Facebook looks to launch LEO satellites to provide internet to rural areas

Cal Jeffrey

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Staff member

With work on the drone project off the internal table, the social media giant is researching another means of delivering internet to remote areas — satellite. An application obtained by Wired through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that a company called PointView Tech LLC has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to launch a satellite into low-earth orbit (LEO) to broadcast internet access on the E-band spectrum.

When asked by Wired if it had anything to do with the project, Facebook admitted that PointView Tech was indeed a subsidiary company. The social media firm says the satellite has the same goal as its Aquila project. The difference is that instead of building drones, the Aquila team will be working on “developing the onboard software systems that guide internet aircraft.”

"[Facebook will] bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where internet connectivity is lacking or non-existent."

The software will presumably be used to power the satellite, which has been codenamed, Athena. There are already communications satellites orbiting the Earth. However, they are not ideal for broadband access because of their distance. For example, SpaceX's recently launched internet communications platforms will be orbiting at 700 miles above the Earth. PointView wants to have a network of smaller comms orbiters in non-geostationary orbit and not as far away. The satellites will fly in LEO as close as 100 miles out.

“While we have nothing to share about specific projects at this time, we believe satellite technology will be an important enabler of the next generation of broadband infrastructure, making it possible to bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where internet connectivity is lacking or non-existent,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

The FCC still has to approve the project, and the company has not revealed a timeline for implementation. While the effort is touted as being able to supply broadband to rural areas, speeds are still not likely to come anywhere close to a fiber infrastructure.

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yRaz

Posts: 3,380   +2,913
Satellite internet can cover rural areas pretty well; it's not the coverage or the speed that is the issue; it's the draconian data caps these services impose.
Satellite internet data caps are more legitimate than cellular data caps because heat is more of an issue. There is simply no where for it to go and radiant heat dissipation is the only method. People think space is cold, and it is. The thing is there is no matter for that heat to go into.
 
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mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,599   +905
LEO is a terrible place for a comms satellite. Yes, you can get a higher bandwidth, but they require more fuel to stay up there - reducing service life - and cover much smaller areas. They also move relative to the ground, so you need many more of them. You can overcome the bandwidth limit of higher orbits by switching to a high-gain transmitted and receiver, then splitting out the signal via hard-line once on the ground.
 

loki1944

Posts: 419   +274
Satellite internet data caps are more legitimate than cellular data caps because heat is more of an issue. There is simply no where for it to go and radiant heat dissipation is the only method. People think space is cold, and it is. The thing is there is no matter for that heat to go into.
Not really; you just pay more to keep adding 25GB at a time. They most certainly could allot 100GB data caps over 50GB, but they have no competition so they just rape the consumer.
 

yRaz

Posts: 3,380   +2,913
Not really; you just pay more to keep adding 25GB at a time. They most certainly could allot 100GB data caps over 50GB, but they have no competition so they just rape the consumer.
You don't understand how difficult it is to cool things is in space. Doubling the size if the cooling system could cost 100 of millions of dollars per satellite and it also increases the points of failure.
 

jobeard

Posts: 13,957   +1,774
Downlink bandwidth can be usable, but Uplinks are nearly dial-up rates - - SOME access is (barely) better than none however :sigh: