Internet companies are dropping broadband data caps in an attempt to keep people connected through the coronavirus pandemic.
A deal struck between the government and internet companies will see them give users unlimited data allowance on their current services and offer new rates on mobile and landline packages.
The measures come as many people are being forced to work and study from home in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus, and vulnerable people rely on their internet connections for shopping and communications through the lockdown.
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They are among a range of immediately effective measures which have been signed up to by major internet service and mobile providers including BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM.
The companies have pledged that anyone who is struggling to pay their bill due to the pandemic will be treated fairly and appropriately supported, the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Department said.
The firms have also agreed to offer some new, generous mobile and landline packages to ensure people are connected and the most vulnerable continue to be supported.
These could put users in line for packages featuring data boosts at low prices and free calls from their landline or mobile.
Vulnerable customers or those who are self-isolating, who are faced with priority repairs to fixed broadband and landlines which cannot be carried out, should be given alternative methods of communication wherever possible, the companies said.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “It’s fantastic to see mobile and broadband providers pulling together to do their bit for the national effort by helping customers, particularly the most vulnerable, who may be struggling with bills at this difficult time.
“It is essential that people stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. This package helps people to stay connected whilst they stay home.”
Watchdog Ofcom’s chief executive Melanie Dawes said: “We recognise providers are dealing with unprecedented challenges at the moment.
“So we welcome them stepping up to protect vulnerable customers, at a time when keeping in touch with our friends and families has never been more important.”
Executives from the firms said there has never been a more important period for people to stay connected, adding that during the current uncertainty nobody should have to worry about how to keep in touch with friends and loved ones.
Their companies would work tirelessly to keep the country connected, they said.
Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s Consumer division, said: “During this national and global crisis, our priorities are the safety of our colleagues and ensuring that our customers, particularly those that are vulnerable, stay connected.”
Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said: “Thankfully a large amount of the work we do – including fixing faults, adding capacity and building faster, more reliable full fibre networks – can be completed outside, so you’ll still see Openreach engineers working to maintain service across the UK.”
The UK’s coronavirus lockdown has about doubled the UK’s internet usage for the duration of the day, according to Virgin Media.
End users are both receiving and sending significantly much more data throughout the daytime than common, the community says.
The amplified targeted traffic will come as quite a few folks are operating or studying from home in an try to end the unfold of coronavirus.
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But the firm claims that the improved targeted traffic is even now less than the community has to offer with in the evenings, and that it carries on to cope with the added desire.
The world-wide-web company explained downstream broadband targeted traffic – web written content acquired by end users on their products – was up 90% on Monday, the initial day of college closures, compared with two months ago.
Upstream visitors – data sent by people when making use of programmes such as video clip phone calls – is also up all through the working day, far more than doubling in the latest weeks, Virgin Media said.
Web service suppliers have said their networks are sturdy sufficient to tackle the boosts in targeted visitors for the duration of the Covid-19 lockdown nonetheless, some online video clip solutions, including Netflix and YouTube, have begun restricting video clip stream bitrates in an endeavor to simplicity any network pressure.
Jeanie York, Virgin Media’s chief technology and information officer, mentioned the increase is even now below the targeted traffic levels the agency encounters in its traditional evening peak.
“Our network is constructed to face up to this day-to-day evening peak, and proper now is easily accommodating this daytime increase.”
Ms York explained the maximize in upstream website traffic is joined to additional men and women doing the job from home, and the mounting craze of video conferencing during social distancing.
“This has mostly been triggered by additional and much more folks functioning from household and sending information and information again to company networks,” she said.
“This targeted visitors is raising all through the working day and continuing into the night, with peak upstream site visitors up all over 25% on the preceding 7 days, exhibiting people today are operating later on or joining conference phone calls with mates and household.
“Our network has enough ability to take care of this increased desire.”
Video clip conferencing applications and apps, these kinds of as Skype, Zoom and Houseparty, have acquired new waves of attractiveness as workers use them to continue to be in contact with colleagues even though aside, and people and friendship teams all attempt to keep in touch.
The internet supplier also mentioned it is presently looking at some familiar styles regardless of the altering conditions.
“Upstream traffic is dipping slightly at lunchtime as remote personnel end for lunch and yet again at 5.30pm when folks log off for the day,” Ms York reported.
“We’re also seeing evidence of people today remaining at property and social distancing, with community demand from customers up at the weekend. Upload facts spiked on Mothering Sunday as numerous households held online video calls with beloved ones.”
According to its figures, traffic also sharply dropped 10% on Monday evening as people place down their devices to listen to Primary Minister Boris Johnson converse – exactly where the current degree of lockdown was declared.
The range and length of landline calls have also greater in the last 7 days, the corporation stated.
On the other hand, Virgin Media said the present traffic increases has “however not pushed up need to the ranges noticed throughout recent pc match releases or when multiple Premier League video games ended up streamed simultaneously”.
“Inspite of increased info use on our community, we’re not at capability and are continuing to provide our clients with the ultrafast and dependable providers they count on,” Ms York mentioned.
The world wide web is experiencing some stress. We have been warned of our impending doom, but we are not ready to give up yet. There are many proactive steps you can take to help your internet run more smoothly and securely. You will be happy you did!
This blog post will talk about what misinformation is, how it affects us as individuals and as a society, why we should care about fighting against it, and some ways that we can do so.
AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson has mentioned that the company is seeing “some indicators of stress” as a result of containment steps taken to combat the coronavirus. He also said that it was too early to tell if this would lead to any significant problems for customers, but he did say there were no indications so far that this had affected customer service or internet speeds.
In order to help with these issues, AT&T has been working on contingency plans and have increased their staffing levels in order to provide better service during this time. They are also monitoring traffic closely and will be able to adjust accordingly when necessary. This includes adjusting pricing structures for data usage based on demand from customers who need more bandwidth than others.
• What I am referring to are the servers that store and distribute data around the globe – or so we thought!
o It turns out these important computer systems might be in trouble as more people use the internet every day.
o With all this worry circling around the web – there’s one company who’s on it (no pun intended).
• You guessed it: Optimizely!
o They’re leading the charge for new, faster ways of connecting people to vital information by using state-of-the art technology – which makes them our go-to source for better bandwidth and less data congestion.
If you want your internet connection back up and running at full speed, contact AT&T today!
The internet can be a wonderful place. It has the ability to connect people and provide them with endless amounts of information, which can be life changing. However, it’s not always that simple for everyone – many have fallen victim to misinformation online in one way or another. We’re here to help you stay informed about the latest news and updates on topics related to your industry by providing accurate content from credible sources. If there are any areas where we could improve our blog posts, please let us know!
Amazon Prime Video and YouTube will reduce the quality of streaming on their platforms in Europe in order to help internet infrastructure cope with a surge in traffic resulting from the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The move follows a similar announcement from Netflix following a request from European Union commissioner Thierry Breton for streaming services to lower the resolution of their content to prevent internet gridlock.
“We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default,” YouTube said in a statement.
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A spokesperson for Prime Video said the platform was working with local authorities and internet service providers “to help mitigate any network congestion”.
Increased strain on the internet will likely increase over the coming weeks. From Friday, schools across the UK will close for the majority of students, leaving millions more at home using video streaming and online gaming platforms.
Concerns about widespread outages and critical services going down prompted BT to offer assurances that its broadband network would be able to cope with the added demand.
“The UK is one of the world’s most advanced digital economies, so we overbuild our networks to compensate for our love of high-definition streaming content, video gaming and other bandwidth-hungry applications,” Howard Watson, BT’s chief technology officer, wrote in a blog post on Friday.
“The Covid-19 outbreak is causing changes to the way our networks are being used. We’re monitoring those changes carefully to make sure we can respond rapidly if needed. However, the UK’s communications infrastructure is well within its capacity limits and has significant headroom for growth in demand.”
Other industry experts have warned that the measures may not be enough to prevent more outages, with GlobalData director Emma Mohr-McClune calling on other major bandwidth consumers to take similar action.
Online video game platforms have already seen huge spikes in users in recent weeks – a trend that is expected to continue as the crisis progresses. Desktop gaming client Steam broke its all-time record for the highest number of concurrent users over the weekend, seeing over 20 million gamers use the platform at one time.
“Netflix and [YouTube owner] Alphabet have demonstrated superb industry leadership with this compromise and gesture, but online gaming service providers must now follow suit,” she said.
“Although video streaming represents the lion’s share of residential internet traffic in Europe, interactive online gaming is a substantially greater threat in network overload terms. Any mass market spike in activity will have significant consequences for vital government and market functions in Covid-19 lockdown mode.”
Netflix has agreed to reduce the quality of its streaming service in order to help internet infrastructure cope with the increased traffic caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The online streaming platform has seen a significant increase in demand in recent days, after containment measures forced people to stay at home and self-isolate to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
Netflix said the reduction in picture quality will only affect users in Europe, though it is not yet clear whether this includes the UK. The Independent has reached out to Netflix for clarification.
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The move follows a call from European Union commissioner Thierry Breton for streaming services to lower the resolution of their content to help ease the strain on overloaded networks.
“To secure internet access for all, let’s switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
Following a phone call between Mr Breton and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, the streaming giant agreed to a reduction in streaming quality that will lower data consumption by 25 per cent.
“Following the discussion between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings, and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus, Netflix has decided to begin reducing bitrates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” Netflix said.
Reducing bitrates reduces data consumption but can result in videos appearing less clear and more pixelated.
Commissioner Breton responded by saying the “prompt action” would “preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the Covid-19 crisis”.
The recent surge in internet traffic has caused significant issues for phone networks and internet providers in the UK.
EE, O2, Three and Vodafone all suffered mass outages earlier this week, with customers complaining that they were unable to get online.
Virgin Media and TalkTalk have also seen an increased rise in internet use, which will likely increase in the coming days.
Schools across England will close indefinitely from Friday as containment measures become more strict. The closures. will likely result in a further rise in demand for Netflix and other streaming services.
Scientists have been working on a way to make the internet even more efficient and now they’ve finally done it. Cables are about to be obsolete because scientists have found that they can transmit data over light instead of electricity like we do with cables today. This new technology will allow for much greater speeds and capacities across the globe, making our lives even easier than before!
Data could be transmitted a thousand times faster than current internet cables after a major breakthrough, scientists have said. The new research uses terahertz quantum cascade lasers that could send data around the world at speeds unimaginable using current technology.
The lasers could be used to vastly speed up data communications, according to the researchers behind the study, which is published today in the journal Nature Communications.
The study saw researchers make a breakthrough in the control of terahertz quantum cascade lasers, which they say could be used to transmit data at a speed of 100 gigabits. Current – very fast – ethernet connections work at 100 megabits a second, a thousand times less quick.
The specific kind of lasers are different because they send out light in the terahertz range of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is largely used to analyse chemicals. But by turning them to use to send data, they could provide much faster connections for research facilities, hospitals, satellite communications or any other situations where very fast network connections are required.
To be used to send to data, the lasers need to be switched off about 100 billion times every second. That requires precise control, and engineers have so far been unable to do it.
Now researchers think they have found a way of controlling that very fast modulation, using sound and light.
“This is exciting research,” said John Cunningham, Professor of Nanoelectronics at Leeds. “At the moment, the system for modulating a quantum cascade laser is electrically driven – but that system has limitations.
“Ironically, the same electronics that delivers the modulation usually puts a brake on the speed of the modulation. The mechanism we are developing relies instead on acoustic waves.”
When an electron passes through the optical part of the laser, it travels through a host of “quantum wells” that throw out a pulse of light energy. An electron can emit a number of those photons, and that is controlled – using soundwaves to vibrate those quantum wells – in the new experiment.
“Essentially, what we did was use the acoustic wave to shake the intricate electronic states inside the quantum cascade laser,” said Tony Kent, Professor of Physics at Nottingham. “We could then see that its terahertz light output was being altered by the acoustic wave.”
The research is not perfect, and more control is still needed before the lasers could be used reliably to transmit data. But with further work they could lead to major breakthroughs in transmitting data.
“We did not reach a situation where we could stop and start the flow completely, but we were able to control the light output by a few percent, which is a great start,” said Professor Cunningham.
“We believe that with further refinement, we will be able to develop a new mechanism for complete control of the photon emissions from the laser, and perhaps even integrate structures generating sound with the terahertz laser, so that no external sound source is needed.”
Russia is taking steps to bolster its internet censorship powers. The Kremlin has proposed a law that would require all websites with more than 1,000 daily visitors to store user data in Russia and provide them to the Russian authorities when requested. This article will explore the implications of this law for Russia’s online population as well as its international relationships.
It might sound like a small step from China, but it could have major consequences for many people living in or accessing content from Russia. Is Putin really turning his country into China? Read on to find out! We’ll also take a look at how other countries are reacting to these proposals and what they mean for our global internet freedoms.
On a stretch of Norway’s Arctic border known for views of the Northern Lights is the small town of Kirkenes. Its population is under 4,000 and the local online newspaper has a staff of just two.
And it’s here that Russia is signalling what the future may hold: a wider hand in trying to censor the internet for its citizens.
At issue is the Barents Observer, which publishes in English and Russian, and a story about an openly gay man who twice contemplated suicide but then changed his mind and is now speaking out to promote mental health. Russia’s state telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadzor, flagged the story for promoting suicide and blocked the entire Observer website in Russia last year.
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But the editor of the Barents Observer wonders whether the website was targeted because of its previous anti-Kremlin content.
From Japanese comics to political opposition web addresses to a small Norwegian publication that had roughly 20,000 Russian readers per month, the outlets affected by Russia’s so-called “blacklist” now number at more than 300,000. But although Moscow has become notorious for meddling in the world’s internet, doing so at home isn’t as easy – especially in a society that’s already used to online freedom.
Russia has so far trodden relatively carefully in its censorship efforts. Still, internet freedom monitors in Russia fear its new “sovereign internet” law could one day rival that of Chinese and Iranian. The London-based rights monitor Freedom House ranked Russia 51st out of 65 countries on its internet-freedom rating last year.
The legislation came into force in November, but it could be a year before the technology is in place. It aims to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by state authorities and to build a national domain name system. This, supporters claim, would give Russia greater control of internet content and traffic.
Authorities backing the bill have described it as a cybersecurity measure needed to defend Russia by building a fenced-off network.
But critics see it as the government’s way of further cracking down on one of the few free sources of information remaining in the country.
Cable news channels are state-run, and the television audience is gradually declining, according to the Levada Centre, an independent Russian pollster. Its study of the Russian media landscape in 2019 also revealed that social networks have replaced television as the main news source for young Russians, and although 80 per cent of the population had confidence in television as a news source 10 years ago, that figure is now 55 per cent.
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“Cyberactivity has been harnessed by the Russian government to target governments and activists externally but now those same tools are turned inward,” says Heather A Conley, director of the Europe Programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “Russian officials have seen how the internet and social media can be used by civil society to share information, organise grass-roots protests across Russia and as an instrument of transparency against Russian corruption.”
An uprising more than eight years ago over election-rigging allegations sparked Russian authorities’ first efforts to wield more control over the internet. Russian President Vladimir Putin started to see the web as “a potential threat” and consider regulations, says former lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev.
Around the same time, the first measures were introduced to block undesirable content on the internet, specifically targeting child pornography, drug-related material and anything that could be considered as encouraging suicide.
The blacklist was supposed to be implemented by NGOs, but the role instead went to watchdog Roskomnadzor. More than 10 state agencies can ask Roskomnadzor to block a website.
“That particular legislation did nothing wrong, but it was used as a model to introduce further initiatives,” Ponomarev says. “They were introducing laws but already for the political cases – what they called extremism, terrorism and this kind of stuff, which led to the establishment of real censorship.”
The result has been a loose definition of what can be blocked. Some Japanese manga has been added to the blacklist as child pornography. News websites run by Kremlin critics Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Garry Kasparov are inaccessible to Russians because they’ve been categorised as “extremism”.
And the Barents Observer was punished for allegedly promoting suicide even though the subject of its story was doing the opposite.
Thomas Nilsen, the editor, suspects the real trouble dates to 2014, when a Russian official publicly accused the website of anti-Russian reporting because it used terms such as “Putinism” and was critical of the country’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
“We are located in probably the most remote corner of Europe,” Nilsen says. “But not because we chose to end up in this situation, we feel that, yeah, we are on the border to Russia but we are also on the border to the fight for freedom of the internet.”
Not all of Russia’s internet blockades have been successful.
After the Telegram messaging app, especially popular in Russia, refused to give authorities access to its users’ encrypted messages in 2018, Roskomnadzor unsuccessfully attempted to block it but inadvertently denied Russians access to a slew of unrelated online services.
Telegram remains widely used by Russians, including many officials – even Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov is on the app. The country blocked LinkedIn in 2016 because it stores the user data of Russian citizens outside of Russia, but it’s been hesitant to take the same action with more popular social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
“They perfectly understand that 90 per cent of (online) users are apolitical,” Khodorkovsky says. “But if you deprive them of a beloved product, they can politicise [the product], which no one wants.”
Artem Kozlyuk of Roskomsvoboda, a group that fights internet censorship and promotes freedom of information, says that the new sovereign internet law “opens up a new chapter of regulation” because it involves infrastructure control through deep-packet inspection technology – an advanced way to filter traffic.
He doubts that Russia will actually have the capability to cut itself off from the global web, as the country’s authorities have claimed. But services could go dark in some regions for a short time.
That’s already happened during protests in Moscow and Ingushetia, a republic in the Caucasus region.
A block had devastating consequences for the Barents Observer. The publication has lost two-thirds of its Russian audience since being put on the Kremlin’s internet blacklist.
Nilsen, the Observer’s editor, says he’d rather that happen than to succumb to self-censorship.
“We have decided never to compromise on what we are writing,” he says. “We are following what we believe is good ethics of journalism. And we don’t want to change anything because Roskomnadzor disagrees with us.”
News Corp has just announced a new aggregator, which will be available in the App Store and Google Play store. The company hopes to use this new product as an alternative to Facebook and other social media outlets where News Corp content is often shared. This move by the company could signal a shift from tech platforms that have been dominating the news industry for quite some time now.
Rupert Murdoch’s Information Corp. on Wednesday unveiled an on the net news aggregation company, aiming to split away from the tech platforms that dominate electronic media. The application termed Knewz, now staying analyzed, will include things like information from more than 400 resources in the US and around the world, which include Al-Jazeera, The Washington Post and Murdoch’s have Fox News.
A Information Corp statement stated the application will offer “the most up-to-date news from the widest variety of sources, free of charge of filter bubbles and slender-minded nonsense.” If prosperous, the challenge could steer readers away from key tech platforms this sort of as Google and Facebook, which scoop up the bulk of on the net ad revenues and person data.
“Knewz is exclusive in that audience can, at a solitary look, see many sources,” stated Robert Thomson, chief government of Information Corp.
“It is not egregious aggregation but generous aggregation. There are mastheads from across the political and regional spectrum, and premium publishers will not be relegated in the rankings.”
Knewz brings together “chopping edge, proprietary artificial intelligence with experienced editors” and curates “a choice of headlines that deliver a broad viewpoint on tales of the working day.”
The shops offered contain the British-centered BBC and Day-to-day Mail, Al Jazeera and dozens of US-based mostly corporations such as BuzzFeed, Mom Jones and The Washington Write-up.
“Visitors will have accessibility to publishers large and tiny, area of interest and normal, found in all 50 states,” Thomson explained.
“We stay in a planet of vexatious verticals, of crass clickbait, of polarized perspectives and fallacious, fact-free of charge feeds—Knewz is understanding and required.”
Sharing with publishers
Knewz “will share as considerably details as attainable with publishers, making certain that they have each option to monetize their content material,” the assertion explained.
The new service will be up against aggregation applications from Apple, Google and Fb, which encounter criticism for gleaning person details that is not shared with news organizations.
News Corp. has been among the fiercest critics of massive tech firms, claiming that they consider gain of news companies devoid of suitable compensation.
But last yr it joined in a undertaking with Fb, which unveiled a prepare that would payment publishers whose content is accessible on the social community.
Information Corp is aspect of the media empire established by the Australian-born Murdoch which consists of the Wall Avenue Journal and dailies in Britain and Australia. Murdoch, 88, is the executive chairman and his son Lachlan is co-chairman. The relatives also controls Fox Corp which includes the cable news outlet Fox News.
Damian Radcliffe, a College of Oregon journalism professor, claimed Knewz has assembled an impressive team of information stores and presents some likely for information organizations struggling in the electronic surroundings.
“This seems like an hard work to produce a news aggregator that is not reliant on Silicon Valley, and the whims of the algorithms, and income products which underpin individuals platforms,” Radcliffe mentioned.
It continues to be unclear whether the new services will be ready to crack the so-named filter bubbles that audience locate themselves in to fortify their sights, claimed previous Usa Nowadays editor Ken Paulson, who is now on the college at Middle Tennessee Point out University.
“I wish them effectively, but I have to question no matter whether the common person, offered a alternative amid coverage by Fox News, Mother Jones or The Washington Submit is not going to simply gravitate to their typical resource,” Paulson said.
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SpaceX has launched a set of “dark” satellites after being hit by backlash from astronomers. The new satellites are covered in a special coating that are intended to make them blend to into the night sky. It is an attempt to avoid criticism from astronomers that the internet satellites are filling up the sky with lights and could block out the view of stars for scientists studying the cosmos.
The new dark coating is a “first step” towards a compromise between Elon Musk’s space company and astronomers who complain that the
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, carrying 60 more satellites, blasted into a cold, clear night sky, recycled by SpaceX for its fourth flight.
As the first-stage booster flew to a vertical landing on an ocean platform, the Starlink satellites continued hurtling towards orbit to join 120 similar spacecraft launched last year.
Flight controllers applauded and the launch commentator described the booster’s fourth touchdown as “awesome”.
An hour later, all 60 satellites were free of their upper stage and making their own way in orbit.
“It’s a beautiful sight,” the commentator observed.
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk, whose Starlink fleet now numbers 180, plans to ultimately launch thousands of the compact flat-panel satellites to provide global internet service.
Each spacecraft weighs just 575lbs (260kg).
After the first Starlink batch of 60 was launched in May and the second in November, astronomers complained how the bright satellite chain was hampering their observations.
In response, SpaceX came up with a darkening treatment to lessen reflectivity.
The coating is being tested on one of the newly launched satellites.
Jeff Hall, director of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, said the Starlinks have been just an occasional problem so far but noted the risk to stargazing will grow as the constellation expands and other companies launch their own fleets.
He heads the American Astronomical Society’s committee on light pollution, space debris and radio interference, and is working with SpaceX on the issue.
The matter is on the agenda at the society’s conference in Hawaii this week.
“Anything that darkens the satellites is a step in the right direction,” Mr Hall said.
He said it is too soon to know whether the dark coating will work, “but it definitely is just a first step and not enough to mitigate the issues astronomy will experience with the Starlinks”.
The Starlinks are initially placed in a relatively low orbit of 180 miles (290km), easily visible as a long, strung-out cluster parading through the night sky.
Over a few months, krypton-powered thrusters raise the satellites to a 340-mile (550km) orbit.
The higher the orbit, the less visible the satellites are from the ground, according to SpaceX.
Even so, SpaceX said it is supplying astronomy groups with the satellite co-ordinates in advance, so they can avoid the bright flyover times.
Already established in launching satellites for others and making space station deliveries for Nasa, SpaceX is among several companies looking to provide high-speed, reliable internet service around the world, especially in places where it is hard to get or too expensive.