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Elon Musk sends tweet via SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband

Elon Musk sends tweet via SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband

Musk tests service at home as SpaceX aims to offer broadband in US by mid-2020.

SpaceX's Starlink division is on track to offer satellite-broadband service in the United States in mid-2020, a company official said today. Meanwhile, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted two tweets that show he's testing the broadband service.

"Sending this tweet through space via Starlink satellite," Musk wrote. Two minutes later, Musk sent a followup tweet that said, "Whoa, it worked!!"

Musk "has a Starlink terminal at his house," SpaceNews wrote today in an article that has a deployment update from SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell.

"Mid-2020" is slightly more specific than the timing provided in previous SpaceX statements, but we already knew Starlink service was projected to arrive sometime in 2020. SpaceX previously said it plans to deploy satellite broadband in the northern United States and Canada as soon as next year.

SpaceX launched 60 satellites in May this year to test the system before preparing for a wider deployment. The company has FCC permission to deploy up to 11,943 satellites and is seeking permission to launch as many as 30,000 more.

But SpaceX can start offering service well before all the satellites are launched. While the northern United States and Canada seem to be first in line to get service, SpaceX recently asked the FCC to approve an orbital-spacing change that would let the company also cover the southern United States by the end of next year.

Today, "Shotwell said SpaceX will need to complete six to eight Starlink launches-including the one that already took place in May-to ensure continuous service in upper and lower latitude bands," SpaceNews reported.

"We need 24 launches to get global coverage," Shotwell said. "Every launch after that gives you more capacity." SpaceX previously said it could make 24 Starlink launches in 2020.


Price is still to be determined

While SpaceX has said it intends to provide gigabit speeds and latency as low as 25ms, a big unanswered question is how much it will cost. SpaceX is apparently still trying to figure that out.

"Shotwell said millions of people in the US pay $80 per month to get 'crappy service,'" SpaceNews reported. "She didn't say whether Starlink will cost more or less than $80 per month but suggested that would be a segment of the public the company would target as well as rural areas that currently have no connectivity."

There are some other interesting tidbits in the SpaceNews article. SpaceX wants to offer Starlink both to home Internet users and the US government, and the company is already testing with the US Air Force Research Laboratory. "So far, SpaceX has demonstrated data throughput of 610Mbps per second in flight to the cockpit of a US military C-12 twin-engine turboprop aircraft," the SpaceNews article said.

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