SpaceX is deploying a constellation of internet-beaming Starlink satellites to offer broadband service globally. The Starlink network currently operates approximately 888 satellites in low Earth orbit out of over 4,000 SpaceX plans to deploy. Over night, SpaceX sent out e-mails to potential Starlink customers, offering them to beta test the Starlink network. Social media users shared screenshots of the e-mail they received, pictured below. According to the e-mail, the public beta test is called "Better Than Nothing Beta" test program. The e-mail details what beta users can expect from being part of the program to test out the Starlink system --"As you can see from the title, we are trying to lower your initial expectations," SpaceX wrote, "Expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s [megabits per second] and latency from 20ms to 40ms [milliseconds] over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all," the email reads. SpaceX states that as more satellites are deployed to orbit the network's speed and reliability will increase --"As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically," the company wrote. "For latency, we expect to achieve 16ms to 19ms by summer 2021."
Customers will receive internet service from the Starlink satellites in space via a user dish terminal (pictured above) and a Wi-Fi router device. SpaceX founder Elon Musk previously said the Starlink network will be very easy to install at home simply 'plug-in and point at sky' (graphic below).
In the e-mail SpaceX also revealed how much the Starlink service and hardware will cost. --"The Starlink phased-array user terminal, which is more advanced than what's in fighter jets, plus mounting tripod and wifi router, costs $499 and the monthly subscription costs $99. If this sounds good to you, then order here. Thanks, Starlink Team," they wrote. Those who received the e-mail offer to become a beta tester filled out an application form on SpaceX's Starlink website, which asked for the user's location and personal information.
Last night, SpaceX also rolled out a Starlink App for iPhone and Android users, that helps customers through the setup process. The app enables Starlink service beta testers to set up the network at home using augmented reality. As pictured below, the app allows them to use their camera to search for areas of the sky with an ideal view. The user follows the 'arrow' to search for the view their Starlink dish terminal should be pointed at to have an unobstructed satellite signal.
The Starlink App description states --"Starlink is designed to deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable. Under Starlink's Better Than Nothing Beta program, initial service is targeted for the U.S. and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the
populated world by 2021." Submit your e-mail via Starlink.com to receive updates of when the service will be available in your area.
💫 🛰— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 27, 2020