LEOs - Are they coming and when?

Message boards : Science (non-SETI) : LEOs - Are they coming and when?
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Message 1767492 - Posted: 25 Feb 2016, 14:15:48 UTC

I live in Vader, Washington - population 610 (give or take). There is no cable TV and it's too isolated to get OTA digital broadcasts. However, there is one DSL provider that serves the town - CenturyLink. Unfortunately, the max speed of Internet downloads is 10mbps. I suppose I should feel fortunate that at least one DSL provider serves the town ... but I don't. Depending on taxes/fees that can vary from one month to the next, this service costs between $70 & $80 monthly (unless you "bundle" in other services and commit to a long contract - and I do neither). A few people have satellite Internet but speeds are worse, subject to low bandwidth caps, and have "latency" issues that make VOIP ops problematic.

This brings me to the topic of LEOs. I don't expect cable companies to market TV or Internet service in Vader anytime soon. And the current satellite providers use MEO (medium Earth orbit) technology that is good enough for TV but not so good for Internet. However, I have heard rumors that some companies (like Google) have considered launching several LEO (low Earth orbit) satellites to provide the same access. LEOs, in theory, not only provide a cleaner more reliable TV signal. They also, in theory, provide access to FIOS-level Internet speeds without any discernible latency issues.

Thing is, all I've heard are "rumors" of this. Does anyone know of any definitive plans to launch LEOs for this purpose - and if so, when?
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Message 1767576 - Posted: 25 Feb 2016, 21:15:06 UTC


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Message 1767581 - Posted: 25 Feb 2016, 21:29:20 UTC

LEOS are not so good - you need a tracking agile dish on the ground, and a network of satellites to provide the data stream. And don't forget that unlike a TV signal you need to be able to transmit to the satellite. All that would make it a very expensive proposition.
One interesting alternative is the use of long-endurance high altitude drones - BAE Systems (and probably others as well) are working on such machines. If these work as well as is hoped one of those would sit up above your township at about 30km and work day and night thanks to solar providing power for both propulsion, battery charging and power for the transmitters. The conceptual endurance is over a year, so having a pair of them would give you 24/7/365 coverage at a lower price per user than launching a single satellite, never mind the half dozen you would need for give you a half decent coverage in your township.
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Message boards : Science (non-SETI) : LEOs - Are they coming and when?

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