zoom in on Elon Musk’s alternative to ADSL


With its space Internet offer, SpaceX wants to offer in white areas a connection with a speed of up to 150 megabits per second and latency of less than 20 ms, even at sea.

Starlink is billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space internet project. 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, satellites have been orbiting in batches of sixty. More than 3,000 satellites are deployed 550 kilometers above the Earth. With this project announced in 2015, Elon Musk intends to skim the sky in order to offer fast Internet access (up to 1Gb/s) with low latency (less than 20m/s), particularly in digital deserts. In offering satellite Internet, Starlink will have to face competition from Kuiper, the next project by Jeff Bezos, 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 has had the green light since June 2, 2022. Arcep has managed to grant two frequency bands to Starlink to connect its satellites and its French end users. Arcep has launched a public consultation to be able to give this green light, and provide a solution to the approximately 6,500 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.

The reception quality depends on the 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 host satellite broadband Internet access service stations. Elon Musk’s project provided for the installation of nine antennas in Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron (Manche), as well as in Gravelines (North), to provide their spatial connectivity. Arcep confirmed his retirement.

To connect to the Starlink network, the user must purchase the installation kit. The latter contains the modem, router and antenna and is sold for 634 euros. The subscription price, originally 99 euros per month, was reduced on August 3, 2022 to 50 euros per month with free shipping. You can now try Starlink for 30 days and return your Starlink kit for a full hardware refund if you are not satisfied.

In North America, users will no longer be able to exceed 1TB of data uploaded each month. To exceed this limit, users will have to pay $0.25 per GB of data or $250 for an additional 1TB.

SpaceX promises a speed of between 50 and 150 megabits per second, far beyond the 30 Mbits/s threshold needed to move into the very high speed category in France.

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

SpaceX added Swarm to its Starlink website, officially launching a service for Internet of Things connectivity in November 2022, for $5 a month. SpaceX acquired Swarm and its constellation of 120 miniature satellites in August 2021.

There are over 2,000 Starlink satellites deployed 550 kilometers in orbit above the Earth. SpaceX said on January 6, 2022 that its Starlink satellite internet service has more than 700,000 customers in 36 countries worldwide. Elon Musk’s company said Starlink user growth had slowed as silicon shortages slowed production and impacted orders.

Each Starlink satellite weighs just 260 pounds. Their flat shape makes it possible to place 60 of them inside one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets to send 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, in France they will have 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 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 the price of 499 euros.

Elon Musk wants to demonstrate the interest of the space Internet in the maritime sector. The offer, called Starlink Maritime, offers access for US$ 5,000 per month to the Internet from the sea with speeds of up to 350 Mbit/s. “From merchant ships to oil rigs and high-end yachts, Starlink Maritime lets you connect from the world’s most remote waters, just as you would in the office or at home,” says the company on its website. To benefit from the offer, in addition to the subscription, you will need to pay an additional $10,000 for the purchase of two signal receiving antennas.

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

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