- July 7, 2021
- By Joshua Reid
- Technology , What is...?
- elon musk , innovation , internet , satellite , satellite internet , star link , starlink
What is Starlink and how can you prepare for it?
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a satellite internet system developed through Elon Musk’s SpaceX program. According to an article by PC titled “What Is Starlink? SpaceX’s Much-Hyped Satellite Internet Service Explained,” Starlink is capable of delivering high internet speeds to, theoretically, any place on Earth. In addition, Starlink began serving new customers last year – many of whom were from remote or rural parts of the U.S.
As mentioned, Starlink is a satellite internet system, whereas most other internet service providers are more wireless and connected through the home. Using satellite internet allows for anyone, whether in an urban environment or a remote or rural area to have access to the internet. According to a filing done for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 100,000 users are already utilizing the service with “hundreds of thousands” of people across the U.S. signing up.
Although this sounds like great news, what are the downsides of using the Starlink internet system?
In an article for DigitalTrends titled “SpaceX Starlink: Here’s everything you need to know,” Patrick Daniels writes that the Starlink project would cost around $10 billion. Outside of the massive amount of money it would take to get the entire project completed, the SpaceX program seeks to put a “constellation” of these satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) in order to “provide high-speed, cable-like internet.” Additionally, If SpaceX wants these satellites to reach as many people as possible, particularly in rural and remote areas, how do they plan to compete with other internet service providers?
While Starlink does have its advantages in terms of faster internet speed, one question I have to ask is: How long can something like Starlink last?
What happens when the satellites malfunction? A breakdown could keep possibly millions of people from accessing their internet. Although SpaceX launched two of its Starlink satellites three years ago in February, they would only be able to offer the service for free in the U.S. if they can get enough of the satellites in orbit. On top of all that, according to the article, although they have the approval from the FCC to generate more satellites, “the organization did admit some trepidation concerning the high number of planned Starlink satellites, tying approval to a robust requirement for managing orbital debris” (Daniels).
While the organization exhibits trepidation about the high number of Starlink satellites SpaceX would need to produce, one area of this whole program that I feel hasn’t been touched on enough is the cost. How much would people have to pay monthly and annually in order to continue having access to the internet service?
For people who want Starlink’s faster-paced internet service, especially those in rural and remote areas, the cost would presumably be one thing that would keep them from diving “all in ” for the service. In an article by SatelliteInternet titled “SpaceX Starlink Satellite Internet Service,” Kristin Cooke writes that, as of March 2021, Starlink had launched 1,400 satellites but notes that at the moment, with Starlink still being in its beta stage, it would cost $99 to beta test, plus an additional $499 in equipment costs once the person signed up.
If these numbers are accurate, how do they expect people to pay close to $600 just to be able to have faster internet service, especially with the economic hurdles that the world will undoubtedly face when the COVID-19 pandemic is gone?
Cooke, Kristin. “SpaceX Starlink Satellite Internet Service.” SatelliteInternet, https://www.satelliteinternet.com/providers/starlink/. Accessed 6 April 2021.
Daniels, Patrick. “SpaceX Starlink: Here’s everything you need to know.” DigitalTrends, https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/what-is-spacex-starlink/. Accessed 6 April 2021.
Kan, Michael. “What Is Starlink? SpaceX’s Much-Hyped Satellite Internet Service Explained.” PC,https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/what-is-starlink-spacex-satellite-internet-service-explained. Accessed 6 April 2021.