Thursday May 30, 2024

Traditional internet industry about to collapse?

Starlink is now active on all continents, including Antarctica

By Rafique Mawngat
September 20, 2022
File Photo
File Photo

ISLAMABAD: It appears that the traditional internet industry with its heavy infrastructure is about to collapse. Starlink, which provides the internet service through satellites, has abandoned infrastructure, like fiber and poles, is set to provide high-speed internet to seven continents of the world through a dish or an antenna.

Starlink is now active on all continents, including Antarctica, Elon Musk tweeted. It is a part of his Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX). It delivers internet broadband from a constellation of satellites orbiting in the lower earth orbit. According to agency reports, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is testing one of its Starlink internet terminals at McMurdo Station at Antarctica which is one of the most extreme locations in the world. Starlink has launched more than 3,000 satellites and serves over 400,000 subscribers, the company said in recent filings.

How to avail the service? The Starlink kit comes with everything you need to get going: one dish, a dish mount, and a Wi-Fi router base unit. It also includes a power cable for the base unit and a 75-foot cable for connecting the router to the dish. After the company placed sufficient satellites to provide internet in certain parts of the US, it introduced a paid beta service called “Better Than Nothing Beta,” charging $499 for the user terminal with an expected service of 50 to 150 Mbps and latency from 20 to 40ms. By January 2021, the beta service was extended to other countries, starting with the United Kingdom. In August, Starlink notified customers that their monthly subscriptions had been reduced in response to “local market conditions.” It said, “Effective 8/24/2022, Starlink is reducing your monthly service fee to €105.”

The idea of a Tesla phone, rumored to be called Model Pi/P, has circulated the internet. Tesla has a history of releasing interesting on-brand products. Adding a smartphone to the mix wouldn’t be nearly as unexpected, but its release isn’t as believable as those other items, at least not yet. A phone with all the advanced tech would cost more than a few thousand dollars. Subsequent versions could come down in price as more people start using the technology, but that the first iteration might not be affordable for most people. Assuming the phone is real and that it would start relatively basic with just a few of the rumored features, it’d likely sit at a more sensible $800-$1,200.

Cell phones in even the most remote areas will soon be able to connect to the internet, using Starlink satellites. SpaceX has launched over 3,162 Starlink satellites to orbit. Out of this, only 2,822 of them are operational or slowly raising themselves in the desired orbit. The launch of so many Starlink satellites in such a short amount of time is possible because of SpaceX’s high launch cadence and low turnaround time of its workhorse rocket.

Elon Musk’s venture has provided internet access for forces in the Ukraine and Hoh students in Washington, and the organization has a lot more planned. Starlink became a critical asset in Ukraine as the Russians invaded, demonstrating how satellite internet can be used in a modern conflict. SpaceX was in talks to bring Starlink to Ukraine well before the war to improve connectivity in the vast rural regions, however, the war accelerated the process significantly when the vice prime minister and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted a request for Starlink terminals and the service to be activated in the country. In around 10 hours, Elon confirmed that the service was active in Ukraine with the first batch of terminals arriving after just 2 days.

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has revealed the company’s low-Earth orbit Starlink satellite broadband may be operational but the company still needs regulatory approval from any given country to be able to provide telco services. “We’ve got almost 100,000 users. Half a million people want to be users, but we need the electronic piece part situation to settle down so that we can actually build the user terminals for the folks that want the service,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) informed people in January that Starlink had neither received a license nor applied for it. It warned people not to pre-book its services through its website or other websites, as they asked the subscribers to pay $99 (returnable) for it. The PTA said it had raised the issue with Starlink and asked it to stop pre-order booking because it had not received a license.