SpaceX is launching the Starlink satellite broadband internet network to provide high-speed connection worldwide, primarily focused in rural communities where internet is unreliable. On Wednesday morning, the company’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Florida’s coast carrying sixty internet-beaming satellites to space. To date, SpaceX has launched approximately one thousand satellites that are operating in low Earth orbit at an altitude of around 550-kilometers (340 miles).
SpaceX started to offer Starlink Beta service in northern United States and Canada. –“Earlier this month we expanded our ‘Better than Nothing Beta’ program to include customers across the pond in the United Kingdom,” SpaceX lead manufacturing engineer Jessie Anderson shared during the launch webcast on January 20 (video above). Starlink service is currently only provided to customers living within range of the satellites in orbit, as more satellites are deployed more customers will be invited to try-out the network. “Within the northern U.S. and Canada, and now the U.K., we are focused on rural and remote areas where there is no easy access to fiber or cable,” Anderson added. The company is rapidly submitting necessary requests worldwide to obtain licenses to operate the Starlink business.
Customers receive space-based internet connection from a Starlink phased-array dish antenna that SpaceX nicknamed – ‘Dishy McFlatface’ – as a joke, because the terminal is a flat-type of antenna. The nickname is mentioned in the official installation guide, pictured below. The 19-inch diameter dish terminal with mounting tripod and Wi-Fi router cost $499 USD, with a monthly service fee of $99 USD. SpaceX says "the Starlink phased-array user terminal is more advanced than what's in fighter jets." The dish also features technology and small motors that enables it to reorient itself to search for an optimal view of the sky.
Source: SpaceX Starlink Dish Installation Guide
Late last year, SpaceX registered Starlink as a business in Australia. Approximately 2.5 million individuals in Australia still lack reliable access to internet at home due to the service being either too expensive or unavailable in the rural location they reside in, SpaceX will soon offer a reliable broadband option for the country. In October 2020 the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) granted SpaceX licenses to operate a total of 24 Starlink Gateway ground stations that are under construction. The ground infrastructure enables reliable communication between the satellites and user terminals.
Source: Australian Communications and Media Authority
On Tuesday, January 20, Australia’s ACMA granted SpaceX an apparatus license to operate Dishy McFlatface antennas in the country. According to official documents first-found by @Megaconstellati via Twitter, SpaceX earned spectrum licenses for the dish to beam its signal to and from the satellites in orbit. The Space-to-Earth license covers 11.2-12.7GHz (gigahertz) and the Earth-to-Space covers 14-14.5GHz, documents pictured below.
🇦🇺On 19-JAN-21 @acma has awarded spectrum licences to @SpaceX for #Starlink's user terminals.— Megaconstellations 🌍📡🛰️🛰️🛰️🛰️🛰️🛰️ (@Megaconstellati) January 21, 2021
One covers 11.2-12.7GHz (space-to-earth) (https://t.co/XY8YSdAZNL) and the other 14-14.5GHz (earth-to-space) (https://t.co/lxRIQzdRCk)
= 25%/0.5GHz less downlink capacity than in the US. pic.twitter.com/2obUqdmfzi
SpaceX Engineer Kate Tice shared in September that the company has been assessing the Starlink network and that the results have been good. – “They show super-low latency and download speeds greater than 100 [megabits] per second. That means our latency is low enough to play the fastest online video games and our download speeds are fast enough to stream multiple HD movies at once,” she said. The network is “very much a work in progress,” she added, stating that as more satellites are deployed it will “unlock the full capability.” You can sign-up via Starlink.com to receive updates about when service will be available in your country.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX