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Old 11-09-2019, 04:48 PM   #1
Caoimhin
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Starlink internet connection

Is anyone considering a Starlink internet connection next year when SpaceX gets it up and running?
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Old 11-09-2019, 05:33 PM   #2
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From what I can determine, Starlink Internet is not much different (in performance) from Hughes Net Internet. We used Hughes Net for about 10 years, until DSL (slower and older technology) was available locally.

My two biggest complaints (other than loss of connection every time it rained) was the data cap (15 gigs of high speed then "unlimited" slow speed <can only have one connection for anything to download>) and the significant delay (limited videoconferencing/gaming due to the nearly 5 second delay. Believe it or not, we get better service with a 15 meg DSL line than we did with a 25 meg satellite line.....

Anyway, an observation about one company "blanketing high orbit with 12,000 small satellites"... We're talking/planning "regular space travel to the moon" and beyond... Currently we restrict "small drones" in airspace (close to earth) yet we allow "unrestricted deployment of similar devices into a space where we're soon going to be flying at "breakneck speed".... Yeah, sounds reasonable to me, at least until we destroy the first spacecraft that collides with "space junk"..... In other words, I'm not so sure that the SpaceX plans will materialize and provide what they're promising, and if they do, just how great it will be. I'm not against using space to improve technology, but I'm reluctant to think we can fill space with "trash" and then fly through it with no regard to what we've littered the sky and how it impacts our future...
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Old 11-11-2019, 06:00 PM   #3
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Just to correct a few technical details, Hughes satellite Internet has very high latency because their satellites are in geosynchronous orbit which is 22,000 miles above the earth (https://www.hughesnet.com/about/how-it-works). That means that your signal has to travel a round trip of 44,000 miles and even at the speed of light the latency across that distance is over half a second.

Starlink is putting their satellites in low earth orbit (200-700 miles, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starli...constellation)) and obviously at that distance the latency will be much lower. At that height any individual satellite will be moving rapidly over you which is why they need so many to provide coverage. It will basically be the opposite of driving with a cell phone - you'll be stationary and the "towers" will be flying rapidly over you at all times.

The only thing we don't know is the price (and bandwidth caps), but if it's reasonable then it would be a great way to get Internet bandwidth literally anywhere on the planet.

Assuming they actually get it launched, like you said. Given that they already have hardware in orbit and are launching more soon, it's already gone beyond theoretical so I'm keeping an eye on it to help fill in the gaps of cell coverage.
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Old 11-11-2019, 07:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaron_huber View Post
Just to correct a few technical details, Hughes satellite Internet has very high latency because their satellites are in geosynchronous orbit which is 22,000 miles above the earth (https://www.hughesnet.com/about/how-it-works). That means that your signal has to travel a round trip of 44,000 miles and even at the speed of light the latency across that distance is over half a second....
You've got the "first half" of what causes the latency.... but you failed to mention the return trip...

Actually, the signal leaves my radio, travels the 22K miles to the satellite then rebroadcast (bounced) 22K miles back to earth, to one of the Hughes Net processing centers in California, Texas or New York. That's where it is introduced "to the internet". Once my transaction is processed through the internet, it's rebroadcast that 22K miles to the satellite, then 22K miles back to the antenna on my roof.

The part I've bolded is what happens with either a DSL or a fiberoptic connection and essentially what happens with a cell tower internet connection. The "difference with HughesNet" is that 44K round trip to get started and the same 44K round trip to get back to my modem... That's 88,000 miles of "space travel" before I get a response to my "press the enter key now"....

Granted, SpaceX will reduce that "somewhat", but all of that transmission delay is "lost time" that, with current technology, makes excessive delay times which prevents gaming and most videoconferencing. Whether SpaceX will be an improvement or another satellite internet option with many of the same issues as current satellite internet providers is a question without an answer.
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Old 11-12-2019, 10:25 AM   #5
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I wonder if this will be mobile capable. Current satellite internet is pretty much stationary (at your home). Also, I haven't seen the mention of hardware needed.
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Old 11-12-2019, 11:19 AM   #6
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I wonder if this will be mobile capable. Current satellite internet is pretty much stationary (at your home). Also, I haven't seen the mention of hardware needed.
HughesNet and BlueSky/ViaSat/Exceed all state "No RV service". It's not the reception that matters, the satellite signal "to you" is the wide end of the cone. The problem is your antenna being aimed at the satellite. That has to be "precise and spot on" in order for your "up-link to the satellite" to work. Having watched the HughesNet guy align our dish on the house, I can understand why the movement caused by walking inside an RV could cause a distuption in satellite transmission. There's no way an "average RV'er" has the equipment and expertise to "aim the dish at the satellite" with enough precision to establish a 2-way communication strong enough to support high speed data transmission.
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Old 11-12-2019, 06:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JRTJH View Post
You've got the "first half" of what causes the latency.... but you failed to mention the return trip...
The return trip is definitely relevant when you send the first request and are waiting for the reply, or if you're doing something like online gaming that requires constant back-and-forth traffic.

In any case, the difference between 44,000 (or 88,000) and a few hundred miles is huge, and SpaceX has already said that they are seeing latencies of about 25ms in their initial testing compared to over 1,000ms for Hughes. It should be a different ballpark.

Regarding mobile usage I've seen talk about a "pizza box" size antenna that uses beam forming to track the satellites, so I suspect it's more an issue of cost for the device vs. the challenge of aiming a dish at a particular point in the sky. The Air Force has also announced a contract to test the network from their planes so clearly it can also work from a moving platform.
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