SpaceX has launched a public beta test of The starlink satellite Internet system for users from the United States and Canada, Ars Technica reports with reference to the first test participants. To use the Internet, you must purchase a terminal and related equipment at a cost of $ 499, and the monthly payment is $ 99. Next year, the company plans to expand its service coverage to almost the entire populated part of the world.
Starlink is a global satellite Internet system being actively deployed by SpaceX since mid-2019. Then the first 60 satellites were launched, and at the time of writing, the number of satellites has increased to almost 900, although this is still a small part of the planned several tens of thousands. The first group of about fifteen hundred satellites will be located in 550-kilometer orbits, and then the group will add satellites with higher orbits to improve coverage and lower ones for users who need less signal delay.
In the summer, the company began closed beta testing among employees and selected users, and in October, after the next launch, Elon Musk saidthat there were enough satellites for open testing. On October 27, some of the users who had already applied for participation earlier began to receive letters inviting them to participate, and the Starlink app appeared in the Android and iOS app stores, which helps you configure the antenna, including choosing the place that will be least blocked by other buildings or trees.
The company called the program Better Than Nothing Beta (better than nothing) and explained in the letter that it does not want to create high expectations for users, and talked about potential problems. So, at first, sometimes they will face the lack of Internet, and the speed and delay will vary between 50 and 150 megabits per second and 20 and 40 milliseconds. In addition, you must first purchase a phased array antenna, a bracket for it and a Wi-Fi router for a total cost of $ 499, as well as pay tax and shipping costs. The cost of the service itself is $ 99 per month. Testing will work in the Northern United States and southern regions of Canada.
In 2021, the company plans to reduce the delay in the same territory to about 16-19 milliseconds, expand work to the southern States in the spring, and by the end of the year reach almost global work. At the same time, Elon Musk notes that the company will launch in new countries only after the permission of local regulators. By the way, earlier OneWeb tried to get permission for the necessary frequencies in the Russian State Commission on radio frequencies, but was refused.
It is worth noting that $ 99 is not as much of a monthly fare as it might seem. The average monthly fee for landline Internet in the United States is, according to various sources, about 65 dollars. However, in remote and sparsely populated areas, the cost may be noticeably higher, and in addition, there is often only one provider in such places, which can negatively affect the cost and quality of services. When compared with other satellite operators, such as Viasat and HughesNet, Starlink is comparable or cheaper at a higher maximum speed, depending on the fare and location.
Similar projects are available for OneWeb, which recently suspended the project due to bankruptcy, but has already received assistance from the British government and an Indian company, and will soon continue launching satellites. Amazon is also going to build its own satellite Internet system.