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back to article First quartet of low-latency broadband satellites now in space

Internet-to-the-world's-poor satellite backhaul provider O3b now has four satellites in orbit, ready to offer latency-free internet access to the three billion humans unable to see Facebook - by November if all goes to plan. There was a day's delay to the scheduled launch, caused by high winds at the launch site in French Guiana …

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$1.3Bn?? Considering what Iridum spunked on this that's a bargain.

OTOH if the motorized aerials are supplied by the infrastructure operators, not the individuals then you can share that cost across all your customers.

For operators in some countries this sounds like a very good deal.

thumbs up for a clever idea.

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Re: $1.3Bn?? Considering what Iridum spunked on this that's a bargain.

They're pitching it at mobile backhaul. The end user would just have a phone.

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Meh

Re: $1.3Bn?? Considering what Iridum spunked on this that's a bargain.

"They're pitching it at mobile backhaul. "

That was my point about spreading the cost of the motorized antennas across their customers while the connection to their actual customers would be the usual kind.

Perhaps I was not clear enough

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"ready to offer latency-free internet access"

Really? I'd *love* some latency free Internet access.

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Re: "ready to offer latency-free internet access"

I think we all would.

I was also rather disappointed in the "latency-free" claim. Sure they may be able to offer quite a bit lower latency than the current satellite links. However zero-latency is just not possible as we all know that each hop on the route *will* add latency.

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Iridium, Globalstar, O3B...

The progression continues.

The biggest cost is getting the things into orbit. Past experience indicates that once you pay this, the rest might make a profit. Of course those who invested in getting the birds into orbit will have lost all their money by then, but who is counting.

An Observation: Why is it that the "poor" nations seem to be around the equator?

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Re: Herby

>An Observation: Why is it that the "poor" nations seem to be around the equator?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel

Advancements in agriculture are a large part of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Herby

They are only 'poor' in the modern sense of the word. A tropical climate allows them to feed, clothe and house themselves without the same sort of effort (and consequence of failure) required in less clement climes.

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Low earth orbit question ....

Why can't they put satellites in orbit at other low trajectories than over the equator? Given that the eath is more or less spherical and gravity doesn't know about the rotation of the earth (?), can't the plane of orbit be inclined at any angle?

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Re: Low earth orbit question ....

No reason why they can't. If someone wants to pay for it, why not?

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Boffin

Re: Low earth orbit question ....

Makes the antenna tracking more difficult. For an equatorial orbit the satellites will only ever move along a single line across the sky, for an inclined orbit not only will that line appear to move as the earth rotates underneath it but the ground station will also need to switch to the next plane of satellites as the line vanishes below the horizon.

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Re: Low earth orbit question ....

Gravity doesn't know about the rotation of the earth, but the rotation gives about a 1000mph start to anything launched in that direction. As the inclination angle increases, the effect reduces and you have to put more effort into getting to orbit, until you get to a polar orbit when you get no help at all from earth's rotation. Since "The biggest cost is getting the things into orbit", it's cheaper to put satellites into an equatorial orbit.

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Low orbit

I guess more poor per acre near the Equator (several billion compared with a few million punters in remote areas of Russia and USA - or none in the Southern Ocean). And I suppose - not an engineer - an inclined orbit may make the base stations a bit more complex. I guess cost of base stations is a key hurdle for telco's operating in the poorest nations.

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Also...

"I guess more poor per acre near the Equator (several billion compared with a few million punters in remote areas of Russia and USA - or none in the Southern Ocean)"

Also, satellite internet services already exist covering USA (and AFAIK Russia.) In US we have Starband, Hughesnet, and Exede; Exede bought WIldblue and still operate Wildblue's satellite system as well. These are of course all GEO however. As for MEO, I thought several systems were supposed to launch but they all went bankrupt.

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Re: Also...

Those are all in GSO so are also over the equator. You can put a geo-synchronous orbit at any other inclinition but then it only passes over a fixed point once per day

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for certain values of low.

Wikipedia gives a typical altitude of 20,200 km for MEO, thats about 67.5 ms each way.

Pinging a server through one of these birds will have to make 4 trips so that's a whopping 270 ms just for one segment in the link. Acceptable for web browsing, but not much use for anything else.

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Re: for certain values of low.

That's likely to mean problems with FPS games, but should be fine for most other uses. A quarter second, or even twice that, might be noticeable on a voice or video link, but it shouldn't make it unusable. For most other uses, unless the protocol is designed very badly, and some undoubtedly are, I doubt you would even notice the latency.

No brain surgeons working by telepresence though.

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WTF?

Is mechanical tracking absolutely necessary?

ISTR it's possible to direct radio (well, radar was the example I was told about) beams without physically moving the transmitter by doing it all electronically.

Somehow.

Would this be possible in this case?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is mechanical tracking absolutely necessary?

No, you could have a nice flat panel array with many elements and radio for each.

But it would cost a shitload more.

SO those domes you see on ships have a similar steerable antenna in with a couple of cheap servo motors. This system only needs one degree of movement.

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