There is no doubt that Elon Musk is among the most memorable entrepreneurs of the 21st century. After starting with Tesla, he moved to more complex projects, such as SpaceX, Neurolink, and lately, Starlink Internet.
The highlights of this product, how much it costs, and whether it will accomplish its purpose or not are a few topics I will discuss throughout this article. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
- Who Is Elon Musk?
- What Is Starlink Internet All About?
- Perfect for Rural Areas
- How to Download/Install the Starlink Internet App
- How Fast Is Starlink Internet?
- How Much Does Starlink Internet Cost?
- The Availability of Starlink Internet
- Relying on Starlink Internet
- Does Bad Weather Affect Starlink Internet’s Signal?
- Satellite vs Fiber Internet
Image Source: IT Network
Who Is Elon Musk?
Before I get into discussing Starlink, I want to discuss a few fast facts about Elon Musk.
Born in 1971 as a citizen of South Africa, he attended Queen’s University in Kingston, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University.
His first entrepreneurship move was selling code for the “Blastar” game to a computer magazine (at the age of 12).
He made his first big bucks as a product architect and the CEO of Tesla Motors.
After experiencing enormous success with this project, he established the Musk Foundation, which focuses on renewable energy, pediatrics, and space exploration.
Among the few projects that Musk has started, it seems that the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation is his personal favorite.
It focuses on exploring space, and over the past few years, they have made a few trial launches.
What Is Starlink Internet All About?
First, I want to clarify that Starlink Internet is a part of the SpaceX project.
The idea first appeared back in 2015, after Elon named the network after a constellation of orbital satellites that are used by the SpaceX project.
The first satellites related to the internet project were launched in 2018.
As I found out, Starlink Internet has more than 1,000 satellites in space, with a few dozen launched along with the Falcon 9 orbit rocket right from the Kennedy Space Center.
More About Starlink’s Purpose
Along with the recent launches in May and June, the total number came to around 1,800 satellites.
One of the most common questions is whether those satellites can connect to home internet.
The answer is yes, as the idea is to make fast internet connection a reality for people all around the globe.
Perfect for Rural Areas
Similar to popular internet providers, such as Viasat and HughesNet, the idea of Starlink Internet is to make fast broadband a reality for those who are living in rural areas.
The main advantage that it has over its competitors is that it isn’t limited by ground infrastructure and can stream the internet to locations where the network is usually unreliable or unavailable.
As someone who is very interested in this project, I found that the setup is quite simple and comes down to installing a satellite-like dish to the roof of the house.
This will act as a signal receiver and can be monitored through the designated apps.
Starlink Internet Availability
Most importantly, the process is smooth and comes down to the receiver picking up the signal then transferring it to the router of the internet user.
The idea of Starlink Internet is that it becomes available across the world, but all the satellites currently direct the internet towards users in the US and a few regions in Canada and outside North America.
Still, with the company shipping thousands of satellite terminals abroad, it is safe to say that it will become a global service very soon.
How to Download/Install the Starlink Internet App
The Starlink app is available for iOS and Android users and can be easily downloaded through the respective stores.
Given the fact that I own a Samsung device, it was simple to find it through the Google Play Store, with the app requiring an Android that is 2.0+ with 55 megabytes of free storage space.
The same goes for iPhone users, who shouldn’t have an issue finding the app at the Apple Store. It requires iOS 11.0+ and just over 56 megabytes of free storage space.
Keep in mind that the app is free and the interface is user-friendly, making it suitable for people who are new to the project.
What Is the Starlink Internet App for?
The biggest advantage of using the Starlink app is that it identifies best install locations and informs users on the obstacles that could disrupt the signal.
In addition to that, it helps with setting up the hardware, identifying device issues, and getting in touch with the customer service team.
How Fast Is Starlink Internet?
First, Starlink warns all of its users that they shouldn’t be surprised by periods of zero connectivity.
This is because the satellite technology is still getting set up. As the project starts covering other continents, the network stability will also improve.
According to a few tests that I’ve performed, Starlink’s internet speed is set between 50 and 150 megabytes per second, which compares well to the most popular providers.
In addition to that, it is also highlighted by a reasonable latency at a range of 20 to 40ms.
Double by the End of 2021?
At the pace that the Starlink project is moving.
And given a few of Musk’s latest tweets, it is safe to assume that the average speed will be moving towards even higher numbers, such as 200/250 mbps/s as the year comes to an end.
How Much Does Starlink Internet Cost?
In the past few months, the company has released the “Better than Nothing” beta program, which allows residents of designated regions in the US and Canada to join the concept.
The current price rate is set at $99 per month, as well as $500 for the setup price, which includes the installation of a satellite dish receiver and the router that is suitable for the signal transfer.
This price is rather high, especially for people who are living in rural areas and may not have a high income.
Still, the founder of this project, Elon Musk, suggests that the cost will be lowered as the popularity of Starlink Internet is increased.
No Pricing Tiers
In addition to that, he thinks that the price of $99 per month is one that people who don’t have internet access will not have a problem paying.
I was interested to learn if the company will be presenting pricing tiers that differ based on the speed of the internet.
According to the official announcements, Starlink Internet is after a straightforward pricing regimen, meaning that there will be no tiers anytime soon.
The Availability of Starlink Internet
One of the most interesting facts about Starlink availability is that it covers 45 out of 53 regions that are set at the northern latitude.
During my research, I found that people who pre-order the service will be able to install it in four countries that are yet to be officially launched, including Italy, Spain, Poland, and Chile.
As mentioned above, the project currently has 1,800 satellites in the constellation providing limited service to certain regions.
This includes those in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Denmark, Belgium, Australia, and New Zealand.
The Goal of 42,000
My humble prediction is that Starlink Internet needs at least 10,000 satellites to provide service across the globe.
But Elon Musk suggested that the goal of this project is to have 42,000 Starlink satellites as a part of the constellation.
And he has high hopes that this number will be reached within a few years.
Relying on Starlink Internet
As someone who has pre-ordered Starlink Internet, I have nothing but good words.
Yes, there were a few times that I experienced zero connectivity, but for the rest of the time, the internet speed was set around 120 mbps/s with the latency being at 20ms.
It seems that researchers from CNBC and Fast Company got similar results.
While the risk of outages is something that I didn’t find with popular providers, such as ViaSat and HughesNet, Starlink Internet seems to be improving with each month.
In fact, there were no major outages in Canada and most of the US throughout August.
Most importantly, the Starlink Internet team does a great job of fixing any of the occuring issues.
Thus, even if a signal outage happens, it is usually fixed within a few hours.
Does Bad Weather Affect Starlink Internet’s Signal?
One of the biggest concerns regarding Starlink Internet is how it performs during winter months and in heavy snow.
According to the company, snow that lands on the satellite dish shouldn’t prevent it from receiving the signal. Still, the obstacles that are surrounding the dish do affect the connectivity.
With that in mind, I would recommend installing the receiver at a location where snow can’t build up.
Not only that, but it is also great to use the Starlink app to find a spot that is free from surrounding obstacles.
What About the Wind and Rain?
While heavy wind and rain shouldn’t cause an outage, it is common that these harsh conditions slow down the internet speed and increase the latency.
The solution is similar to dealing with snow and comes down to finding a protected location that offers a clear line of sight towards the satellite.
Satellite vs Fiber Internet
Considering the basics of internet connection, it isn’t hard to conclude that fiber or ground-based internet is faster than that provided by satellites.
Still, the biggest downside is that the related infrastructure can’t be deployed in more rural areas.
One of the coolest points about Starlink Internet is the speed at which the satellites are being delivered into orbit.
The company has several landable rockets that should deliver thousands of Starlink satellites in the upcoming years, increasing the internet speed and overall reliability.
Funding Other SpaceX Projects
As I’ve mentioned, Starlink Internet is a division of SpaceX.
With that in mind, I can say that a good percentage of the yielded profit will be going towards the main goal of SpaceX and Elon Musk, which is establishing a base on Mars.
While Starlink Internet still isn’t a global trend, I am sure that it will become a staple for internet connection in rural areas.
With thousands of new satellites announced and the flexibility of ground-free internet, Starlink is destined to become another successful project by Elon Musk.