SpaceX releases Starlink app, prices for satellite internet service

Joanna Estrada
October 29, 2020

People in states like Washington, Wisconsin and Idaho who signed up to test Starlink internet received invitations from SpaceX Monday night to join its "Better Than Nothing Beta" test.

Starlink now has over 800 satellites in orbit, which is over twice the number that Musk said needed to be in orbit in order for Starlink to provide minor Internet service coverage.

One user Reuters spoke with paid $578 for the Starlink kit, including shipping and handling, and cited a SpaceX note saying they "can send everything back for a 75% refund" if they're unhappy with the service. SpaceX called the beta testing program "Better Than Nothing Beta" in the email, as well as in the descriptions of the Starlink apps it has just launched for Android and iOS.

The Starlink Beta program comes as rivals like OneWeb, the collapsed satellite operator rescued by the British government, India's Bharti Group and Jeff Bezos' Amazon set out to offer their own broadband satellite networks.

The company said it has given the "Better Than Nothing" name to the beta programme because it wanted to lower the expectations of its testers due to predicted inconsistent performance. The team also claims a low latency standard, with a range between 20 and 40 milliseconds.

SpaceX employees have tested the service for months amid an internal beta.

Customers had signed up to be informed about the beta via Starlink's website, and SpaceX says in less than two months, almost 700,000 individuals had signed up to learn more about the service.

Some worry that significantly adding to the number of low orbiting satellites could increase the risk of collisions and the potential peril of debris falling to the Earth's surface, but SpaceX claims the Starlink satellites are created to disintegrate when they re-enter the atmosphere. As of writing, SpaceX has sent almost 900 internet-capable satellites into orbit - which is only a small fraction of the mega-constellation needed for global internet service. Already, SpaceX has almost 1,000 of those launched, but it hopes to launch many thousands more before it reaches global coverage and offers general availability of its services.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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