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  • Rushmi Rosairo

Digital Friday>>> Starlink’s Moment of Truth

Updated: Mar 5, 2022

Picture Credit: ANIRUDH

Recently, everyone has been fascinated with Elon Musk’s Starlink services. After years of development within SpaceX, Starlink picked up its pace in 2021 promising high-speed broadband internet to as many people as possible, through a growing network of private satellites.

Starlink’s business is accelerating as well , with Musk’s company revealing that Starlink was serving more than 10, 000 customersin February last year. As of February 2022, they have about 1800 Starlink satellites in orbit, as well as 250,000 users across 25 countries including Ukraine. While Ukraine currently has manageable internet access, it will only deteriorate with the current conflict situation, with the conflict, Ukraine's deputy prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov has asked for Musk's help, and tweeted a picture with thanks for the arrival of Starlink dishes. (Mykhailo Fedorov on Twitter: "Starlink — here. Thanks, @elonmusk" / Twitter )

Eventually Starlink hopes to envelope the whole planet in a usable, high-speed Wi-Fi signal. "Starlink is ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge," the Starlink website reads. "Unbounded by traditional ground infrastructure, Starlink can deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable."

Although it is a bit expensive, the basic hardware package is $499, with a $99 monthly fee for its service, whilst the premium rests at $500 monthly fee for its service. On the other hand, it has proven to be quite simple to set up, and is faster than DSL lines as well as quicker in delivery compared to many basic cable packages. Starlink could prove to be an absolute blessing, once the beta testing quirks such as the expensive equipment, service dropouts, and limited availability are solved. It could become a fantastic rural internet option in the future. Setting up the connection is quite simple, you just have to plug in the dish (or terminal, as it’s officially called) and it will automatically connect itself to the nearest Starlink satellite in the sky. The satellite then communicates with the nearest ground station, or gateway, which supplies the internet.

Now, although pretty much everyone is excited about Starlink, there are still a few problems that have arisen. While initial test results were outstanding, some users now report slower speed and higher latency than what was promised.

In a recent report, speed test company Ookla reported that Starlink median download speed ranged from low 40 Mbps to a high of 93 Mbps during the first quarter of 2021.

In light of these occasional negative reports, it is wise to consider the pros and cons of Starlink services;

  • Pros:

1. Potentially fast download speeds that range up to 150 Mbps.

2. Ultimate data (changeable).

3. The price is worth the service.

4. The latency is lower than traditional satellite internet

  • Cons:

1. Hardware cost is high.

2. It is scarce, for now.

So far the pros, outweigh the cons.

The promise of unlimited data is definitely a dream come true for most, it is however, changeable. The Starlink website states;“ at this time there are no data caps under the Starlink Beta Program."

Picture Credit: Tim Mossholder

Now, after expanding preorders to more potential customers, Starlink is planning on releasing a second-gen home internet satellite dish and exploring the possibilities of providing in-flight Wi-Fi for passenger aircrafts. A useful notion.

As SpaceX continues to launch satellites to expand and support its blossoming Starlink services, in hopes to have 12,000 satellites in orbit by 2026, Starlink may be worth keeping tabs on, especially for those who plan on moving on to better internet connections.

March 4th 2022 | 9:15 PM

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