Starlink uses SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to orbit a huge system of satellites in Earth orbit where they connect to each other and provide Internet access. Unlike traditional satellite internet service, Starlink promises some amazing innovations, including a much lower latency than what satellite providers have historically had; A small portion of consumers are already provided with internet under the beta program.
In this regard, Starlink’s competitors are Amazon, Hughesnet and OneWeb, which also run similar programs in orbit.
We will try to explain how Starlink works, how reliable its bandwidth is and who can connect to this SpaceX internet service.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a huge group of satellites that provide broadband internet. SpaceX aims to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband Internet connection with this new service, even in areas of the planet where the Internet is not traditionally available, including in rural areas; Urban spaces can even offer a competitive price.
Users will connect the satellites with a small satellite receiver installed at home. These satellite terminals can be installed wherever the sky is open. For better service, the best choice would be to install an antenna or roof. The best location for the equipment is offered by the Starlink app itself, which is available on Android and iOS.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk first announced Starlink in 2015. Since then, the program has already launched about 2,000 satellites, but much more, about 40,000 satellites, are planned to be launched into low Earth orbit.
Who can use Starlink now?
Before you decide to order Starlink, it is important to know that it is not available everywhere. The company is actively working to launch the required number of satellites for global coverage.
Starlink currently offers customers a “Better Better Than Nothing” beta service, which is available in up to 15 countries around the world.
Of course, this does not mean that the service is available throughout the territory of these countries. Starlink only launches its service in certain areas. On the program website you can check if the service is available in your area.
How much does Starlink cost?
The current beta service costs $ 99 per month. In addition, you will have a one-time cost – equipment that costs $ 499. The equipment includes a satellite dish holder, a dish and an integrated Wi-Fi router.
It may seems expensive, but the price is quite competitive compared to other traditional satellite providers. In addition, the speed is much higher.
How does Starlink work?
If you have ever used satellite internet, you may be well aware of how common the bugs are, the clutter that makes it impossible to even play games or video conferencing. To eliminate such shortcomings, SpaceX’s Starlink satellites operate in a lower orbit than others. It even provides more speed and better quality, but the consistency is still not as good as in the case of cable internet.
Since these satellites are much closer to Earth, they do not have a large coverage area similar to other satellites. This is why the company needs to launch many satellites.
To communicate with satellites, the company has built the “gates” needed to exchange signals around the world; At the same time, experimental experiments are carried out by laser technology, which allows direct communication with satellites and “gates” will no longer be needed.
For Starlink users, this means that once the equipment is installed, the antenna will automatically find and connect to the nearest satellite. As the satellites move in a chain, each satellite looks for the next, the next, and so on, creating a continuous connection for the users.
According to the Starlink website, the internet download speed will be between 50 – 150 Mbps, and the upload speed will be 10 Mbps. This speed is enough for most customer needs, be it gaming, remote work, streaming or virtual training.
Currently Starlink has occasional delays as the number of satellites in orbit is still increasing.
Movement in the night sky
Starlink satellites are relatively small, each weighing about 250 kilograms. Each satellite is a kind of router that can fly and run on solar energy. To connect to the user terminal, the satellites have a set of antennas facing the earth. They are also equipped with krypton gas engines that keep them in orbit and at the same time, after expiration, help lift them out of orbit and burn them into the atmosphere.
Starlink satellites are positioned in a train-like configuration due to their low orbit. The satellites in the higher orbit cover a larger part of the Earth, while in the lower orbit the coverage area is smaller.
This means that when one satellite goes out of the Starlink user range, it immediately replaces the other and continuously provides high-speed Internet delivery. There are not enough satellites in orbit yet for perfect service and therefore, SpaceX is actively launching them.
Because they move in such a low orbit, they can often be seen in the night sky with the naked eye.