Starlink can easily serve 500,000 users, several million “a bigger challenge”


Enlarge /. Screenshot of the Starlink order page with the address hidden.

SpaceX has received more than 500,000 orders for Starlink broadband services, the company announced yesterday.

“To date, over half a million people have placed an order or deposited bail on Starlink,” said SpaceX operations engineer Siva Bharadvaj during the launch webcast of its 26th Starlink mission, “reported CNBC.

SpaceX opened pre-orders for the Starlink satellite service in February and together serves at least 10,000 users in the US and overseas in its beta phase. The pre-orders required a $ 99 deposit for the service, which would be available in the second half of this year. The total of 500,000 orders are believed to include both US citizens and people in other countries. We have asked SpaceX for more details and will update this article when we receive a response.

Pre-ordering does not guarantee that you will receive any service, and slots are limited in each geographic region due to capacity constraints. Even so, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he expected all pre-orderers to receive service – but SpaceX will face a challenge when it receives millions of orders.

“The only caveat is the high density of users in urban areas,” Musk tweeted yesterday. “Most likely every initial 500,000 will receive service. More of a challenge when we get into the millions of users.”

The total cost for each Starlink user is $ 499 for hardware, $ 50 for shipping and handling, and $ 99 for monthly service plus tax. Pre-orders are still open on the Starlink website.

SpaceX is preparing for up to 5 million users in the US

Despite Musk’s comment, SpaceX has laid the foundation to potentially serve up to 5 million subscribers in the US. SpaceX initially obtained a license from the Federal Communications Commission to provide up to 1 million user terminals (i.e., satellite dishes) in the US and later requested the FCC to increase the approved amount to 5 million terminals. The application is still pending.

“SpaceX Services is calling for this increase in authorized units due to the extraordinary demand for access to Starlink’s non-geostationary orbit satellite system,” the company announced to the FCC in its license change application on July 31, 2020. At the time, nearly 700,000 people in the US had registered interest in Starlink’s website, but no money was spent on the promotion. The 500,000 orders and deposits that Starlink has received, even without telling exactly when the service will end beta, is a stronger indication of people’s interest in the satellite broadband system, although that number is likely to include non-U.S. Citizen includes.

Musk has announced that Starlink will be available for “most of the world” by the end of 2021 and the entire planet by next year. SpaceX is also planning a new version of the Dishy McFlatface satellite dish for large vehicles, planes and ships. Musk has said the original version of the dish “should be fully mobile later this year, so you can move it anywhere or use it on an RV or truck on the move.”


Steven Gregory