Interested in high-speed internet on Saba? Starlink promises 20 times the maximum speed that is available now on Saba for about half the price. When available, this could open a whole new line of IT industries.
Back in October 2020, SpaceX announced it would be <span class=”link”>recruiting beta testers</span> for its satellite broadband offshoot <span class=”link”>Starlink’s “Better Than Nothing” service</span>. As soon as the announcement was made, John Kim signed up to be notified when a spot opened up in his area — Walnut Creek, about 30 minutes east of San Francisco. Fast-forward to February and he forked over $594.30 (tax, shipping and one month of service included) to see what it’s like using <span class=”link”>Starlink</span>.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted in February 2021, that Starlink expected state of the projects to double speeds by the end of 2021 as the company continues to launch more satellites. As of March 2021, SpaceX has launched 1,300 satellites out of 12,000 planned.
Does it really work?
Beta tester John Kim explains the current state of the project in the CNET video below (you can skip the ad after a few seconds):
Starlink explained: What to know about Elon Musk’s satellite internet venture
The billionaire SpaceX CEO is launching satellites into orbit and promising to deliver high-speed broadband internet to as many users as possible
When you think of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, chances are good that you think of his electric car company Tesla or his space-exploration venture SpaceX (to say nothing of his history of stirring up controversy on social media or smoking weed with Joe Rogan). Maybe you just know him as the second-richest person on Earth (Jeff Bezos retook the top spot earlier this year).</p>
Before long, though, something else might come to mind when you think of Musk: a venture called Starlink that seeks to sell internet connections to almost anyone on the planet by way of a growing network of private satellites orbiting overhead.
After years of development within SpaceX — and after securing nearly $885.5 million in grant funds from the Federal Communications Commission at the end of 2020 — Starlink’s progress seems to be accelerating in 2021. In January, after about three years’ worth of successful launches, the project surpassed 1,000 satellites delivered into orbit. Earlier in February, Musk’s company disclosed that Starlink now serves more than 10,000 customers. Now, the service is in the process of expanding preorders to even more potential customers, with people currently living without access to high-speed internet as one of the top priorities.
All of that makes Starlink well worth keeping an eye on in 2021. For now, here’s everything you should know about it.
OK, start at the beginning — what is Starlink, exactly?
Technically a division within SpaceX, Starlink is also the name of the spaceflight company’s growing network — or “constellation” — of orbital satellites. The development of that network began in 2015, with the first prototype satellites launched into orbit in 2018.
In the years since, SpaceX has deployed over 1,000 Starlink satellites into orbit across more than 20 successful launches. In January, for its first Starlink mission of 2021, SpaceX launched 60 satellites into orbit from Kennedy Space Center using the landable, relaunchable Falcon 9 orbital rocket. Subsequent launches, including four more in February, have brought the total number of satellites launched up to nearly 1,300.
And those satellites can connect my home to the internet?
That’s the idea, yes.
Just like existing providers of satellite internet like HughesNet or Viasat, Starlink wants to sell internet access — particularly to people in rural areas and other parts of the world who don’t already have access to high-speed broadband.
“Starlink is ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge,” the Starlink website reads. “Unbounded by traditional ground infrastructure, Starlink can deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable.”
All you need to do to make the connection is set up a small satellite dish at your home to receive the signal and pass the bandwidth on to your router. Starlink offers an app for Android and iOS that uses augmented reality to help customers pick the best location and position for their receivers.
Starlink’s service is only available in select regions at this point, but the service now boasts more than 10,000 customers, and the coverage map will continue to grow as more satellites make their way into the constellation. Eventually, Starlink hopes to blanket the entire planet in a usable high-speed Wi-Fi signal.
How fast is Starlink’s internet service?
“Users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50 to 150 megabits per second and latency from 20 to 40 milliseconds in most locations over the next several months,” Starlink’s website says, while also warning of brief periods of no connectivity at all. “As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically.”
To that end, Musk tweeted in February that he expects the service to double its top speeds to 300Mbps by the end of 2021.
CNET’s John Kim signed up for the service at his home in California, and recently began testing it out at a variety of locations. At home, he averaged download speeds around 78Mbps, and latency around 36ms. You can see more of his first impressions in the video posted above, or by clicking here.
What does Starlink cost?
Starlink has begun accepting preorders from customers interested in joining the company’s “Better Than Nothing” beta program. The cost of the service is billed at $99 per month, plus taxes and fees, plus an initial payment of $499 for the mountable satellite dish and router that you’ll need to install at home.
Starlink says that it’s taking orders from customers on a first-come, first-served basis and that some preorders could take as long as six months to fulfill.
Where is Starlink available now?
For now, service is limited to the northwest US, adjacent parts of Canada, parts of the UK and select other areas, but the coverage map will grow considerably as more satellites join the constellation. There’s still a ways to go — Starlink will likely need at least 10,000 satellites in orbit before it can claim to cover a majority of the globe (and SpaceX has shown signs that it wants as many as 30,000 satellites in the constellation). Right now, it’s only about 10% of the way there at best, with coverage focused on regions sitting between 45 and 53 degrees North latitude.
Musk has told customers that he expects the service to hit worldwide availability in 2022, but that will be contingent on a steady streak of successful launches.