June 18, 2020 — SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer founded by Elon Musk, launched its eighth batch of internet-beaming Starlink satellites into orbit on June 3. The Starlink satellite constellation, which currently consists of 482 low-orbit satellites, holds the potential to deliver high-speed, low latency broadband connections around the globe.
Starlink comprises a large-scale mesh network of satellites, which all communicate with one another to relay information, rather than relying on a single base.
The satellites utilize low-Earth orbit technology. Starlink satellites orbit in altitudes ranging from 540 to 570 kilometers, a fraction of the 35,000 kilometers traditional geostationary satellites range around.
A satellite broadband history filled with disappointment
The history of satellite internet is defined by disappointment. Traditional satellite internet, which once held the potential to connect rural America, is, in actuality, easily disrupted by weather and expensive for both consumers and providers.
The technology utilized by Musk’s satellite network holds out the promise of potentially evading the drawbacks associated with traditional satellite technology. A major difference between traditional satellites and low-Earth orbit satellites is the latency that the network claims it will achieve.
While the latency of SpaceX’s Starlink is unknown, a competitor, OneWeb, reported that a test of its low-Earth orbit satellites delivered broadband speeds with an average latency of 32 milliseconds.
While low-Earth orbit satellites deliver far faster speeds than traditional satellites, they are still an unsuitable replacement for wired fiber connections. For such connections, latencies average 12 to 20 milliseconds and even lower.
In order to disrupt an already competitive market, Starlink must provide lower latency rates, as the existing U.S. standard is an average latency of 20 milliseconds.
Investment markets are slow to fund low-earth orbit technology as it is largely untested and demand for the service seems slim, especially when compared to skyrocketing demand for broadband.
Could SpaceX prove the exception for satellite broadband?
With the right pricing SpaceX could capture a segment of the underserved broadband market. However, little information about the company has been released and service and pricing options remain a mystery.
Where costs are set to rise steeply is on the ground, as Starlink’s service may require professional installation of costly end-user satellite infrastructure.
While providers utilizing low-Earth orbit technology are able to compete for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, they have some odds stacked against them. At the Federal Communications Commission meeting on June 9, the agency confirmed that it would allow SpaceX and other satellite providers to apply for rural broadband funding, but not to bid in the tiers with the highest speeds and lowest latencies.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told reporters in a video call after the meeting that satellite broadband companies will be able to apply for funding, but that the agency “will be doing a careful review on a case-by-case basis to make sure that any competitor is able to do what it says it can do.”
In rules spelling out the rural broadband bidding procedures, the agency said that funding will prioritize bids offering high speeds and low latencies. Experts believe most federal funding will go towards proven high-speed fiber and fixed wireless solutions.
The network construction period for RDOF bid winners is set to take place over the course of six years, and the grants will provide financial support for 10 years.
U.S. Must At Least Be ‘Fast Followers’ On Digital Currency, Panel Hears
Panelists discussed the benefits of a digital currency backed by the Federal Reserve.
WASHINGTON, May 24, 2022 – Industry and a House representative pushed the benefits of a central bank digital currency on Thursday, arguing that the regulated coin would help reduce banking costs and bring those who otherwise don’t use banks into the financial system.
Jim Himes, D-Conn., told an event hosted by the Center for Strategies and International Studies, that the digital coin, backed by other currencies, would bring in people who don’t use the banking system, which are about 5.4 percent of American households, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Roughly three times as many more are “underbanked,” referring to those who engage in costly nonbank services such as check cashing, money orders, payday lenders and international remittance services, the data show.
Himes, who said the U.S. is late to the digital currency game, added that by enabling these Americans to access this new digital system, this would lower prices for remittances and foster financial inclusion. High-powered law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom similarly argued that a CBDC would allow for “safer, faster and cheaper payments.”
Dante Disparte, the chief strategy officer and head of global policy at digital financial services company Circle, said for countries that depend on foreign remittances, this is a pathway for accelerating currency receipts and increasing settlements.
Digital currency an international race
“We are seeing things we could not do with our money as compared to if our money stayed in physical or analog form,” said Disparte, adding on the international front, this is akin to the “space race.”
A panel at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies said earlier this month that the U.S. was falling behind China, a technology powerhouse, on the digital currency front.
“We don’t need to win every technological race out there, but we need to at least be fast followers,” said Himes. “Let us not find ourselves left behind on the innovation this could provide.” Disparte agreed with Himes that the U.S. is late to the game, but added his caution to the Federal Reserve’s cautionary approach in April to develop a potential CBDC for the U.S.
“Better get it right than to get it first or fast,” Disparte said.
Himes said his ‘elevator pitch for a CBDC rests on the benefits the digital dollar provides for innovation. In the United States’ potential development of a CBDC, the framework or result will not satisfy everyone, but it will be a platform of innovation.
Disparte added that digital dollar currencies such as “blockchain and stable coin will change the world when people start to think of it less as a digital challenge to the dollar and to the U.S. banking system, but rather as foundational technology” for U.S. innovation.
Rahul Sen Sharma: The Metaverse is Not Web 3.0
The Metaverse is at the forefront of developments in seamless payments and richer information flows.
Web 3.0 is a concept for the next generation of internet architecture that envisions a decentralized ecosystem based on blockchain technology. It is an evolution of how users would control, own, and manage their online content, digital assets and identities.
Web 3.0 marks a departure from the centralized mega platforms and corporations that currently dominate the Web 2.0 ecosystem.
The Metaverse is at the forefront of the Web 3.0 internet revolution. It can be defined as a set of interconnected, experience driven 3D virtual worlds where users can socialize in real-time to form a persistent and thriving user-owned internet economy regardless of any physical or geographical constraints.
Both the technologies of Web 3.0 and Metaverse support each other perfectly. Even though the Metaverse is a virtual space whereas Web 3.0 favours a decentralized web, it could form the basis for connectivity in the Metaverse. While the development of the Metaverse is in nascent stages, the exponential growth of non-fungible tokens, P2E (Play to Earn) games and decentralised autonomous organisations have boosted the development of Web 3.0.
A future involving distributed and anonymous users
Web 3.0 envisions a future involving distributed anonymous users and machines interacting without the need for an intermediary, to form a composable human-centric and privacy preserving computing fabric.
These interactions would range from seamless payments and richer information flows, to trusted data transfers via a mechanism of peer-to-peer networks without the need for third parties.
The shift should lead to a wave of new business models that bypass the existing global co-operatives that we currently have, and replace them with decentralised, autonomous organisations and self-sovereign data marketplaces.
As mentioned, Web3 is built on blockchain technology and DAOs rather than the current model of centralized servers owned by large corporations. In the same way, the ideal structure of the Metaverse is also full decentralisation.
The technologies behind achieving decentralization would be distributed ledgers and blockchain technology which enables value-exchange between softwares, self-sovereign identities and the creation of a transparent and secure environment.
The blockchain is central to the Metaverse, and to Web 3.0
In an ideal form, both Web 3.0 and the Metaverse takes advantage of blockchain to give unrestricted, permissionless access to everyone with an internet connection.
Currently, development towards the Metaverse is being spearheaded by big tech corporations such as Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia, and more, all of which are major players in Web 2.0. The model of centralised Metaverse being built by them involves closed ecosystems that are only designed to extract value at the expense of their most valuable assets – users, content creators and customers.
This contrasts with the envisioned form of Metaverse and Web 3.0 with decentralization, interoperability and seamless interaction between different virtual worlds and the real world.
Still, the big tech corporations are investing resources into their Metaverse development and have their own vision and plans for what the Metaverse would be.
Meanwhile, decentralized Metaverses and Web3 initiatives are currently attracting record investment, pulling in around $30 billion in venture capital last year alone.
As we shift to what will likely be a more decentralized web, the creator economy is also evolving and likely to become a multibillion-dollar industry with immense potential for creators and publishers.
The creator economy in the Metaverse can supplement the vision of web 3.0 for developing a new financial world with decentralized solutions.
In Web 3.0, users can create content while owning, controlling, and monetizing them through the implementation of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. However, the model of this creator economy is likely to disrupt the business models of many current big-tech corporations.
Regardless, the Metaverse requires both big tech companies to build the technology and the creator economy to produce interesting content for driving engagement. Partnerships, reduced platform fees and creative commissions by big tech to creators within the metaverse can be a way to stimulate the already fast-growing creator economy.
Rahul Sen Sharma is a managing partner at Indxx and has been instrumental in leading the firm’s growth since 2011. He manages Indxx’s Sales, Client Engagement, Marketing and Branding teams while also helping to set the firm’s overall strategic objectives and vision. Prior to joining Indxx, Rahul was the Director of Investment Research for RR Advisory Group (now part of Mariner Wealth Advisors), a full service private wealth management firm based in New York that caters to high net worth individuals. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to email@example.com. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.
Finance Experts Weigh Merging Regulatory Agencies to Tackle Cryptocurrencies
‘A lot of regulatory gaps exist because we have two regulators.’
WASHINGTON, May 19, 2022 – Crypto market observers are calling for a change in the regulatory system and laws to tackle the quickly growing world of digital currencies.
“We will need new substantial law,” Douglas Elliott, financial regulation expert and partner at consulting firm Oliver Wyman, said on a panel hosted by the Federalist Society on Tuesday. “There are too many ambiguities” with the current regulatory system, he added.
As state and federal governments consider how the growing crypto industry should be regulated, various crypto experts further argued Tuesday for a redesign of the regulatory structure, while others said there was no need for a consolidation of agencies.
Part of the reasoning behind the consolidation is confusion about whether cryptocurrencies are commodities or securities. As such, some are recommending a merger between the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to handle the regulation of the digital money.
“A lot of regulatory gaps exist because we have two regulators,” said Michael Piwowar, executive director at the Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets, suggesting that Congress merge the two into a single regulatory body.
Thomas Vartanian, executive director at the Financial Technology and Cybersecurity Center, backed the agency merger idea. Vartanian explained that despite the existence of cryptocurrencies for fourteen years, crypto remains largely unregulated.
“Bottom line is we’ve built a business of ten trillion dollars with no regulation and that is a financial risk,” Vartanian said. “We are building a financial time bomb.”
But Dawn Stump, former commissioner of the CFTC, said the best way to address these gaps in crypto regulation is not to redesign the regulatory system.
In August 2021, Stump said in a public statement that due to public misunderstanding about the CFTC’s regulatory oversight authority, “there has often been a grossly inaccurate oversimplification offered which suggests these are either securities regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission or commodities regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.”
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