Expanding the beta test of their satellite internet service Starlink, SpaceX has sent out emails to enthusiasts with the details of pricing and connectivity of the test.
Called “Better than Nothing Beta”, the test will require people to buy the Starlink kit and pay the monthly connectivity price. The kit, called “UFO on a stick” by CEO Elon Musk, contains a user terminal, a tripod stand, and a WiFi router. The email also provides a link to purchase a monthly subscription of $99 to further this beta test.
Along with this, SpaceX launched its Starlink app. Users are required to use the augmented reality app to search for clear sky areas. This will get them in direct line of the closest satellite. Specifying on connectivity, the email mentions that users can expect data speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 150Mbps and a latency of 20ms to 40ms.
The beta testers can also expect periods of no connectivity at all over the next several months. The company claims that this is due to fewer satellites and connectivity will improve once more satellites are launched and equivalent ground stations are installed to receive signals. SpaceX will continue updating its software and expects a decrease in latency to 16ms – 19ms in 2021.
Starlink, SpaceX’s internet mission, aims to launch 12,000 satellites in the low orbit areas over the Earth. The company claims that there will at least be one satellite over each area of the globe for continuous internet. The “internet everywhere” mission has currently launched around 900 satellites. Some of which have failed, and others have been removed by the company.
The public beta testing of Starlink removes the mystery revolving around the venture. Over summer, Starlink conducted a private beta testing with strict disclaimers to not disclose any information. Through the earlier Ookla tests, Starlink’s connectivity speed ranged from 11 Mbps to 60 Mbps.
Ever since it’s conception, Starlink has received flak from environmentalists and astronomers. Although the Federal Communications Commission gave Starlink the permission to continue, legal experts worry that this violates a major environmental law. Astronomers, on the other hand, claim that the bright satellites make their job exceptionally difficult and can risk the science of astronomy.