zoom in on Elon Musk’s alternative to ADSL


With its space Internet offering, SpaceX wants to offer a connection in white areas with a speed of up to 150 megabits per second and a latency of less than 20 ms. In France, the project is interrupted by decision of the Council of State.

Starlink is the space internet project of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. Run by its commercial aerospace company SpaceX, Starlink aims to provide high-speed internet connectivity around the world via a constellation of 42,000 satellites in low orbit by 2027. Launches are taking place gradually. In February 2018, two prototype satellites were launched and since then the satellites have orbited in batches of sixty. A total of 26 launches were carried out between the start of the project and May 2021, that is, 1,500 satellites deployed 550 kilometers above Earth. With this project announced in 2015, Elon Musk intends to scour the sky to offer fast Internet access (up to 1Gb/s) with low latency (less than 20m/s), in particular for digital deserts. In offering satellite Internet, Starlink will face competition from Kuiper, Jeff Bezos’s next project, and its 3,200 satellites. The founder of Amazon is not the only competitor: the English project OneWeb has already been launched and Facebook has also announced its ambition in this area.

In France, Starlink is at a standstill: the satellite Internet access service, launched by billionaire Elon Musk, is deprived of its radio frequencies. The Council of State published its decision on Tuesday, April 5, following an appeal by two environmental associations, Priartem and Agir pour l’environnement. The Council of State thus overturned Arcep’s decision, taken on February 9, 2021, to grant Starlink two frequency bands to connect its satellites and its French end users. Arcep then launched a public consultation to be able to grant this green light and provide a solution to the approximately 4,000 French subscribers, who have joined the offer, available since May 2021.

To access it, interested parties must register for the service on the Starlink website, indicate their address (which cannot be changed) and request a small antenna with a tripod to be installed in their home in an open area.

Reception quality depends on relay stations. So far, only one installation has been authorized in France at Villenave d’Ornon in the Gironde. In France, three sites were originally intended to house satellite broadband Internet access service stations. Elon Musk’s project foresaw the installation of nine antennas at Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron (Manche) as well as at Gravelines (North) to provide their spatial connectivity. Arcep confirmed his abandonment.

To connect to the Starlink network, the user must purchase the installation kit. The latter contains the modem, the router and the satellite dish and sells for 634 euros. Your delivery is billed 71 euros. The subscription price of 99 euros a month has not been changed in France, but shows an additional 11 dollars in the United States, raising fears of a rise in France.

SpaceX promises a speed between 50 and 150 megabits per second, well beyond the 30 Mbits/s limit required to switch to the very high speed category in France.

In France, Les Numériques media carried out “19 tests over three days at different times of day that resulted in a speed of approximately 184 Mb/s downlink speed”.

There are more than 1,800 Starlink satellites deployed 550 kilometers in orbit above Earth. SpaceX said on January 6, 2022 that its Starlink satellite internet service has more than 145,000 customers in 25 countries worldwide. Elon Musk’s company said Starlink user growth has slowed because silicon shortages have delayed production and affected orders.

Each Starlink satellite weighs just 260 kilograms. Its flat shape allows you to place 60 of them inside one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets to put them into orbit. Each satellite includes a solar panel for its power, four antennas for Internet transmissions, lasers that connect them to four other orbiting satellites, and ion thrusters that use krypton gas to keep them in orbit.

To connect to the terrestrial network, the Starlink network needs terrestrial relay stations. Equipped with electric domes and large antennas, these will feature in France with frequency bands of 10.95-12.70 GHz to transmit a signal from space to Earth and 14-14.5 GHz to make the reverse path from the user terminals. .

Users must have a kit that includes a dish, a tripod to fix it, and a router for data processing and connection sharing. This Starlink kit is sold at a price of 499 euros.

Watch amateur astronomers, satellites are visible to the naked eye in the sky at certain times. The Find Starlink website allows you to consult the satellite visibility moments according to their position. During launches, it is also possible to see a succession of small points of light forming a long white trail.

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