You may have heard the name Elon Musk before. Most likely it is in connection with PayPal, Tesla, or SpaceX. Another effort he has been working on is Starlink. This particular project is a system to provide a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites to provide Internet to the world. This approach differs significantly from the current satellite Internet model which involves much higher latency and significantly lower speeds with data caps.
Elon’s approach involves many satellites providing a mesh network in the sky with many gateways to the ground where the signal is routed more traditionally in the ground-based infrastructure. The proximity of the satellites to the earth allow for much quicker data transmission, and speeds that are conducive to what most households have come to expect from their internet connection.
Timeline: Starlink has been testing with a small group of beta testers near the USA/Canada border where the concentration of the satellites have been deployed. In February 2021, they opened up the program for more people to put themselves in a queue to receive the service. I am always interested to see how we can provide more bandwidth and options to our area so I signed up. When I signed up, and completed the payment process of $99 to hold my place in line, I was notified it was slated to be available in my area mid-to-late 2021.
Equipment: The concept is meant to be as simple as possible for installation and setup. The image below is the maps of the equipment I was told would come with the equipment.
Cost and anticipated speeds: The equipment cost is $499 plus tax/shipping and the service will cost $99/month plus taxes/fees. You will receive the setup illustrated above which is currently showing speeds of 50 to 150 Mbps (Megabits/second) with a latency of 20-40ms (milliseconds). More and more real-life data is coming in with users who have the service that are stress testing the service in various locations and weather conditions.
My hopes and expectations: I love the opportunity to live in the area that we do. My profession and hobbies rely on consistent bandwidth, and upload speeds that allow me to publish content effectively. My plan for signing up is to gauge this option against the other options that we presently have available to us right now, and may be getting in the next three to five years. I have family and friends who are limited in their Internet options who may drastically benefit from an option like this due to line-of-sight and distance issues from the few ISPs we have in our area.
I’m sure I will forget about signing up until I get a big update or hear someone else getting the service in our state, but when that happens I’ll be excited to get it setup and start beating it up. My biggest thought/concern right now is how it will hold up to the wind, and where I could place it to help mitigate that concern.