According to emails sent this week to people who expressed interest in signing up for the service, SpaceX is expanding the beta test of its Starlink satellite internet service.
Called the “Better Than Nothing Beta” test, initial Starlink service is priced at $99 a month – over and above the $499 upfront cost to order the Starlink Kit.
That kit includes a user terminal to connect to the satellites, a mounting tripod and a Wi-Fi router. There is also now a Starlink app listed by SpaceX on the Google Play and Apple iOS app stores.
“As you can tell from the title, we are trying to lower your initial expectations,” the emails said, signed “Starlink Team.” “Expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all.”
Starlink is SpaceX’s plan to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites, designed to deliver high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet. The network is an ambitious endeavor, which SpaceX has said will cost about $10 billion or more to build. To date, SpaceX has launched nearly 900 Starlink satellites — a fraction of the total needed for global coverage but enough to begin providing service in some areas, including in the northwest United States.
SpaceX’s Starlink App Store description states:
Starlink is designed to deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable. Under Starlink’s Better Than Nothing Beta program, initial service is targeted for the U.S. and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.
The Starlink app is designed to help you:
• Identify the install location that will ensure the best quality of service
• Check for obstructions that can interfere with service
• Setup your Starlink hardware
• Verify your WiFi connection
• Run speed tests
• Troubleshoot connectivity issues
• Contact support