About a month ago, I wrote about the state of Starlink, the satellite broadband division of SpaceX, and speculated that I won’t be surprised if “the Starlink network evolves into Tesla’s very own broadband backbone, connecting all Tesla vehicles.” Elon Musk, the CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX, threw cold water on that theory in a tweet. 

However, a new FCC filing shows that Starlink wants to offer connectivity to aircraft, ships, large trucks, and RVs. They picked the right target market for sure — the broadband choices on ships and aircraft are pretty meager. Mobile broadband is non-existent when you are using those modes of transportation.

However, I wouldn’t dismiss the Tesla vehicle network that quickly, despite what Elon said. In a January 2020 call, he said that in some years. Tesla could have Starlink terminals. Anyway, since Tesla has concrete plans to make trucks, so that would be a good start of Tesla’s backbone. Connecting its future big-boy trucks (Cybertruck) and moving trucks could help Tesla finetune the hardware for Starlink. 

And if the trajectory of all silicon has shown us anything, it is that miniaturization happens quickly. And capabilities increase even faster. I still remember the roof-sized dishes we needed to get satellite television. Those dishes are much smaller now. 

I am one of the fortunate ones — I have enjoyed the fiber-connected life for nearly 11 years, four of which have been blessed by a gigabit/second connection. The bi-directional gigabit speed has been a blessing. That speed has come in handy during the pandemic — I am nearly always on Zoom and using the network for staying connected, entertained, and informed. This need for speed and stability has seen the demand go up. 

According to OpenVault, a market research firm, nearly 4.9% of the US households have a gigabit/second connection, versus 2.81 percent of all US households at the end of 2019. If we end 2020 with over 7 million gigabit households, it would be a pretty big deal. To give it context, China added 10.3 million fiber connections in Q2 alone. Still, I hope this encourages more small fiber networks to be spun-up to compete with the dominant incumbents, especially in what FastCompany calls: the Zoom Towns.

 “We are finally getting to the point when it’s reasonable to talk about developing giant bandwidth applications,” writes Doug Dawson. “The most obvious candidate product for using giant bandwidth is telepresence.” My best guess is that it would be something more prosaic and basic.

For cues, I looked at high-bandwidth countries like South Korea and China. Just like in Asia, streaming influencers will become huge in the US, and many, if not most, will be on Twitch. And their focus will be on commerce — rather, e-commerce. And that is good news for Amazon, which is becoming even more entrenched in retail-oriented commerce. Now you understand why Walmart wants a piece of TikTok. 

I am fortunate to live in a building that is serviced by WebPass, an SF-based, internet provider that is now owned by Google Fiber. I have been a customer for over a decade, and can’t live without their rock-solid gigabit per second connection. And it is way cheaper than whatever Comcast is charging for its offering.

That speed has come in handy as during this pandemic-induced isolation. Working From Home is made more effective if my Zoom calls are of the best quality. I love that I have really robust upload speeds, which is what you really need when doing video calls from the apartment.

That said, it is good to chill and have robust bandwidth for streaming music and videos. By the way, the whole building seems to be in chill mode in the evening, as shown by the sharp disparity in my day time and night time connection speed.