Let’s start with two true things. First of all, satellite Internet sucks. Second, we’re all gonnabe using it pretty soon. Woo-hoo! Now I’m kidding, this isactually a good thing. You may have already heardrumblings of this already, and it’s something thatI’ve mentioned in passing a few times on this channel. But, pretty soon, satellite Internet won’t be that thing that you get if you can’t get anything else. It’ll be the new cutting-edge technology that brings high-speedlow latency Internet pretty much everywhere, honestly.
So, let’s dive in. Now, of course, don’t forget to subscribe if you enjoy what we do, but today let’s dive into thefuture of satellite Internet. So, first question is, why does satellite Internetget such a bad rap right now? Let’s talk about the stateof things as they are. Well, in a word, it getssuch a bad rap because of latency.
If we wanna use two words,we can say, data caps, but we’ll get to that in just a second. With latency, what youhave to understand is that with Viasat or HughesNet, the two major satelliteInternet providers right now, they have satellites thatare operating at 22,000 miles above the surface of the earth. That’s a long way to go.
And so, when we’re talking about latency, we’re talking about thetime that it takes for data to travel back and forth between you and wherever it needs to go, or wherever it’s coming from. it takes an average of atleast a hundred milliseconds for that data to travel back and forth. Usually, as most satelliteInternet users will tell you, it’s probably more like three, four, five, or even 600 milliseconds. Now, we’re talkingmilliseconds, you think, that doesn’t seem like that long.
Well, for instance, thisis how it would sound, if I were at a 600 millisecond latency. Not very fun, is it? So, you wanna bring thatdown as much as you can. So, satellite Internet rightnow, not great in that way. Then, when it comes to data caps, the other thing you have to recognize is that this is a single satellite handling everybody’sdata at the same time. And so if tens of thousands,hundreds of thousands, millions of people on a single satellite, it can only handle so much.
For example, Viasat’s current satellite has a max throughput of260 gigabits per second. It was supposed to be300 gigabits per second, but some little wire got bent or something in the satellite, and nowit doesn’t work so well.
So, 260 maximum gigabits per second spread out across everybody, so everybody’s speeds geta little bit slowed down, and the maximum amount of datathat they’re allowed to use gets brought down as well. So, that’s why everybody’s so frustrated with satellite Internet right now. So, what’s it gonnalook like going forward? Well, there are a lotof companies out there trying to fix the problemswith satellite Internet. And the first solutionis, more satellites.
For example, Amazon’s KuiperProject is gonna launch at least 3,236 satellitesthat’ll cover most of the US, except for some of the moreremote parts of Alaska, where the caribou don’t matter anyway, ’cause they don’t havethe thumbs necessary to use the Internet. And then there’s SpaceX. They’ve got plans to launch 12,000 satellites, and they’ve just gotten permission to launch up to 30,000 more after that.
So they’re going for amore global approach. We’re talking aboutcovering the entire globe with satellite Internet. And it’s not just about more satellites, it’s about a lower orbit as well. So, like I said, that HughesNet, Viasat, those satellites right now, they’re at 22,000 miles abovethe surface of the earth.
These ones are gonna bemore like 375 on average. And so, if latency, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that your latency is at 300 milliseconds at 22,000 miles above the earth, then bringing it down to 375 miles could cut it theoreticallyto about, one millisecond, or two milliseconds, again theoretically.
In practice, what that means is, let’s say, it went from 300, let’s do that exercise again, this is what I sound likeat 300 milliseconds latency, and then I cut it down to three, now I’m at three, you can’t really tell that there’s any latency at all, can you? Now, as far as how youare receiving this data, that’s gonna look awfully familiar.
You’ll have a terminal, a user terminal, which is code for the 18 inchsatellite dish on the surface, and that’s how you’regonna receive this data. OneWeb, is a company that’salso launching satellites. They’ve filed anapplication for 1.5 million user terminals in the US, and then SpaceX hasfiled their application for 1 million of those user terminals. So that part will be pretty familiar. So who’s doing all of this, and when are they gonna do it? Well, there are a fewplayers in the space.
I’ve already mentionedSpaceX, Amazon, and OneWeb. there’s also Telesat and LeoSat, yes, low earth orbit, LeoSat. Now, OneWeb and SpaceX willlikely be the first viable ones. OneWeb has launched six satellites, with 30 more launched by December. Those are their test satellites. But SpaceX has already launched 60, and so it’s likely thatthese two companies will kind of be firing things up and really testing out the market by 2020.
It’ll take a while after that before it’s widely commercially available though, so we will have to wait a little bit. So, why is it taking so long? Well, frankly, we’re talking about launching satellites here. This is actual, literal, rocket science. Yeah, it is more routine nowthan it was 50 years ago, but it’s still a complexand delicate procedure.
So, they need to figure out the actual data transmission part, how to get you your Internet stuff, but also they need to figure out how to get all thesesatellites into place, how to maneuver themwhen they’re up there, and what to do if they fail. Do they use pressurizednoble gas propellant, or liquid ionic unpressurized propellant? So many choices, but I’msure you knew all that. – -Going through hyperspaceain’t like dusting crops, boy.
So yeah, it’ll take a little while, but we should all keep ourear to the ground on this because it is going to change the game. And not just for people who’ve never had reliable high-speed Internet, but for a lot of us who have, too. Here’s just one example: telecommuting is possibleright now, but it generally requires a really greatInternet connection. So, you can’t just decideto move to rural Maine, or the middle of the NewMexico desert for some reason, if that’s your thing. But once this is all up and working.