How will OneWeb and Starlink internet work


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How will OneWeb and Starlink internet work

On May 24, the launch of the first 60 satellites for the SpaceX low-satellite satellite Internet system from SpaceX, and even earlier, on February 27, the first six OneWeb satellites were launched. Thus, in the first half of 2019, the deployment of two low-orbit groups began, which over the next five years should make high-quality Internet available around the world.

There is not much difference between satellite and conventional Internet. The Internet consists of individual channels that connect subscribers to the provider, and large main channels – the latter connect cities and entire continents. Individual channels are not necessarily cable. They can be wireless, like those of mobile operators, which provide Internet access services in the same way as classic providers.

The problem is that laying a fiber optic cable is an expensive pleasure. In remote regions, it simply does not pay off, but because they remain without a normal Internet. Local providers easily create a network of individual channels, but in such regions traffic is usually divided into local (cheap) and global (expensive). Internet connection is via geostationary satellites. It is expensive and slow, and the delay in such a channel is very large. The problem exists not only in Russia: even in the US, some small cities in the outback do not have normal Internet access.

Low-orbit satellite constellations solve exactly this problem: they replace the main channel that goes from the major highway to your city or village. Approaches to doing business with satellite providers may be different. For example, Starlink wants to act as an Internet provider, directly selling terminals to end subscribers. OneWeb, although it will work with individual clients, is still aimed at working with local providers. Thus, if OneWeb earns money in Russia, then without even thinking about it, you will be able to use satellite Internet on your phone using a SIM card from one of the usual operators, and he will already give OneWeb traffic for it through the satellite system.

For the operation of the low-orbit satellite Internet, traffic transmission stations distributed throughout the planet are needed. They play the role of a link between the satellites and the very network of highways, which represents the entire current Internet. Simply put, the traffic landing station may be located somewhere in Yakutsk near the highway, and it will provide access to the Internet from areas of Yakutia via nearby satellites, where the trunk line does not go.

There are several myths about satellite internet. In particular, it is believed that it will allow to circumvent Internet censorship. But this is unlikely. All countries have legislation regulating the Internet, and any Internet service provider providing services to the public must either comply with these laws or refuse to work in the country. If Starlink does not work in Russia, then you simply cannot conclude a service agreement with them with your Russian passport, and the FSB will probably not issue an import certificate for the legal import of receiving and transmitting user terminals to the country (all certificates receive imported equipment, including mobile phones).

Legislative requirements for ISPs require the installation of certain hardware and software. For example, equipment for filtering traffic using DPI technology has long been mandatory for providers in the United States and will soon become mandatory in Russia under the sovereign Internet law. In addition, most countries require providers to “listen” on state-requested traffic, and many countries have their own “black lists” of addresses to which access should be blocked (not necessarily for political reasons). Russian providers are also forced to install software Roskomnadzor, which monitors compliance with locks. Someone needs to keep users' traffic for several days or, in the case of Russia, six months. All these requirements can intersect with each other, and therefore the only logical solution for Starlink and OneWeb will be the installation of traffic landing stations on the territory of the states they serve.

Of course, no one will prevent you from concluding an agreement with Starlink, for example, according to Polish documents, then connect the satellite Internet in the EU zone at your own risk and carry a terminal for communication in baggage and from your Bryansk region. But it’s much easier to buy a Dutch VPN for a few dollars.

The Russian authorities are in a difficult situation. On the one hand, irrational (and sometimes not very) phobias are pushing them to ban Starlink and OneWeb in Russia. It is very difficult for Russian law enforcement agencies to accept the fact that the exclusive communications infrastructure for some regions of the country will belong to Western companies. On the other hand, satellite Internet is the only way to solve the problem of Internet access in regions with low population density. Judging by the attempts of Russian officials to negotiate with OneWeb, this company has a chance to get permission to work in Russia. But you should not count on the arrival of Starlink.

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