SpaceX and Starlink: Elon Musk's Ambitious Plans for a 10Gbps Satellite Internet System

Feb 11, 2021
5 min read

Satellite Internet – Not everyone realizes the implications of satellite internet and how it will change the way we perceive connectivity forever. It is a massive undertaking that only an impressive company like SpaceX could be expected to pull off splendidly.

Elon Musk, famous for his interesting tweets, has been launching satellites into space non-stop. He even once launched his very own Tesla car.

SpaceX and Elon Musk’s Starlink project is being deemed as overly ambitious not just by their competitors but as implied by Musk himself.

Elon Musk has made outer space his playground as his satellites get launched with ambitious missions.

Despite the many arguments, the Starlink project is expected to produce exceptional outcomes. In fact, if things go as planned, it will be a game changer in global telecommunications, with promised download speeds of 10 GBPS in the near future.

Network providers shudder to think about how they will cope when Starlink finally rolls out broadband internet with speeds yet unmatched by the best ISP’s in the remotest corners of the earth.

There’s so much scoop on Elon Musk’s Starlink, but for the uninitiated, let us paint a neat picture about what Starlink actually is and why you should care:

All About SpaceX’s Starlink Project:

Starlink is the name of Elon Musk and SpaceX’s satellite internet project. A satellite internet system is a network of satellites which can provide high-speed internet access to any corner of the Earth if successfully deployed in the Earth’s orbit; a feat not one of the global telecom companies or terrestrial (land) network providers have ever been able to achieve till date.

But what is even more astounding about satellite internet is that it will be exceptionally affordable to everyone.

Starlink is composed of a fleet of satellites with a total of more than 1000 satellites already having assumed their place in the constellation. The entirety of the Starlink project, aimed at covering the entire globe with blazing broadband connectivity will comprise a total of 42000 satellites, as per reports.

When Starlink begins to provide public access to its services, it will offer high data speeds with low latency.

The first batch of satellites, also known as Starlink’s ‘first-generation’ is already in the orbit and will soon be followed by its ‘next-gen’ batch of v1.5 and v2.0 satellites.

What is the Starlink ‘Constellation’?

There has been a lot of talk about Starlink’s ‘constellation’, but how exactly can one envision this system? A ‘constellation’ in ‘space-talk’ refers to thousands of satellites, which in this instance are launched to create an interconnected internet network.

These internet satellites form chains in their orbit and resemble large constellations.

Satellite Internet – Really?

Satellite Internet is not exactly a novelty. Before Elon Musk and Starlink put the spotlight on it, Satellite Internet had been suffering a poor reputation. What was once considered an inferior option for internet connectivity has managed to come around as the exact opposite of what it was once perceived – slow and expensive. Thanks to SpaceX’s Starlink project, the conversation around Satellite Internet has turned over a new leaf.

What Superfast Broadband Internet in the Remotest Places Will Look Like?

We are familiar with the term ‘wireless hotspot’, but have you come across the term ‘notspot’? Notspot refers to a geographical area where wireless connectivity or internet access is relatively too slow to function or close to non-existent. As we know, there are plenty of such remote areas with poor connectivity in every continent, and in every country.

Starlink’s large, low-flying network of satellites expects to reach these untouched areas with superfast broadband internet.

There is no dearth of paying customers in rural areas, contrary to popular belief. But due to the lack of investments by prominent service providers, the opportunity to avail high-speed internet is lost on them.

The Starlink program’s highly publicized goal is to provide access to its services all across the earth’s terrestrial landscape, without excluding any rural area or remote village.

Elon Musk will not rest until Starlink consumes the entire surface of the planet with its reach. The project has already launched a beta testing program, and users from the US, Canada, and Europe are already enjoying data speeds of up to 200 MBPS through the test kits received by them.

Musk’s vision for the success of Starlink is to work in tandem with transceivers here on earth and provide universal satellite internet access to connect the entirety of the world.

Current beta testers of Starlink’s service, primarily in rural UK, are enjoying anywhere between 50 MBPS to 150 MBPS, mostly ranging along the 80 MBPS mark.

There have also been reports that the countryside is now experiencing download speeds of 100 MBPS and upload speeds of 15 to 20 MBPS with Starlink.

We can imagine what connectivity will look like when Starlink is commercially rolled out all over the rural world.

Musk Eyes Telecom:

Elon Musk has always had an eye on the global telecom industry. Now that success is imminent, he is swiftly moving forward, taking telecom regulators on board. The United Kingdom’s ‘Ofcom’ has already issued the ‘Earth Station Network License’ to Starlink which, is costing them, £200 a year.

The satellites that make up the Starlink fleet are essentially small telecom satellites. Musk’s plans to break into the telecom sector is to identify places in the world where telecom providers have yet been unable to offer 4G or 5G connectivity. Owing to the unreachability of these areas, Musk views this as a great opportunity to market Starlink’s capabilities and quickly close the gap in the market.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Musk at Loggerheads Over Satellite Internet?

The only other big tech firm that has managed to take on Elon Musk in the satellite internet game is Jeff Bezos’s Amazon. Where all other projects failed, Amazon’s Kuiper Satellite Internet project is rapidly developing, although its progress is still miles away from that achieved by SpaceX’s Starlink.

The competition is evident as both companies are reportedly sparring openly over the other’s bid to become the sole ruling player in the arena. Amazon has reportedly called out Musk over Starlink’s aggressive overrun of space Wi-Fi.

The India Connection:

Who would have thought that a global venture would have its eye on India, but it is true! Elon Musk already has his goals set to acquire the huge Internet demand in India.

The Indian telecom market is massive with tumultuous potential, and Musk is well aware of this fact. Currently valued at $1 trillion, the Indian telecom market is bubbling with high demand for superfast broadband internet. For India, Starlink has reserved specific plans of providing high-capacity, high-speed internet to non-urban areas which form most of the Indian geography.

India has over 700 million Internet subscribers and if Starlink successfully cracks in, it will spell trouble for the big telecom players currently ruling the Internet scenario here.

Conclusion:

Starlink and Elon Musk are doing everything possible to make the project a raving success. Hiring is occurring at all levels, and as per their competitors, the company is aggressively trying to diminish other projects to become the single largest leader in space internet technology. But apart from all the misgivings that have come Starlink’s way, especially regarding the dangers and interferences arising from satellite constellations, Musk is not willing to let them pose problems to his launches. Nevertheless, the world awaits the outcome of yet another Elon Musk idea.