SpaceX is offering high-speed Starlink satellite internet service for $99 USD per month in portions of northern United States and southern Canada. The service SpaceX is currently offering is called the “Better Than Nothing Beta” test program, which offers select customers the opportunity to try the service in its early phase. As of today, SpaceX operates approximately 888 internet-beaming satellites in low Earth orbit where they beam broadband connection to customer’s phased-array dish antennas. The Starlink Kit customers purchase for $499 USD comes with a 19-inch dish antenna and Wi-Fi router device, along with mounting and power equipment.
SpaceX is selecting its customers based on where they are located. The satellites that are operational at the moment are beaming signals to areas on Earth located in high-latitudes. During a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ discussion, SpaceX engineers shared the company plans to rollout a wider Starlink Public Beta service in January. As more satellites are deployed to orbit, the network will be capable to beam signal to the rest of the United States and Canada. --"Steadily increasing network access overtime to bring in as many people as possible," the SpaceX engineer stated, "Notably we're planning to move from a limited beta to a wider beta in late January, should give more users an opportunity to participate."
The SpaceX engineer also shared that Starlink Beta test service does not have data caps. “So we really don't want to implement restrictive data caps like people have encountered with satellite internet in the past. Right now we're still trying to figure a lot of stuff out – we might have to do something in the future to prevent abuse and just ensure that everyone else gets quality service,” they stated. “As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically. For latency, we expect to achieve 16ms to 19ms by summer 2021,” the company states. To potentially become a Beta tester of the Starlink network you can sign up via Starlink.com.
Early next year, SpaceX expects to increase the satellite constellation's capacity to provide service to places as south as West Texas. The company announced in October that it will provide internet service to Ector County School District and a rural community located in Odessa, Texas. Many Ector County households have limited to no connectivity --"This issue was brought to the forefront for the school district earlier this year when COVID-19 forced school building closures and nearly two in five students did not have access to reliable high-speed internet at home," SpaceX representatives wrote, "Starting in 2021, Starlink will connect up to 45 households in the community as part of the pilot program. As network capabilities continue to grow, it will then expand service to an additional 90 households in the school district."
SpaceX’s next fleet of 60 Starlink satellites will be launched atop a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket tonight, November 24 at 9:13 p.m. EST from Launch Complex-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The mission will increase the constellation’s size to a bit over 900 satellites in low Earth orbit. You can watch SpaceX launch the satellites Live in the video below.
WATCH IT LIVE!
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.