When you think of Elon Musk, what do you think of? Is it his electric car company of Tesla? Or perhaps you are thinking of SpaceX, his venture into space exploration. Or, maybe you think of him wanting to buy Twitter and stir up controversy. Perhaps you know him as the richest person on the planet. But what about Elon Musk’s Starlink?
It’s a new venture by Musk that plans to sell internet connection to everyone across the globe through the use of private satellites.
Starlink, after years of development, started to make serious inroads in 2021. Then, after several years of launches, 1,000 satellites made it into orbit in January 2022. After many successful launches later, there are now at least 2,000 operational satellites that hang in low orbit around the Earth.
Starlink claims to have connection to 32 countries around the world now. But, the budding provider still has obstacles to deal with such as backlogs. In fact, it is being used by Ukraine as we speak, but for war against their Russian invaders. While it did cost Americans $3 million in taxpayer money, its system was connected to Ukrainian artillery, giving them better precision and accuracy with their weapons.
However, like Elon Musk, Starlink also faces its fair share of controversies. One of the largest complaints is from the scientific community, specifically astronomers. They state that the many Starlink satellites make it harder to look at the stars.
Also, Musk’s rivals are trying their best to squash Starlink. From Project Kuiper to HughesNet, many other internet competitors seek to have their moment in the spotlight and stop Starlink from gaining more momentum. A new complaint recently is from Dish. Dish claims that the 5G expansions in the 12GHz band will interfere with their satellite signals.
In August 2022, the FCC reversed their whopping $885.5 million grant funds to Starlink after the service “failed to meet program requirements.” While they state that Starlink shows promise, the FCC is not interested in subsidizing Starlink if it can’t meet their requirements.
What Exactly is Starlink?
Starlink is a branch of SpaceX. Starlink is the name of the satellites that form SpaceX’s increasing network. It is known as a “constellation” of low-orbiting satellites. The network started in 2015 with the prototypes being launched starting in 2018.
Since then, they have launched successfully for a few years now. The most recent was just on August 9th with another 52 satellites. In total, this should be around 2,662 Starlink satellites.
Can It Connect to My House?
Yes. Elon Musk’s Starlink should be like any other internet-providing satellite. According to the company, “Starlink is ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge.” They also go on to say, “Unbounded by traditional ground infrastructure, Starlink can deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable.”
For you, you just need a small satellite dish at your home. Starlink offers a variety of mounting options for the dish. There is also a Starlink app for Android and iOS users that helps identify the best place to put the receiver.
How Fast is It?
Ookla, an internet speed-tracking website states that Starlink had download speeds of over 100Mbps in multiple countries in 2021. In the United States, the average speed was around 105Mbps while the average speed is usually around 12Mbps.
Users of Starlink can expect the speed of data to vary around 50-150 megabits a second. At the beginning of last year, Musk plans to double the speed to 300Mbps by the end of 2021. Ookla then stated in June that Starlink median download speed has increased by 38%.
What Is the Cost?
Starlink operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. So, if you are inserted in getting Starlink then you need a request service, a $99 deposit, and then wait. Starlink says that it may take months before they can fulfill orders.
Originally, Starlink costs $99 a month with taxes and fees as well as a payment of $499 for the installation of the dish. However, Starlink ended up raising its prices to $110 a month and $599 for the installation. Musk believes that the cost will be worth it for those who do not have reliable access to the internet.
Is It Reliable?
Starlink appears to be reliable. DownDetector.com, a website that tracks outages states that there were only four outages to Starlink last year. Others noted outages but were able to resume within a couple of hours.
It is also recommended that Starlink dishes be built somewhere that does not have obstructions as well as anywhere that will cause snow-buildup on it. Heavy rain and wind can also lead to slower internet speeds.
In all, Starlink is a new internet-providing satellite service. It does seem pricy now, but so far it does claim reliability, even if it is not as fast fiber.
Regardless, Starlink has a long way to go. It will need to find ways to keep the customer database happy as well as ensure that it does affect space exploration either. For now, it’s best to just keep an eye on it and see where Starlink takes us.