Don Joyce, a Nokia manager working from home at a remote lake cottage in Canada, recently abandoned his painfully slow phone-line internet in favor of satellite broadband service Starlink, offered by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Starlink, which cost him C$600 dollars (US$486) for hardware and a lofty C$150 monthly subscription, provides “blindingly fast” speeds when uploading videos or streaming movies, he said.
But the beta test customer said he experiences dropouts during calls on Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
“If you’re in the city and you have alternatives, I wouldn’t recommend it. But if you’re in the country, like in the middle of nowhere and you’re getting pathetic internet service, then it’s definitely a competitor.”
For billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk – founder of electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Inc – the success of one of his biggest bets may come down to just how many people like Joyce are out there.
Speaking at the Mobile World Congress event, Musk on Tuesday discussed progress in Starlink technology and subscriber growth as he forecast total investment costs in the satellite internet business at as much as $30 billion.
If the service is successful, it could vastly expand the reach of broadband internet around the world, connect Tesla vehicles, and even provide a new platform for traders and others with exotic internet needs, people familiar with the Starlink plan said.
But to do that, it must avoid the fate of similar satellite ventures that have preceded it.
“Not bankrupt, that would be a big step,” Musk said last year. “That’s our goal.”
SpaceX’s Starlink division launched its “Better Than Nothing Beta program” in the United States last October, with data speeds up to a competitive 150 megabits per second. Early reviews are mixed, with some users complaining of the problems that have always plagued satellite internet: sensitivity to weather.
Recent heat waves have caused new problems.
“I’m gonna have to spray it with a garden hose to reboot my internet. … That just feels so wrong,” a Reddit user who said he lives in Arizona posted earlier this month, along with an error message saying “Offline: Thermal shutdown” and “Starlink will reconnect after cooling down”.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell in April said the firm has “a lot of work to do to make the network reliable”. The company on Tuesday did not have an immediate comment.
Service should improve with more satellites and other improvements: Starlink has launched over 1,700 of its 260 kilogram satellites so far, and envisions more than 40,000.
The economics are daunting nonetheless. Musk has said Starlink could serve less than 5% of internet users and still generate $30 billion a year in revenue. Critics called that wishful thinking.
“Is the demand there for tens of millions of subscribers at that price point?” asked analyst Tim Farrar, president at TMF Associates. “In most parts of the world, if you said to someone, your broadband service will cost you 100 U.S. dollars a month, they’d be like, incredulous.”
He said there might be wealthy people in isolated areas, “but there’s just not very many of those people”.
He said Starlink would also struggle for enough capacity to support that level of demand, especially as people are consuming more data for video streaming. That would mean “significant additional expenditure on upgrading the satellites and adding more satellites.”
Pricing pain could be eased by nearly $900 million in Federal Communications Commission subsidies earmarked for Starlink for bringing the internet to rural areas.
Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s vice president, said COVID-19 highlighted the need for “access to quality internet” anywhere on the globe.
Perhaps more importantly, Starlink said it can drive costs down by building its own terminals and satellites. It has hired engineers from chipmakers Broadcom Inc, Qualcomm Inc and others to design its own communications chips, a person familiar with the matter said – an approach similar to that taken by Tesla.
Starlink has more than halved the terminal cost from $3,000 and expects it to be in a range of a few hundred dollars within the next year or two, Shotwell said in April.
“Lowering Starlink terminal cost, which may sound rather pedestrian, is actually our most difficult technical challenge,” Musk tweeted last year.
Starlink also benefits from SpaceX’s low-cost launch capability.
“When you own pieces of the stack, you can do really technically sophisticated things at an affordable cost,” said Misha Leybovich, a former Starlink sales director.
Still, competition promises to be fierce. Amazon.com Inc subsidiary Kuiper has a directly competing project, while OneWeb – a collapsed satellite operator rescued by the British government and India’s Bharti Group – has vowed to be in the game as well.
Ahead of Musk’s speech at the Mobile World Congress, OneWeb said on Tuesday that it has secured an additional $500 million investment from Bharti, bringing its total funding to $2.4 billion.
Terrestrial telecom providers, meanwhile, are racing to deploy high-speed, fifth-generation (5G) broadband services.
The rapid spread of wireless and terrestrial broadband, along with high prices, were significant factors in killing previous low-Earth-orbit satellite ventures. Motorola-backed Iridium Communications Inc went through bankruptcy after billions of dollars in investment, while a similar fate met Teldesic, backed by Microsoft Corp founder Bill Gates.
SpaceX, Amazon and a number of others have “created quite a race that no one is absolutely sure whether there is a big enough market for it,” Iridium Chief Executive Matthew J. Desch told Reuters.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Supantha Mukherjee; Editing by Jonathan Weber, Christopher Cushing, Keith Weir and Jane Merriman)
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca
- 2 travellers arriving in Toronto from U.S. fined $20K each for fake vaccination documents.
- Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: COVID@cbc.ca
In Europe, thousands of people protested France’s special virus pass by marching through Paris and other cities on Saturday. Most demonstrations were peaceful, but some protesters in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas.
Some 3,000 security forces deployed around the French capital for a third weekend of protests against the pass, which will be needed soon to enter restaurants and other places. Police took up posts along the city’s Champs-Élysées to guard against an invasion of the famed avenue.
With virus infections spiking and hospitalizations rising, French lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of Aug. 9. Polls show a majority of French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed. The pass requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health-care workers by mid-September.
Tensions flared in front of the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris during what appeared to be the largest demonstration. Lines of police faced down protesters in up-close confrontations during the march. Police used their fists on several occasions.
As marchers headed eastward and some pelted officers with objects, police fired tear gas into the crowds, plumes of smoke filling the sky. A male protester was seen with a bleeding head, and a police officer was carried away by colleagues. Three officers were injured, the French media quoted police as saying. Police, again responding to rowdy crowds, also turned a water cannon on protesters as the march ended at the Bastille.
A calmer march was led by the former top lieutenant of far-right leader Marine Le Pen who left to form his own small anti-European Union party. But Florian Philippot’s new cause, against the virus pass, seems far more popular. His contingent of hundreds marched on Saturday to the Health Ministry.
Among those not present this week was François Asselineau, leader of another tiny anti-EU party, the Popular Republican Union, and an ardent campaigner against the health pass, who came down with COVID-19. In a video on his party’s website, Asselineau, who was not hospitalized, called on people to denounce the “absurd, unjust and totally liberty-killing” health pass.
French authorities are implementing the health pass because the highly contagious delta variant is making strong inroads. More than 24,000 new daily cases were confirmed Friday night — compared with just a few thousand cases a day at the start of the month.
The government announcement that the health pass would take effect on Aug. 9 has driven many unvaccinated French to sign up for inoculations so their social lives won’t get shut down during the summer holiday season. Vaccinations are now available at a wide variety of places, including some beaches. More than 52 per cent of the French population has been vaccinated.
About 112,000 people have died of the virus in France since the start of the pandemic.
What’s happening in Canada
- COVID-19 modelling group sounds alarm over Alberta’s case trajectory.
- The end of an order: A timeline from N.B.’s first COVID case to life in green.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday, more than 197.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 4.2 million deaths had been reported.
In Asia, the number of COVID-19 cases reported in Tokyo reached a daily record 4,058 at the mid-point of the Olympics, according to city hall on Saturday.
In Africa, health officials say cases have risen sharply in Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and elsewhere in the continent’s West amid low vaccination rates and delta variant spread.
Window narrowing for Canada to hit COVID-19 vaccination targets needed to avoid worst of fourth wave – The Globe and Mail
Canada is in a race against the clock to vaccinate enough people to avoid the worst-case scenarios of a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam and her deputy Howard Njoo presented the monthly modelling update at a news conference on Friday, showing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. They outlined the potential for numbers to surge in the next month past those seen in the last wave of the pandemic, even if vaccinations increase. However, they said the increase may not lead to a comparable surge in hospitalizations and deaths.
“I think we are in a slightly precarious period at the moment in between these people trying to get the vaccines in and reopening,” Dr. Tam said.
The five-week countdown to Labour Day is the key focus for the government’s vaccination push, she said. The modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada says more than 80 per cent of eligible people need to be fully vaccinated to avoid overwhelming hospitals in the case of a fourth wave. According to COVID-19 Tracker Canada, 81 per cent of eligible Canadians have received their first shot and 66 per cent are fully vaccinated. Health Canada has approved vaccines for people 12 and over.
The unofficial end of summer in Canada is also when colder weather and a return to classrooms will start driving more people inside. “This time is crucial for building up protection before we gather in schools, colleges, university and workplaces,” she said.
Some infectious disease specialists have said Canada should aim for at least a 90 per cent vaccination rate for eligible people in order to limit the impact of the fourth wave. Dr. Tam said her agency put the focus on protecting hospitals, but added vaccination shouldn’t stop at 80 per cent coverage.
“If we can get to 90, I’ll be popping open the champagne,” Dr. Tam said.
Getting to that level is no easy task and will require much more targeted outreach, said Noni MacDonald, a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Dalhousie University and Halifax’s IWK Health Centre. Dr. MacDonald, who researches vaccine safety and hesitancy, said Canada has come close to but never fully hit the targets for other vaccines, but noted the context for COVID-19 is different because of how front-and-centre the disease is in daily life.
About 5 per cent of adults are hardliners who won’t get the vaccine, Dr. MacDonald said, but there is a “movable middle” group of people – including those looking for more information and others who face barriers owing to a disability, lack of trust in the the system, geographic challenges, irregular work schedules and even needle phobias. All those issues can be addressed, she said, pointing to B.C.’s effort to send mobile vaccination clinics to where people already are – namely beaches and summer camps.
“Barriers of access is a big deal … you’ve got to actively think about those barriers, and how as a health care program you can overcome them,” Dr. MacDonald said.
To reach higher vaccination levels, peer groups and neighbours can also play an important role in normalizing vaccinations and helping others access the shot, she added.
The Friday modelling also showed that even with 85 per cent full vaccination coverage, cases could surge to about 7,500 a day by the start of September if individual contacts increase by 25 per cent. If the number of people we come in contact with stays unchanged, the modelling predicts about 1,300 daily new cases by September. The trajectory will depend on how high Canada can push its vaccination coverage and “the timing, pace and extent of reopening,” Dr. Tam said.
Of the provinces, Alberta is taking the most aggressive approach to reopening, already ending the majority of its COVID-19 health measures and no longer requiring masks indoors. It will soon lift the self-isolation mandate and stop widespread testing and contact tracing. On Friday, Ontario said once it has met its remaining vaccination targets, it will end the vast majority of public-health measures, including capacity limits at events. However, it will still require masks indoors.
When asked about Alberta’s decision, Dr. Tam said she firmly believes in isolating cases and that the province’s decision puts more onus on individuals.
In June, the public-health agency’s modelling said Canada needed to hit 83 per cent full vaccination coverage to avoid overwhelming hospitals. On Friday, Dr. Tam didn’t explain why that figure was removed from the latest update. She said it was a “very granular number,” but added she does expect that Canada’s vaccination coverage will pass 83 per cent.
Younger people have had less time to book vaccine appointments than older populations who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and were prioritized earlier in provincial and territorial vaccination campaigns. The Friday modelling underscored the need for many more 18-to-39-year-olds to get their jabs to protect hospitals in the next wave of the pandemic.
If only 72 per cent of that age group are fully vaccinated, then hospitals could again be overwhelmed. According to the models, that risk is greatly reduced if full vaccination coverage in that age group hits 80 per cent.
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COVID-19 vaccines and travel: What Canadian-approved vaccines are accepted abroad – CTV News
As Canadians begin to embrace a return to normalcy, many are considering the exciting prospect of travelling once again. But those who choose to go abroad may soon realize that picking a destination isn’t as straight forward as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
While a negative PCR test before departure is still required by most destinations, many countries also require foreign visitors to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 when entering.
Others may require travellers who aren’t fully vaccinated to quarantine before they’re allowed to travel freely within the country.
The problem is some countries do not currently recognize travellers with mixed vaccine doses as being fully vaccinated – which could create serious hiccups for millions of Canadians whose doses don’t match.
Why is this the case?
Well, despite being recommended by Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), not all countries recommend the mixing-and-matching of COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Similarly, vaccines that have been approved for use in this country by Health Canada – like the AstraZeneca vaccine – have not been approved in other countries, like the U.S., further complicating matters.
TRAVELLING TO THE U.S.
While the U.S. land border remains closed to Canadians, you can fly to the U.S. pending proof of a negative molecular or antigen COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before your flight.
There are currently no vaccination requirements in place for Canadian visitors to the U.S. But those with mixed doses could eventually find themselves in a pickle thanks to the country’s stance on mixing and matching.
“Only people who have received all recommended doses of an FDA-authorized or WHO-listed COVID-19 vaccine are considered fully vaccinated for the purpose of public health guidance,” a U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) spokesperson told CTVNews.ca in an email.
“COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable; the safety and effectiveness of receiving two different COVID-19 vaccines has not been studied.”
Some cruise lines that dock in the U.S. – like Norwegian Cruise Line – have said they will not recognize international passengers who’ve mixed and matched vaccinations.
Princess Cruise Lines guests who have received a vector vaccine, including AstraZeneca, as their first dose, followed by an mRNA vaccine “will not be considered fully vaccinated.” However, the company will allow for passengers who received mixed mRNA vaccine doses, such as Pfizer and Moderna.
Keep in mind that proof of vaccination may be required for certain activities within the U.S., including concert venues and sporting events. All 41 Broadway theatres in New York City will require proof of vaccination for all performances through the month of October.
Mixed vaccinations won’t be a problem for Canadian travellers heading to popular destinations like Jamaica – which considers anyone with two doses of a World Health Organization (WHO) recognized vaccine to be fully vaccinated – or Cuba and the Dominican Republic, which are not making any distinction between vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers.
But the issue has already caused confusion for those headed to Barbados, which reversed its policy to recognize travellers with mixed doses on July 15.
Trinidad and Tobago’s policy is also limiting for those with mixed vaccines.
“For 2-dose series COVID-19 vaccines, passengers must have received 2 doses of the same vaccine OR the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine,” reads the country’s travel requirements.
“Passengers with any other combination of vaccines would NOT be considered fully vaccinated, at this time.”
Canadians who have been vaccinated with one or more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine may run into another issue when travelling to Europe.
While the European Union has approved Vaxzevria, the European-manufactured version of AstraZeneca, it has not authorized COVISHIELD, the Indian-made version of the same vaccine that some 80,000 Canadians have received at least one dose of.
Because of this, countries like Italy, Portugal, Poland and Germany do not recognize COVISHIELD, preventing Canadians who received the vaccine from taking advantage of privileges offered to fully vaccinated travellers, such as being exempt from quarantine.
The United Kingdom also recognizes COVISHIELD. However, fully vaccinated Canadians travelling to the region still must quarantine no matter what type of vaccine they have, unlike American visitors.
No matter where you plan on travelling, be sure to read the fine print of the travel requirements for the country you plan on visiting, as each country differs in terms of vaccination and testing requirements. Most countries list this information on a government website under coronavirus information and entry requirements.
What vaccines are and aren’t recognized is also likely to change regularly as countries approve new vaccines and more data is collected on the efficacy of mixing and matching vaccines.
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