Starlink is Elon Musk’s latest tech innovation that is relatable and accessible to many people worldwide. Starlink is a division within the billionaire’s spaceship company, SpaceX, that provides high-broadband internet connection to limited users across the US, UK, and Canada. It is designed to serve rural and sparsely populated areas around the globe where internet connection has been either unavailable or unreliable.
The interconnected internet network will cost SpaceX at least $10 billion or more to set up. But the company leadership expects to make at least $30 billion yearly which is equivalent to 10 times more than they make off the rocket business.
The company relies on satellite constellations that orbit around the earth to beam internet data to users. The internet data is transmitted through the vacuum of space using radio signals. Starlink has ground stations on earth that broadcast signals to the low-Earth orbiting satellites. In turn, users receive data from a satellite terminal that you plug into a socket and point to the sky.
You can only use the terminal in one location or a single cell; hence, it remains home-based. Additionally, you must install the terminal in a place with a clear field of view. But plans are underway to make it mobile for use while in remote workstations, boats, trucks, RVs, ships, and planes.
Starlink satellite internet has been available in Canada since October 2020 to a few members of the public thanks to the “Better Than Nothing” beta testing phase. The full launch date is yet to be announced by the network. This beta testing phase is available for Canadian residents living between 43 and 53 degrees latitude. Some provinces in these latitudes with beta testers include Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan. Starlink is currently serving over 10,000 customers during the beta testing phase in limited areas, although service isn’t 100% operational just yet. IT Canada World reports that the network targets to start coverage in Vancouver and Toronto in mid to late 2021 after testing Starlink’s registration page using the two addresses. The range will keep growing as the satellite constellation is built up.
The beta program currently has more than 10,000 users across Canada, the US, and the UK. This number is set to keep growing as more users create accounts and join the waiting list. You can do the same but keep in mind that the program is available to limited users in each coverage area. And the orders are fulfilled strictly on a first-come, first-serve basis. Also, note that it may take up to six months for the orders to be fulfilled.
To connect to the Starlink Network, you must first sign up on the company’s official site. Afterward, connecting to the Starlink network is pretty easy for most users. Start by setting up your small satellite dish at home and switch on your router to receive the signal. Besides, the Starlink hardware kit you purchase comes with a menu that makes the installation quick and straightforward. You can also download the Starlink app for Android and iOS to help you pick your receiver’s best location and position using augmented reality.
Starlink’s internet costs Canadian residents roughly CA$800. This amount is an average of the upfront hardware price of CA$649 and a monthly subscription amount of approximately CA$129. The hardware kit comes with the satellite terminal, a Wi-Fi router, a mounting tripod, and a user terminal to connect to the satellites.
Starlink claims that the beta service provides speeds between 50 Mbps and 150 Mbps. You can also expect latency between 20ms and 40ms and no connectivity instances over the next few months. John Kim, a senior video producer at CNET, has tried and tested Starlink. He is happy to report that you can indeed enjoy triple-digit download speeds and a latency that’s below 40ms.
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The speed and latency will continue to improve as the company deploys more satellites into space. But not to worry, as you can still stream several HD movies and play super-fast video games despite the latency. These speeds are reportedly supposed to double the top speeds to 300MBPs soon enough.
Yes, weather can be an issue in some instances. Such as when the satellite receiver’s field of view is obstructed by built-up snow. Heavy rains and wind can also result in outages and slower speeds.
Hughesnet and Viasat are other satellite internet providers available in Canada that have been in the game for a while. Without a doubt, Starlink is set to overtake them because of the reliability it aims to provide its users.
For instance, Starlink internet speeds are currently much better than Hughesnet’s standard 25 Mbps speeds, and Viasat speeds that range between 12 and 120 Mbps for different plans. The network also offers lower latency than its competitors and currently has no data caps on its standard unlimited plan, unlike the other two satellite internet providers.
There have been 20 launches since 2018, which have resulted in over 1000 operational satellites launched in space. Although this sounds good, there is still a long way to go to get the Starlink internet to where it should be, considering the company initially filed for permission to launch 12,000 satellites to space and has since filed to launch up to 30,000 more.
The current “Better than Nothing” beta phase is simply a skeleton of what the network has in store for users. As more satellite constellation gaps are filled over the next few months, you can expect more reliable high broadband internet connection, increased user connectivity, and availability of satellite data in more areas.
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