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Key Takeaways

  • Starlink, Elon Musk's project, aims to provide high-speed broadband internet to remote locations using a constellation of satellites.
  • Starlink offers both fixed-point and mobile internet service, with various plans and pricing options available.
  • Coverage for Starlink is expanding globally and the company plans to serve even more areas in the coming years.

Elon Musk, the billionaire SpaceX and Tesla CEO, has another venture called Starlink that has been launching thousands of satellites into space with the goal of offering high-speed broadband internet to subscribers in even the most remote places - even while on the go. Here's what you need to know.

What is Starlink, how does it work, and how much does it cost? photo 4

Created in 2015, Starlink is a division within SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transportation company. The project began rocketing satellites into orbit in 2019 with the help of Musk's deep pockets as well as many millions in various government subsidies. As of 2023, Starlink has nearly 5,000 satellites in orbit according to observer Jonathan McDowell. They serve a purported subscriber base of more than two million.

The idea is Starlink's constellation of satellites connect users anywhere on Earth to the internet. Starlink promises to deliver "high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable". The company started out selling receivers to residential and business customers before adding on support for roaming services on both land and water. Customers pay a one-time fee for the hardware and then a recurring fee for internet service. Other satellite internet service providers are out there like HughesNet or Viasat, but, for better or worse, more people tend to know about Starlink thanks to its connection with Elon Musk.

Starlink is also leasing access for its satellite internet service to cellular carriers. It plans on enabling SMS communications in 2024 with voice, data, and Internet of Things coming online in 2025. These are the networks that have signed up so far to utilize Starlink's backhaul.

  • T-Mobile (United States)
  • Rogers (Canada)
  • Optus (Australia)
  • Salt (The Netherlands)
  • One NZ (New Zealand)
  • KDDI (Japan)
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When you subscribe to Starlink, you will get a kit that includes a receiver, router, and power supply along with an assortment of cables. The dish should be resistant winds of up to 174mph (that's what you would find in a Category 5 hurricane) and rain at up to 3 inches per hour. All you need to do to make the connection is mount the satellite dish somewhere on your property and connect it to the power supply and a router. There's a Starlink app for Android and iOS that features augmented reality to help customers pick the best location to place their receivers at home.

A standard receiver kit for fixed point and land roaming customers costs $599. If you're a business or on a boat, expect to shell out $2,500 for a high-performance kit.

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Starlink offers four plans - two of them are for fixed-point customers, while the other two are for those on the go. Here are the details:

  • The Standard plan costs $120 per month for unlimited, low-latency traffic to residential customers.
  • Three Priority plans feature a bucket of network-prioritized data in addition to unlimited standard-speed data. Other features include a public IP address and priority support. 40GB of priority data costs $140 per month, 1TB costs $250, and 2TB costs $500.
  • There are two Mobile plans for inland roaming: $150 per month covering usage within a defined region or $200 for global use. Customers can pay for prioritized data by the gigabyte.
  • Mobile Priority plans add on service for seabound users and those who are in motion. Users get a 50GB bucket of priority data for $250 per month, 1TB for $1,000, or 5TB for $5,000.

The coverage picture in late 2023 spans across North America, most of South America and Europe, select parts of Africa and Asia, and Australia and New Zealand. Starlink aims to have the rest of South America and the Caribbean (minus Cuba and Venezuela) and the majority of Africa in service next year. The Middle East and western Asia are also set for launch either in 2024 or when regulators give the green light.

To see if Starlink is available in your area, you can type in your address on Starlink's site and press the "order now" button.