Starlink, the brain child of billionaire Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk, is a highly ambitious satellite internet service that aims to deliver high speed internet access anywhere on the planet.
The service will operate via thousands of small satellites, weighing only 260kg each, that circle the earth in a low earth orbit allowing them to very quickly transmit signals between points on the planet’s surface. Launching the many satellites required for the service is of course no mean feat, and with the help of his company SpaceX, Elon has the ability to launch up to 60 satellites in one trip via a Falcon 9 rocket. Whilst they currently have permission from the US Federal Communications Commission for 12,000 satellites, they are expected to increase the number to as many as 42,000.
With a download speed of 1Gbps and latency of only 25ms, Starlink should meet and exceed the expectations of even the most demanding internet users. This service will of course be particularly beneficial to those living in underserved or rural areas around the world.
In the UK, Ofcom granted Starlink a license in November 2020, with testing beginning in December 2020 and promising results so far. UK consumers are initially expected to pay a one-off fee of £439 for the setup and equipment followed by a monthly fee of £84. These fees are expected to reduce as more people adopt the technology, and Starlink aims to become a relatively low-cost internet provider.