Featured Image Source: JPackJessi via Reddit
SpaceX started to offer Starlink service to select customers in Northern United States and Canada under a ‘Better Than Nothing Beta’ Starlink test program which offers early access to the network. The company currently operates approximately 960 internet-beaming Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit, out of over 4,400 it plans to deploy. As more satellites are deployed to orbit SpaceX will have the capability to rollout a wider Beta service across the country next year.
To receive Starlink internet from the satellites customers use a phased-array dish antenna the company nicknamed “Dishy McFlatFace.” The antenna works alongside a Wi-Fi router device to access the satellite broadband service. This week, early Starlink Beta Testers shared SpaceX sent out an e-mail where the company announces it deployed multiple Starlink updates. “The Starlink team has continued to introduce upgrades and improvements since we first rolled out our Better Than Nothing Beta service just two months ago,” the company wrote in the e-mail, “Most notably, the Starlink team has begun repositioning of more than 500 satellites in an effort to improve coverage and decrease outages. These maneuvers may introduce short outages in the near term, but the final result is expected to substantially improve user experience in Q1 [Quarter One] 2021.”
The company also upgraded the “Starlink WiFi router to improve Network Address Translation (NAT) types for online gaming. Users will see notable improvements in the quality of peer-to-peer (P2P) gaming as we continue to grow the network in the coming months,” SpaceX wrote. Engineers also “resolved a bug in the Starlink WiFi router software that was causing packet loss during Xbox Live gaming and connection diagnostic tests.”
Earlier this year, SpaceX engineers stated the company is targeting to offer low-latency high-speed internet with latency under 30 milliseconds and download speeds greater than 100 megabits per second. The company told Beta testers they “Improved latency for users who were on the boundary between different cell service regions. Overall latency will continue to improve as we deploy more satellites, install more gateways, and upgrade our software.”
SpaceX also announced it “Deployed basic Snow Melt Mode” to the Dishy McFlatFace Starlink antenna “during which Starlink [dish] produces additional heat to mitigate signal attenuation caused by snow build-up on the face of the user terminal.” Beta testers have shared via social media that Dishy McFlatFace does a great job at melting snow, shown in the photos below.
Image Source: Jay911 via Reddit
Image Source: robwarrn via Reddit
“The new year will also bring an expansion of the Better Than Nothing Beta program; the Starlink team is planning a broader rollout as early as Q1 2021, with continuous upgrades along the way. Thank you again for being an early supporter of Starlink. From everyone on the Starlink team, we wish you a happy holiday season and an amazing 2021! – The Starlink Team,” the e-mail reads.
Starlink beta testers received an update email today, which says SpaceX is repositioning "more than 500 satellites in an effort to improve coverage and decrease outages."— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) December 22, 2020
The company also made upgrades to the service, including a "Snow Melt Mode" for the Starlink dishes. pic.twitter.com/3BpaPRTMoJ