Photo credit: SpaceX

It seems that the cost of SpaceX’s Starlink beta service in the U.S. is out, after possible users got emails asking them to sign up to the service.

An email publicized on Reddit, and verified by CNBC, Elon Musk’s company will charge users $99 a month originally to use its Starlink service.

The users are also required to pay $499 for a small satellite dish, mounting tripod, and router from the company.

“As you can tell from the title, we are trying to lower your initial expectations,” the reported email begins.

“Expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mbps to 150Mbps and latency from 20ms to 40ms over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also 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. For latency, we expect to achieve 16ms to 19ms by summer 2021.

“The Starlink phased-array user terminal, which is more advanced than what’s in fighter jets, plus mounting tripod and Wi-Fi router, costs $499 and the monthly subscription costs $99.”

A Reddit user in Washington disclosed that they had already placed their order, and it cost them almost $600 in total – that is with the $50 shipping fee.

Asides the email, SpaceX has also launched a Starlink app for iOS and Android, where SpaceX verified its intended rollout of the service.

“Starlink is designed to deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable,” the company said.

“Under Starlink’s Better Than Nothing Beta program, initial service is targeted for the U.S. and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.”

The app also comprises an augmented reality service to enable the setup of the Starlink dish.

The price is inexpensive for some and expensive for some of the three billion people around the world that do not have connection to the internet, this should be the target market for space internet services like Starlink.

“That pricing is not much different from what we already see with satellite internet,” says industry analyst Laura Forczyk, from U.S. space consulting firm Astralytical.

“If the goal is to bring internet to the masses, then this price is not going to achieve that.”

Starlink depends on thousands of satellites running in Earth orbit to flicker the internet to the ground, known as a mega constellation. SpaceX already launched about 900 satellites, with agendas to run about 42,000 in the future.

This has put up considerable questions about the consequence of these satellites on the performances in Earth orbit. Before Starlink, just 2,000 active satellites revolved Earth, heightening suspicions around collisions and space junk.

Astronomers also put up skepticisms about the consequence of Starlink satellites on the night sky, reporting the satellites could hinder observations of the universe.

Starlink is just one of numerous intended space internet constellations, with competitors comprising Project Kuiper from Jeff Bezos’ Amazon company, and OneWeb in the U.K., which is backed by the U.K. government.

SpaceX is presently ahead of its competitors, but no one knows if it will achieve its goal of the unconnected remains to be seen. “It’s absolutely a worthy goal,” says Forczyk. “Whether it’s achievable, I don’t know.”


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