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Old 11-07-2019, 06:44 AM
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Why do Americans think satellites are required for Internet to function?


You may say that not all of them think that, but it must be a common misconception, because I see it all the time in american media: TV shows, stand-ups, comic strips, or movies.

There is even this line in movie Gravity "Half of North America just lost their Facebook." after satellites got destroyed...

How did this misconception even start? I mean when I'm thinking "international network of computers" I don't really think about space or satellites, it seems as a barely connected concept to me...

Last edited by Qwertol; 11-07-2019 at 06:45 AM.
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Old 11-07-2019, 06:50 AM
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Probably confusing GPS, which is satellite dependent, for "internet." Also, "satellite TV" was a thing before cable was ubiquitous. People associate the internet with communication, and they also associate communication with satellites. Thus, people believe satellites have something to do with the internet.
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:02 AM
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Maybe they meant "half" by land area, like all those rural Canadians who can only get satellite internet.
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Old 11-07-2019, 08:16 AM
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My first answer off the cuff is that it's a movie trope, when they want to show sooper sekret.gov tech and spy stuff or when the aliens invade thats how they conquer earth or just anything cloak and tech daggerey and somehow that entered into public consciousness as some form of reality
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Last edited by DorkVader; 11-07-2019 at 08:17 AM.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:27 AM
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I didn't even know satellites were a meaningful portion of the internet infrastructure--seems like a weak link with the transmission delay. So another vote for "movie trope" assuming we're all too stupid to see through lazy writing. Like how anytime someone references REM sleep they do an expository dialogue on the phenomenon they just used the shorthand for.

But really, I'm cool with everyone thinking we're stupid.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:34 AM
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Huh, I've never heard of anyone thinking that before. Yea, I would say it is just to sound dramatic.
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Old 11-07-2019, 10:27 AM
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Yeah, I agree with that. I used to get internet over the landline. And most Americans are familiar with cable and DSL as the most common ways to get online.
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Old 11-07-2019, 10:29 AM
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I'm aware of how the good ole fashioned internet is structured and built to allow communication even as portions of its relays are disabled, blah blah blah...

...that said, I don't really know how dependent consumer mobile devices are on satellites and if the gaps between cell towers are covered through hard wiring or with satellite relays or what. So I guess, from a position of ignorance, that knocking out satellites might affect consumer mobile internet coverage which is where a lot of people are accessing the internet these days. Or maybe not. Or maybe everyone can switch to Wi-Fi and use the regular ole wired internet.

Last edited by Jophiel; 11-07-2019 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 11-07-2019, 10:46 AM
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Back in the day, international telecommunications was mostly done through satellites. Even international phone calls - I still remember the days when international phone calls had a noticeable time lag. So I think people who grew up in that era (i.e. born in the 1970s or earlier) still associate any global communications with satellites.

Last edited by scr4; 11-07-2019 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 11-07-2019, 11:22 AM
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Back in the day, international telecommunications was mostly done through satellites. Even international phone calls - I still remember the days when international phone calls had a noticeable time lag. So I think people who grew up in that era (i.e. born in the 1970s or earlier) still associate any global communications with satellites.
When I was young, we would have loved to have experienced satellite delay. We had to light a series of flaming beacons placed along mountaintops. Crazy delay, plus the message was pretty vague when it got through.
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Old 11-07-2019, 11:24 AM
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I'm aware of how the good ole fashioned internet is structured and built to allow communication even as portions of its relays are disabled, blah blah blah...

...that said, I don't really know how dependent consumer mobile devices are on satellites and if the gaps between cell towers are covered through hard wiring or with satellite relays or what. So I guess, from a position of ignorance, that knocking out satellites might affect consumer mobile internet coverage which is where a lot of people are accessing the internet these days. Or maybe not. Or maybe everyone can switch to Wi-Fi and use the regular ole wired internet.
Theoretically, I can put two SIMS in my phone and switch from T-Mobile to AT&T, if I wanted to pay for two accounts. However, wifi is no problem for my phone.
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Old 11-07-2019, 12:40 PM
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Yeah, I don't think satellites are a requirement for the internet. Maybe they are important for transoceanic coms but I know there are cables.

The younger sibling though, has no idea how the internet works and assumes that it's in the clouds. What else is in the clouds? Satellites. Not that young'uns care about these sort of things. They sure don't teach it in school.

ETA: Vox, citing NEC, tells me 99.9% of international internet data goes over submarine cable.

https://www.vox.com/2015/3/13/820465...ables-internet
https://www.nec.com/en/global/about/mitatv/02/

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Last edited by Max S.; 11-07-2019 at 12:44 PM. Reason: added apostrophe, ETA section
  #13  
Old 11-07-2019, 12:52 PM
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When I was young, we would have loved to have experienced satellite delay. We had to light a series of flaming beacons placed along mountaintops. Crazy delay, plus the message was pretty vague when it got through.
"Grandma calls for aid"? What does that mean?
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Old 11-07-2019, 12:53 PM
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"Grandma calls for aid"? What does that mean?
"Rohan is busy. Please try again later."
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:00 PM
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"Rohan is busy. Please try again later."
"The torch mountain you have dialed does not exist. Please consult your Palantir and dial again"
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:00 PM
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I've met a lot of people who think cell phones work via satellite, which may account for some of it.
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:58 PM
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"Grandma calls for aid"? What does that mean?
"I've fallen and I can't get up!"

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Originally Posted by kanicbird View Post
I've met a lot of people who think cell phones work via satellite, which may account for some of it.
Yep, that. Some people have no idea what a cell tower is for.
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Old 11-07-2019, 03:17 PM
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Just finished reading Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum, which was written in 2012, so it may be somewhat outdated now, but gives a clear picture of the physical aspects of how the Internet works, at least back then. Interesting stuff.
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Old 11-07-2019, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Qwertol View Post
You may say that not all of them think that, but it must be a common misconception, because I see it all the time in american media: TV shows, stand-ups, comic strips, or movies.

There is even this line in movie Gravity "Half of North America just lost their Facebook." after satellites got destroyed...
Can I just ask, its this that common of trope? Because I can't think of any other examples. It's been a long time since I've seen Gravity, but I think that line wasn't meant to be serious.
  #20  
Old 11-07-2019, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Inigo Montoya View Post
When I was young, we would have loved to have experienced satellite delay. We had to light a series of flaming beacons placed along mountaintops. Crazy delay, plus the message was pretty vague when it got through.
You had flaming mountaintop beacons? Well, la dee dah! We had to use carrier pigeons!
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  #21  
Old 11-07-2019, 06:53 PM
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Yep, that. Some people have no idea what a cell tower is for.
I have friends who can't understand the difference between a cordless phone (needs a base station, range of a few hundred feet) and a cellphone (uses a tower, longer range, can handoff to other towers).
  #22  
Old 11-07-2019, 07:11 PM
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Can I just ask, its this that common of trope? Because I can't think of any other examples. It's been a long time since I've seen Gravity, but I think that line wasn't meant to be serious.
In Louis CK's famous "Everything is amazing and nobody is happy" rant, he talks about how cellphone signals are "going to space" which may have been an intentional misunderstanding to make the joke funnier but at least leaned into people's conceptions that wireless communication happens via satellites.
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:13 PM
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Would an airborne nuke set to deliver a knockout EMP pulse to North American wired systems also be unkind to geosynchronous satellites within visibility? That would be a two-fer, right?
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:15 PM
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When I was young, we would have loved to have experienced satellite delay. We had to light a series of flaming beacons placed along mountaintops. Crazy delay, plus the message was pretty vague when it got through.
Lucky dog. We had to rely on Smoke signals.
When Unca Joe quit smoking cigars we were
Incommunicado for weeks. Missed the twins wedding.
  #25  
Old 11-07-2019, 08:39 PM
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You had flaming mountaintop beacons? Well, la dee dah! We had to use carrier pigeons!
Just watch out for packet loss (see the linked article...)

Send an email via IPoAC and you'll never complain about slow wifi again.
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Old 11-07-2019, 08:45 PM
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When I was young, we would have loved to have experienced satellite delay. We had to light a series of flaming beacons placed along mountaintops. Crazy delay, plus the message was pretty vague when it got through.
Crazy annoying when we found out it was just a selfie.
  #27  
Old 11-07-2019, 09:04 PM
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wasnt about 10 or 15 years ago some satellite smashed into something else and it messed up the cell phones? i remember it messed things up for about 4 phone companies...
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:06 PM
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Just watch out for packet loss (see the linked article...)

Send an email via IPoAC and you'll never complain about slow wifi again.
Well, the latency does tend to vary with the weather conditions, but as you mention, packet loss tends to rise with predation levels.
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  #29  
Old 11-08-2019, 12:19 AM
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Would that predation be properly labeled "hackers" or "snackers"?


We're sorry, the call you have signaled cannot be completed as dialed. Please put out your fire and try again.
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  #30  
Old 11-08-2019, 01:18 AM
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Would that predation be properly labeled "hackers" or "snackers"?
Yes.


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Originally Posted by DorkVader View Post
We're sorry, the call you have signaled cannot be completed as dialed. Please put out your fire and try again.
"Mom! (cough cough) Larry's hogging the internet again! (cough)"
"Children! Play nice! Don't make me come in there and set off the sprinklers!"
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  #31  
Old 11-08-2019, 01:59 AM
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I love this misconception. When I did support for AT&T and Cingular I'd often diagnose a problem that just required the customer to turn the phone off and back on again. Of course, they'd have to hang up to do that, so they assumed I was just trying to get rid of them. Instead of "Turn it off for 10 seconds, turn it back on, problem solved", I'd go with "Turn it off for 5 minutes while I relocate the satelite, problem solved". That was an acceptable level of effort on my part, apparently.
  #32  
Old 11-08-2019, 02:40 AM
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wasnt about 10 or 15 years ago some satellite smashed into something else and it messed up the cell phones? i remember it messed things up for about 4 phone companies...
An Iridium satellite collided with a retired Russian spy satellite back in 2009. (Well they claim it was a comm satellite, but we just know they're really all spies. You can't fool us, you commies.) Anyway, that would have degraded the Iridium system to some extent until they replaced it with a spare. If other phone systems were also using Iridium, they'd have the same degradation. But I don't think it would take all that long to replace it, since I understand they keep a few spares in orbit.
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Old 11-08-2019, 08:24 PM
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I mean when I'm thinking "international network of computers" I don't really think about space or satellites, it seems as a barely connected concept to me...
I think they are far more connected than you realize. The traditional problem with satellites is higher latency (due to high orbit), but that doesn't mean there aren't satellite networks that provide the same type of connectivity as a fiber network or cell network (Intelsat, o3b, probably others).

There are multiple companies (e.g. spacex w/30,000 satellites, and others) launching low orbit networks that will solve the latency issue, so in the near future even more internet data will flow through satellites.
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Old 11-08-2019, 09:54 PM
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I'm ignorant of this shit, but I'm pretty sure there was a long stretch where this was a 'dish only' internet place.

Hey, as long as I got my porn, I didn't care how it got here.

(No. Porn didn't work on that dish shit. Lucky to post a few words here. And you all wonder why I do 3 word drive-bys. That's ALL I COULD EVER FUCKING DO, GODDAMMIT!!!)
  #35  
Old 11-09-2019, 02:24 AM
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"I've fallen and I can't get up!"
The first words Eve said after eating the apple.
  #36  
Old 11-09-2019, 02:27 AM
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Back in the day, international telecommunications was mostly done through satellites. Even international phone calls - I still remember the days when international phone calls had a noticeable time lag. So I think people who grew up in that era (i.e. born in the 1970s or earlier) still associate any global communications with satellites.
If I remember the class I took while working for the phone company correctly, it was common to send one side of a conversation by satellite and the other by undersea cable, which was a good compromise in terms of cost and time lag.
And AT&T was still running undersea fiber optic cables in the '90s. They required really special, really expensive lasers as repeaters.
  #37  
Old 11-09-2019, 03:00 AM
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Part of the confusion is probably because some people in remote or non-wired areas get their internet access via satellite. Download speeds can be decent, but upload and ping time is really bad. Also, there are satellite phones, again for use in remote areas without cell coverage.

Another factor, especially in this day of wi-fi and 4G/5G, it's easier for some people to believe that all that great download/upload speed must be over the air versus through copper or fiber optic cables. After all, they were able to transmit video "through the air"* from the moon in 1969!

*Yes, I know there's no air and almost no atmosphere on the moon!

Last edited by lingyi; 11-09-2019 at 03:01 AM.
  #38  
Old 11-09-2019, 09:54 AM
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Would an airborne nuke set to deliver a knockout EMP pulse to North American wired systems also be unkind to geosynchronous satellites within visibility? That would be a two-fer, right?
No.
They are way too far away.
  #39  
Old 11-09-2019, 03:38 PM
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For the record, part of the genesis of The Internet was research into figuring out how to build a distributed communications system that could keep running even in the face of massive infrastructure loss.

There are some small countries which have "lost their internet" but, I suspect that if you looked, they simply lost access to the non-domestic portion. Internally, everything was working just fine, I imagine.
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Old 11-09-2019, 05:42 PM
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For the record, part of the genesis of The Internet was research into figuring out how to build a distributed communications system that could keep running even in the face of massive infrastructure loss.

There are some small countries which have "lost their internet" but, I suspect that if you looked, they simply lost access to the non-domestic portion. Internally, everything was working just fine, I imagine.
Not if the primary servers are outside the Wide Area Network left behind after the global internet access was lost. Then it's just a WAN.
  #41  
Old 11-11-2019, 05:26 PM
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Just finished reading Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum, which was written in 2012, so it may be somewhat outdated now, but gives a clear picture of the physical aspects of how the Internet works, at least back then. Interesting stuff.
To be fair, most internet connections don't require climbing Icelandic volcanoes.
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Old 11-11-2019, 06:08 PM
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How did this misconception even start? I mean when I'm thinking "international network of computers" I don't really think about space or satellites, it seems as a barely connected concept to me...
The idea that satellites would be involved goes back to at least the 1960s. In 1964 David Sarnoff (head of RCA) predicted: "The computer will become the hub of a vast network of remote data stations and information banks feeding into the machine at a transmission rate of a billion or more bits of information a second. Laser channels will vastly increase both data capacity and the speeds with which it will be transmitted. Eventually, a global communications network handling voice, data and facsimile will instantly link man to machine--or machine to machine--by land, air, underwater, and space circuits. [The computer] will affect man's ways of thinking, his means of education, his relationship to his physical and social environment, and it will alter his ways of living... [Before the end of this century, these forces] will coalesce into what unquestionably will become the greatest adventure of the human mind."
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Old 11-11-2019, 06:59 PM
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relevant news story, spacex launching more satellites for it's network:
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/11/watc...t-mission.html
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