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The Internet Communications Space

SpaceX and OneWeb -- Same Goal, Different Technology and Strategy 54

lpress writes: OneWeb has announced that Airbus will manufacture their Internet-connectivity satellites and told us more about their plans and progress. Both OneWeb and their competitor SpaceX have the same goal — global Internet connectivity and backhaul using satellite constellations, but their technologies and organizational strategies are different. SpaceX will use many more satellites than OneWeb, but they will be smaller, shorter-lived, cheaper and orbit at a lower altitude. They are also keeping more of the effort in-house. This is competitive capitalism at its best — let's hope both succeed.
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SpaceX and OneWeb -- Same Goal, Different Technology and Strategy

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  • Instead of satellites, they should use solar powered drones. The drones would be far cheaper, easier to repair, and provide lower latency.

    • is that just an idea or does such a scheme already exist in place somewhere?

      • is that just an idea or does such a scheme already exist in place somewhere?

        Welcome to the internets: a quick google search shows that both google and facebook are dabbling in the idea.

        • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

          It will also show you that neither has managed to actually pull it off, and have suffered some setbacks.

          • It will also show you that neither has managed to actually pull it off, and have suffered some setbacks.

            There's no big rush because the FCC and FAA both have to be massaged properly before they'd even be allowed to implement such a scheme. I imagine they're going to have to prove that their drones can dodge all manner of aircraft and bird life even if they are trying to hit them before they'll be allowed to play. Also, many bribes must be paid.

    • Boy, will their faces be red when they read this.

    • Sure! Who wouldn't stick with an internet provider whose service is disrupted every time a storm with high winds blows through the area? This idea can't possibly go wrong!

    • Sooner or later most satellites will chain fragment in the big garbage belt. Drones can make this later.
  • This is indeed competitive capitalism at its finest. Two teams working to achieve the same goal independently, without the benefit of each other's wisdom. Obviously sub-optimal.
    • Re:Competition (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @12:35PM (#49971303)

      Obviously sub-optimal.

      Indeed. The dead weight of competition is exactly why capitalist countries are always lagging behind technological powerhouses like Cuba and Ethiopia.

      • it would be nice as a consumer if the devices interoperate.

        Competition is good but if I buy an uplink it would be nice if it worked with the service of my choice.

        It's seems to me that companies can be a little sort sighted when it comes to standard when satellites are involved. For example custom receivers were required for Sirius and XM.

      • I don't accept that comparison, it's apples to oranges.
      • by wrmrxxx ( 696969 )
        You may be joking to make your point, but it is sometimes true that capitalism gets in the way. Take a look at look at Cuban health outcomes and the expenditure involved, and compare this to the situation in the United States. Capitalism and market economies work well for some circumstances, but not everything. Things that are universal and fundamental, along with a high barrier to market entry are a particular example. Maybe we should consider if communications infrastructure fits this description?
  • SpaceX will succeed and OneWeb will fail.

    I could be more explicit, but we all know Elon’s track record.

    • I have a theory that after the initial outlay of satellites, they will launch the replacements into "good enough" orbits by filling up leftover space on other SpaceX launches. Payload is 10% less than the Falcon 9's max? Put a handful of cubesats in there to put it near max, use slowly becoming-standard ion propulsion to slowly move them into the orbits you need. Five replacement sats for near zero launch cost.

      • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

        You kind of gloss over "the initial outlay of satellites" seeing as how they're planning to launch 4000 of them. They're also not cubesats, their estimated mass is more than a hundred times that of a cubesat.

        It's possible that they'll slip replacements in here or there, but the expectation is that they'll be launching these things from Vandenberg (they're launching all the Iridium satellites from there too, and they've leased a second launch pad there). Doesn't that imply that their satellites will be in a

  • This is competitive capitalism at its best — let's hope both succeed.

    so... apparently you dont know how capitalism works.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      so... apparently you dont know how capitalism works.

      If you're suggesting that capitalism is always a zero-sum, winner-take-all game, where only a single company can survive in any given market, then perhaps it is you who doesn't know how capitalism works.

  • is a good way to accelerate the amount of space junk in orbit.

    • "Apres moi le déluge" I think he wants to kill low orbits with space junk, making him the one and only free satellite launcher and leaving humanity with the Elon junk belt.
  • I'd like to see it happen, but call me skeptical.

    • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

      I'm skeptical, but I think that they've got a better chance of success than Iridium did. Namely, they have their own launch vehicle (no markup or middleman), they have lower launch costs even for third party launches, and they've got a reputation for building electronics for space on the cheap by re-purposing consumer electronics parts, so they've got a chance at building the satellites themselves for much cheaper.

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