SpaceX started to accept pre-orders of its Starlink broadband service on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis via Starlink.com early this year. Ever since, over half-a-million customers pre-ordered the beta service. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that all 500,000 customers will be connected to the network within the next 12 months. This week, SpaceX emailed potential Irish customers announcing that –“Starlink is now available in limited supply in Ireland! Users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s [megabits per second] over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all,” the company wrote in the e-mail, “As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically.”
Since December 2020, the Starlink service has been undergoing testing at Ireland’s National Space Centre in Elfordstown, Midleton, East Cork. SpaceX installed a ground station at the facility where Ireland hosts a wide variety of antennas to communicate with satellites for various companies and organizations. Now, SpaceX is ready to provide internet to the public in Ireland. The Island joins the list of European countries, including United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, among others that can already access Internet service from the Starlink satellite constellation. The service is the same price globally – $499 USD for the Starlink dish equipment with a $99 USD monthly service fee.
There are approximately 1,740 satellites in orbit, out of over 4,400 that will be part of the constellation to connect the globe to high-speed service. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell recently shared that Starlink could provide global broadband coverage by September this year. “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 September timeframe,” she said. The latest clusters of Starlink satellites are still working their way to their operational orbit at 550-kilometers above Earth. Each satellite is equipped with krypton-powered ion thrusters that are utilized to propel in space. Operating in low Earth orbit enables the satellites to provide faster service with low-latency, compared to broadband satellites by competitors that orbit at higher altitudes. Some Starlink beta users report experiencing high-speed download internet speeds of over 200Mbps (megabits per second). Musk said on July 14 that latency should improve dramatically in coming months. We’re aiming for <20ms [milliseconds]. Basically, you should be able to play competitive FPS [video] games through Starlink,” he said.