Internet of the Future: SpaceX Starlink

SpaceX has just launched a new satellite-based high-speed internet service with competitive downloads speeds.

The early beta-testers of the service have touted how easy it was to setup. Thousands more customers will receive their kit this week by mail and enjoy the futuristic satellite internet service.

The Challenge of Working From Home

When you work from home remotely, having reliable and fast internet is of utmost importance because the activities of video conferencing, uploading/download files, and multitasking can all hog down on your home WIFI, especially if friends and family in your home share the same internet service.

For those who remember the days of 56k dial-up internet, today’s substantial improvements in internet speed seem almost magical in comparison.

Many folks near the city can enjoy high speed internet service without hassle. But a prevailing issue that plagues many residents is that they live far out from the city where there are limited to no options to choose an internet service provider. This has often led to unfairly expensive fees due to low competition, or relying on a choppy signal from a mobile hotspot that uses a cellular data plan.

Expected Internet Speeds

With SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service, customers who originally received about 0.5 to 12 megabits per second with their previous internet provider (which is pretty slow by modern standards) are now able to download up to 120 megabits per second, which is exceedingly fast, and even competes with many wired internet services like cable and DSL.

Digging into the technical parts a little bit, there’s another nice offering from Starlink- the low latency. See, even if the internet speed is fast, there might still be high latency. Which means that the initial request for data will be slow. But Starlink offers an average of 20 to 40 milliseconds, which is unprecedented in the realm of satellite internet services which have traditionally offered around 650 to 730 milliseconds.

Ultimately, with Starlink you will see web pages and videos pop up fast in addition to uninterrupted streaming of HD and 4K video footage. Online games will be smooth without lag. Video conferencing while you work from home will be higher quality and smoother as well.

This is legendary step forward for remote workers who work from home. It means that even if you’re camping out by the lake without a cellular signal, you can still have a stable internet connection by using a Starlink satellite. The one caveat is that you must have a clear line of sight to the sky- particularly to the satellites orbiting around earth.

But even with a moderate amount of obstruction from trees, some users have still had success by simply placing the satellite on the ground pointed at the horizon.

Reasonable Pricing?

So how thin will your wallet get by subscribing to the SpaceX’s Starlink internet service? There’s an upfront fee of $499, plus a rate of $99 per month.

Some folks think that this is a pretty reasonable price considering that modern smartphones are approaching the $1000 range and internet is nowadays a necessity rather than a convenience. If you work from home, where a quality laptop and internet connection is required- then this probably isn’t a bad deal.

“I am completely amazed I have my hands on a setup like this for ~$500, so I am biased positively towards this service.” said one of the earliest beta testers to receive their kit, known by their online pseudonym Wondering-coder.

“Bootup is roughly 1 minute when plugged into power, then it takes anywhere from 1 minute to 15 minutes to properly orient mechanically. Positioning is all done automatically, so it’s basically plug & play… There is no setup involved besides physical placement and setting a name of the Wi-Fi network and password—all the tricky stuff is automated.”

If you already have an internet provider that you’re happy with, then it probably isn’t worth switching services. But if you live in an open area with insufficient internet options, then Starlink might be a game-changer for you.

Service Coverage

Similar to cellular plans, the satellite internet services also have limited areas of coverage. Being that Starlink is still in the beta phase and just barely went public a few weeks ago, there are only residents in a few states that have received their kit. But Elon Must has announced more to come very soon.

A few of the Starlink beta-testers have crowdfunded data to create a map of which regions of the world currently have confirmed coverage. The list currently includes Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. While the service is clearly at an early stage of adoption, the number of customers and supported regions is soon to expand vastly.

As a remote worker who works from home, I’ve always been highly concerned about working from a location outside the city. It’s a cool idea in theory- to be able to embrace Mother Nature while continuing to work on my laptop and connect with the rest of the world digitally. But isolated areas tend to be devoid of even a cellular signal. I wouldn’t be able to guarantee consistent availability to the people I work with.

But now with Starlink, I can start to think outside the box (or outside the city, in this case). There are now far more possibilities for where I can choose to work from. Do you think Starlink is right for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Starlink kit image credits go to online user Wandering-coder

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