Starlink, a service that provides internet access using a constellation of satellites orbiting the earth, is one of the most anticipated projects from Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Following the launch of more than 1000 satellites to such orbits, the company had also started the public beta of the program in October 2020. However, in a move that shocked market analysts and tech enthusiasts, SpaceX has reported in an official filing that Starlink now caters to more than 10,000 users across the United States and overseas. The report was made in a filing to the FCC, where the company also mentioned that the performance and user-base of the Starlink program are growing on a real-time basis.
While it is no surprise that people were eager to try the internet services powered by the SpaceX satellites, the company had not revealed this figure ever before. Considering that the public beta has been running for a little over three months, it’s incredible that Starlink has attracted more than 10,000 customers in total. It is also worth noting that the service isn’t globally available yet. As of now, it’s available in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It means the numbers would skyrocket once the Starlink service has been made available in other markets such as South Asia. It’s also important to note that Starlink appeals more to those from developing countries, where wired internet access has not reached all parts equally.
Currently, SpaceX has added a not-so-affordable price tag along with the Starlink package. Users who need access to the public beta have to pay a service fee of $99 per month. While this sounds okay, the real problem is the upfront fees of $499, which, nevertheless, brings in the package a user-terminal and a Wi-Fi router. In spite of the price, the starter kit allows customers to connect to the internet almost instantly via the group of Starlink satellites in orbit. According to the filing submitted to the FCC, individual customers of Starlink can find an excellent throughput of 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload.
More importantly, the company claims that most users observe a latency of fewer than 32 milliseconds, which is impressive. It is even more remarkable that the project has accomplished these figures even though it has launched only a fraction of the satellites it has planned to launch. According to the approval SpaceX has received from FCC, the company can deploy up to 11,943 satellites to orbit. As it moves further, the company would increase some other 4,425 satellites to orbit by 2024. Considering the fact that Starlink will have to expand to other territories in the meantime, the increased number of satellites will allow the tech giant to ensure the same throughput and latency for individual customers. We still do not know when SpaceX plans to open the Starlink program for public access, though. However, considering the speed at which it attracts more users, we should expect expansion in the coming years.