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SpaceX informs FCC Starlink achieved 'low latency below 30 milliseconds'

by Evelyn Arevalo September 08, 2020

SpaceX informs FCC Starlink achieved 'low latency below 30 milliseconds'

Starlink Terminal Digital Illustration Created By: Erc X @ErcXspace via Twitter.

SpaceX plans to develop a fleet of Starships to send the first humans to Mars in 2024. The company envisions a sustainable colony established on the Red Planet by the year 2050. Sending tons of cargo and hundreds of humans to Mars comes with an expensive price tag, SpaceX plans to offer Starlink broadband internet worldwide to fund its ambitious space program. SpaceX has been actively deploying internet-beaming satellites into low Earth orbit. To date, there are around 708 out of the 4,409 satellites that will initially make-up the Starlink constellation.

SpaceX wrote a letter on September 2, to the secretary of the Federal Communication’s Commission (FCC) informing them that company representatives met with FCC's Chairman Ajit Varadaraj Pai's Senior Counsel Nick Degani. The meeting was to request the Commission to speed up the approval of a request submitted in April regarding modifying future satellites' operational altitude to 550–570 kilometers above Earth. They also discussed about Starlink's initial private beta test results. The company provided the FCC secretary with the information that was presented to Degani in a series of images. One of the images attached to the FCC document showcases Starlink speeds and latency (Ping rate) from beta testers in Seattle, Washington, pictured below.

“…Results from beta initial tests have shown both low-latency below 30 ms and download speeds greater than 100 Mbps.” 

-SpaceX wrote to the FCC

Source: SpaceX to FCC document.

“…Results from beta initial tests have shown both low-latency below 30 ms [milliseconds] and download speeds greater than 100 Mbps [megabits per second],” SpaceX wrote to the FCC. “As it works through these beta tests, SpaceX continues to add features to unlock the full capability of the satellites and user equipment. SpaceX continues its aggressive launch schedule, and this modification is a crucial component in closing the digital divide, including service to Polar Regions,” the company wrote on September 2.  Starlink's 20 ms latency can support multiple users playing fast video games and ultra-high-definition videos at once. 

SpaceX plans to launch 120 internet-beaming satellites per month. The company says it "is manufacturing 120 Starlink satellites each month, with spectrum efficient phased array antennas and safe space operations.” A Falcon 9 rocket can deploy 60 satellites per mission. Company officials previously said it aims to initiate offering service to northern portions of the United States and Canada once the constellation increases to 800 satellites to provide “moderate” broadband coverage.

Source: SpaceX to FCC document.

In April, the FCC approved the operation of 1 million Starlink customer terminals. Then, on July 31, SpaceX filed a new request, seeking to increase the number of Starlink dish terminals from 1 million to 5 million. “SpaceX Services requests this increase in authorized units due to the extraordinary demand for access to the Starlink non-geostationary orbit satellite system,” the aerospace company wrote in the FCC filing. SpaceX asked potential customers to submit their e-mail at Starlink.com to receive updates of when the service will be available in their area. “Despite the fact that SpaceX has yet to formally advertise this system’s services, nearly 700,000 individuals represented in all 50 states signed up over a matter of just days to register their interest,” the company told the FCC, “To ensure that SpaceX is able to accommodate the apparent demand for its broadband Internet access service, SpaceX Services requests a substantial increase in the number of authorized units.”

On September 2, SpaceX told the FCC that its “on track to produce thousands of user terminals per month, heading toward high-rate production,” and that it “begun beta service for users across multiple U.S. states.” The FCC document also revealed that there is “Ethernet and integrated Wi-Fi capacity in the user terminal”, and that user installation of the device/service is easy – “point at the sky and plug in” to an electricity outlet.




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