Archive for May 30, 2021

Sunday, May 30, 2021 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Starlink Review

Nilay Patel:

We might envision an ISP that smashes through the plodding local politics of digging fiber trenches by literally achieving escape velocity and delivering fast, reliable internet from the heavens above. […] Starlink, a new satellite internet service from SpaceX, is a spectacular technical achievement that might one day do all of these things. But right now it is also very much a beta product that is unreliable, inconsistent, and foiled by even the merest suggestion of trees.

[…]

The idea of ordering a $499 dish with a $99 monthly fee that can deliver Starlink’s current goal of 100Mbps down and 20Mbps up would indeed be a dream come true — especially since Starlink has set a long-term goal of 1Gbps down. It represents competition, something the American broadband market sorely lacks.

[…]

The fundamental setup is incredibly simple: you plug both Ethernet cables into the power adapter, plug that into the wall, and you’re done. The printed instructions in the box are just pictograms, like Ikea for space internet.

[…]

Services that require a sustained, real-time connection, like Slack, Zoom, or gaming, simply weren’t usable for me, even when I was seeing the fastest speeds. […] Starlink’s latency also swings from fine — Zoom did not exhibit any delay when it worked — to pretty bad.

ProVsCons:

HughesNet uses geosynchronous satellites to provide the internet. These satellites are 35,786km (22,236 miles) above the earth. As a result, HughesNet has a minimum of 600ms latency. Sometimes it goes up to 1200ms.

On the other hand, Starlink uses low earth orbit satellites. These satellites are placed in 550km (340 miles) orbit above the earth.

Starlink regularly achieves a latency of less than 50ms. Reports show that the latency between 20ms to 40ms is typical, which is mindblowing for satellite internet.

Nilay Patel:

I have gotten about a dozen emails from Starlink customers who don’t love my piece for various reasons, which is fair. The common thread? All of them hate their local ISPs. Here’s just a sample.

Russell Brandom and William Joel (via Nick Heer):

This map shows where the broadband problem is worst — the areas where the difficulty of reliably connecting to the internet has gotten bad enough to become a drag on everyday life. Specifically, the colored-in areas show US counties where less than 15 percent of households are using the internet at broadband speed, defined as 25Mbps download speed.

[…]

Instead of the FCC’s data, we drew on an anonymized dataset collected by Microsoft through its cloud services network, published in increments by the company over the past 18 months. If the FCC monitors the connections that providers say they’re offering, this measures what they’re actually getting.

Faked Opposition to Net Neutrality

Issie Lapowsky (via Dan Moren, NY Times, Hacker News):

In a new report, New York Attorney General Letitia James found that of the more than 22 million public comments the Federal Communications Commission received in 2017 regarding the repeal of net neutrality protections, a whopping 18 million were fake. Millions of those comments, the report says, were funded by the broadband industry.

See also: Nilay Patel, Nick Heer, Jeremy Singer-Vine and Kevin Collier.

Previously: