Founder Elon Musk’s SpaceX company launches satellites into orbit and promises to bring high-speed, broadband internet to millions of people.
You may think of Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who founded Tesla and SpaceX (to say nothing of his history of stirring controversy on social media or smoking weed with Joe Rogan) when you think of his electric car company. He may be known to you just as the richest person on Earth.
Another venture of Musk’s you might not know about is Starlink. It aims to offer internet access worldwide via a network of private satellites orbiting the planet.
In 2021, Starlink appears to be making solid progress after years of development at SpaceX and the Federal Communications Commission’s awarding of almost $885 million for the project. As of May, just over 1,700 satellites have been launched into orbit, after three years of successful launches. Starlink reportedly now has more than 10,000 customers, Musk announced in February. Preorders for the service are currently being opened up to even more potential customers, as people who do not have access to high-speed internet are currently one of the top priorities.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the budding internet service. Several members of the scientific community are concerned with how low-earth-orbit satellites of Starlink may impact the sky at night. The company’s meteoric rise has spurred plenty of regulatory jousting, too, with competition from Viasat, HughesNet, and Amazon’s Project Kuiper.
It is therefore well worth paying attention to Starlink in 2021. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know.
To start with, how do you sign up for the $499 satellite service from the comfort of your own home?
Here are five steps that Starlink users show Insider to set up their fast satellite internet at home.
1. Look for an open space
The terminal needs a clear sky above it of about 100 degrees in order to easily connect to the satellites for Starlink to provide the best speeds. The kit is ready to be set up here.
2. Read the instructions on the box
There are three drawings on the gray Starlink box – no words. This is what you need to do. The Starlink kit is neatly stacked inside the instructions, with the tripod sitting just above the terminal next to the router and 100 feet of thick black cable.
Insider was told by users that the dishy-named terminal weighs approximately 10 pounds.
3. Kit construction
The tripod should be placed on the ground, and the rod connected to the terminal should be locked into the tripod. There is already a cable and router connected to the terminal.
Alternatively, the Starlink can be securely attached to a roof or pole using a “Volcano Roof Mount” or a “Pipe Adapter” available from the Starlink website.
Dan Ventrudo, who is based in northern Ontario in Canada, said that setting up the system was simple because it was already connected and ready to use.
4. Turn on Starlink
Obtain Starlink up and running by plugging the cable end into a power source. When the power brick is turned on, two white lights will appear. This will cause the terminal to tilt upward.
In referring to the ordering process and the installation process, Gary Konkol, from Wisconsin, said, “It was truly simple and easy to do.” “I’m an actual 21st century citizen now!”
5. Starlink is available for download
Your smartphone needs to have an app store to install the Starlink app.
Once you click “Start Setup”, it will require all the kit to be plugged in. You can now join the Starlink network by clicking the “Open Wifi Settings” link. You’ll then need to link your phone to your WiFi by entering your WiFi name and password in the app.
To check when the terminal is connected to satellites, go back to the app. The satellite will then tilt in order to align with any one of the 1,241 Starlink satellites orbiting the Earth. Take your time with this.
In rural Montana, Tom Gooch, who mounted his Starlink terminal on the roof of his house, said that the process of unpacking and having high-speed internet took him about 20 minutes.
What is the speed of the Starlink satellite internet?
According to the Starlink beta internet users’ ped tests (as of November 30, 2020), download speeds are about 104 Mbps and upload speeds are about 16 Mbps.
During beta testing, Starlink promised speeds between 50 and 150 Mbps, which is a decent starting point for its satellite internet service. Using Starlink internet, beta testers were pleased to see that their speeds were similar to what the company promised.
The HughesNet plan, the fastest satellite internet service in the United States, reaches 25 Mbps and has a typical latency of 500-600 ms. Viasat’s internet plan is limited to 100 MBPS, so those speeds are hundreds of times faster.
While the beta test continues, Starlink is still deploying satellites and ground stations. The more satellites that orbit the Earth and the more ground stations built, the faster downloads and lower latency that Starlink users can expect.
According to Reddit’s Starlink community, the fastest download speed recorded so far was 209.17 Mbps in New York. During December, someone in Utah measured a speed test speed of 215 Mbps.
Even in sub-zero temperatures, snow, and high winds, Starlink has achieved speeds of 175 Mbps. Snow and frost on the terminal have been melted by the terminal’s ability to heat up enough.
A static IP address of 192.168.3.233 is configured on the router, and everything else in the network is connected to the LAN ethernet switch.
Instead of using the DHCP default of 192.168.3.1, you can set 192.168.3.233 as the machine’s Internet gateway and it will now use Starlink, rather than 192.168.3.1. There’s a bit of a PITA; most operating systems require that you go to full static configuration in order to make a change to any network parameters. However, that isn’t so difficult.
In general, users are quite happy with Starlink, and most expect to stick with it for a long time. They also commented on a point that SpaceX has itself stated, that the service isn’t a replacement for existing urban internet services but rather a boon for those living in rural areas.
Despite the fact that SpaceX has begun accepting pre-orders for Starlink, and more southern parts of the country are expected to get access soon, the company hasn’t yet given a time frame for when full commercial service will begin. An early report by a user in Wyoming cited Shotwell’s remarks that SpaceX still needs to improve the network’s reliability.
Starlink’s limitations aside, users simply appreciate the opportunity to engage with high-speed connectivity.