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Remote Work is at a Tipping Point

remotejavadev profile image Remote Java Dev Originally published at remotejavadev.com ・5 min read

The future of remote work is at a tipping point.  

Did you almost buy Bitcoin back in the early 2010s? Back when a mere few hundred dollar investment would make you a Crypto-Millionaire today? I missed that wave and I’m still not happy about all the Lambos gone a begging.

The good news is there’s another wave coming. And this wave won’t require a risky, speculative investment to capitalize on. It may not make you a millionaire, but what if it could give you something just as good?

Freedom.

The ultimate freedom to live and work wherever you want in the World.

How? LEO Sat or more descriptively, Lower-Earth Orbit Satellite Internet connectivity. Ubiquitous, cheap, and fast internet will not only cause our remote options to explode, but also help solve our ever-present internet connectivity conundrum.

There’s strong evidence that we are at the precipice of a transformation in Global Internet connectivity. It’s becoming more likely by the day that within 5-10 years, almost every corner of the planet will have access to affordable high bandwidth, low latency internet.

LEO Satellite Internet

What speed and latency can LEO Satellite Internet deliver? By most accounts they will be able to deliver up to 1 Gbps per user and latency in the neighborhood of 25-35ms.

This level of performance would beat most existing wired connections. Only Fibre connections would likely maintain an edge over a built out LEO Sat network.

While we may be several years away from realizing this level of performance in the wild, it’s exciting how close we are to its fruition.

There are a number of companies either in active development of LEO Satellite Internet constellations or working towards that goal. Elon Musk’s SpaceX and OneWeb are the current leaders in the direct-to-consumer target market with TeleSat focusing more on business, government, aviation, and maritime use cases.

A couple more recent entrants into the fray are Tech giants Amazon with Project Kuiper and Facebook with Project Athena. Boeing is another big name to keep an eye on though they don’t seem to be moving as aggressively as other players in the field.

SpaceX Starlink

Musk’s SpaceX Starlink is ubiquitous in the news these days. Starlink’s first planned big launch shocked most observers with a payload of 60 satellites aboard their Falcon 9 rocket. The planned launch was delayed initially, but ultimately was a complete success and the first bulk payload of Starlink satellites are now in orbit.

It’s hard to bet against SpaceX with their unique ability to not only manufacture their own satellites but also launch them aboard their own rockets.

OneWeb

OneWeb is another prime contender in the LEO space. They've raised over three billion dollars to date and have some first generation satellites in orbit already. OneWeb is planning to be fully operational by the end of 2021.

The Others

TeleSat, Amazon, Facebook, and Boeing are among the others in the race to lower Earth orbit. The upfront capital costs in this race are exorbitant, but luckily these companies have some of the deepest pockets around. Moreover, we’re far away from market saturation for cheap, reliable, and fast internet so there’s plenty of room for competition.

Remote Options Explode

One of the biggest limiting factors working remotely is our internet connection. Even here in the States, reliable, fast internet is mostly limited to areas surrounding an urban core. If you want to spend a few weeks at a rural lake cabin, the chances of being able to work remotely during that time are not good. Any rural internet connection you might have will almost certainly prevent it.

Now imagine you have a fast Satellite Internet service that will work just as well at your suburban home as it would at a cabin in Yosemite Park. In this world your possibilities have exploded! Maybe you want to take the family to New Zealand for a few months. In this new world you can still work and have the freedom to live a whole new life.

Traveling is only one new possibility of course. Where you choose to live as a remote developer also will now be your choice. Does living in remote Montana appeal to you? It now becomes possible with LEO Sat Internet.

Last-mile internet connectivity was always going to be limited with wired connections, whether DSL, Cable, or Fibre. Such capital intensive activities as laying physical wire to every point on the globe was never going to happen. It’s of course much easier to bring a portable antenna with you than tethering wires around the globe.

Internet Connectivity for Remote Workers

Finicky internet connectivity is a latent fear of every remote worker. We’ve all this happen at some point. Your internet goes kaput while on a meeting or screen-sharing session or a video call. Unless you’re working for a 100% Remote company already, you’re quickly worrying that management or colleagues may interpret a common tech hiccup as an indictment of the remote work arrangement.

As remote workers, we already feel pressure to over-deliver. This means that every equipment or internet failure we experience impacts us more than our in-office colleagues. We need to have backup plans. It’s even better when backup plans are provided for us, such as by our ISP.

While LEO Sat internet won’t solve all internet connectivity woes, it does give us another viable option. It could also provide terrestrial networks with robust fail over capabilities. Existing ISPs could contract with LEO Sat providers to expand their coverage beyond the bounds of their current wired infrastructure.

Summary

Remote work is at a tipping point and the dawn of LEO Satellite Internet connectivity is here. It’s virtually inevitable that within the next 10 years our global internet coverage and performance will improve dramatically. SpaceX Starlink is the current favorite to win the race to Lower Earth Orbit. Though several other companies are charting their own paths to blanketing the planet in internet connectivity.

The coming wave of reliable, cheap, and fast internet will cause remote workers’ location options to explode. We’ll no longer be tethered to an urban center solely for its high speed internet. Whether you want to live in rural Montana or a village in the lowland forests of Madagascar, internet connectivity will soon no longer stand in your way.

Further Reading

**Cross post from my blog: Remote Work is at a Tipping Point

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