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SpaceX Starlink internet prepares for beta users

2020-06-15 18:22 by
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SpaceX has been launching its tiny Starlink satellites into space for some time now. The company has hundreds of the satellites orbiting Earth, gradually forming a massive grid that could eventually contain as many as 54,000 individual satellites. This huge network is designed to provide high-speed data service to even the most remote areas of the planet, but accessing its considerable speed requires special hardware.

The Elon Musk-owned aerospace company is now letting people who are interested in the service sign up to, in the company's words, 'get updates on Starlink news and service availability in your area.' By filling out an email form with a zip code, prospective customers will get notifications on when or if they're able to join the Starlink service once it's opened up.

On Thursday, the United States' Federal Communications Commission released a note about its evolving plans to give funding to internet companies. Federal subsidies up to $16 billion will be given to improve rural internet access over the next 10 years, but one factor under consideration is the internet access responds fast enough to requests that it can be considered "low-latency."

Reportedly, the Federal Communications Commission has "serious doubts" that low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite providers—including SpaceX—can deliver internet service while keeping latency under 100 milliseconds.

SpaceX argued that the FCC's doubts are unfounded and that Starlink will "easily clear the commission's 100-millisecond threshold for low-latency services, even including its "processing time" during unrealistic worst-case scenarios. In fact, with altitudes at 335 to 354 miles (compared to 21,750 miles for geostationary systems), SpaceX is shooting for a latency below 20 milliseconds — in line with cable internet.

In terms of deployment, SpaceX has been moving fast with Starlink, especially in 2020. Thus far, it has launched seven missions this year for the constellation, sending up a total of 418 satellites — which is actually more than any other private satellite operator even has currently working. The sprint is about building the network to the point where it can begin to serve customers in the U.S. and Canada by sometime later this year, and then expand to more customers globally later on.

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