The beta testing of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service will be completed in October 2021, although it is not yet clear how it will vary from the present offering. Elon Musk, the CEO and founder of SpaceX, made this forecast early on Friday morning, responding “Next month” to an inquiry from a Canadian gamer who had tweeted the day before that his Starlink terminal is yet to arrive. Musk’s two-word tweet left it unclear how the new Starlink will vary from the beta version, in terms of performance and cost. For those who pay USD 99 a month, a Starlink FAQ says that broadband rates would range from 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps, and the latency rate will be between 20 milliseconds and 40 milliseconds. Their site also states that Starlink’s beta product does not have a data limit, testers have noticed that its application also does not indicate total data usage, the organization, and Elon Musk have not responded to queries concerning post-beta use rules. Elon tweeted a beta-exit timeline in mid-April, only a few weeks before Friday’s prediction: “Probably out of beta this summer.” In general, he has managed to undersell Starlink’s promise for overcoming technological barriers, which contrasts sharply with his habit of extolling forthcoming advancements in self-driving capabilities of Tesla’s electric vehicles, only to have them arrive late and disappoint.
Elon Musk stated that Starlink is “really designed for sparsely inhabited regions”, that is, areas that are outside the scope of conventional cellular service. “We should have a worldwide connection for everything, except the poles beginning this August,” he added. Musk told his audience to anticipate “pretty substantial collaborations” with telecom providers in other nations that would utilize Starlink to reach users outside their cellular networks, but no such arrangements have been revealed. Musk told guests at the Satellite 2020 event in Washington, D.C. in March, “It’s not like Starlink is some enormous danger to telecom companies.” MoffettNathanson, a market research firm, acknowledged in an April note, stating that although Starlink might be a “significant factor to helping to overcome the digital gap in the United States,” capacity restrictions would prohibit it from becoming a “meaningful rival to terrestrial alternative solutions.” In a review published in May, Starlink had swiftly built out its network of tiny satellites since a February 2018 test launch of two demonstration Starlink satellites, sending 60 at a time to orbits around 340 miles up using SpaceX’s partially-reusable Falcon 9 rockets.
According to astronomer Jonathan McDowell, there are already 1,658 Starlink satellites in operation; the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allowed a maximum of 4,408 for its first stage, with tens of thousands more queued-up for conceivable future launches. Starlink will face intense competition from two additional Low-Earth-orbit constellations, one of which is nearing completion and the other of which is yet to be launched. After rebounding from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case with a significant investment from the United Kingdom government, the London-based business “OneWeb” recently completed its 10th launch using disposable Russian Soyuz rockets to place 322 satellites in orbit. Back in the United States, Amazon’s Project Kuiper received FCC clearance in July 2020 for a 3,236-satellite network. According to the terms of the agreement, Kuiper must have 50% of them operational by July 30, 2026. Even though Amazon founder Jeff Bezos runs a rocket business, Blue Origin, its in-development and semi-reusable New Glenn rocket will not get Kuiper off the ground. Instead, in April, the firm established a partnership with United Launch Alliance under which its first 9 launches will be carried out on disposable Atlas V rockets. Kuiper has submitted FCC objections to Starlink’s proposals, arguing that the agency has allowed it undue freedoms.
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