The Starlink satellite communications service from Elon Musk’s SpaceX company is set to begin a beta testing programme for selected users, according to media reports, with estimated service speeds of between 50 Mpbs and 150 Mbps being offered for $99 per month.
A poster on Reddit shared a screenshot of an email purportedly sent by SpaceX confirming their invitation to the ‘Better Than Nothing Beta’ test of the satellite internet service, with US news organisation also CNBC confirming that it had seen multiple screenshots of emails including the same details.
The posted email estimates latency of between 20ms and 40ms during the beta, with possible periods of no connectivity as network improvements continue. By summer 2021 the company hopes to have latency down to 16ms to 19ms, according to the email.
Hardware to connect to the network is listed at $499, including a phased-array user terminal, mounting tripod and Wi-Fi router.
SpaceX has not officially confirmed the beta programme, though the company has listed a Starlink app on both the Google Play and Apple iOS stores, for use in configuring terminals to connect to its satellite network. Those app listings confirm that a ‘Better Than Nothing Beta’ programme is expected to take place in 2020.
The company completed its most recent deployment of another 60 satellites in its planned mega-LEO (low earth orbit) constellation on October 24th, bringing its total number of satellites launched to 895, of which 833 are considered ‘version 1.0’ commercial units.
After an earlier launch on October 6th, the first of three successful launches of 60 satellites each in the same month, SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that “Once these satellites reach their target position, we will be able to roll out a fairly wide public beta in northern US & hopefully southern Canada. Other countries to follow as soon as we receive regulatory approval.”