As part of its Starlink initiative, SpaceX plans to provide internet connectivity via satellites. How exactly does satellite internet function, and will it be useful in outlying areas?
The stunning night sky since the year 2020 may have included some surprising new features. No, I'm not referring to aliens from another planet. Instead, SpaceX's Starlink project will deploy hundreds of additional satellites into low Earth orbit.
Just what is Starlink, then? Can you tell me when Starlink will be accessible in your area? For that matter, how does a satellite connection function?
The term "Starlink" doesn't seem familiar.
In low Earth orbit (LEO), about 550 kilometers above us. Hundreds of tiny satellites will form the Starlink satellite constellation. The network of satellites will broadcast an internet signal to ground transmitters, then either broadcast the signal locally or connect it directly to the Starlink router.
Starlink is different from cellular data or even 5G. It facilitates online access from any place, be it a house, company, or outlying area, by way of satellite.
What is the Current Orbiting Count of Starlink Satellites?
More than three thousand Starlink satellites are currently in Earth's orbit. As part of its Starlink initiative, SpaceX wants to launch at least 12,000 satellites. With a total of up to 30,000 in the works (some figures put the total as high as 42,000).
In February 2022, 38 Starlink satellites were destroyed by a geomagnetic storm, putting a little crimp in their plans. Only eleven satellites out of 49 survived the launch; the rest burned up in the atmosphere.
The way that satellite internet operates has always confused me.
Although it operates similarly to cable internet, satellite internet has more moving elements. To sum up briefly:
To stay abreast of the most recent developments in the IT world. A computer sends data requests to a home satellite dish (or a nearby location).
To transmit the data request. The broadband internet dish points its antenna toward a satellite in Earth's orbit. The satellite then moves the inquiry to the service provider.
When you send data back, it travels in the other direction. From your service provider to a satellite, then from the satellite to your satellite internet dish. Your network, and finally, your computer.
That's the gist of how satellite internet service operates.
How Quickly Can You Stream on Starlink?
At the time of Starlink's introduction into the public consciousness, the corporation promised download rates of up to 1Gbps once the service was fully operational. In 2021, though, it increased that target to a lofty 10Gbps, making it far faster than even the fastest gigabit internet connections available. You might opt to check https://firstworldneeds.com/ to gather more information about the Starlink.
At Satellite 2020, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claimed the business is "seeking latency under 20 milliseconds, so someone could play a fast-response computer game at a competitive market," which would be unprecedented.
When Starlink originally went live in August 2020, its beta program was only available to residents of the United States and Canada's high latitude cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and Portland. Speed testing at the time showed promise for Starlink. Therefore the corporation went through with satellite launches. A group of Redditors in the year 2020, for instance, developed a helpful list of Starlink speed tests to demonstrate the vast diversity of sites available.
Starlink's top speed was determined to be 203.74 Mbps with a latency of 29 ms, according to the list.
At only 18ms, this ping was the quickest of any I've ever seen.
A maximum of 42.58 Mbps was recorded during uploading.
As Starlink has been operational for almost two years at this point. However, determining its actual speed in various locations is now a breeze. First, additional satellites have gone live, and more coverage has been provided to the expanding number of Starlink customers. The internet speed offered by Starlink has grown over the period. Starlink's average speed has been steadily increasing, as seen in the chart below. And rates of over 300 Mbps are now often reported, with the occasional claim of speeds reaching about 600 Mbps.
How fast is Starlink compared to fiber?
The service you use will determine the response. The maximum speed available on consumer-grade fiber networks is presently approximately 1Gbps. Starlink is currently slower than fiber but much quicker than dial-up and dial-up alternatives. Starlink, as shown in the above figure, will improve in speed. Thanks to SpaceX's track record of completing large-scale projects.
Without a doubt, the Starlink speeds outperform my fiber-to-the-cabinet connection.
Remember that Starlink isn't trying to compete with fiber services, either. Instead, Starlink is aiming for the rural market and providing internet speeds previously unimaginable in outlying areas (or at least at faster speeds and with less restriction).
Who May Use Starlink?
By having as many Starlink satellites as possible in orbit. The network will be able to provide "near-global coverage of an inhabited planet." Starlink is now accessible in 32 nations, including most of the United States and Canada. Considerable sections of Europe, New Zealand, and many more are on the waiting list.
There are more factors to think about. Whether Starlink can be used in your country depends on factors such as national regulation.
Countries like China and Russia, for instance, will need to impose more regulations on Starlink. Before they'll even consider letting the service use their airwaves. Another option is to forbid the distribution and usage of Starlink underground terminals.
Not so fast; it's not as simple as turning on Starlink's satellite receiver as soon as you have a signal.
Will Starlink Help Outlying Regions?
Starlink is a satellite internet service that will cover the whole planet. Starlink has the potential to revolutionize internet access for those who live in rural locations. But the question of how great of an advantage Starlink is tied to the one below it.
Starlink's low latency is an undeniable advantage in outlying areas (response time). Putting up a lengthy connection can be expensive and has potential drawbacks. Of significant latency, if you're at a far-flung location. Starlink's data transfers will occur partly via space's vacuum, which might significantly lower latency.
In isolated areas, Starlink's speedy reaction time will be a huge boon. Those in major cities, especially those who already have access to gigabit internet. They are not expected to get the same benefits.
What is the price of Starlink?
Starlink costs $110 monthly plus a one-time fee of $599 for the satellite dish and Wi-Fi modem/router.
That's how Starlink usually is set up. The equipment for Starlink Premium costs $2,500, with a regular price of $500 each month. The Premium package is designed with commercial customers in mind since it features a giant satellite dish and increased download and upload rates.
Starlink RV is a third possibility worth considering. Starlink's newest satellite internet plan is designed for people who like the great outdoors. Or who spend a lot of time in an RV, but at $135 a month. It's more expensive than the regular choice, and you still have to pay an equipment fee. However, it depends on the length of the waitlist. One potential benefit of registering for Starlink RV is that you could receive your gear sooner than with a standard Starlink installation.
The Starlink Satellites: Visible from Earth?
Starlink became well known around the middle of the year 2020. A spectacular sky show was planned for those quarantined at home because of the coronavirus. Over a few months, SpaceX launched dozens of additional Starlink satellites. Even before they reach LEO, the satellites may be seen hurtling through the sky like a convoy of alien spacecraft.
Five hundred fifty kilometers above the Earth is where the satellites will be positioned—making them nearly invisible to the human eye. Unfortunately for astrophysicists and space buffs, they can be seen with a telescope.