Starlink’s beta test beats DSL, but still has a long road ahead

30 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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Starlink launch

Beta testers are getting reasonable speeds from Elon Musk’s nascent Starlink satellite broadband system, according to test results posted on It’s faster performance than most DSL service, and in the same ballpark as older cable systems.

Reasonable, but not spectacular.

In the couple dozen results reported, download speeds were between 16 Mbps and 114 Mbps (discounting a partial measurement of 11 Mbps), with most clustered in the 40 Mbps to 60 Mbps range. Measured upload speeds varied from 5 Mbps to 42 Mbps, with 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps typical.… More

Globalstar's terrestrial WiFi will help satellite customers too

9 March 2013 by Steve Blum
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Won’t have to party like it’s 1999 anymore.

Globalstar is the latest satellite operator to discover the possibility of boosting return on investment by using assigned frequencies on the ground (h/t to David Witkowski for the heads up).

Globalstar has slice of spectrum immediately adjacent to the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band that’s heavily used for WiFi. The thinking is that customers can do a quick software update to extend a WiFi device’s frequency range a bit and then use Globalstar’s channel to access the Internet via a pay wall.… More

Stingy data caps throttle ViaSat subscribers

7 March 2013 by Steve Blum
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Download speeds don’t mean much when the price of a byte goes orbital. For the first time, a satellite Internet service provider, ViaSat, was included in the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America report. Satellite Internet subscribers live in severe broadband poverty, according to the FCC’s data.

Based just on ability to actually deliver advertized speeds, ViaSat was the clear winner in the testing. The download speeds experienced by users were, on the average, 37% better than promised.… More

Broadband speed matters, so does quality, quantity and cost

Tube in the 1000 Watt standby transmitter for CKCI 1350 AM Parksville. (now gone and replaced by CIBH 88.5 FM) This was once the standby transmitter for CKEG 1350 AM Nanaimo.
Copper costs pennies, glass even less.

There’s more to measuring bandwidth than simple speed. The number of bits per second a customer can send and receive is the defining characteristic of most services. But to be meaningfully compared with alternatives, solutions – particularly satellite-based ones – also have to be evaluated on other metrics such as data caps, variability, capacity limits, latency and reliability.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) did not explicitly make that distinction when they relaunched the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) infrastructure grant and loan program last year, and extended eligibility to include qualified satellite companies.… More

ViaSat's California broadband subsidy plan targets wired homes

Viasat stakes a claim from the Klamath to the Colorado.

A satellite Internet service provider, ViaSat, asked for $11.1 million in the latest round of California Advanced Service Fund (CASF) grant requests. They want to provide subsidized broadband service over a huge swath of California that begins at the border with Mexico and runs up the western half of the state all the way to Oregon, plus a few detours to the east.

They’re not asking for money to serve every household in that area, only about 178,000.… More

We've got to get moving: FCC commissioner vs. DoD on freeing up government spectrum

12 October 2012 by Steve Blum
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FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai wants government agencies to clear spectrum and auction it off to the mobile telecoms industry. Now. That puts him on a collision course with federal agencies, particularly the Departments of Commerce and Defense.

In his MobileCon keynote, Robert Wheeler, a USAF major general and DoD information infrastructure honcho, said that the current goal of freeing up 300 MHz of government spectrum for civilian use by 2015 and 500 MHz by 2015 is “tougher than you think” and said the people working on it are shifting focus to sharing rather than just clearing spectrum and auctioning it.


Enterprise mobility defined by the guy who does it for the (real) USS Enterprise

The clearest explanation of what enterprise mobility means did not come from the line-up of B-list industry speakers who have graced the MobileCon stage this week, but from an Air Force general.

Major General Robert Wheeler is the deputy CIO for C4 and information infrastructure capabilities at the U.S. Department of Defense (c4 stands for command, control, communications and computers), and he was the final speaker at this morning’s keynote session.

Instead of a marketing department-written and legal staff-vetted multimedia presentation, Wheeler treated us to a clear and quick military-style briefing on how the DOD views mobile communications and how they intend to work with the industry.… More

Satellite, DSL projects seek "unserved area" subsidies from CASF

Two DSL extensions and one satellite project are asking for a total of $651,622 in grant funding from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). The two DSL extensions, proposed by WillitsOnline LLC and its subsidiary company, Rural Broadband Now! LLC, would bring ADSL2+ to homes in the Westport and Boonville areas of Mendocino County. The proposals request $161,500 and $128,000 respectively. Satellite Internet provider ViaSat, Inc. is asking for $362,122 to reach about 700 homes in rural pockets of Monterey County.


New day at DISH

9 January 2012 by Steve Blum
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The Direct Broadcast Satellite pioneer has a new management team, new logo and new products. The core of the company is still satellite television, but there’s a more coherent and seamless integration of the company’s other offerings, such as satellite radio, DVRs, Blockbuster movies and more.

Joe Clayton has firmly taken over the helm from founder Charlie Ergen. He’s brought over some key players from the team that launched what is now known as DirecTv. Back in 1994, Joe led RCA when it joined with United States Satellite Broadcasting and Hughes’ DirecTv unit to launch DSS – the Digital Satellite System.