscule portions of the population.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 9:11am

      The reports of astronomy's death are greatly exaggerated

      Saying that starlink has "disrupted" earth based astronomy is more than a little exaggerated. Most astronomy is a very narrow field of view - of necessity because they are looking at very distant objects and the sensor is a fixed width and field of view is a consequence of both. Many observations will not be affected at all as the amount of sky obscured by satellites or even their tracks is actually rather small. when a satellite does pass through an observation, there are technical solutions possible such as electronic shutters that can prevent their presence from interfering with the observation.

      Wide field observations have a much bigger issue with satellite trails. The problems are all solvable with a sufficient input of funds. For most observatories, clouds and pollution are a bigger issue. The real solution is to get observatories in space where atmosphere, weather, pollution and satellites don't interfere, not forgoing the benefits that satellites can deliver.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 11:30am

        Re: The reports of astronomy's death are greatly exaggerated

        The real solution is to get observatories in space

        Really?

        Problem: new stuff is going to make old stuff bad
        Solution: throw away the old stuff and make more new stuff.

        The problems are all solvable with a sufficient input of funds.

        ... but they won't be, will they? In particular, the company(-ies) causing the problem in the first place are not going to lay out to solve the problems they cause others.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 12:58pm

          Re: Re: The reports of astronomy's death are greatly exaggerated

          No, I'm saying new stuff makes old stuff a little worse. Why not replace it with something massively batter. Terrestrial astronomy is not that good. The atmosphere gets in the way, completely blocking some wavelengths. Pollution gets in the way. Clouds get in the way. There are places where this is less true, but they are more expensive to operate in and tend to have their own problems (heard any of the news from Mauna Kea lately?). Tax starlink a little (5%?) and use the money to improve astronomy immensely or cry about how beastly spaceX is being to these poor little astronomers and achieve nothing. I know which I'd choose.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2020 @ 2:32am

            Re: Re: Re: The reports of astronomy's death are greatly exagger

            "Why not replace it with something massively batter. Terrestrial astronomy is not that good."

            Because we don't have the funds or the political will to sustainably accomplish that improvement. Essentially you can - today - build a thousand terrestrial microwave arrays as large as Arecibo for the cost of a single hubble.

            Astronomy is really critically underfunded. Statistically we're well overdue for another dinosaur killer and it might help if we found out at a time when we could theoretically minimize the harm rather than just "Well, there's a trillion tons of ice arriving on monday so we've got time for a final party, I guess".

            "Tax starlink a little (5%?) and use the money to improve astronomy immensely or cry about how beastly spaceX is being to these poor little astronomers and achieve nothing. I know which I'd choose."

            ...well, that's more a lamentable reflection on the human race's ability to measure risk and threat rather than anything else.
            Starlink is a "nice to have". I'd argue that viable astronomy is a "need to have", because although the odds that an asteroid of size is about to drop on us are very long, our actual existence as a species is not something I'd like to leave on a gambling table, no matter the odds.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bloof (profile), 29 Sep 2020 @ 12:01pm

        Re: The reports of astronomy's death are greatly exaggerated

        Shame we don't live in a world where money is no object for the unglamorous side of science, isn't it? 'Put more telescopes in space' is a fantastic idea, except the funding is not there and will never be there in the current anti-science climate, Elon Musk certainly isn't going to be putting a penny toward that. Even if they did produce space telescopes for every institution that required one, that still leaves all the amateur astronomers who are still doing essential work mapping the night sky SOL... But hey, Musk has a new fancy space toy, that's all he cares about.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 12:51pm

          Re: Re: The reports of astronomy's death are greatly exaggerated

          Startlink is projected to raise billions per year. I don't see why a portion of that couldn't go to space telescope production. Governments could easily agree on such taxation (not that they would, but it would not be technically difficult). If astronomers were pushing that I'd be behind them (even though most terrestrial observations could still be performed simply by avoiding the satellites). That is not what I'm hearing. I'm hearing the very worst form of entitled crybaby NIMBYism.

          If amateur astronomers are badly affected by satellites, it will be because the stupidly keep looking at satellites rather than stars, planets etc. All that's really needed is a reliable way of predicting where satellites will be. News flash - satellites are in predictable orbits and do not appear by surprise.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 1:16pm

            Re: Re: Re: The reports of astronomy's death are greatly exagger

            If amateur astronomers are badly affected by satellites, it will be because the stupidly keep looking at satellites rather than stars, planets etc

            Now you are showing your ignorance of astronomy. A major role of amateur astronomers is wide field sky watch to spot comets etc, and activity that can be automated, uses the electronic equivalent of a blink comparator, and is definitely affected by satellite trails. Also that watch is not easily exported to space, as it involves thousands of telescopes watching the sky.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Bloof (profile), 29 Sep 2020 @ 4:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: The reports of astronomy's death are greatly exagger

            Why can't a portion of the billions made by Starlink go to mitigating the damage caused by Starlink? Hi, visitor from another planet, here on earth we have this thing called capitalism, where companies do nothing that would cost them money that they are not obligated by law to do.

            Elon Musk is doing this to make money for Elon Musk. He is not doing this so orphanages on to of the Andes can have free broadband or to pave the way to lead humanity into space as our heroic tech daddy. He selfishly mucked up astronomy for people and has no plan to fix it, no desire to even come up with one. His plan is to make money from Starlink, then move along to the next project which makes money and brings attention himself, it is not nimbyism to be angered by the damage he causes along the way. He could have waited a few years, come up with ways to mitigate then issues he has caused, but he did not, he wanted to be first to make money with a shiny new space toy, that's it.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2020 @ 2:40am

            Re: Re: Re: The reports of astronomy's death are greatly exagger

            "That is not what I'm hearing. I'm hearing the very worst form of entitled crybaby NIMBYism."

            Huh. there are about 3000 communities in the US all suffering from Flint River scenarios. Roughly 4,5 trillion USD are estimated to be required to maintain critical US infrastructure - dams, bridges, water supply & treatment, power grids, communications lines - within the next few years because it's all obsolete and shoddily maintained.

            Let Elon do his stuff, by all means. What I am angry with is that tax dollars are grifted into subsidizing private industry unable to stand on it's own.

            And when Elon does something like starlink, let's skip the unrealistic hype and consider that he's wrecking a lot of astronomy viability in favor of providing a network which even if it works as projected will only benefit between 0,5 to 5 million people around the globe who can win the account auction guaranteed to follow as the top 1% struggle to get broadband for their yachts, vacation resorts, and private islands.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 6:56am

    Air Pollution
    Space Junk
    StarLink

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    timlash (profile), 29 Sep 2020 @ 7:23am

    C'mon Karl, your basing this article on Vice reporting?!

    And not even accurately:

    "...485,000 simultaneous data streams at speeds of 100 Mbps..."

    "485K data streams" <> "485K subscribers" as you wrote.

    That bandwidth will support millions of subscribers.

    Further, the article is focused on the U.S. market. Starlink will serve customers all over the globe.

    Your core point is valid. Starlink will not disrupt ISP business in urban U.S. markets. But neither Vice, nor you, fully expressed the scope of Starlink's potential market.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 29 Sep 2020 @ 12:17pm

      Re: C'mon Karl, your basing this article on Vice reporting?!

      Wouldn't a satellite do a better job at ISP in dense urban environments if it was just sitting on top of a building plugged into the fiber backhaul? You don't need to blast antennas off earth to get Internet to places there's already Internet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2020 @ 2:48am

        Re: Re: C'mon Karl, your basing this article on Vice reporting?!

        "Wouldn't a satellite do a better job at ISP in dense urban environments if it was just sitting on top of a building plugged into the fiber backhaul?"

        Well, yes. That's sort of how "mobile data" works for smartphones.

        The thing is that research has simply confirmed what has been guessed at since Musk started the starlink project - that the cubesat constellation option does not scale.

        If everything goes as expected there'll be between 0,5 to 5 million accounts available for a fully functioning 12k-satellite constellation, and those accounts will not be serving rural or even urban areas. They'll be serving the richest people in the world once the account auction is done with, so saudi and US billionaires can have broadband on their yachts and in their vacation homes.

        That's really what actually pisses me off - the hype that this was ever going to bring broadband to the have-nots in the back-end of Podunk or researchers and workers in Siberia.

        Starlink is a 100% luxury service aimed at the top percent of the wealthy. It more than just reeks to have it hyped as being aimed at the exact opposite end of the wealth distribution scale. Like finagling for subsidies to open a car factory to mobilize the working poor and it ends up only producing lamborghinis and koenigseggs.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anon, 30 Sep 2020 @ 8:18am

      Best point...

      Yes, I as an internet subscriber don't use 100Mbps.
      A decent movie download is say, 1.4GB for 2 hours - so about 2Mbps (bits not bytes). Most of the time I am not watching a movie. My usage is not continuous, it consists of lading pages and reading them - HTML, twitter, email, etc. Plus as a pointed out, the more base stations, the less satellite-to-satellite transfer, especially in regions where base stations are easiest (cheapest) to set up.

      I suppose time will tell. If it is not adequate in urban areas, only people who need it outside urban areas will subscribe. If there's an orbital pattern that will allow certain areas to be serviced better, Starlink only needs to add those additional satellites in a slightly higher pattern.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bob, 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:05pm

      Re: C'mon Karl, your basing this article on Vice reporting?!

      Finally, someone who gets it. the 485,000 figure for the USA is misleading. It assumes dedicated bandwidth for each customer. No consumer ISP operates their network like that, contention ratios as high as 50:1 are common. That would mean starlink could support up to ~25 million households in the US alone, more than enough for it to be not just viable, but hugely profitable at $80 a month.

      That's not even mentioning the fact that the service is worldwide, I think they could easily hit over 100 million+ subscribers for their retail offering.

      They'll also be able to sell more expensive dedicated bandwidth to high value customers like shipping lines, airlines etc that by definition operate in sparsely populated areas.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2020 @ 8:17am

    The ultimate goal of Starlink is total, 100% mobile data availability, no matter where you are. It's not about providing coverage for "rural" folks, it's about ensuring traveling billionaires always have access to mobile data, even if the Shit Hits the Fan. This is what looks like when a really rich guy is a prepper. They do things differently than the rest of us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 29 Sep 2020 @ 9:34am

    100 Mbps as the typical subscriber use?

    100 Mbps is an absurd assumption to calculate market size.

    Most streaming services are averaging 3-5Mbps, which provides quite good quality. Netflix recommends at least 5Mbps for high quality, but that builds in other internet usage and ISP variability.

    Yes, the data rate goes up dramatically for high quality 4K streaming. But most people that don't have reasonable internet now aren't going to reject a service that does drops their streams down to merely HQ during peak times.

    A better estimate is that people will accept an average of 1 Mbps, as long as that supports a typical 4 hours a day of 3-5Mbps video plus other usage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 29 Sep 2020 @ 1:46pm

    Oversubscription - yes. Peak subscription - no.

    It's not a question of whether you can feed almost half a million people 100Mbps each with a constellation of 12K birds. Internet usage as measured in bps over a prolonged period of time averages out to around 2-10% residential inbound and 10-20% business inbound and 20-30% hosting outbound.

    If you size your network for peak usage, you need to be able to deliver 20% inbound 30% outbound to 485K people. That's doable.

    Musk isn't crazy. People who think a 100Mbps circuit should deliver 100Mbps 24x7 for all customers at the same time are.

    E

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    collossal waste, 29 Sep 2020 @ 3:48pm

    What a collossal waste

    12000 satallites - for half a milllion users?
    what a complete nothing burger

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 29 Sep 2020 @ 4:29pm

      Re: What a collossal waste

      Did you just come to a conclusion based on an article that was based on a article that made a bunch of assumptions without knowing what the final product will be and its technical specifications? Yeah, those kinds of conclusions don't really tend to work out when all is said and done...

      You are aware that there are vast land-areas that has zero communication-coverage unless you go traditional satellite or find a land-line that perhaps works if you are lucky. For people in those areas, your "nothing burger" is equal to a banquet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2020 @ 2:54am

        Re: Re: What a collossal waste

        "For people in those areas, your "nothing burger" is equal to a banquet."

        When the amount of accounts available is less than ten million or so none of those people in rural areas will ever see one. The top 1% worldwide needs mobile broadband on their yachts and remote resorts so after the account auction that's where they'll end up.

        The hype is that Elon is building this for the working poor in the backend of the outback. Henry Ford's spiel about the affordable car.
        The reality is that Starlink will exclusively cater to those who can afford the market price of an attractive convenience with high scarcity.

        By all means let's discuss Starlink further, but let's do so while getting rid of the outright lies about what that network can accomplish. There's certainly no public benefit in it, no matter Musk's intent.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 1 Oct 2020 @ 5:32am

          Re: Re: Re: What a collossal waste

          When the amount of accounts available is less than ten million or so none of those people in rural areas will ever see one. The top 1% worldwide needs mobile broadband on their yachts and remote resorts so after the account auction that's where they'll end up.

          I haven't seen any indication that there will be limited accounts. There are of course a practical limit, but you argument that StarLink will primarily be used by the rich has no factual basis.

          The reality is that Starlink will exclusively cater to those who can afford the market price of an attractive convenience with high scarcity.

          The estimated price of Starlink is $80/month plus about $100-200 upfront for the fixed installation.

          By all means let's discuss Starlink further, but let's do so while getting rid of the outright lies about what that network can accomplish. There's certainly no public benefit in it, no matter Musk's intent.

          The point is, the figures bandied around in the report from Cowen are estimates based on usage-patterns that is commonly found in neighborhoods that have a better than average internet service. Starlink isn't supposed to be a replacement or a contender for areas that already have high-speed connections - it's supposed to give people in under-served areas an option that is better than no internet or an aging and unreliable DSL-connection.

          There's certainly no public benefit in it, no matter Musk's intent.

          Perhaps you shouldn't be so dismissive when you don't really know how the service will shape up. Nobody likes a pessimist.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Oct 2020 @ 7:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What a collossal waste

            "... you argument that StarLink will primarily be used by the rich has no factual basis."

            It actually has. A scarcity convenience available to between half a million and five million people per continent or so? If you think anyone within the lower or middle class of income will ever see one of those accounts up close then you have an entirely different picture of the free market than I do.

            Musk's estimated price of Starship is 2 million per launch - currently around 150 mil+. His estimated price per launch of falcon 9 was 15 mil. Currently 57 mil. The Tesla was supposed to be a car for everyone, and it's getting there, but as it turns out the amount of lithium required is now hitting the environment far harder than fossil fuel cars do, and no national power grid can handle the massive increase in power required to charge cars if more than a fraction of the citizenry switches to electric. Oops.

            Elon Musk is a visionary dreamer who has produced any number of pie-in-the-sky projects out of which one out of maybe ten works in the end. In many cases he's shot for the stars and hit the moon instead but in all too many others he's had to abandon the project as unworkable.

            "...the figures bandied around in the report from Cowen are estimates based on usage-patterns that is commonly found in neighborhoods that have a better than average internet service."

            I don't think the hard cap estimate on accounts is based on anything other than the projected network specifications. 50k per cell, 485k total accounts max. Spread that as thin as you like it still isn't going to make a dent on the hundred-and-change million americans without decent or any broadband.

            "...it's supposed to give people in under-served areas an option that is better than no internet or an aging and unreliable DSL-connection."

            And with a scarce number of accounts available the people who are going to get those accounts won't be the lower end of the income scale which needs them. That's simple market economics, no matter at which price the convenience is first launched.

            "Perhaps you shouldn't be so dismissive when you don't really know how the service will shape up. Nobody likes a pessimist."

            Well, first of all...it's 2020 and you think there will be something good coming out of the US within the next few years? That's...wildly optimistic, to say the least.

            Secondly, no matter how optimistic I am Musks past history of innovations tells me not being leery when he straps a pair of wings to a pig and starts talking about a future porcine-based aerial courier service is just being a bit too gullible.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2020 @ 9:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What a collossal waste

              A scarcity convenience available to between half a million and five million people per continent or so?

              See my earlier comment Where you give a figure that debunks your scarcity claim. A few cells of half million each serving Siberia for instance, of Northern Canada and Alaska will be a boon, and not Impact the service elsewhere in the world, and those are hardly places thronging with the rich and famous.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Rocky, 1 Oct 2020 @ 2:31pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What a collossal waste

              A scarcity convenience available to between half a million and five million people per continent or so? If you think anyone within the lower or middle class of income will ever see one of those accounts up close then you have an entirely different picture of the free market than I do.

              Oh, I'm 100% certain that a fair amount of lower or middle-class families will be able to avail themselves to Starlink.

              You are aware that there are already established players that have been selling satellite internet access for years now (HughesNet, Viasat and others). If the rich and famous have had the need for internet access on their yacht, it's there already.

              Perhaps you would like to guess what happens to the "free market" and prices when a new player steps in with a product that can compete with already established products?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 2 Oct 2020 @ 1:33am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What a collossal waste

                "Perhaps you would like to guess what happens to the "free market" and prices when a new player steps in with a product that can compete with already established products?"

                If the product is scarce enough? Demand eats Supply is what usually happens.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Rocky, 2 Oct 2020 @ 4:13am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What a collossal waste

                  The problem with your reasoning is that's it's based on the belief that everyone in the boonies or those "owning a yacht" have the need for Starlink which, if true, would outstrip the supply - but since internet via satellite already exists and both Viasat and HughesNet have capacity to spare, it would seem that demand doesn't currently outstrip supply.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Oct 2020 @ 12:58am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What a collossal waste

                    "...since internet via satellite already exists and both Viasat and HughesNet have capacity to spare, it would seem that demand doesn't currently outstrip supply."

                    That's not a problem with my reasoning. That's a confirmation of it; Starlink only offers as hypothetical alternative, low-latency broadband. That makes it a luxury "nice to have" as compared to a "need to have" emergency communication - which already exists.

                    Scarce luxury services get eaten by the market, which is why very very few people drive a Koenigsegg.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Jones, 25 Feb 2021 @ 1:40am

    An article by someone who has no idea what he is talking about only half a million capacity for a 12000+ world wide satellite system with ground stations in every country?? are you insane?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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