SpaceX recently launched a U.S. and Canada-centered beta test for its Starlink satellite internet service, CNBC reports. The aerospace company is allowing select users to join the initiative via a paid monthly subscription program. The firm also introduced new Android and iOS applications to support its latest endeavor.
The Elon Musk-led corporation hopes to begin offering worldwide extraterrestrial internet connectivity to consumers next year.
Starlink’s Better Than Nothing Beta Program
In June, SpaceX asked users to submit their email addresses if they wanted to join the public version of its Starlink beta test. In response, the company received interest from almost 700,000 individuals living in the United States. Earlier this week, the rocket manufacturer began sending out invitations to select applicants.
To enroll in “Starlink’s Better Than Nothing Beta program,” users need to download a branded mobile app and pay a $499 startup fee. Next, consumers will receive a kit containing a terminal, mounting tripod, and Wi-Fi router. Once their gear is set up, testers pay $99 a month to get online through the satellite-based network.
Because it is still under construction, SpaceX wants to temper the expectations of Starlink’s first non-employee users. The spacecraft company noted the service should provide data speeds of 50Mbps to 150Mbps with latency of 20ms to 40ms. The firm also mentioned that connectivity might be unavailable for certain periods.
Nevertheless, the satellite internet provider is unlikely to field many customer complaints. In space, no one can hear you whine about network downtime.
Why SpaceX Launched Starlink
Although Starlink will not be finished anytime soon, it could be SpaceX’s most lucrative product.
In 2018, the aerospace firm kicked off a project to provide the entire world with broadband internet connectivity. The company is pursuing its goal by launching small satellites into low Earth orbit. At present, it has 900 floating nodes in its constellation, which provides coverage to the northeastern United States and Canada.
SpaceX estimates Starlink will require $10 billion and 10 years to establish. But once up and running, the company hopes it will generate $30 billion in annual revenue. Last year, the corporation’s core rocket business only made an estimated $2 billion. Even when factoring in maintenance costs, the service should provide a massive return on investment.
Currently, 30 percent of the world’s population are not active users of the internet. One of the main reasons for that deficiency is availability; many people live in areas where it is difficult or not cost-effective to set up online service. However, a fully functional version of Starlink could go a long way towards making connectivity ubiquitous.
In addition, the service has already attracted the interest of one large corporate client.
This month, Microsoft announced it would team with SpaceX to connect its Azure cloud computing platform to Starlink. The Windows maker wants to use the network to bring its customers’ mobile services regardless of location. That partnership, and others like it, will help valid the network as a true rival to terrestrial internet options.
Right now, Tesla stands to be Elon Musk’s greatest professional achievement because it helped make non-gasoline powered personal transports mainstream. But if Starlink lives up to its potential, the entrepreneur will go down in history as the person who connected all of humanity.