back to article SpaceX wins UK regulator Ofcom's approval for its Starlink mobile broadband base stations

Ofcom has given the thumbs-up to SpaceX's Starlink broadband user terminals, opening the door to a UK launch of Elon Musk's satellite-based broadband service. The approval – which was issued in November but only recently became public knowledge – pertains to the receiver equipment nicknamed internally by the company as "Dishy …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Dishy McDishface".

    YES

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Oh ffs won't this meme die?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    End of ground-based astronomy as we know it.

    Why? Just because some rich bastard can get wifi anywhere he wants.

    1. dmck

      No, so some poor soul/village in the stick or Africa etc can get decent internet.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Right. For a price significantly higher than every other connection option. I'm sure they'll be providing them for free to any village without a cable any day now. I've seen this argument trotted out so many times; maybe we should actually see it done before we give them the credit for their humanitarian action? No? Maybe you can at least show me the documents where they've been getting them approved for developing countries where internet access is sparse?

        1. PerlyKing

          Optional

          1. Not everyone in the world has access to Eutelsat

          2. Who said anything about doing it for free?

          3. Does the USA count as a developing country? StarLink has already been used for disaster-relief there.

          This is a commercial venture which will charge whatever they can get away with. I'm going to guess that they've done some market research before spending hundreds of millions of dollars launching satellites, and if they think people will pay more than for existing options (where there are any) then maybe they're onto something.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Optional

            The "for free" is because people keep assuming it's going to be used to connect very much underdeveloped areas. And no, that doesn't include the United States, even in a disaster. It includes places where people have little access to electricity, let alone communications. No wires to carry the signal, so satellite would be the fastest way to get connection there. That's what people always say is the main reason I should accept this system; it's a humanitarian dream, connecting all the world together to lift everyone from ignorance, bringing education to those who can't afford what I have, yada yada. That dream is great. If they did it, I'd be very happy and I'd give them all sorts of licenses so they could get it done. I might even buy the more expensive service to make it easier for them to give the hardware to people who can't afford it.

            They aren't doing that. They haven't even started to talk about any of the gnarly issues involved in doing that. Some nice chunks of speeches have mentioned it, and bunches of people online parrot back the arguments. I would like those who do so to realize that I don't believe they're going to actually realize any of those dreams, and I'll need proof. Until I get it, I can't give them any credit for humanitarianism and consider it only as a commercial product. As a commercial product, it has negative externalities that make it harder to swallow. The balancing positives need to be proven to me and likely to others before we would stop our objections.

        2. Cynic_999

          The usual way is that some organization provides and pays for the link, which is then distributed via local WiFi. The cost is not expensive when compared to the alternatives available in many locations.

    2. Cynic_999

      What rubbish. The satellites can be easily accounted for and when necessary filtered out - they don't obliterate anything. This is already done with the plethora of satellites already in LEO.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        I think you're missing that there are TWELVE THOUSAND satellites, not 12. It more than triples the number. There are currently only 6000 in total, and that's including the 1200 Musk has already launched.

        You can't "filter it out" when it's half a dozen superbright streaks across the image. Do you even astronomy, bro?

  3. tony72

    I wonder if the T's and C's permit sharing the service with a neighbour or two. For people stuck out in the boonies with 2Mbps DSL, sharing 150Mbps three ways would still give a very decent speed increase while bringing the cost down a bit closer to regular broadband service.

    1. John H Woods

      Not sure how they could reliably detect that that wasn't just several users in the same household

    2. Vulch

      From what I've seen that is the business model, small communities with little or no broadband access get a single unit and install it somewhere they can all see using standard wifi for the last bit.

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Everyone loves a cantenna. Once, I made a parabolic reflector from a cereal box and tin foil to share my wifi with the pensioner over the road.

      2. Cynic_999

        Depends how close together the community is. OK for a small village perhaps, but a farming community would be too spread out for WiFi coverage.

        1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

          It's often doable with someone motivated enough and technical enough involved: carefully aimed point-to-point Yagis, assuming the terrain isn't completely against it. Pick the farm on the hill to get the pipe, and turn its roof into a hedgehog. Although if it is against the Ts&Cs, this may be difficult to disguise when BroadBandCorp come knocking...

          1. jockmcthingiemibobb

            I know of no WISPs using point to point yagis.

            1. YetAnotherLocksmith

              I think that's because they don't understand the concept, to be honest. Discussions I've had have been fruitless, despite line of sight to their main tower, "it is too far" at 7km.

    3. Cynic_999

      Even if the T&Cs do not permit sharing, I don't see how it could be detected if you ignore that rule. However people stuck out in the boonies tend to live quite a distance from each other, so sharing an Internet connection might involve installing some expensive equipment (microwave links, laser links, laying fibre etc.)

    4. YetAnotherLocksmith

      With a VPN (to stop data harvesting by Starlink, obviously) who would ever know?

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Too Late ?

    Hasn't the government promised fibre broadband to all rural areas by christmas ?

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Too Late ?

      And you believe that?

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Too Late ?

      I was going to ask which christmas but the answer was too obvious: every christmas.

    3. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: Too Late ?

      They also promised that last Christmas, and the year before that, etc. Almost like they are serial liars, and the public forgets every time...

  5. HildyJ Silver badge
    Boffin

    "Better Than Nothing Beta."

    That is Elon's official name for the current offering. The Ofcom approval is only an authorization to offer the beta in the UK.

    Starlink has worked with a few rural groups, primarily indigenous tribes and schools from what I can see, to install the beta service. For an example see: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/pikangikum-spacex-starlink-1.5824234

  6. very angry man

    All Hale His Muskyness

    I think this is good. start. still more to go, it will get cheaper as we go ( i hope)

    Cheap mobile (voip) phones that will link with this i hope will be next.

    All Hale his muskyness , Musk for president of the US of W !

    yes i'm a fan , bring it on , down vote me now while still time.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: All Hale His Muskyness

      Upvote him instead!

  7. Down not across Silver badge

    Torn

    I'm torn on this.

    On one hand I welcome the option for decent bandwidth somewhere where it doesn't exist, especially with more acceptable latency than traditional satellite access.

    On the other hand I'm not thrilled with amount of junk being launched into orbit.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Torn

      Starlink is all LEO, so if their inbuilt deorbit capability fails for some reason, they will still burn up within, IIRC, 5 years. So they won't leave junk behind.

  8. Mark Exclamation

    I hope it never happens, but.......

    If a SpaceX launch ran into one of its own Starlink Satellites, and caused catastrophic loss (which is highly likely at those velocities), I'm sure there are some people out there who would say "I told you so.....".

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: I hope it never happens, but.......

      And at that point there will be a huge debris field in the same plane as the Starlink CubeSat mesh.

      What could possibly go wrong......

    2. James Hughes 1

      Re: I hope it never happens, but.......

      So what you are saying is that you hope that a launch on a exactly predefined trajectory, doesn't crash in to a satellite, also on a exactly predefined trajectory.

      I personally don't think hope comes in to it, just maths.

      Also note, the satellite are released below their final orbit and climb up using onboard thrusters, so the actual launch itself could not have this happen.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dish...

    Does it need a dish, and does the dish need to track?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dish...

      Yes to both. Clearly Stated in the article.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dish...

        Oh Duh!.. Sorry, misread that..

      2. James Hughes 1

        Re: Dish...

        AIUI, the tracking is only for initial installation, Once set up the dish doesn't moved. (Phased array). I could be wrong.

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith

          Re: Dish...

          It would only move occasionally, otherwise it would simply wear out. Plus, things moving under their own automatic control probably wouldn't be allowed without safety precautions, even on the ladder high side of a house (it could push you off the ladder)

          We used to have a big dish, 30 years ago. It would move to switch satellites. Except we very rarely did. Imagine the surprise when it crushed a load of bushes and half the rotary drier one day!

  10. NeilPost Silver badge

    OneWeb

    No mention of the $USD1/2bn sunk into primary competitor OneWeb uk HMG....Now a joint venture with a Bharti. You’ve have thought some subsidy from a now sovereign UK could be used to advantage it.

    https://www.theregister.com/AMP/2020/07/03/uk_buys_oneweb/

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: OneWeb

      But the Government cannot lobby itself.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Re: OneWeb

        They sure can pay themselves though!

  11. steamnut

    42,000 satellites up there.

    When these satellites fail there is going to be a lot of space junk out there.

    1. Cynic_999

      Re: 42,000 satellites up there.

      They are LEO, so even if they fail completely they will de-orbit and burn up within +/- 5 years.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Re: 42,000 satellites up there.

        "Sorry sir, you'll have to wait 4.5 years to launch that probe to pluto."

        "Orbital mechanics means we have to laugh in 2 years, otherwise it's impossible for another 450 years!"

        "That can't be right! Some commentard on the Register said it would be fine!"

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