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SpaceX to keep Starlink pricing simple, exit beta when network is “reliable”

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A black-and-white logo over a white-and-black logo.
Enlarge / SpaceX Starlink logo.

The Starlink broadband network will probably stick with one price instead of offering different tiers of service, SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell said yesterday.

“I don’t think we’re going to do tiered pricing to consumers. We’re going to try to keep it as simple as possible and transparent as possible, so right now there are no plans to tier for consumers,” Shotwell said, according to a CNBC article. Shotwell spoke during a panel discussion at the Satellite 2021 conference.

SpaceX has been charging $99 a month for the Starlink beta service, plus $499 upfront for the user terminal/satellite dish, mounting tripod, and router. Other satellite and terrestrial broadband services typically charge different prices for different speeds, and many of them impose a data cap and charge extra fees to those who exceed the limit.

Even if SpaceX has just one price for most customers, it will probably offer a cheaper plan to people with low incomes. SpaceX is seeking an “Eligible Telecommunications Carrier” designation that would let it get reimbursement from the FCC’s Lifeline program for offering discounts on telecom service to people with low incomes. In its application, SpaceX told the FCC that it “will provide Lifeline to qualifying low-income consumers and publicize the availability of Lifeline service in a manner reasonably designed to reach those likely to qualify for the service.”

User terminal costs coming down

The one-time expense of $499 is a barrier for people on a tight budget, but it’s actually less than SpaceX pays to make the terminals. CNBC wrote:

Shotwell said SpaceX has “made great progress on reducing the cost” of the Starlink user terminal, which originally were about $3,000 each. She said the terminals now cost less than $1,500, and SpaceX “just rolled out a new version that saved about $200 off the cost.”

SpaceX expects to bring its cost per terminal down to “the few hundred-dollar range within the next year or two,” Shotwell said.

Starlink’s advertised beta speeds are 50Mbps to 150Mbps, with latency of 20 ms to 40 ms. Speeds will hit 300Mbps later this year and become available to “most of Earth” by the end of 2021, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in February.

Beta won’t end until network is reliable

Two months ago, SpaceX opened preorders for Starlink service, with limited slots in each geographic region to become available in the second half of 2021. Shotwell said SpaceX still has plenty of work to do before moving from beta to general availability, as Cablefax reported:

Starlink doesn’t have a timeline for when it will move out of the beta phase as there’s still a long way to go before its broadband service is available and capable of taking on a large customer base. “We still have a lot of work to do to make the network reliable. We still have drops, not necessarily just because of where the satellites are in the sky,” SpaceX pres/COO Gwynne Shotwell said at the Satellite 2021 LEO Digital Forum Tuesday. “We’ll keep in it until the network is reliable and great and something we’d be proud of.”

Though Starlink is already faster than the limited Internet options in many poorly served areas, SpaceX warns users to expect “brief periods of no connectivity at all” during the beta.

Musk has said that Starlink won’t be able to serve a large percentage of customers in densely populated areas, “because the bandwidth per cell is simply not high enough,” and Shotwell reiterated that point yesterday. While big ISPs like Comcast and AT&T provide service cost-effectively in cities, SpaceX “just cannot lay that much bandwidth in that limited area” with its low-Earth-orbit satellites, she said, according to Cablefax.

Plan to “serve every rural household”

SpaceX plans to have comprehensive coverage in the rural US, as Via Satellite wrote:

“I do know that my constellation in five years will be able to serve every rural household in the United States,” Shotwell said, providing an estimate of about 20 million rural households. “We’re doing those analyses for other countries as well. Our focus initially is the US because [customers] speak English and they’re close. If they have a problem with their dish, we can get one shipped out quickly. But, we definitely want to expand this capability beyond the US and Canada.”

SpaceX would need another government license to serve 20 million households. The company has an FCC license to deploy up to 1 million user terminals and has asked the FCC for authority to deploy up to 5 million. SpaceX also asked the FCC for permission to deploy Starlink terminals on automobiles, ships, and aircraft.

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HyperX teams with 1,000 Dreams Fund to support women in gaming

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HyperX teams with 1,000 Dreams Fund to support women in gaming

Join GamesBeat Summit 2021 this April 28-29. Register for a free or VIP pass today.


HyperX, the gaming accessories brand now owned by HP, has teamed up with 1,000 Dreams Fund‘s BroadcastHER Academy to support women in gaming.

HyperX said it is committed to empowering women in gaming and inspiring all gamers to achieve their best. With a focus on increasing access and representation for the next gen of talent in the gaming industry, HyperX will support the group’s latest class of 10 women selected for the 2021 Academy Fellowship Program. 1,000 Dreams Fund (1DF) is a national scholarship fund for American girls in high school and college.

We’ll be having a Women in Gaming Breakfast at our GamesBeat Summit 2021 event on April 28-29. HP acquired the HyperX brand from Kingston Technology for $425 million last month. Alex Cho, president of HP Personal Systems, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the price paid for the HyperX brand showed how important gaming has become in the world of computers. That deal helped HP participate in the $12 billion gaming peripherals market for keyboards, mice, and headsets.

This partnership is an interesting because HyperX is all about creating a brand impression with gamers. And most of the time in the past, that kind of image has been associated with young males. But now the brand is reaching out beyond its roots to embrace women and diversity. It’s a sign of how gaming is changing, Cho said.

“The ecosystem of gaming is just massive,” Cho said. “You also have a lot of new types of gamers coming in and the types of games that they’re playing are changing. Gaming is far more social. It’s intersecting with the world of important, and so gaming is very important to us. It’s a secular growth area.”

Wendy Lecot, head of HyperX strategic alliances, said in a statement that the partnership will enable the latest women fellows to grow in their gaming and esports journeys. The idea is to offer mainstream support to encourage females to break the mold and positively change the perception of a “typical gamer” and allow them to fulfill their dreams in gaming.

Above: Streamer Pokimane is a brand ambassador for HyperX.

Image Credit: HyperX

Sharing dreams of being competitive esports players, creators, storytellers, broadcasters, and more, 10 women were chosen to join the BroadcastHER Academy Fellowship Program for 2021 where they will receive valuable work experience and networking opportunities with leaders in the industry.

Powered by HyperX and Allied Esports, the BroadcastHER Academy is a year-long fellowship program that includes a $1,000 microgrant to help further the winners’ education along with HyperX gear and an all-expense paid trip to the HyperX Arena Las Vegas to shadow the Allied Esports team and receive a behind-the-scenes look at the esports industry.

This year’s BroadcastHER Academy Fellowship winners are:

  • Topaz Bess @TopazTvee — She dreams of being an esports athlete and host.
  • Kayla Thomas @kaylamarietea — Dreams of utilizing her story-telling skills and passion for gaming combined with broadcasting to accomplish BIG things.
  • Gisselle Benitez @laplios — Dreams of continuing her path in competitive esports as both a player and creator. She is currently a part of Stephens College’s all women team (the first college in the U.S. to have an all-female roster).
  • Jennifer Stanley @deviantdreamers — Dreams of working in game design/3D animation.
  • Devan Tozzo @thehotdish — Dreams of becoming a community manager to be the connection between gamers and their communities and brands/charities/etc.
  • Clairene Hunt @KallistaKaines — Dreams of becoming a writer for a gaming company/story writing.
  • Adrianna Alfe @maidendere — Dreams of becoming a UX designer for video games or gaming applications; Current thesis is a product aimed to keep women safe at offline gaming/esports events.
  • Shakeema Hill @keekeexbabyy — Has big dreams in competitive esports as a competitor and host, specifically fighting games which is extremely lacking women of color.
  • Allison Sachs @digitalli — Wants to tackle games journalism and documentaries with her own unique perspective as a woman.
  • Tyler Oswald @pierogee — Dreams of winning the fellowship to level up her esports event management skills.

“We created the BroadcastHER Academy Fellowship program for women in esports and gaming to help advance careers in the industry, especially as the pathway forward is still unclear with few formal training programs and educational options,” said 1,000 Dreams Fund Founder and CEO Christie Garton. “Now in its third year, we’ve seen great success for program participants both in front and behind the camera, including opportunities with our valued partners Allied Esports and HyperX, and we only expect more of this as the program grows and expands.”

HyperX’s inspirational team members and ambassadors include popular figures such as Aerial Powers, Pokimane, and Valkyrae. 1,000 Dreams Fund has awarded more than $300,000 to young women since 2016.

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Latest Edelman survey rates trust in tech at a 21-year low

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Social media is not a trusted source of information.

The technology sector plummeted from being the most trusted industry sector in 2020 to 9th place in 2021, according to the 21st annual analysis from communications firm Edelman. Lack of accountability and unwillingness to self-govern is eroding the public’s trust in technology.

Trust in technology reached all-time lows in 17 of 27 countries over the past year, Edelman said in its recent 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer: Trust In Technology report. The report is based on a survey of more than 33,000 people from 28 countries, including both general population respondents and what the firm calls “informed public respondents” for a well-rounded picture.

Trust and fear have a reciprocal relationship: The faster one rises, the faster the other drops. Traditionally, the technology sector was something of an expert at managing the two, but that is no longer the case. Edelman found that fear of technology is growing at a faster rate than trust in technology. It will take years for the technology industry to bounce back and regain the public trust.

Tech broke trust

Edelman’s survey results show respondents feel both betrayed by, and fearful of, technology. Job loss is the single greatest driver of societal fears, followed by the loss of civil liberties. There is a 6% drop in the number of people who are willing to share their personal information online. Social media, traditional media, and search engines are also at record low levels of trust.

Above: Respondents did not view many information sources favorably when asked to rate each one on how trustworthy they were for general news and information. Source: 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer: Trust in Technology.

Image Credit: Edelman

While the technology industry is full of entrepreneurs who believe in unleashing creativity and innovation and pursuing moonshot ideas, there are also those who monitor customers and invade privacy. The tendency to use technology as an authoritarian tool to monitor dissent is a concern, which explains China’s 16% drop in trust. The sheer drop is ironic, because China is also a global leader in tech R&D, innovation, and tech manufacturing.

Pandemic amplified fears

Edelman recorded one of the steepest declines in trust in the eight months between May 2020 and January 2021, when the public’s trust in technology dropped from 74% to 67%. People were increasingly concerned about AI and robots, and 53% of the respondents in Edelman’s survey worried the pandemic would accelerate the rate at which their employers would replace human workers with AI and robots. Cyberattackers capitalizing on the pandemic didn’t help matters, as 35% of respondents reported being fearful of attackers and breaches.

Edelman’s Trust in Technology study presents a paradox between tech employees and their employers. Employer trust is highest among tech sector employees, with 83% saying they trust their employers, and 62% believing they have the power to make corporations change. Yet the public’s trust in those employers is plummeting. The disconnect comes from the public perception that humans are not controlling technology, but that technology is trying to control them. There is a growing perception that technology — especially social media — is more capable at manipulating people than previously believed.

One way for the industry sector to regain some trust is to re-evaluate how they handle customer data and to be transparent about what they do with the information.

Gain trust by guarding information quality

Businesses as a whole are still trusted in most of the countries surveyed, with 61% of all respondents trusting companies above nonprofit organizations, government, and media. The most effective step businesses can take to increase trust is to guard the quality of information. Additional factors include embracing sustainable practices, implementing a robust COVID-19 health and safety response, driving economic prosperity, and emphasizing long-term thinking over short-term profits.

However, just saying they will protect information isn’t enough. Businesses need to take a data-centric security approach to achieve greater resiliency and cybersecurity. Businesses should also address the concerns employees have over job loss and automation. They should be transparent and honest with their employees if robotics and automation are part of the business plan. Investing in re-skilling employees for new jobs is a great way to transform a business digitally.

In short, senior management teams should remember that lasting transformation starts with employees.

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Google makes business process tool AppSheet Automation generally available

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Google AppSheet Automation

Join GamesBeat Summit 2021 this April 28-29. Register for a free or VIP pass today.


Last year, Google launched AppSheet Automation, an “intent-driven” experience in Google Cloud powered by AI that enabled enterprises to connect to a number of data sources to model automated business processes. After several months in early access, Google today announced that AppSheet Automation is generally available with new capabilities, including document processing, a monitoring app, and expanded eventing support.

According to Forrester, while automation has been a major force reshaping work since before the pandemic, it’s taking on a new urgency in the context of business risk and resilience. A McKinsey survey found that at least a third of activities could be automated in about 60% of occupations. And in its recent Trends in Workflow Automation report, Salesforce reported that 95% of IT leaders are prioritizing workflow automation, with 70% seeing the equivalent of more than 4 hours saved each week per employee.

AppSheet Automation, which arose from Google’s acquisition of AppSheet in July 2020, is an AI-enabled, no-code development platform designed to help automate existing business processes. The service offers an environment for building custom apps and pipelines, delivering governance capabilities and leveraging AI to understand goals and construct process artifacts.

One new feature in AppSheet Automation, Intelligent Document Processing, automatically extracts text from unstructured files like invoices and W-9s to eliminate the need for manual entry. Another, a monitoring app, allows customers to build AppSheet apps that can then monitor their automations.

Google also extended AppSheet Automation’s data source eventing, which previously supported Salesforce, to include Google Workspace Sheets and Drive in the general release. Looking ahead, the company says it’s building the ability to embed rich AppSheet views in Gmail to enable users to perform approvals on the go.

Google AppSheet Automation

“Digital transformation has been an enterprise priority for years, but recent Google Cloud research reinforces that the mandate is more pressing today than ever, with most companies increasing their technology investments over the last year,” Prithpal Bhogill, product manager on AppSheet’s business application platform, wrote in a blog post. “While there are many dependencies shaping the future of work, the challenge is to leverage technology to support shifting work cultures. Automation is the rallying point for this goal.”

The launch of AppSheet Automation follows news that Google will collaborate with robotic process automation (RPA) startup Automation Anywhere to accelerate the adoption of RPA with enterprises “on a global scale.” As a part of its agreement with Automation Anywhere, Google plans to integrate the former company’s RPA technologies, including low- and no-code development tools, AI workflow builders, and API management, with Google Cloud services like Apigee, AppSheet, and AI Platform. Automation Anywhere and Google said they’ll also jointly develop solutions geared toward industry-specific use cases, with a focus on financial services, supply chains, health care and life sciences, telecommunications, retail, and the public sector.

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