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Steve Saunders 10/17/2014 | 3:11:41 PM
Re: Skynet Business Case Dennis/Seven, you guys are thinking way too small...

The surface area of the earth is 196.9 million sq miles 

Each drone covers 500 sq miles

Ergo you need only 338,000 drones to cover the ENTIRE PLANET. 

Once we stsart mass producing these puppies in china the ppd (price per drone) is going to be less than $250k so our investment here isn't even a trillion dollars! Less than $85 billion to be exact! 

I mean, we spend more on wars in Iraq every year.

Cowboy up guys ... time to go stratospheric.  




mendyk 10/17/2014 | 1:43:05 PM
Re: Skynet Business Case seven -- Some of "we" are bullish on comm drones. Others are not. At the risk of being cast as Light Reading's Ned Ludd, I will state for the record that I'm in the latter group.
brooks7 10/17/2014 | 12:49:52 PM
Re: Skynet Business Case  


I absolutely agree with what you are saying and just want to point out it applies here as well.  Unless they are planning to backhaul via satellite, then a terrestrial infrastructure has to be built.

I see the whole bit of emergency service or event service where things are limited in scope.

What I have not yet figured out is let's take Western Colorado (West of the Rocky Mountains) and figure out how many drones we would need to cover that area.  Because that is what we are talking about right?  

Now, let's think about how the drones are going to get the information back to larger areas.  Are we building a set of antennas that are then fiber backhauled?  What I am asking is What is the Usaage Case for Permanent Drone Coverage? In what cases is that cheaper than building a Cellular Network?

Again, the technology from Drone to Ground User seems unlikely to be regular 4G networks.  The device on the ground needs to transmit back.  I don't think we have enough power in a regular phone/wireless dongle to reach back the 12 miles to the drone (at least 12 miles).  So, that tells me that the transmitter and technology is custom.

If we are talking about temporary/emergency service, we should be able to fly lower and reduce the power.  Then we can let folks use regular 4G devices.  

So, I am confused why we think this is a broad based idea.  That is what I am asking folks to define for me. 


mendyk 10/17/2014 | 11:00:16 AM
Re: Skynet Business Case seven -- From what I remember, LEO satellites had a usable orbit life expectancy of 10 to 15 years -- which made the whole proposition questionable from a financial standpoint to begin with. The Iridium idea was conceived when terrestrial cellular networks were rare, and pagers were state of the art. By the time Iridium got to deployment, the world had changed dramatically. That can be a huge issue when you're looking at a 20-year deployment window.
MikeP688 10/17/2014 | 12:41:16 AM
Re: Skynet Business Case As I read through these comments, my question was "why not"?   I was actually quite tempted to rent a satellite phone during a retreat--and it would be extremely welcome to help transform the existing scene.  I hope all agree are needed ever more. 
brooks7 10/16/2014 | 11:44:24 PM
Re: Skynet Business Case Steve,

I was the one that made the Iridium comment.

Here was my point.  Iridium had its challenges technically and the big one for me was that it was different.  Go back to the article.  If you fly these things at 65Kft, that is just over 12 miles if the drone is right overhead.  

That says to me that the wireless is not commone with cellular and require their own antennas.  I think indoors will potentially be an issue as will density in cities (especially with reflections).  The same will be true in mountains, canyons and other rough terrain.  

Secondly, I did my estimate of 10K drones and I did my own guesstimate of 10K each (that seems low to me but hey).  That is a $100M project.  Let's make an estimate (again a wild a$$ guess) of 20% failure per year (weather, mechanical, whatever).  So, let's say that replacements cost $20M per year.  That doesn't include the cost of transporting the traffic.

My confusion is that I am unclear on how this is really going to be any cheaper than a wireless buildout with a microwave backhaul.

Finally, I thought someone might bring up some space based options.  Clearly we couldn't do a geosynchronous orbit thing - we already have that.  Iridium is older but should give us plenty of cost insight on a Low Earth Orbit capability.

I am not saying there is no place for drone based networks.  I just don't see them as cheaper than a standard wireless buildout in most cases.


R Clark 10/16/2014 | 9:50:01 PM
Re: Skynet Business Case Iridium died because the phones wouldn't work inside, plus GSM roaming came along.

THe attraction of drones must be that they are easy and inexpensive to set up and tear down, which would make them useful for military comms and Burning Man. They won't deliver the same bandwidth as fibre and hard to see a base station 13 miles up can provide better wireless peformance than one 50m away, but could be a really good option to bring comms to the 5 billion unconnected.



Steve Saunders 10/16/2014 | 6:24:00 PM
Re: Skynet Business Case interesting comment. The business case for Skynet is based on a few assumptions, i think

1. gigabit speeds are "enough" for the apps that the world of 20 years time will need 

2. drones and the kit in them are cheap enough and the coverage is widespread enough that they can take on the conomics of the fibernet universe 

Those are some big "if"s, i grant you. 

Your Iridium comment has given me pause, i admit it. Is that really a valid comparison?? (I hope not!) 

I thought Iridiium died because the phones were huge and expensive, never got smaller and cheaper, and the company was run by giant assholes. 




palat 10/16/2014 | 5:59:42 PM
Skynet Business Case What is the business case for Skynet? How will service providers make money out of this in today's world when high speed fiber networks are getting faster and cheaper.

Back in the 90s, there was similar excitement and buzz when the Iridium satellite phone system was launched. From a technology standpoint, it was an amazing idea - single phone, single number that provided ubiquitous global coverage. The only problem was that there was no real business case for Iridium.
Attochron 10/16/2014 | 2:58:25 PM
Re: Lasers on Skynet... Thank you, looking forward to talking with Dan Jones. Best, Tom Chaffee, CEO 
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