Apple among big tech companies reportedly in talks to buy Boeing communications satellite

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2015
Boeing is marketing advanced high-throughput communications satellites to large technology firms, such as Apple and Google, and could reach a deal to build a unit for a major industry player this year.


Illustration of Boeing's 702SP satellite built for Asia Broadcast Satellite. | Source: Boeing


At the four-day Satellite 2015 conference, which kicked off on Monday, Boeing revealed to Reuters that tech firms like Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook are looking to enlarge the Internet's global footprint through the use of high-bandwidth satellites.

"The real key to being able to do these type of things is ultra high-throughput capabilities, where we're looking at providing gigabytes, terrabytes, pedabytes of capability," said Jim Simpson, vice president of business development and chief strategist for Boeing Network and Space Systems.

While Boeing declined to detail talks, the report mentions Apple as one of the few companies potentially engaging in the ongoing discussions.

Simpson said an obstacle to wide satellite communication adoption is end user cost. If prices are not reined in to something closer to terrestrial rates, customers are unlikely to sign up, which would leave participating tech companies with "a really high performance satellite."

The inherent high cost of building and inserting a geosynchronous satellite into Earth orbit poses a risk to buyers, especially for tech companies that do not operate their own telecommunications infrastructure and are thus without an installed user base. Telcos, on the other hand, can amortize upfront costs through existing or new services.

Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, currently has plans to launch a cheaper solution that involves 4,000 low Earth orbit satellites. Earlier this year, SpaceX announced it had landed $1 billion in funding from investors, including an injection from Google.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    irelandireland Posts: 17,522member
    It's not quite clear what the use case would be for Apple with one of a few of these, so I would have appreciated some suggestions on AI's part regarding potentials.
  • Reply 2 of 40
    An iPhone/iPad with global coverage right out of the box?
  • Reply 3 of 40
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,349member

    Apple's most obvious usage would be to synchronize data between their major data centers across the globe.



    A secondary usage, perhaps even more important would be to create a secure telecommunications channel for internal use. As we know, Apple places an extremely high importance on security and privacy concerning the ability for outsiders to see what Apple is doing internally.

     

    Heck, it is well known that unreleased products travel within Apple's own campus concealed by black cloth.

  • Reply 4 of 40
    Seeing this article "blew me out of the water" because for a few months I have been thinking about Apple buying Iridium, which is valued less $1 billion.

    To learn Apple has possibly been considering getting into the satellite business is incredible.

    My thoughts about the use cases for an Apple satellite business include...
    Road side assistance similar to GM's OnStar
    Internet service
    Television/Radio
    Communications

    Yes, Apple could partner with a myriad of companies, but those companies would be able to also partner with Apple competitors. Having its own satellite system would enable to integrate all of its services in a unique offering no single would be financially willing to compete with.

    A certain "fast follower" would not be able to fast follow such a satellite offering and stick with it.

    What kind of design input could Jony be allowed to have with Apple satellites?
  • Reply 5 of 40
    This seems more like an exploration of whats possible, not necessarily that they want to commit to spending billions launching their own worldwide connectivity network.
  • Reply 6 of 40
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,349member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by siromega View Post



    This seems more like an exploration of whats possible, not necessarily that they want to commit to spending billions launching their own worldwide connectivity network.

     

    Yes, this is a rumor site. Not everything published here becomes reality.

  • Reply 7 of 40
    xzuxzu Posts: 139member
    iCloud
  • Reply 8 of 40
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,168member
    4000 satellites? That seems like a lot.
  • Reply 9 of 40
    We've recently had articles here about Apple wanting to "be the music business", and of course there's their purchase of Beats. Given Apple's penchant for vertical integration, this could be another brick in the foundation they're laying for a future major expansion in content-delivery in the entertainment space. Content = music, TV, movies, online gaming via Apple TV.
  • Reply 10 of 40
    bsimpsenbsimpsen Posts: 256member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mpantone View Post

     

    Apple's most obvious usage would be to synchronize data between their major data centers across the globe.


    Geo-synchronous satellites orbit more than 22,000 miles out. Any message sent via that route traverses more than 44,000 miles. A fiber connection between Apple's most geographically disparate data centers would be no more than 10,000 miles long, and far less expensive than a satellite.

     

    Without knowing more about Boeing's technology, it's difficult to say what use Apple might make of it. Motorola's failed Iridium project promised seamless global mobile communications. People still dream of that. I suspect this is the holy grail Boeing proposes.

     

    ETA: Upon reading more elsewhere, it seems this technology is more suited to high speed downlink to fixed terrestrial receivers. Imagine Dish internet on steroids.

  • Reply 11 of 40
    leeeh2leeeh2 Posts: 26member
    Just a minor correction, Boeing and ViaSat are partnered to provide Broadband Satelite internet. Boeing is providing the satellite. Space X is providing the launch vehicle. ViaSat is providing the high speed technology and Satelite gateways. Here is a link:
    http://m.utsandiego.com/news/2015/mar/16/ViaSat-Boeing-OneWeb-satellite-Qualcomm/
  • Reply 12 of 40
    "we're looking at providing gigabytes, terrabytes, pedabytes of capability,"

    The last bandwidth/throughput level sounds illegal and immoral...
  • Reply 13 of 40
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,873member
    xzu wrote: »
    iCloud

    ?Space
  • Reply 14 of 40
    danielswdanielsw Posts: 905member
    "we're looking at providing gigabytes, terrabytes, pedabytes of capability,"

    The last bandwidth/throughput level sounds illegal and immoral...

    The dolt who quoted the Boeing VP doesn't know how to spell: it's terabytes and petabytes.
  • Reply 15 of 40
    davendaven Posts: 485member



    If you read leeeh2's link, one company uses the technology to offer 12 megabit internet service for $50. Combine this service with AppleTV's supposed new offering this fall, and you may have a foundation for a basic AppleTV package. They could do it at a lower price point than current satellite or cable companies and it would be two-way so relatively low-bandwidth internet could be included. Much of the other bandwidth could be reserved for 4k live streaming. Just a thought.

     

    =======

     

    oops, I didn't press quote. This reply was intended for Ireland.

  • Reply 16 of 40
    danielswdanielsw Posts: 905member
    I think it's interesting that Apple could bypass the entire cable industry to provide satellite internet service via its own hardware and ecosystem.
  • Reply 17 of 40
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post



    Seeing this article "blew me out of the water" because for a few months I have been thinking about Apple buying Iridium, which is valued less $1 billion.



    To learn Apple has possibly been considering getting into the satellite business is incredible.



    My thoughts about the use cases for an Apple satellite business include...

    Road side assistance similar to GM's OnStar

    Internet service

    Television/Radio

    Communications



    Yes, Apple could partner with a myriad of companies, but those companies would be able to also partner with Apple competitors. Having its own satellite system would enable to integrate all of its services in a unique offering no single would be financially willing to compete with.



    A certain "fast follower" would not be able to fast follow such a satellite offering and stick with it.



    What kind of design input could Jony be allowed to have with Apple satellites?

    I'd thought about that a few years back, but Iridium must be pretty outdated by now.  That system was launched in the 1980's or so.  Also those satphones are still pretty expensive for consumers to use.  Don't those things have a finite lifespan?

  • Reply 18 of 40
    davendaven Posts: 485member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DanielSW View Post



    I think it's interesting that Apple could bypass the entire cable industry to provide satellite internet service via its own hardware and ecosystem.



    I think they basically have to as cable won't budge on their near monopoly. I have second thoughts on my scenario. Here are two options:

     

    1. As in my original post, Apple only provides a basic group of 4k streaming. I don't think broadcast TV can do 4k. This gets people the feeling that they are getting improved service and will pay for that. 'Fast enough' internet is also available as a part of the service though being satellite service, there will be lags and weather outages.

     

    2. The service is for high speed internet plus certain popular cable channels such as HBO, AMC, ESPN, etc. Channels you don't get over the air. With this option you get the traditional networks along with local news, etc. over the air and get the popular cable TV channels over the air. 

  • Reply 19 of 40
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,168member
    What is the possibility this thing could be used for GPS data / mapping / self driving cars?
  • Reply 20 of 40
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    ireland wrote: »
    It's not quite clear what the use case would be for Apple with one of a few of these, so I would have appreciated some suggestions on AI's part regarding potentials.

    I'm with you on this. I'm drawing a complete blank as to how this would benefit Apple. Sure, I can see how Apple can do what others have done but I fail to see how this would benefit their operation over simply utilizing the satellites of others.
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