SpaceX is planning to launch more Starlink satellites into orbit this 2021 to fast-track global coverage. Beta users of Starlink have given good, even great reviews. The teams at SpaceX even use Starlink when getting data from the rockets during launches, like camera footage for live streams .
What Is Starlink?
Starlink is a string of satellites launched into space, engineered by Elon Musk's SpaceX, with the aim to provide high-speed, low latency broadband internet.
The latency for the Starlink system is similar to ground-based fiber and 5G latency, at around under 20 to 40 milliseconds. This makes Starlink a good substitute for 5G and fiber when both aren't accessible.
Users could expect internet speeds of up to 209.17 megabits per second, one of the fastest speeds recorded by a beta-test subscriber.
When even someone in California, home of Silicon Valley, needs Internet so bad that they bolt a Starlink dish to the hood of their car, you know there’s a serious unmet need! https://t.co/WLcEu4IrJw— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2021
Starlink Global Coverage
Global Starlink coverage could be achieved as early as August, Musk said in the Mobile World Congress last June.
According to its website, it is currently delivering initial beta service domestically and internationally to 12 countries, including parts of the US and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe. Coverage for the North and South poles would take another six months to set up and connect, Musk said in a tweet.
There are currently 1,800 Starlink satellites in orbit, as reported by Cnet.
Using my star gazer app goofing around and noticed a whole lot of Starlink objects… (blue lines) 😯 like a-LOT…whhhOA. pic.twitter.com/GxKmrUFSBX— Andrew King (@twitandrewking) July 13, 2021
The goal is to launch a "constellation" of 42,000 satellites into lower-earth orbit by mid-2027 to provide Internet access all over the world, especially in underserved communities and remote areas normally not serviced by broadband providers.
According to Musk, Starlinks are well-suited to low- and medium-density areas. Starlink currently has more than 69,000 customers signed up, and it is expecting more than 500,000 in the next 12 months. The service has received more than half a million preorders for the service, Reuters noted.
There are only two instructions for Starlink once it is out of the box, point it at the sky, and plug it in. Musk even joked "you can do those in either order, we do make it easy."
We now have our own full cloud complete with S3, enterprise grade GPU instances & Kubernetes support… running on Starlink in the middle of the countryside pic.twitter.com/n6zVGhyPOg— Paul Hetherington (@phethers) July 14, 2021
Starlink Pre-Order: Here's How
Currently, a monthly subscription to Starlink costs $99. If customers want to purchase the kit, which includes a tripod, Wi-Fi router, and terminal to connect to the satellites, that would cost $499 on top of the subscription.
Interested customers can order Starlink via its website. Orders are available to a limited number of users per coverage area and will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis, the website noted.
In the same Mobile World Congress, Musk mentioned how Starlink loses money producing the current terminals. It costs $1,000 to make a terminal but it is currently being sold globally for half the cost.
The company is currently subsidizing the costs and they are looking into building new internet terminals that will cost less to manufacture. Musk added: "We are working on next-generation terminals that provide the same level of capability, roughly the same level of capability, but costs a lot less. So that's one area of development for us."
The reduced cost of producing the terminals should eventually decrease the cost for the customers as well. From the $499 price tag, it could go down to $300 or even $250.
Starlink is also looking forward to agreements and partnerships that could propel the service forward, including two "quite significant partnerships" with major telecoms companies.