Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX is working towards providing low-latency, high-speed broadband internet globally. The company is in the process of deploying a constellation of thousands of Starlink satellites that will comprise the broadband network in low Earth orbit. As of today, SpaceX operates approximately 960 Starlink satellites that enable it to provide internet coverage to countries located in high-latitudes. SpaceX is sending invitations to potential customers that signed up to Beta Test the network via Starlink.com. Social media users from northern United States, Canada, and United Kingdom, have shared they received invites to test the network, some purchased the service.
Starlink will be offered in more places around the globe As more satellites are deployed to orbit this year.
SpaceX officials are working with worldwide telecommunication regulators to obtain the necessary permits to offer broadband internet service. SpaceX has been registering Starlink under the name TIBRO in various countries. Recently, a Twitter user who goes by the name ‘Megaconstellations,’ found the company registered Starlink in South Africa. Initially, it registered the internet company under the name “TIBRO South Africa” and then changed the company’s name to “SpaceX Internet Services South Africa,” according to official filings, pictured below. However, SpaceX is still pending approval to provide internet in the country. Starlink needs to obtain an operation license, known as an Electronic Communications Services (ECS) license and frequency allocation license to begin offering service to customers.
🇿🇦 @SpaceX renames its South African subsidiary from "TIBRO South Africa" to "SpaceX Internet Services South Africa" (https://t.co/hJTfWmKjNQ > 🔎Enterprise # K2019442897) but still lacks ECS/ECNS license (https://t.co/vhZRh1ONVJ) & frequency allocation (https://t.co/GASFNJDbm2). pic.twitter.com/AwbRjg4VVK— Megaconstellations 🌍📡🛰️🛰️🛰️🛰️🛰️🛰️ (@Megaconstellati) January 4, 2021
Starlink customers receive broadband internet from the satellites in space via a Starlink phased-array dish antenna. The equipment currently costs $499 USD with a monthly service fee of $99 USD. Its unknown how much it will cost by the time service is provided on a wider-scale. The Vice President for Satellite Government Affairs at SpaceX, Patricia Cooper, said in November last year – “The user equipment, this phased array flat antenna that we build ourselves has content that's more advanced than most jets, so we have been driving that cost down. I think most comparable antennas on the public market have been offered with five digits, so we've made the first leaps of being able to get it into a household budget. We expect the consumer kit to become a lot more affordable, not just from economies of scale as we ramp up to high-rate production levels, but also from ongoing design decisions that we think will drive the prices lower over time, she stated, “We don't know where that is going to go. We do have our own internal targets, though... We're trying to move along from that early adopter phase to a really affordable consumer price, but it won't be in the first stage that we offer the beta.”