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FCC's 'serious doubts' about Elon Musk's $10bn Starlink network

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SpaceX’s $10 billion Starlink satellite project recently opened pre-sign ups for its broadband network to the public – but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has  ‘serious doubts’ the network will meet data transfer requirements.

The FCC is set to release its first round of government subsidies for the new Rural Opportunity in October, in a bid to extend the reach of broadband networks deeper into rural America.

But a report released last week states that 95 percent or more of all peak period measurements of network ’round trip latency’ must be at or below 100 milliseconds.

And the FCC  the agency said it is skeptical about all low-Earth orbit satellite providers – including Space X’s network – having the ability to meet requirements to bring on paying customers.

Applications must be submitted by July 15 – giving Musk’s firm less than a month to prove the network meets requirements. 

SpaceX has claimed its network ‘easily clears the commission’s 100ms threshold for low-latency services, even including its ‘processing time’ during unrealistic worst-case situations.’ 

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SpaceX's $10 billion Starlink satellite project recently opened pre-sign ups to the public, by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ‘serious doubts’ it will meet data transfer requirements

SpaceX’s $10 billion Starlink satellite project recently opened pre-sign ups to the public, by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ‘serious doubts’ it will meet data transfer requirements

DailyMail.com has reached out to SpaceX  for comment and has yet to receive a response.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low-Earth orbit to even the most remote places of the world.

The firm began the project in 2015 and launched the first prototype test-flight satellites in February 2018.

There are now more than 500 satellites currently in orbit.

The total cost of the Starlink project, including design, build and deployment of the constellation was estimated by SpaceX in 2018 to be about $10 billion.

The FCC is set to release its first round of government subsidies for the new Rural Opportunity in October, but applications must be submitted by July 15 - giving Musk's firm less than a month to prove the network meets requirements

The FCC is set to release its first round of government subsidies for the new Rural Opportunity in October, but applications must be submitted by July 15 – giving Musk’s firm less than a month to prove the network meets requirements

The FCC recently published a report with more guidelines for SpaceX and other providers for when they plan on offering their services to paying customers, CNET first reported.

The document states: ‘We are, however, unaware of any low earth orbit network capable of providing a mass market retail broadband service to residential consumers that could meet the Commission’s 100 ms round-trip latency requirements.

‘In the absence of such a real-world performance example, Commission staff could not conclude at this time that such a short-form applicant is reasonably capable of meeting the Commission’s low latency requirements.

‘We therefore have serious doubts that any low earth orbit networks will be able to meet the short-form application requirements for bidding in the low latency tier.’

The statement is directed at SpaceX, as it has been a front runner in the market, but the firm has claimed its service not only meets the requirements, but it also surpasses them.

The firm filed an ex parte letter with the FCC last month that summarized a phone conversation it had with FCC staff, which noted the Starlink satellite system ‘easily clears the 100ms threshold for low-latency services, even including its ‘processing time’ during unrealistic worst-case scenarios.’

Elon Musk's (pictured) firm SpaceX has claimed its network ‘easily clears the commission's 100ms threshold for low-latency services, even including its'processing time' during unrealistic worst-case situations'

Elon Musk’s (pictured) firm SpaceX has claimed its network ‘easily clears the commission’s 100ms threshold for low-latency services, even including its ‘processing time’ during unrealistic worst-case situations’

The reason behind the importance of low-latency is that is necessary for faster data transfers to and from computers and other computing devices.

Earlier this month, ZDNet received a note that SpaceX was allowing consumers to sign up for the Starlink service ahead of the public beta launch.

By filling out an email form with a zip code, prospective customers will get notifications on when or if they’re able to join the Starlink service once it’s opened up.

If you provided us with your zip code, you will be notified via email if beta testing opportunities become available in your area,’ reads a message sent to users who sign up.’

‘In the meantime, we will continue to share with you updates about general service availability and upcoming Starlink launches.’

The beta is expected to open up in later this summer or in early fall and will have about 800 satellites in all.

Musk has said that the price for the Internet – which promises gigabit speeds with 15 to 25ms latency – will be about $80 per month, making it competitive with other traditional high-speed providers like Verizon Fios.

ELON MUSK’S SPACEX SET TO BRING BROADBAND INTERNET TO THE WORLD WITH ITS STARLINK CONSTELLATION OF SATELLITS

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched the fifth batch of its ‘Starlink’ space internet satellites – taking the total to 300.

They form a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit.

The constellation, informally known as Starlink, and under development at SpaceX’s facilities in Redmond, Washington.

Its goal is to beam superfast internet into your home from space.

While satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.

Starlink is different. SpaceX says putting a ‘constellation’ of satellites in low earth orbit would provide high-speed, cable-like internet all over the world.

The billionaire’s company wants to create the global system to help it generate more cash.

Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.

It could also help fund a future city on Mars.

Helping humanity reach the red planet is one of Musk’s long-stated aims and was what inspired him to start SpaceX.

The company recently filed plans with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 4,425 satellites into orbit above the Earth – three times as many that are currently in operation.

‘Once fully deployed, the SpaceX system will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,’ the firm said.

‘Every point on the Earth’s surface will see, at all times, a SpaceX satellite.’

The network will provide internet access to the US and the rest of the world, it added.

It is expected to take more than five years and $9.8 billion (£7.1bn) of investment, although satellite internet has proved an expensive market in the past and analysts expect the final bill will be higher.

Musk compared the project to ‘rebuilding the internet in space’, as it would reduce reliance on the existing network of undersea fibre-optic cables which criss-cross the planet.

In the US, the FCC welcomed the scheme as a way to provide internet connections to more people.

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