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Preorders begin for SpaceX’s satellite internet service but read the fine print

When not trying to land reusable rockets onto a launchpad, Elon Musk’s SpaceX company stays busy with other exciting projects. Tap or click here to find out how to take a SpaceX trip into space. One currently on the drawing board is to provide millions of people with high-speed internet through Starlink.

Satellites orbiting Earth will provide the connections, which SpaceX says will be 60-times closer than traditional satellites. With a shorter distance to Earth, the latency of internet connections should be lower in theory.

Who wouldn’t want to have super-fast internet with low latencies? There are several catches though, and you might want to reconsider if you are in a hurry.

You can sign up today

Head on over to the Starlink signup page if you want to put your name down as a beta tester. The system doesn’t support all locations across the world, but it’s worth a shot to see if your neighborhood will fall under the satellite’s coverage.

Beta testers can expect data speeds between 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps and latency from 20ms to 40ms in most locations. Those speeds will likely increase during testing and might even be higher in the final product.

To join the testing phase it will cost you $99. Candidates will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. But be warned: The system isn’t stable for the most part, and Starlink said there would be brief periods of no connectivity at all.

“As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically,” Starlink explains. The company is also aiming to have “near-global coverage of the populated world in 2021.”

Do you get internet immediately when signing up? Well… no. A satellite internet service is costly and time-consuming to set up. After you have paid the $99 to participate, you will probably be waiting a few months.

For a Starlink connection at the Komando office’s address, the company is “targeting coverage in your area in mid to late 2021.” And the $99 is just a deposit, paid on the day that you order to secure your spot.

What do you need?

The satellite hardware to receive the connection is $499 and the actual cost of the service is another $99 a month. Then there is a $50 fee for shipping and handling, and the tax is around $47.

The fees are a bit steep, even for a system that isn’t fully functioning yet, but there is a reason for that. Responding to a tweet for cheaper access, Musk explained that SpaceX needs to pass through“a deep chasm of negative cash flow” over the next year to make Starlink financially viable.

He added that: “Every new satellite constellation in history has gone bankrupt. We hope to be the first that does not.”

The Starlink kit consists of a dish, Wi-Fi router, power supply, cables, and mounting tripod for ground-level installation. Depending on where you are in the ordering queue, it can take between two to four weeks to arrive.

One more important thing to keep in mind: you need an unobstructed, clear view of the sky. Small obstructions like a single tree or pole can interrupt your service, and your connection will fail.

Keep Reading

SpaceX is sending civilians to space. When can you get a spot?

SpaceX satellite internet launches – and it’ll cost you a pretty penny

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