SpaceX’s Mission to Revolutionize Internet Access with Starlink | by Eureka | July 2021

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Demand

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk held an event in Seattle in 2015 and said:
“There is significant unmet demand for low-cost global broadband capabilities” This is a true statement. Around 34.4% of people worldwide do not have access to the internet. That is an astonishing number and a serious problem. In addition, about 70 million households are considered good candidates for satellite broadband services for consumers and could generate revenues of up to $ 50 billion. Also about 50 million US households only have 25 Mbps of internet speeds provided by ISPs, which belies the lucrative position of this business. CNBC reports that the satellite internet industry will be around by 2040. could be appreciated $ 412 billion.

Contemporary satellite technologies vs. Starlink

The satellites currently used for the Internet are known as geostationary satellites. Arthur C. Clark popularized the idea of ​​geostationary satellites in an article published in Wireless World magazine in 1945. Before we understand modern internet satellite technology, we need to look at some basic concepts.

Geostationary orbit

A geostationary satellite is located 36,000 km (22,300 miles) above the surface of the earth and moves at a speed equal to the rotation of the earth. Due to the height of geostationary satellites, they have greater coverage above the earth’s surface. The following figure shows the coverage areas of GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit), MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) and LEO (Low Earth Orbit).

GEO vs MEO vs LEO coverage areas. | Of: GEO, MEO and LEO – Via satellite (satellitetoday.com)

latency

The higher the height, the higher the coverage area. Higher altitude also means “latency”, the time it takes to transfer data from the source (satellite) to the destination (you). Latency can be a big problem for internet tasks that require a constant stream of data packets, such as live streaming, video games, video conferencing, etc.

Bandwidth

The amount of information that can be transmitted over a network or between multiple devices is known as network bandwidth. ISPs generally calculate or report bandwidth in Mbps (megabits per second). If a household has a bandwidth of 10 Mbit / s, the household can transfer or have a download and upload speed of 1.25 MB (megabytes) of data per second.

comparison

Pricing
As an example, let’s take the satellite internet provider Viasat. The provider currently has plans off $ 30- $ 100 for 50Mbps of the internet with a data cap of around 200GB for the $ 100 plan. This does not include the $ 100 installation fee and a $ 10 monthly equipment rental fee. The total cost for 50 Mbps is around $ 210 and $ 110 per month.
For Starlink, the equipment costs around $ 500 with a monthly fee of $ 100 for 60 Mbit / s to 150 Mbit / s the bandwidth – expected to increase to 10 Gbit / s. Starlink currently has no data limit. In the long term, Starlink is apparently the better option here.

latency
Geostationary satellites are located 36,000 km above the earth’s surface, which means that signals have to travel greater distances to reach the satellite to and from the earth. Because of this, latency generally flips over 240ms + with GEO satellites. In comparison, Starlink satellites are in LEO orbit (Low Earth Orbit), about 550 km above the earth’s surface. This significantly reduces latency and can match the latency achieved by fiber optic cables on earth with an average latency of about. keep up 34ms. Starlink is hoping for a latency of 20ms to 40ms.

Satellite bandwidth
Viasat’s newest satellite has a throughput or handling capacity of around 260 Gbit / s of data shared by all users. During each Starlink satellite a throughput of about 17-20 Gbit / s. If Starlink is conservative and needs 15 Gbps to successfully launch 12,000 satellites by 2027, it will have a throughput of around 180,000 Gbps.

Revenue generation and use

SpaceX has already received more than half a million Orders for Starlink Internet. SpaceX currently has 10,000 beta testers testing the Starlink Internet in about 5 countries and about 1700 satellites have already been launched. SpaceX had received approval from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) launch 12,000 satellites by 2027 and attempt to approve 30,000 more satellites.

The demand is clearly there and so is the promise. The most amazing fact about Starlink is that it hasn’t gone bankrupt yet. almost all satellites launched into space are often subsidized by governments or bankruptcy courts. The reason for this is that it is a very arduous and complex financing model that requires an unimaginably high initial investment. Unlike traditional businesses, a satellite company requires all of the infrastructure to be pre-built and operational before it has its very first customer. SpaceX has a big advantage here. It has reusable rockets and is the only satellite manufacturer that can launch its own rockets. This cuts costs massively and is the main reason – if not the only one – that Starlink has been successful.

Elon Musk had speculated in 2019 that Starlink had the potential to bring in $ 30 billion a year in which it is also said: “As soon as we can predict the cash flow reasonably well, Starlink will go public.” SpaceX knows it can do satellite Internet, and it knows it does it best. The Starlink revenue, as Musk said numerous Times would provide enough money for the company’s “Starship” – a reusable heavy rocket vehicle for its Mars mission to turn humans into a multi-planetary species.



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