SpaceX started to offer Starlink satellite broadband internet service in portions of northern United States and Canada. SpaceX’s primarily goal with Starlink is to connect rural areas globally; focused on communites where traditional internet is unreliable or unavailable. The company currently operates approximately 960 internet-beaming satellites in low Earth orbit out of over 4,400 satellites it plans to deploy. In late-October, SpaceX sent out e-mails to potential Starlink customers who are interested in beta testing the Starlink network. According to the e-mail, the public beta test is called "Better Than Nothing Beta" Starlink program. The e-mail details what beta users can expect from being part of the program to test out the service -"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."
People who signed-up to beta test Starlink have been sharing their experience with the network for the past month. The majority are happy and impressed by the high-speed internet the Starlink satellites provide. Customers receive a Starlink Kit valued at $499 USD to receive internet service from the operational satellites in space. SpaceX priced its service at $99 per month. SpaceX engineers recently shared the network currently does not have restrictive data caps. The Starlink Kit includes a pizza-sized, phased-array antenna dish terminal that the company calls “Dishy McFlatface,” and a futuristic looking 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.’ Starlink Beta testers shared videos of their Starlink Kit set-up via YouTube, showcasing how easy it is to install the service at home with no professional technician, unlike traditional internet providers.
A Starlink Beta tester, Jason Todd Roberts, shared via YouTube he lives in a remote area in North America and has no other options for internet only an ‘expensive’ company called ‘HughesNet’. Roberts unboxed the Starlink Kit and the first thing he noticed is the box includes an installation manual printed on a giant paper which features simple diagram drawings that show how to install the Starlink dish and Wi-Fi device. Roberts said he is very surprised to see the Starlink Kit has easy diagram instructions and no other elaborated guide. He notices the diagram has a download symbol and a phone drawing which indicated to download the Starlink App via iTunes to complete the set-up. “It was very easy to set up,” he said. You can watch his 8-minute installation in the video below. –“The internet speed is so fast,” he shares, as he is running an online speed test of the Starlink network. Roberts’ job involves editing videos and sending them via online platforms to his clients, he says Starlink service will be a “life changing experience” because it will enable him to work faster. In the demonstration video he also watched a 4K high-definition video for the first time using Starlink internet – “I am just completely amazed, this is unreal!” he said.
Another Starlink Beta tester, who goes by the name ‘Alshafi’ via YouTube, lives in northern United States. He went over a detailed setup of the network using the Starlink App. In the 10-minute video, Alshafi is impressed by how the Starlink phased-array antenna dish operates. The dish is equipped with motors that orient to find an optimal view of the satellites in orbit. SpaceX says the Starlink dish features technology more advanced than what is currently on fighter jets. Alshafi tested the network's speed and noticed the Starlink service speed got better over 24-hours. “Its just really, really, really fast!” he said laughing, as he shared his internet speeds. He experienced low-latency under 20 milliseconds and a download rate of over 150 megabits per second. You can watch his setup video below.
A Starlink Beta tester, Brett Batie, from northern Idaho offered a more detailed installation video of the Starlink Kit and service. He shared a 20-minute YouTube video that features a Starlink Kit unboxing, internet speed test, and a full installation on a roof top, he even drilled a hole in the wall (like a Pro) to run cables through. Batie says that the only service that is available in the remote area he lives in is ‘Verizon,’ which provides him with 'very limited' internet. –“I’m happy to try something new that might be a little bit faster,” he said. In the video he also shares how Dishy McFlatface uses its motors to find an optimal view of the sky, and performed a speed test right out the box. “…Oh! That’s great! Feels like I’m in the city and I’m not - out in the sticks!” Batie said as he saw the speed test. Starlink offered high-speed broadband internet with low-latency of 27 milliseconds. “I’m super happy about that,” he said. You can watch his full YouTube video linked below.