Canadian YouTuber Linus Sebastián reviewed SpaceX’s Starlink Internet on his Linus Tech Tips channel (video below). SpaceX currently operates approximately 1,085 internet-beaming Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit that will be part of a constellation of over 4,400 satellites designed to connect the planet to the world wide web. To connect to space-based internet Starlink customers use a dish antenna and Wi-Fi router device. The company says the dish antenna is more advanced than what is currently in-use aboard fighter jets. The dish features a phased-array antenna, capable of transmitting and receiving signal from all directions as the satellites move across the sky. This week SpaceX started to accept preorders of the service via Starlink.com.
Linus Tech Tips created a great review video in which he tests Starlink’s speed and also talks about important aspects of the Starlink constellation, including a brief discussion on how the network works. In the video, Linus unboxes the Starlink Kit that costs $499USD, it includes a dish antenna, mounting equipment, power supply, and Wi-Fi router/modem device. The Starlink broadband internet service has no data cap, priced at $99USD per month. Linus and his team install the dish outdoors on top of the roof and connect to the network. First, he used the service to play multiple 4K YouTube videos at once, with good results. He just noticed a small lag when trying to load YouTube thumbnails and comments as four high-definition videos played simultaneously. Then Linus ran an online speed test, Starlink provided him with internet download speed of around 138 megabits per second (Mbps) and latency of 27 milliseconds (ms). At the end of the review, he also played a video game to test its speed. “Overall, I am really impressed, yeah there’s more latency than a terrestrial connection but its manageable. […] The idea of being able to get this sorts of speeds anywhere on the planet… someday, is incredible!” he says, emphasizing – “Its not just about gaming, its about access to education, unrestricted/uncensored communication, and even remote medical service,” Linus added.
SpaceX is in the initial phase of developing the network and still has many satellites to launch that will increase the network’s coverage, speed, and low-latency capabilities. The company targets super low-latency of 20 ms and long-term aims to increase download speeds from ~100 Mbps to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps), according to a recent filing SpaceX submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). “SpaceX needs not hundreds, not thousands, but even tens of thousands of satellites currently they're approved to put 12,000 there with an additional 30,000 in discussion but with a catch the FCC has mandated that SpaceX get at least half of their constellation in orbit within six years with full deployment inside of nine else they risk losing their dedicated radio bands this first deployment of 12,000,” Linus discusses in his video (shown below). The satellites will operate in “three different shells of altitudes 340, 550, and 1,150 kilometers above the earth's surface with each serving a different purpose the farther away the satellite is from the Earth the wider the area it can serve but it comes at a cost of increased latency […] Starlink will fly more sats [satellites] at a lower orbit… to increase bandwidth and reduce lag in areas that need it the most,” Linus said.
Linus also discussed how satellites operating at a higher altitude will communicate, “…the high orbit sats can also act as backhaul links sending data between satellites,” Linus said in reference to SpaceX’s plan to add Laser links to all satellites next year to they can transfer data much faster. “The most recent launch of 10 of a new version of the Starlink satellite on a rideshare mission also included laser links for inter-satellite communication. So, if a ground station isn't in the ideal spot, data can be passed along through other better oriented sets the lower the orbit,” Linus explains. These 10 Starlink satellites featuring laser-links were deployed into Polar Orbit in January, where they will beam service to the hardest to reach areas, including Alaska. You can watch Linus Tech Tips full 18-minute Starlink review video in his YouTube channel linked below. Linus also discussed other important aspects of the constellation.
LINUS TECH TIPS STARLINK REVIEW
Featured Image Source: Linus Tech Tips YouTube Channel
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.