SpaceX has been putting load after a load of Starlink satellites into orbit to help get nationwide coverage for its Internet service. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced this week that the Starlink Internet service has over 10,000 subscribers in the United States and abroad. The public beta program for Starlink only kicked off in October 2020.
For many people, it’s the only real viable option in their area and is priced at $99 per month in addition to a $499 upfront cost for the hardware. The hardware includes a user terminal and Wi-Fi router that connects to the satellites in orbit. The ultimate goal for Starlink is to provide global Internet coverage allowing connectivity in regions that are traditionally underserved by broadband.
Currently, Starlink Internet service is available in select areas of the United States, Canada, and the UK. Two years ago, the FCC gave SpaceX approval to launch 11,943 satellites. Currently, the goal is to have 4425 satellites in orbit by 2024. SpaceX is also said that Starlink service is meeting and exceeding 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps uploads for individual users.
SpaceX also says the vast majority of users on the servers are seeing latency at or below 31 milliseconds. Those speeds mean Starlink is much faster and has much less latency than other satellite-based Internet services. SpaceX gave information on Starlink users in a petition to the FCC where it asks to be designated as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier.
This designation is important for the Starlink service to allow it to provide service to regions in Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. SpaceX has been awarded access to those regions under the FCC Rural Digital Opportunities Fund aiming to bring broadband to rural areas. SpaceX says that designating it as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier is in the public interest because it allows the company to receive support to facilitate the rapid development of broadband and voice services.