Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX, talked about the company's plans on providing global internet coverage via Starlink by September. She shared the company's expectations, initiatives, and the project's current status at a Macquarie Group technology conference.
SpaceX Starlink Internet
Engineered by Elon Musk's SpaceX, Starlink is a string of satellites launched into space to provide high-speed, low latency broadband internet. Starlink also claims to deliver high-speed broadband to rural and remote communities.
The Starlink initiative is expecting to launch a "constellation" of 42,000 satellites into low-earth orbit by mid-2027 to provide Internet access all over the world, Business Insider says.
According to their website, it's currently delivering initial beta service domestically and internationally "and will continue expansion to near global coverage of the populated world in 2021."
Currently, 11 countries are operating the beta Starlink; this includes the US, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe, Shotwell says.
With the chain of satellites, it is hard to miss in the night sky when it's making its orbit. But they do mention on their website that they are working with astronomers and engineers to make the satellite generally invisible to the naked eye.
They want to minimize Starlink's impact on astronomy by darkening satellites not to saturate observatory detectors. It is quite a feat, coordinating the dance of nearly 1,800 satellites in orbit.
Global Starlink Internet by September
Shotwell says SpaceX has successfully deployed about 1,800 Starlink satellites. Once all the satellites have reached their operational orbit, continuous global coverage will be attainable.
She says September would be the likely time frame for its global debut.
SpaceX also plans to deploy 12,000 more satellites.The space missions would cost roughly $10 billion.
The extensive coverage of Starlink's service could mean more and more rural and underserved communities can get fast broadband. But before operating in any given country, SpaceX needs regulatory approval to provide telecoms services, Reuters reports.
Once worldwide service coverage is achieved, users could expect internet speeds of up to 209.17 megabits per second, which was the fastest speed recorded by a beta-test subscriber, Business Insider says.
Some SpaceX Starlink satellite internet ground station dishes arrived today in Starbase:— Starship Gazer (@StarshipGazer) June 23, 2021
1:24 pm 6/22/21 pic.twitter.com/wJhrJEKSh3
U.S. News adds that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved SpaceX's plan to deploy some Starlink satellites at a lower earth orbit than planned. The goal is to provide high-speed broadband internet services to areas and people currently lacking access.
In May, more than half a million people placed their order for Starlink or put down the $99 deposit fee. The deposit fee is fully refundable, the company notes, but setting a deposit does not guarantee service.
All orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-serve basis as well.
A monthly subscription to Starlink currently costs $99. However, if you want to purchase the kit, which includes a tripod, Wi-Fi router, and terminal to connect to the satellites, it will set you back $499.