How Starlink Works? Price, Speed and Availability

Is Starlink the internet disruption this world needs?

Starlink is one of many ventures of the tech entrepreneur Elon Musk. It is a satellite internet service owned by SpaceX. The space company focuses on bringing high-speed connectivity to the entire globe. The name Starlink is also used for the constellation of satellites in the Low Earth Orbit setup by SpaceX.

The venture was introduced in 2015 and managed to launch its first prototype satellites in 2018. Since then, SpaceX has managed to send a total of 1737 satellites in orbit. Some of these satellites may be nonoperational units that aren’t a part of the internet service yet.

Starlink has shown promising progress in 2021. This is after years of development and a grant of $885m from the Federal Communications Commission. In February, the satellite internet service had 10,000 active customers for its beta services. Meanwhile, the company promised a worldwide outreach by this fall.

Now, Starlink is taking pre-orders from many countries. It has already managed to deliver 100,000 Starlink kits in 14 different countries.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the specifications of the service.

The company promises to offer global coverage of the internet by this fall. However, so far only selected regions in selected countries have access. The coverage is expected to grow as more satellites continue to join the constellation in the earth’s orbit.

According to Musk, a total of 14 countries have had access to Starlink’s services so far. The list includes the USA, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Portugal, Australia, and New Zealand. Other countries that are eligible to request services include Italy, Chile, Poland, and Spain.

It is perceived that Starlink requires at least 10,000 orbiting satellites to offer internet coverage to the majority of the globe. So far, the company has shown intent to deploy 40,000 by 2027.

However, Starlink officials look keen on reaching a global outreach very soon. As the Starlink president, Gwynne Shotwell, stated, “We’ve successfully deployed 1,800 or so satellites, and once all those satellites reach their operational orbit, we will have continuous global coverage so that should be like [the] September time frame.”

Starlink aims to bring internet connectivity to more remote regions. Areas where it is unlikely to see the grounds for fiber cables in the years to come. We can rest assured that Starlink will be faster to provide this solution than any other form of the internet service provider.

The prices set by Starlink for its internet service are quite questionable and worrying for many. It charges $500 for the Starlink kit, which comes with a Wi-Fi router, power supply, cables, and mounting tripod. According to Shotwell, this price is expected to drop down in the near future. On top of that, there’s a monthly cost of $99 plus tax.

When comparing these prices with fiber-cable internet, users are right to have second thoughts. Especially when the internet speed is slower too. Moreover, the preorders can take upto six months to fulfill, depending on your area of service.

Image: DishyMcFlatface

The Starlink website states that during the beta service, users can notice the internet speed varying from 50Mbps to 150Mbps. The most recent average speed recorded is 97.23Mbps. This is quite slow if we compare it to the usual internet offers from fiber cable service providers. It further promises a latency of 20ms to 40ms and warns the users about periods of no internet service.

The satellite internet organization is well aware of how these numbers are not very convincing. Hence, it clarifies that numbers will improve after more satellites are launched and additional ground stations are installed. Starlink is looking to place the satellites closer to earth to reduce latency in the future.

But, if we compare the potential of the two modes of delivery, it can be a different story. Both the solutions use lasers to send information in the form of data packets. However, the speed of light deteriorates or slows down in fiber. It further slows down because of the different bends in the fiber cable along the way.

Satellites, on the other hand, provide the environment of vacuum for the data packets to travel. This is because speed travels 47% faster in a vacuum than it does in glass. It gives Starlink a huge advantage for the future and is becoming its major selling point.

The following steps must be taken to place an order for Starlink internet services.

  • Enter your address and email to find your service area.
  • It will show you the estimated time that Starlink needs to provide service to your location.
  • You need to pay a $99 deposit upfront for booking. It will later be deducted from the monthly fee of $99, the $499 hardware cost, and shipping.

What could be the reason for users to look away from the satellite internet service provided by Starlink? Surely, it has some downsides. You must take these into consideration if you’re planning to place your order.

Strong weather conditions can disrupt the internet connection and lead to poor connectivity. Strong winds, rain, and snow can all cause problems with your internet speed. The Starlink FAQ section talks about how the dish should not be placed under extreme conditions.

There are warning signs for the increased presence of satellites in the earth’s orbit. As a result, skywatchers and stargazers are worried about the effect of satellites on the night sky. Starlink now ensures to take better measures to reduce the visibility of their satellites.

It takes time for anything new to find its place in the market. Starlink’s recent progress shows a lot of promise, and it seems like it will soon become the go-to internet service option for everyone. Yet, the promise of reaching global availability in September 2021 sounds too good to be true.

Contrary to this, Starlink’s proposal of being the internet solution in rural areas with no prior service and no means for fiber cables is turning out to be true. The solution is reaching out to such locations and making this growth possible. It is now convincing that Starlink will reach the levels of promised potential very soon.

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