SpaceX’s experimental internet service may be surprisingly affordable.
Elon Musk’s space travel company SpaceX has been launching satellites into space for the last several years in preparation for Starlink, the world’s first go-anywhere satellite internet service. So far, about 900 satellites have been sent up, a far cry from full global coverage, but enough to begin service in certain specific regions. In order to test the efficiency of the service, SpaceX is inviting a privileged few to test it out.
Out of the approximately 70,000 people who signed up on SpaceX’s website to receive email updates about the progress of Starlink, a select group has been selected to participate in the service’s first public beta. SpaceX has been testing Starlink internally for months, but this will be the first time the general public gets to try. However, the Starlink team has stressed that the service is still very much in its infant stages, so users should keep their expectations level. This is why the beta period has been lightheartedly named the “Better Than Nothing Beta.”
As you can tell from the title, we are trying to lower your initial expectations,” emails from the team said. “Expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all.”
Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed pic.twitter.com/QVv8m7gClz
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 18, 2020
According to these emails, screenshots of which were obtained by CNBC, some information on the pricing of the Starlink service has also been divulged. An installation kit to use the service will cost $499 upfront, but once a customer is connected to the satellites, then it’s just a monthly charge of $99. Assuming the service can reach its ideal form, providing high-speed internet access literally anywhere in the world, this wouldn’t be an especially exorbitant cost.
SpaceX has already spent at least $10 billion on the Starlink project, but based on their estimations, if successful, Starlink could provide them with a return of at least $30 billion.