Starlink SpaceX is coming ... are HughesNet and Viasat still competitive?

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In an era with LEO Starlink, will HughesNet and Viasat still be competitive?

Logically, some percentage of customers will switch to a new provider, if the service is faster as projected and the price is at least the same or lower. 

What percentage of customers do you think will switch based on your satisfaction with Viasat? 

If 20% of the customer base migrates to Starlink, will HughesNet and Viasat still be viable companies financially? They seem moderately profitable now, but they both have huge debt (building Viasat next 3 satellites) that is rated junk high yield risk.

I am a Viasat customer in a long term contract for another 18 months and I am regretting it now based on what I am reading about Starlink. I sort of wonder whether this company can survive long term with OneWeb and Starlink coming.
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Jay

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Posted 2 months ago

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Voyager

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You have nothing to worry about in the next 18 months.
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Jay

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Long term, I don't really think Viasat is a viable company. Satellites at 22,000 miles up just don't seem to be competitive against satellites that are only 500 miles up there. And Starlink sats will be getting refreshed with newer satellites every year, while  Viasat satellites age in place for 15 years. In other words, Viasat satellites are obsolete mostly soon after being launched.

Also, SpaceX seems to have a huge launch cost advantage over everyone else.

This competition for satellite internet seems like cable vs dial-up, and Viasat's strategy is the dial-up service in this competition.

Just my opinion.
(Edited)
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Admiral Korbohuta

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If Starlink works as well as they're saying then Viasat and Hughes will probably be obsolete within 3-5 years. They'll probably lose most of their residential, government and airline contracts.
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Voyager

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If they provide service better than this on a consistent basis, then they will do well. This is the second night in a row with pathetic performance.
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Admiral Korbohuta

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I haven't "experimented" with Liberty Pass yet. Too afraid to deal with primetime speeds like that.
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Bradley

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Probably see a merger at some point. The system will be utilized as a backup or other measure of redundancy. As soon as LEOs are viable, the days of both satellite companies mentioned as well as the tv dish providers will be over.
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Admiral Korbohuta

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I don't think satellite TV providers will go away. I can't see everybody going to purely streaming.
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Voyager

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Yes, you can probably still buy buggy whips, but they aren’t a huge market. I suspect GEO satellite services will all but disappear. I simply can’t think of a single application that a GEO satellite can do better than a full array of LEO satellites. Can anyone else?
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Jay

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If a company like Viasat loses 20% of the customers to OneWeb and Starlink, is Viasat still financially viable? Most companies that lose a large chunk of customers will start losing a lot of money.
Viasat has very heavy debt (junk rated) levels and is now cash flow negative while building 3 new expensive GEO satellites. If LEO satellite networks are the future, Viasat is betting the farm on slower technology with 600 ms latency.

Each of the 3 new Viasat satellites has 1 Tbps (1,000 Gbps) of capacity

SpaceX is launching 60 satellites every 2 weeks with 20 Gbps each, which is 1.2 Tbps total added to their network every launch.
The next Viasat satellite doesn’t launch until 2021. But then SpaceX will have launched 20x to 40x more capacity with faster speeds and lower latency.

Looking at the differences in strategy and technology, I have a hard time seeing a viable path to staying in business for HughesNet and Viasat.
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ExSatUser

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Being that none of this tech is even operational yet, awfully of speculation going on.

Come back in 3 years and let's see where things stand.
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Jay

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I think it is a lot sooner than 3 years. More likely the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2020 we will see major movement of customers. 
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ExSatUser

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LOL
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Jay

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Why the LOL? 

Starlink is funded by Google, Fidelity and Elon Musk. They turn down new investment money because they don't need it.

OneWeb is funded by SoftBank.

ViaSat has less than $50 million in the bank.
ViaSat has $2 billion in junk debt that is rated 5 notches below investment grade. ViaSat is cash flow negative building 3 more GEO satellites that will all have equally lousy latency as the current GEO satellites. 

ViaSat is basically living on a $600 million line of credit right now while they are building 3 expensive satellites that are already obsolete compared to what OneWeb and Starlink are launching.

I have a hard time seeing a happy ending here. Any other LOLs?
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Admiral Korbohuta

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Jay, I think ExSat is correct to be a bit skeptical about Starlink. At this point we know very little about pricing, how the service will work or even the hardware involved for residential customers. It could end up failing miserably or end up being the next evolution of satellite internet.
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GabeU, Champion

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I doubt HughesNet's debt is as big as you think it is.  They're also invested in OneWeb, building at least a part of their ground based infrastructure.  As of right now they have 1.4 million plus subscribers.  

But, LEO will no doubt hurt them.  
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Admiral Korbohuta

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Viasat is partnering with SpaceX in some regard. Can't remember if it's with development of rockets or something else.
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Oliver

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Viasat is NOT a partner with SpaceX. Viasat paid for a launch on a SpaceX rocket.
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Jay

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HughesNet has $2 billion in debt, also junk rated, but they have the cushion of also having $2.5 billion in cash in the bank.

Viasat has $1.9 billion in debt, junk rated, with less than $50 million in the bank. I read the transcript from the last earning conference call. Viasat is currently burning thru cash to build 3 new satellites and launch them in the 2021-2022 time frame. Viasat keeps the lights on due to a $600 million line of credit right now, trying to make it till their new satellites get to orbit and produce revenue.

Looking at all of that, it naturally causes me to ask the question ... what happens this summer when Starlink starts pre-sales for their constellation? 
Not many companies, in Viasat’s precarious state, could survive losing 20% of their customer base.
(Edited)
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GabeU, Champion

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IOW, Echostar (HughesNet) is still a solvent company.  
(Edited)
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ExSatUser

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Residential customers only makeup a small part of Viasat customers. It is the government and airline contracts it is focused on.

And it is laughable you think they will be selling this untested technology a few months from now. I mean, they have hundreds of satellites to go before the system is ready to test.
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HiddenOkie

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Exactly.  It's going to take them a while to build it out, get it running, then work the bugs out.  Even if it's successful, the same issue that plagues Viasat and Hughes will be waiting for Starlink only on a global scale instead of regional.  A good number may jump ship in the beginning only to find out Irma Bombeck was right..."The grass is always greener over the septic tank."
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Voyager

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What issue plagues Viasat, Hughes and Starlink?
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Old Labs

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A full septic tank???
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Admiral Korbohuta

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Over subscribed? Limited bandwidth?
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Voyager

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Still waiting for Okie to enlighten us as to what the “plaguing issue” is...
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ExSatUser

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Jay has disappeared too.

Perhaps he is buying Viasat low to flip it, as they continue to strengthen their position with commercial airlines, the government, and other countries where internet competition is less.
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Jay

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I am watching Viasat and also EchoStar HughesNet. Both of them look like they are very vulnerable to the coming competition of SpaceX Starlink.

In the short term later this year, Starlink will likely start pre-sales for their satellite internet service. When that happens, I expect the stock VSAT to crash. It looks like 35% of their revenue is satellite internet services and most of that is vulnerable.

Also, it is clear that SpaceX Starlink will be competitive for government and military contracts.

https://www.investors.com/news/spacex-starlink-satellites-virgin-orbit-massive-live-fire-air-force-exercise/

In terms of equipment for users, there is some discussion over on NasaSpaceFlight about the patents SpaceX filed in 2018. Based on the patents and back then SpaceX hired away a large team from Broadcom, SpaceX is designing their own specialized chips for the phased array antenna. SpaceX would not be launching so many satellites if that issue was not already resolved.

So the only question is, how will Viasat and EchoStar handle the new competition? We can logically assume that some portion of the customer base is going to move from Viasat and EchoStar. All that remains to be seen is how many jump ship. 

I suspect eventually most will leave. The performance reports that have made the news are impressive. 610 mbps to an Air Force plane during testing.

https://spacenews.com/spacex-plans-to-start-offering-starlink-broadband-services-in-2020/

I am shorting the stock for Viasat (VSAT) and EchoStar (SATS). Both are likely toast and going under $10 per share in medium term of 12-24 months. Just my opinion.

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Admiral Korbohuta

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Or Starlink could disappear like a fart in the wind. Gone forever.
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Jay

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Unlikely. Elon has a reputation for getting stuff done. Maybe not on time, but the guy is a freak of nature. PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX. He lands rockets on boats. It’s crazy what this guy does. 
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ExSatUser

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I agree. Look who he married!
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Jay

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Which one? Talulah Riley is hot. He married her twice.

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ExSatUser

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Yep her.

Not to mention running around with Depp's ex.
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Jay

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He is worth over $30 billion. I cannot believe the hag he is with now. Grimes is sort of nasty looking.
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ExSatUser

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And pregnant.
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ExSatUser

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So Jay, I know you are a proponent of LEO internet .


With Oneweb now bankrupt and Starlink bleeding cash and looking for more (I know you said they were turning it down a month ago), curious what your thoughts are now. Obviously doesn't look good right now.
(Edited)
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Admiral Korbohuta

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I haven't heard anything about Starlink bleeding cash. They are scheduled to go public soon however.
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ExSatUser

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Article posted today. They got about two months of operating cash at current spending levels.

https://www.lightreading.com/services...?
(Edited)
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Admiral Korbohuta

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I'm not worried. Elon's companies look at these things in advance and then take corrective action.
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Jay

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That article is so utterly clueless. SpaceX is a profitable company based only on it's launch business, contracts with NASA to take cargo to the space station, take crew to the space station starting in May, the US military launches, plus their manifest of commercial launches.

If SpaceX were short on cash, they could just dial back their spending on Starship and Starlink and be cash flow positive on their launch business. 

If you go read the articles, SpaceX set out in January or February to raise $250 million at a $36 billion valuation, which was up from their last year $33 billion valuation. They were offered $500 million by investors. It has all closed already. The filings come weeks later. Elon also raised $2 billion for Tesla in February at something like $760 per share with the price now at $500. His timing was lucky on that one.

Elon has more cash thrown his way than anyone on the planet. Larry Page of Google ($51 billion) has said repeatedly he will fund any project Elon wants money for.

https://www.vox.com/2015/8/12/9140477/google-alphabet-larry-page-charity

Larry Ellison of Oracle ($57 billion) is also one of Elon's best friends and said he will fund anything necessary at Tesla or SpaceX. Larry Ellison sits on the Tesla board of directors. 

The most recent funding round for SpaceX in 2019 was provided by Google and Fidelity at a $33 billion valuation. Elon regularly turns away investors that want in on SpaceX. He could probably raise $1 billion with 5 phone calls during the middle of this virus/economic crisis if he wanted to.

So where are you coming to the conclusion that SpaceX is about to run out of money? Their costs for Starlink are a fraction of what OneWeb was spending. OneWeb's costs were something like 600% higher than Starlinks per Gbps of capacity.
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Jay

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@Admiral, they indicated Starlink won't go public until a few years after it is a profitable and mature company. He said this at the recent Satellite 2020 keynote. It is on YouTube if you want to watch.
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ExSatUser

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Yet you praised Oneweb a month ago.

Keep drinking the kool-aid.

Do I hope LEO internet works? Of course. Will we see it operational for the consumer this year? Highly doubtful.
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Admiral Korbohuta

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ExSat, that article is highly inaccurate. SpaceX is not headed towards bankruptcy as the author states.
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Old Labs

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Not inaccurate - just speculation. Just like everything in this conversation is. Temper your expectations as I once told somebody about Viasat-2. Let's see what plays out. You never know when an antenna may not fully deploy or  rocket my suffer an RUD or s pandemic might put things on hold when a well-meaning governor shuts things down as non-essential.

In my case I'll be pleasantly surprised when it happens but not disappointed when it doesn't. Those who are more enthusiastic will be severely disappointed if it doesn't while only satisfied when it does.

We were all treated to a bandwidth economics dissertation  on Viasat vs Starlink vs Oneweb just a month ago and times have changed since then.
(Edited)
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ExSatUser

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Starlink is just one initiative of SpaceX.

Given the current state of the global economy, everything indeed is speculation except businesses related to health care, agriculture, etc.

Anybody want to invest in a restaurant right now?
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Jay

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SpaceX has launches on the manifest for NASA resupply to the ISS, NASA crew to ISS (starts in May) and for the US military. In addition, SpaceX has several NASA science launches on the manifest. 

The US Air Force is drooling over Starlink. They paid SpaceX $27 million just to help with testing the system and proved 610 mbps downloads to an Air Force plane in flight. Starlink is likely to get a $1 billion or larger contract for Starlink data connectivity to the US military. The Air Force wants Starlink connections on every drone they have.
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Old Labs

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Only if it's a Chick-fil-A franchise. Business was boomin' at the drive through yesterday. Carry out too.

Probably has something to do with their new marketing:

https://babylonbee.com/news/chick-fil-a-temporarily-changes-slogan-to-eat-fewer-bats
(Edited)
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Admiral Korbohuta

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The article is nothing more than a blog. Again, SpaceX itself is in no danger of going bankrupt. Starlink might however.

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ExSatUser

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SpaceX I agree.

GM us slashing salary pay by 20%.

Tesla isn't making or selling cars right now.

My company has stopped capital expansion right now.

Cash is king and now it is all about preserving it.
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Old Labs

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Maybe Starlink will have a conference of champions and we can get some reliable info.
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Bradley

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https://www.google.com/amp/s/arstechn...

And bankruptcy only means debtors can’t pursue you. Business as usual.
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Voyager

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Not quite business as usual, particularly when you are still running mostly on investment money rather than cash from actual operations. Once you screw over a large set of investors via bankruptcy, good luck finding the next round of investors.
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ExSatUser

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When you declare bankruptcy before you ever get a company started to generate income, that is not good.
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GabeU, Champion

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It's not too good for HughesNet, either, with them having been involved in building the ground based infrastructure.  I wonder how much of a loss they're going to take.  :( 
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Jay

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EchoStar HughesNet will probably lose their ownership stake in OneWeb. They owned something like 2% or 3%. Also, EchoStar HughesNet had a contract to resell OneWeb data plans to consumers, so that is worthless now.

OneWeb doesn't really have much to offer, so it will likely result in liquidation in bankruptcy court and the satellites in orbit will be de-orbited.
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Ian

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" EchoStar HughesNet had a contract to resell OneWeb data plans to consumers"

LOL! 
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Lighthope

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I'm really, really waiting for these Leos to come out (and work!).  Low latency, higher data limits.

Just wondering about the price.

ViaSat is in my area, but are wanting a laughable $200/month for a paltry 65gigs. I said no.

Hoping Starlink will do better.
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Homeskillet

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I don't understand the blind faith people have in Elon Musk. With Tesla he constantly over promises and under delivers. Pretty much 1/2 or more of the cars they have made have been recalled. The cars they produce crash at up to 50% more than similar models from other manufacturers. The company losses money at a ridiculous pace. Something tells me providing a low orbit satellite system coordinating hundreds of them will be a lot more of a challenge than building an electric car.
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Bradley

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While I’m sure they’ll have problems, he actually has a few in the sky that currently work.

If not him, then someone else. It’s the only way to bridge the digital divide.

Heck, as people work from home and see the need for it, maybe Congress will actually demand it too. That would be the “utility” requirement we’ve all been looking for.
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Voyager

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I’m curious where you are getting your information as it looks bogus. The safety figures I have seen show Teslas to be about the safest cars on the road today and Tesla has had positive net income in 4 of the last 6 quarters. Yes, it is a long way from being profitable overall, but for a start-up in a capital intensive industry, they haven’t done all that bad.

Yes, Elon promises more than he can deliver, no question there, but the reality is that what he delivers, though well short of promise, is still well ahead of his competition.
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Homeskillet

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I went to the Tesla Wikipedia page:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla,_Inc.
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Admiral Korbohuta

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Tesla hasn't been a resounding success, but SpaceX sure is. That's why I'm being cautiously optimistic about Starlink.
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Homeskillet

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Whether Space X is a success or not depends on where you get your information. Some sources claim they are profitable others claim they are still losing money.
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Voyager

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@Admiral. It all depends on how you define success. If you are talking as a business, then I agree they have not yet achieved success. If you are talking about technology, they have been wildly successful in designing and producing cars and a charging infrastructure that makes electric cars viable transportation for a large segment of the US population.
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Admiral Korbohuta

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SpaceX isn't going anywhere. NASA and various US and foreign armed forces will make sure of that.
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Ian

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Musk is divisive, reckless, conceited and bold. These are common characteristics of the most successful business people. I imagine he's kindof hard to get along with. The difference with Elon Musk is that he is also a brilliant engineer and a visionary. I wouldn't be surprised if he's on the spectrum.

He has proven time and time again that his team is capable of delivering astounding results. 200+ mile range on his first EV when other manufacturers were struggling to beat 100 miles. 300+ miles on current production EVs. 

Self-landing & modular/reusable space vehicles (with expected failures). Functioning LEO constellation. A digital payment system that revolutionized "instant money." Tunnel boring in LA with modular/flexible, "earthquake proof" reinforcement. 

I don't think he necessarily has "new ideas" as much as the vision and determination to deliver us to where we thought we'd be by now back in the 50's and 60's.
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Ian

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Musk is divisive, reckless, conceited and bold. These are common characteristics of the most successful business people. I imagine he's kindof hard to get along with. The difference with Elon Musk is that he is also a brilliant engineer and a visionary. I wouldn't be surprised if he's on the spectrum.

He has proven time and time again that his team is capable of delivering astounding results. 200+ mile range on his first EV when other manufacturers were struggling to beat 100 miles. 300+ miles on current production EVs. 

Self-landing & modular/reusable space vehicles (with expected failures). Functioning LEO constellation. A digital payment system that revolutionized "instant money." Tunnel boring in LA with modular/flexible, "earthquake proof" reinforcement. 

I don't think he necessarily has "new ideas" as much as the vision and determination to deliver us to where we thought we'd be by now back in the 50's and 60's.
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Ian

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Sorry for the double post, I didn't do that.
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Voyager

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@Ian. I would say that reckless is an over the top adjective and I am not sure about divisive either, but conceited and bold probably apply. There are very few truly new ideas in the world. It is surprising how many things have been tried before, but executing an idea successfully in a commercial sense is a big deal and Elon seems able to do that time and time again. There is much to be said for that no matter what you think of him personally.
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Bill Thompson

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It's not blind faith it's clinging to any hope.  Elon is just the most promising.  Without starlink we have nothing.  So many lies have been told, so many strategies gone, people need that hope.  Since the telecoms are classist, racist, and ruled by greed, there is no hope they will ever provide proper service.  Microsoft is gonna utilize whitespace tech, but us rural people aren't deserving enough for them, so they're gonna set it up in Africa.  Every innovation in broadband the last 25 years to expand and provide for us, has been taken away.  So people are like Charlie Brown, gov and telecoms are Lucy, lying to us everytime, and laughing, while we have no choice but to fall for it.
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Lighthope

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"Classist"?  "Racist"?  That's a pretty big chip on your shoulder.  Businesses go where the profit is.  It costs waaay too much to string a dsl line to rural America where you get a few people per mile subscribers where you can go somewhere else and get a hundred subscribers per mile.

We don't have a "right" to internet.  It is a service provided by someone who is being rewarded for their effort by money.

Just like no one has a "right" to your labour.  You are rewarded with wages.

I don't subscribe to Viasat because their product is not worth what they are asking.

Hopefully, Starlink will provide a service that I believe is worth the price they will ask.
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Voyager

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Worth is not an absolute and has little to do with what is being offered. The alternatives available often are far larger determinants of worth. If you have no alternative at all other than postal mail and telephone calls, Viasat can be worth a lot.
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Lighthope

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Worth is whatever it is to you and whatever it is to the other person. If you meet, you have a deal.  If you don't, both walk away.

You have no right to tell someone else what they have to accept for their product/service/labour.

Problems come when someone is able to force that upon someone else.
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Voyager

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Nobody mentioned forcing anybody. Where’d you fabricate that from?
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Lighthope

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I read between the lines of what you had wrote.  If I misinterpreted, I offer my apologies.
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ExSatUser

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Honestly with what has happened and what is going on, I wouldn't be surprised if hard wired internet expansion doesn't come out as one of the infrastructure projects.

Satellite internet just isn't possible to service the needs of many consumers today.  It certainly won't be able to do that tomorrow either.
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Voyager

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@Ex I suspect you are correct. I see a big push for telemedicine also.
(Edited)
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Admiral Korbohuta

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The small rural hospital that I work at has been doing telemedicine for several years now. I'm sure the larger medical centers and doctor's offices have been doing it longer.
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ExSatUser

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Yep. I have had it for a few years now, and it is the preferred way now to basically do triage.

Each passing year reliable, high speed internet has become more important, and during this time more so than ever. My belief is if you can get electric power you should be able to get hard wired internet. Running power lines in the '30's wasnt practical or cost effective either, but we got it done. Internet can deliver TV, voice, and the web. That eliminates small satellite dishes and old, outdated crappy copper phone lines. We can get it done, leaving satellite internet for places where there is no electricity, to service ships at sea, and in the air. Let's do it!
(Edited)
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Voyager

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I mean serious and widespread telemedicine, not patchy as today. Where I live probably 60% of the population doesn’t have sufficient internet speeds to do real telemedicine, which requires the ability to review 3D images such as MRIs in real time with your doctor. Not many rural hospitals and doctors offices are doing that.
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Voyager

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@Ex I agree. That is why I joined forces with my electric cooperative. They have the assets (ROWs, poles, billing systems, etc.) and the local knowledge of rural areas and their challenges. I believe they are far and away the best vehicle for rapid deployment of true broadband (fiber) in rural areas.

Then again, we can all be advocates and complain on Internet forums and see how well that works out...
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johnny c

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That's the model, rural power companies adding FIOS to their power grid. 

Even tho they have the basic infrastructure some of it has to be upgraded.  I remember driving down the country road and seeing new power poles laying on the ground next to poles that had probably been delivering power since the 40's or 50's.  The new poles have about a 30% greater diameter.  So, then they have to run new power lines, transformers and the FIOS. Then they work on certain sections of the county first, get them up and running and move on to the next area.  Believe me I stopped and talked to different power company workers, and those subcontractors that were running the FIOS, adding junction boxes/hubs for the FIOS etc.

I met a few of the subcontractors, one was a family of 4 mother, father, and 2 sons, they lived in an RV, traveled around from one state/county to another installing FIOS in mostly rural areas.  I worked with the guys, holding the cable, as it was trenched into the ground.  Since I have power poles about 1500 feet on our road, they brought the FIOS in overhead and then they laid about 800 feet of underground FIOS to my house, after they were finished, a few days later, another guy came who did the actual install at the house.

During this process I received phone calls from the power company or the subcontractor giving me the date he would be in my area.  It was very well coordinated.

And if you have a question you call your power company, they put the FIOS lady on the line and with that beautiful sweet southern accent, she assists you, no farming out of customer service.

Broadband initiative, FIOS, started in my county about 2 years ago, one section at a time, I was hooked up in June of last year, about a year after the program started.  There is still one section of the county (the last one) that they are currently working on now.

As extremely bad as the virus is, it is spotlighting the absence of broadband service in rural areas.  Which is then telecast on the news, describing the issues with on line education, medical, and working at home during this "almost all" states lock down.

After all of this if your county board of supervisors, rural power company are not currently pursuing this than I would have to say they are negligent in their planning of high speed internet service for the communities that they are responsible for.

Living in the boon docks today makes me feel very safe, no neighbors around, no deliveries, consequently no virus, just the family in our small 30 acre pine tree farm.  Quiet, safe, and I am teaching on the internet.

Off the grid? Not exactly, we have FIOS.


(Edited)
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Voyager

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There is no need to run new power line or transformers to add FTTH. Typically, a cooperative will replace some poles as part of the “make ready” effort, but a well maintained system should replace well under 10% of their poles. Now if the power system has not been well maintained, the there may be more catch-up work to do.
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johnny c

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Let put it this way, i've lived out there for 30 years, and we have had consistently good power, only outages have been storm related, and that is the only time i have ever seen poles replaced.  Tree trimming, very important goes on every year or so.

This may be the time that the cooperative, if they are progressive and want to be proactive, enhance their infrastructure, based on new more reliable equipment, and future planned communities etc. And we are adding FIOS to the system, lets make sure we can support this new system as well and not have issues down the road, you know penny wise and pound foolish.

But if you look at the actual poles from 40 or 50 years ago compared to the new poles installed their is a major difference in their diameter, load bearing capacity.

Between you and me, I am glad to see them improve the system, i like FIOS, but electrical power more. If appropriately coordinated, probably only a minimum of additional time to get the FIOS in and these conversations always harken back to the old Fram commercial " Pay me now or Pay me later".
(Edited)
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ExSatUser

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There are powerful lobbies that don't want this though. No way Viasat wants their cash cow of government subsidized internet to disappear.

Hopefully more will realize how woefully inadequate satellite internet is to meet the needs of many consumers in 2020. Maybe it will be different with Starlink, but not with Hughesnet or Viasat.
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johnny c

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No doubt, why would Viasat want to compete by being compared to other ISP technologies for grant money, they don't they just want the lobbyists with their political connections to get the money.

They would absolutely lose when compared to other current technologies.

Viasat's customer's cost is significantly more, their performance is woefully/pitifully  slow, data limits are constraining/prohibitive, their customer support is basically non existent.

Believe me this county is littered with old sat internet dishes, but now 90 percent of them are missing the TRIA.  The lobbyists were there then as well but we got it and believe me we are just another rural county like yours.

There is a need for a sat isp, probably the North/South pole, in the desert, some island out in the Pacific etc., but while it may take some communities longer than others, the real broad band initiative for rural areas is being satisfied by FIOS, and the only real point i am trying to make, is that there is or at least there was broad band money available. if your area is not trying to get it then you will continue to have a less than efficient internet capability and unfortunately you won't be turning in your TRIA any time soon.

And i agree there are many lobbyists in Washington trying to get our tax dollars, for many different causes and their objective is to get the money regardless of the real efficacy of the products solution.

There is a place for Viasat, but it should no longer be considered as a reliable, capable ISP for our rural counties.

I know i've got to be preaching to the choir. :)



(Edited)
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Voyager

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Most cooperatives inspect about 5% of their poles each year and replace them as needed. Sure a system will have some 50 year old poles, but only if they are in good shape. Having said that, some cooperatives, to keep rates artificially low, do not do the pole inspections and ROW maintenance they should and generally can get away with this for 10 years or so until the big wind or ice storm hits and shows the folly of that with massive outages that take days and even weeks to restore.

I am glad that my cooperative has a robust pole inspection and maintenance program and keeps ahead of things so we have not had a massive “make ready” effort to support our fiber deployment.

And, the old poles, size for size, are generally much stronger than the new ones. Older growth timber is always stronger than the new plantation grown trees.
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Old Labs

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If you can't run with the old poles, stay on the porch.
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Voyager

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@johnny If you narrow the scope to fixed locations like residences, businesses, electric substations, etc., then I basically agree wit you. However, much of the world is mobile: RVs, OTR trucks, airplanes, trains, buses, etc. Fiber isn’t so great for them.

And it mountainous areas, terrestrial facilities like cell towers aren’t so hot either. So, I believe satellite internet is absolutely needed. This can serve many mobile applications potentially better than cell towers and can also catch the really rural areas where fiber simply isn’t feasible.

My rule of thumb is that if you are on the electric grid, then you likely should have access to fiber. If you are mobile or off the grid, then cellular and satellite are the solutions of choice.

So, I think satellite internet is essential. However, is GEO still needed if LEO gets deployed? I generally think not as I can’t think of an application where GEO is better than LEO, assuming LEO works reliably. GEO is much simpler as everything is fixed in space and can be connection based. LEO requires constant switching as with cellular service, but since cellular as paved the way algorithmically, LEO can stand on their shoulders and get a big head start.

In short, I think fiber, satellite and cellular all have their place. I personally think that POTS and cable should go the way of the buggy whip, but economics will allow them to likely hold on for at least a another decade.
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Ian

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This thread helped me decide to schedule my Viasat service shutoff for the end of this billing cycle. Electric coop fiber is close (right over my ridge) but up to a few years out for my valley. With my cellular booster I'm able to get 1-4 mbps down, and 500 kbps up but with 50-70 ms latency. The actual browsing experience is far superior to an average day with GEO sat. The tower is almost 20 miles away. I was planning to do this anyway, but as soon as I read that my cell provider is raising data caps, I called Viasat to cancel. With 5 months remaining in my contract, the $75 ETF was cheaper than another month of service.

My new increased data cellular bill will be less than my sat bill and includes phone service. So I can afford to get a better booster if need be. I would be lying if I said that cancelling my contract didn't feel good. I've spent almost 4 years paying GEO sat companies for poor service caused by congestion that is their own fault. Yet they refuse to take that responsibility and instead send their customers through tiresome and repetitive "troubleshooting," when the problem has been congestion all along (on HN 4, HN 5, VS 1, VS 2; yes, I've been on them all... Upsold with broken promises).

I have no doubt that Elon Musk will succeed with Starlink. He has delivered on his goals/promises so far, faster than his critics have bet, across his revolutionary companies. The fact that he will HAVE to compete with GEO means it will be a better product. Otherwise, what's the point? Maybe it won't kill GEO internet. But it would be good to give them something to compete with and start treating their customers better (plus the benefit of less congestion).
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Voyager

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@Ian If you are getting those speeds 20 miles from a cell tower, that is amazing. Is that with a standard phone or jetpack or do you have a directional antenna? Most cell towers won’t even work 20 miles away unless you are in the flat Midwest with no obstacles in the way. If you are getting those speeds with a standard cell phone or jetpack, then you could add a directional antenna and be one really happy camper.
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Homeskillet

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Agree on that 20 mile range being insane for a cell tower, are not all cell towers created equal? Or is it always about the terrain? It is pretty flat where I am at but most areas are heavily wooded, there are plenty of dead spots for phone coverage here as close to within 3 miles of a tower or less. That would be cell phone deadspots, my hotspot still works in those.
(Edited)
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Voyager

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Disclaimer: I am an EE, but I am not a cell technology expert. However, my engineering guesstimation is that the main issue is the cell phone, not the tower. Remember, that most communications transmissions require some form of ACK for error checking and correction so almost all communications require two-way transmission. The transmission from the fairly low powered phone is likely the limitation, and certainly terrain and obstacles play a big role there. high frequencies don’t travel through and around obstacles all that well. If they can’t see you or at least reflect to you, range suffers greatly. That is why a directional antenna is so helpful. It doesn’t necessary help all that much on the receive side, but it can help a lot by directing the phone transmissions at the tower rather than going omnidirectionally into space.
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Ian

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That is through my phone. Google pixel 3a on google fi. It is a us Cellular tower. I mapped it and it's actually right around 15 miles as the crow flies. I've wondered about a hotspot device and maybe plugging the booster right into the hotspot antenna port. The extended valley is relatively clear toward the tower but my directional antenna actually faces the opposite direction at what I assume is the signal reflected off my mountain. I spent a lot of time pointing the antenna for greatest db. Download is pretty reliable but upload isn't always. If I go up the mountain a little, I can see the mountain the tower is on and I get 20/10 mbps. Been asking around about signal loss over coax to see if I could locate the antenna a little further up but noone has really helped on that front. Booster companies just want me to buy a $1000 booster. Hard to swallow when there are $200 boosters on ebay with 72db gain. But I understand the cell company may shut me down if an inferior chinese booster causes problems.
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Ian

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My booster is the Weboost home 4g with I think 60db gain.
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ExSatUser

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That's a very good one!
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Snuffleupagus

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Ian, just curious, does US Cel. offer their "high-speed home internet" in your area?

https://www.reddit.com/r/CellBoosters...
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Voyager

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Does the booster have a coax output that you can connect to a Jetpack or similar antenna input? Most boosters I’ve seen only have an input for their external antenna and they rebroadcast the cellular signal locally to amplify it. I don’t recall seeing one that could serve as an amplifier on the input to a hotspot device. And I would be concerned about blowing out the receiver on the hotspot as the amplified signal might be stronger that what it can handle. Generally, if you are getting a decent signal at all, a hotspot with a directional antenna is the best solution for wifi and a booster is the solution for the cellular side assume you need both.
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Old Labs

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WeBoost home series have an outside antenna, booster (amplifier) and inside antenna (75ohm RG6 connectors) - no need to connect directly just place the hotspot in range of the inside antenna. You're bringing the outside signal inside and boosting it for all cellular devices. I suppose one could try connecting directly to the hotspot rather than inside antenna - hey y'all, watch this!

I generally just use my cellphone as a hotspot and sit it on top of the inside antenna for a full 5 bars and quality signal. Eventually I'll go the separate mobile hotspot route. 
(Edited)
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Admiral Korbohuta

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I haven't had much luck with the Weboost home series. Calls don't go out reliably and data is extremely slow. For some reason the Wilson Sleek boosters for vehicles work better at my home.
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Old Labs

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I had similar issues when first installed until I read up on oscillation/feedback - booster was detecting some oscillation and either decreasing signal or just shutting down - had to get creative with exterior and interior antenna placement while ensuring proper distancing (horizontal in my case) - interior antenna only provides service to 2 rooms as a result. 

Rock solid since November and time is approaching to fish or cut bait on Viasat and Straight Talk's Home Phone service.
(Edited)
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Admiral Korbohuta

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My neighbor and I had a bunch of trees cut this winter and I noticed I'm getting better cellular signal as a result. Might have to try one of the newer Weboost 4G boosters and see how it works. With the Wilson Sleek 4G I've gotten 4Mbps download speeds recently and that is by far the fastest data speeds I've ever seen in my neck of the woods.
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Ian

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@Snuffleupagus, last time I checked they said no because of terrain. However coverage maps have improved a little and I'll check into their home internet service again.

I don't think there are oscillation issues because the outdoor and indoor antennas are about 30 vertical ft apart. Sq ft coverage isn't good though. The phone has to be within about 10' for clear voice (outgoing) and 20' for weak data. The 5mbps I mentioned earlier is about 5' from the indoor antenna. So I want to get a good omnidirectional indoor antenna and maybe a more powerful booster as it would be nice to not have to be in the living room to have a voice call. FCC limits booster power to 70db gain. Weboost home 4g is 60db, connect 4g is 65db and connect 4g-x is 70db and $1000.

Their new models are designed to boost 5g as well.

But I'm looking at these ebay boosters that cover just a few bands (specific to my closest network/towers) with 72db gain for ~$250...
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Admiral Korbohuta

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Within the last 2 weeks SpaceX has applied for gateways covering the contiguous US and parts of Canada.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1H1x8jZs8vfjy60TvKgpbYs_grargieVw
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Ian

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I may just hold out on booster upgrades if starlink continues to make strides.

@Heath Miller, that's messed up that they can't find your sales call. Have you tried viasatlistens@viasat.com? I think I've seen that they record and save all sales calls for this sort of situation as a matter of policy. If they truly have lost it, I imagine that warrants some kind of corrective action in your favor.
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Heath Miller

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I can only hope Starlink comes out soon, and competitive. I'm sick of being screwed over by Viasat. They lied to my face (figuratively) over the sales call, and then when nothing they promised was real, the "customer service" rep (supervisor) told me they couldn't retrieve the sales call, and I was out of luck, and that even if I'm downloading at 20 KPS, technically, it's still "working and unlimited." The sooner they go out of business, the better for all of us. It's a dishonest, unethical racket in my opinion.