For SpaceX, the construction of a mass-market consumer electronics product, more or less, the house was already guaranteed to be one of the main (and expensive) challenge. The complex requirements and limitations in front of an antenna on a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite internet constellation, and the expansion of a task that is already hard and turn it into a true feat of mass production. Regardless, SpaceX continues to persevere and the first public appearance of the user terminals and the consistency of the company’s position that the service could start rolling just a few months from now – are encouraging signs.
The main reason for the terminal of the user of the component of Starlink is so frightening is relatively simple. Located in low earth orbit (LEO) to ensure that Starlink internet service offers latency (ping, response time, etc) as well or better than the optical fiber, the SpaceX satellites are moving very quickly, spending just a handful of minutes, on all the points on the surface of the Earth. While existing satellite internet solutions are located much more orbits, including geostationary orbits, where the spacecraft actually seem to float above a fixed point on the ground, the ground antennas for LEO internet constellations are much more difficult.
Instead of a literal flat-tracking satellites as they streak across the sky, the only real viable solution is a electronic steered (phased array) antenna. The problem is that, while phased array antennas have dropped in price over the past five years, the price of existing solutions, puts it somewhere between one and two amplitudes is too expensive for the mass market of consumer products. Even if customers hate Comcast with all their hearts, the vast majority simply can’t justify spending thousands of dollars up front for comparable satellite services.
In other words, for Starlink to be viable, regardless of the quality or accessibility of the satellites themselves, SpaceX needs to find a way to build millions of user terminals that are both far more capable of anything in their price range and as good or better than antennas which costs 5 000$, 10 000 $or even more. The challenge is magnified by the fact that the competition resting on the ground, the internet service providers (ISP) such as Comcast engage in almost no material cost to add a customer to their network, so that customers will generally already have the router and modem for access.
In addition to being at least 5 to 10 times less expensive than comparable alternatives, Starlink user terminals must also be remarkably reliable, bug-free, and easy to implement. Beyond this, however, the amount of room for improvement of the provision of the company SpaceX is almost comical. Same poor customer service and vaguely transparent invoices, and pricing would likely paint Starlink in a favorable and very best of light in comparison with the united States ‘ infamous ecosystem monopoly Isp. Many consumers may happily spend several times more money than they ever spent on the internet related to technology, for the purposes of the access to Starlink and escape the yoke of their internet service provider.
According to Shotwell, SpaceX could start rolling out of the Starlink internet to customers in the northern united states and southern Canada once 14 lots – ~840 operational spacecraft have been launched. SpaceX is on the side of Starlink v1.0 is scheduled to launch as early as 23 June, which means that an initial deployment could come as early as the month of August or September.
Check out Teslarati newsletter for prompt updates, on-the-ground points of view, and a unique insight into SpaceX’s rocket launch and recovery process.