back to article SpaceX’s Starlink finally reveals its satellite broadband pricing for rural America: At $99 a month, it’s a good deal

SpaceX’s satellite broadband service Starlink has finally revealed its pricing: $99 a month for speeds that vary between 50Mbps and 150Mbps... plus 500 bucks to buy the necessary equipment. That is not a great deal if you live in a well-connected city where you can typically get those speeds for between $40 and $80 a month. …

  1. Sampler

    Outside America

    Given these satellites are in low earth orbit I guess they'll be whizzing past most of the planet as the come back around to make their next pass, will this be available outside the states or is it just for the 'mericans?

    I can think of a few places here in 'straya that would appreciate this.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Outside America

      Needs a ground station relatively near the subscriber in order to get reasonable latency. They basically bounce off a satellite back down to your nearest ground station.

      While SpaceX are saying they'll be doing a mesh network allowing data to chain between satellites before coming back down, I don't believe that's working and it also must greatly increase the latency - path length and store-and-forward time.

      So you probably need to have a ground station within a few hundred to maybe a thousand miles of you. I presume they're intending to build them around the world, as it should also make for good ship-based internet (and perhaps aircraft), most of which currently use geostationary sats and thus have huge latency.

      1. G.Y.

        20msec Re: Outside America

        I rarely get pings as fast as 20msec; I have seen 300 --- and this is all via cable. a Ground station in the same (small) continent should be OK

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Outside America

      You need four things for Starllink:

      1) Regulatory approval from your country. For now that is USA + Canada but Starlink will seek approval elsewhere.

      2) Not too close the the poles or (for the time being) the equator. Northern Canada is out unless Starlink launches satellites with a higher inclination to cover the poles. The satellites race over the equator and are widely spaced there but they bunch up when they transition from going north to south - or south to north. When more satellites are launched the gap around the equator will close. Southern Australia should be OK now and Texas should be good real soon now.

      3) One day Starlink will launch satellites that talk to each other with lasers but for now there must be a ground station within 600km so that satellites can connect to the internet at the same time as connecting to customer terminals.

      4) A bunch of other customers who think US$500+US$100/month is a good deal. (Remember there is a delivery cost and sometimes an antenna mount cost if the standard tri-pod is not a good choice for your home.)

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Outside America

        Northern Canada is out unless Starlink launches satellites with a higher inclination to cover the poles.
        The current birds are going up at 53° inclination, however the current phase also includes shells planned at 70, 74 and 81 once 53/54 is populated, so it will eventually pretty much everyone over the next several years.

    3. Dvon of Edzore

      Re: Outside America

      Each nation regulates radio communication (including satellite up/down-links) as they see fit. That an American company would start with the same American regulator (FCC or Federal Communications Commission) they must regularly beg for temporary permission to communicate with their rockets during launch should not be surprising. Australia and other mostly-English-speaking countries with a heritage of British Common Law have a leg up on getting in next, followed by nations who ask nicely and offer reliable local partners (as opposed to The Leader's worthless nephew.)

      Local government or foundations offering beta-test incentives to equip underserved communities would appear to be welcome, so encourage your Civil Masters appropriately.

      1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

        Re: Outside America

        >as opposed to The Leader's worthless nephew

        Or son-in-law?

    4. StrangerHereMyself Bronze badge

      Re: Outside America

      I sure believe they would, but few non-Western consumers can afford to spend $100 a month on internet. That amount is usually their monthly wage in a lot of internet constrained nations.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Outside America

        In under developed areas enterprising locals could set up a link and sell on the service, $5 each from a few dozen households within wifi range will soon cover the outlay.

        1. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

          Re: Outside America

          Also Starlink may just want to sell that unused capacity at lower price just to fill up the tubes and discourage competitors.

          1. Steve 53

            Re: Outside America

            Remember that the Satellites will go over LATAM, and are a "bent pipe" design. This isn't as simple as selling spare capacity, it's that they can *only* serve LATAM customers when they're going over LATAM. So either sell the service at a country appropriate cost, or have them sit idle for a sizeable portion of their orbit.

            The biggest barrier is the cost of kit, because that's the only thing which isn't "Sell it cheap, or don't sell it at all"

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Outside America

              "Remember that the Satellites will go over LATAM"

              What? Where?

              1. Matthew 25
                Headmaster

                Re: Outside America

                LATin AMerica. It is a stupid abbreviation.

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: $5 each from a few dozen households

          You obviously have no idea how hard it is in some countries to earn $5.

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: $5 each from a few dozen households

            The poor unfortunates in those countries have more pressing issues than internet access bandwidth.

            Their governments OTOH could use this a cheap lead-in project to assist other infrastructure projects.

          2. Drew Scriver

            Re: $5 each from a few dozen households

            In many areas people can already rent mobile phones for short periods of time to make calls.

            The biggest problem won't be the monthly cost - it'll be that the service requires a computer or mobile device.

            In the poorest areas it will require outside money, either from NGOs or GOs. However, keep in mind that many countries will be none too pleased if their citizens will suddenly be able to obtain uncontrolled news and, maybe even worse, will be able to communicate freely with the outside world.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: $5 each from a few dozen households

              Yeah, right, Every government in the western world is just happy to let its subject access uncontrolled news and able to communicate freely with the outside word. And I have a bridge to sell you, really cheap.

              1. Drew Scriver

                Re: $5 each from a few dozen households

                The genie is already out of the bottle in most of the western countries, although you are certainly right about attempts to curb the flow of information.

                Still a lot of countries left that would not like to lose their control over information.

                But hey, who needs government censorship if you can have the masses and the elites join forces in "cancel culture"?

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: $5 each from a few dozen households

                "Yeah, right, Every government in the western world is just happy to let its subject access uncontrolled news"

                Somehow I doubt that Starlink is going to get permission to operate in China.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: $5 each from a few dozen households

              "The biggest problem won't be the monthly cost - it'll be that the service requires a computer or mobile device."

              An even bigger problem is that it will likely take the latest OS and a fast computer. If it would work on 10 year old computers, there is no shortage of really cheap and free units. Dave at the EEVblog fishes them out of the rubbish in working condition all of the time sans a hard drive. My old Mac Book is nearly worthless for the web as the OS (10.6.8) doesn't support TLS 1.1. The laptop itself works just fine.

              So, will these remote nomadic tribes be able to keep up with purchasing newer machines each time a software rev comes out?

          3. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            Re: $5 each from a few dozen households

            Somewhere between the place where people can afford $80 per month for internet access and the place where the internet is an unimaginable luxury there's a place where they can afford $5. I'm guessing rural India. Maybe I'm wrong about the location but I'm sure if anyone can work out where it is it's Musk.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: $5 each from a few dozen households

              "Somewhere between the place where people can afford $80 per month for internet access and the place where the internet is an unimaginable luxury there's a place where they can afford $5. I'm guessing rural India. Maybe I'm wrong about the location but I'm sure if anyone can work out where it is it's Musk."

              The business model gets rather skewed since if you look at the population numbers and think it's a great market, you better make sure you've divided by 20-30 to account for those situations where the village has clubbed together to have one account at the town hall/hut.

    5. Androgynous Cow Herd

      Re: Outside America

      do you understand what a geospatial orbit is?

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Outside America

        What's a geospatial orbit?

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Re: Outside America

          One that includes a lithobraking component?

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. cb7

    Meanwhile over here in Blighty, in 2020, many industrial parks in the capital city of London are lucky if they can get anything faster than 6Mbps downstream and crucially for remote workers a suffocating upstream crawl of 0.7Mbps. All courtesy of copper ADSL.

    Broadband running over 4G isn't much better. 20Mbps down and 10Mbps+ upstream when you first boot up the modem/router. Except it rapidly slows down til it can barely muster 1Mbps in either direction.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pony up the money for a dedicated line then.

      It’s often not cheap but if you need it, pay it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A dedicated line also gets around the problem of contention. Last year I had consistently good broadband speed at home but last few months of everyone working at home / Zooming / Netfixing has seen my speed drop noticeably.

        1. Steve 53

          To be fair, that's a lot to do with your choice of ISP, some content more heavily than others...

      2. Nifty Silver badge

        Let them eat cake I say

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Meanwhile in my bit of Blighty in 2020, I've had a rock solid 80Mbps line (earlier on 40Mbps) for the best part of a decade. I don't live in a major city, rather a village of a couple thousand that was among one of the very last places to get ADSL.

      If I lived on the other side of a roundabout it'd be even better - FTTP available and so I could have gigabit.

      I know that we like to assume that the UK is always crap at everything, and that if it's crap for me it must be crap for everyone, but a quick look at the Ofcom speed statistics would show that the vast majority aren't stuck on ADSL via several miles of the finest aluminium.

      If the internet is important to your business, you either need to move or, indeed, pony up for a leased line - you wouldn't be using starlink for this anyway

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Because you trust Ofcom speed statistics ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Perhaps you'd like to explain why I shouldn't? Lazy cynicism is just so boring

          They haven't just pulled the numbers out of thin air - the testing is done by a third party and against a representative sample of customers across the various technology types and speeds.

          It's more concrete than "UK broadband is terrible because in some parts of London it's terrible", anyway

    3. iron Silver badge

      Stop buying your internet from shitty companies like BT, TalkTalk and Virgin. Pay a bit more for a decent ISP and you will get better speeds and low contention rates.

      1. gotes

        This makes no difference if the only piece of cable between your property and the exchange is several miles of copper provided by Openreach. Sure you can change ISP, but all the bits still have to go down that same cable.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Disagree.

        I spent years on "decent ISPs" and found that when I had an issue that fell outside the scripts, I wasn't getting any better a service than I would have got from a "shitty company". It took a monumental effort - with mountains of evidence and stats - to get it escalated to someone with a clue, and even then it took ages to actually fix.

        I've since moved to a "shitty company" connection and it has been totally flawless. I also get IPv6, which the "decent ISP" never implemented during my time as a customer (it was a limited beta only, which was removed as the first step to getting the above issue fixed)

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Once Stalink is less "beta" and more "available" it's going to be causing a lot of telcos to pull their collective fingers out of their arses - and not just in the USA

      It's amazing what the threat of ACTUAL competition can do to energise a monoply incumbent (although, stateside, they've been astroturfing fake astronomy activist groups - much to the annoyance of real astronomers who are affected but also see the benefits of the extra bandwidth)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        The more I hear of the US version of capitalism, the more it seem, from outsdide at least, that it doesn't work. It's geared to encourage monopolies which eventually have to be broken up. But they don't seem to realise that that is a problem, so after the break up, it all starts again with someone else (or the remnants of the break up) eventually becoming top dog again. It happened at the time of the robber barons with the likes of Standard Oil and Carrnegies Steel operations, The big Press Bartons etc. It happened again with Ma Bell, it's happeing again with the media and the likes of MS, Google, Facebook etc and it's clearly happening with comms and broadband. Once a company reaches a certain size, they have so much clout it's almost impossible for anyone else to enter the market.

    5. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "many industrial parks in the capital city of London are lucky if they can get anything faster than 6Mbps downstream"

      You would expect that a well managed industrial estate could have cable or fiber installed with the cost split among the businesses.

  3. dinsdale54

    Compared with what's available in many rural areas - and some urban if you're the poor schmuck at the end of a 70 year old bit of copper - the latency isn't even close to an issue. There's nothing that will push up your latency faster than running out of bandwidth and a lot of rural internet is shockingly bad - my parents never saw more than 2mbit/s in leafy Surrey.

    I'm currently showing 10ms to theregister.co.uk and 15ms to bbc.co.uk over broadband in London. 40ms with decent bandwidth is just fine and will allow all the streaming services - Netflix etc. to work.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be careful what you wish for

    Rural American here, at the end of a 5 Mbps microwave link. That link is provided by a local ISP, a one-man shop. He's capable and responsive and this service is fast and reliable enough for browsing, e-commerce, and remote technical work: everything I need or want. I don't need anything faster; what would I do with it? The only thing people want more bandwidth for is to watch television. When I lived in a major city, I also did business with an independent local ISP, another one-man shop. It cost more than CableCo's offering but when I had trouble I called up the owner (an engineer) and he put things right. It was worth it there and it's worth it here. Because I don't have any interest in consuming media, more bandwidth would be a waste of money. If I wanted to be part of that culture I would have stayed in the city.

    Worst of all, if the government comes along and subsidises CableCo, that will probably put my ISP out of business and leave me with nothing. At best, I'll have to choose between doing business with the most hated corporations in America -- sending my money off to some fatcat CEO in Virginia or New York while sitting on hold with Mumbai every time I need someone to tell me to reboot my router -- and having nothing at all. Very likely I will choose nothing, because principles matter, which means this subsidy effort will have the opposite of the nominally desired effect of getting more people better access to the Internet. In reality it's just another handout to their corporate cronies who will use it to crush the decent people providing useful services, then jack up their prices while providing the worst customer service of any corporations in any industry. Our tax money at work!

    As for Starlink, the only reason this is newsworthy is because it's Mr Musk's deal and apparently anything he does is newsworthy even if others have done it all decades ago. HughesNet already offer expensive high-latency satellite Internet access with huge setup costs. They apparently make so much money from it that they can afford to send me junk mail advertising their service at least once a month. That's exactly why enterprising types with a bit of technical background lease mountaintops, buy a few radio licenses, and set themselves up in the ISP business. It's the neighbourly thing to do, and profitable to boot.

    Mr Musk and Washington can both take a hike. Leave us alone; we don't want or need your "help".

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Be careful what you wish for

      Or, your one-man-shop ISP will get cheaper backhaul available, even if just for redundancy, and your connection with him will get cheaper/more reliable.

      The "I don't need it, so nobody should have it" argument doesn't really work anyway.

    2. jockmcthingiemibobb

      Re: Be careful what you wish for

      As usual the Register ignores the excellent service that local WISPs provide. At the end of a 50/15 Mbps microwave link here and the performance in the service and evening is leaps and bounds better than the supposed 1Gbps connection over government paid-for fiber my friends in town have. I feel much the same as you about local service; if I have an issue I ring up, someone answers the phone (or calls back within 5 minutes) and if there's a problem they can't sort remotely they usually send someone out the same day.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: leaps and bounds better than the supposed 1Gbps connection

        You don't have a Gbps fiber connection and you've never experienced it.

        I have a proper FTTP Gbps connection now, and I can guarantee that there is nothing better.

        That said, I had to wait a year using 4G, so maybe I'm a bit over-enthusiastic about it, but I did spend over a decade on a 12Mbps ADSL line, so I do know that there one hell of a difference.

    3. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Be careful what you wish for

      ... if the government comes along and subsidises CableCo ...

      Then CableCo will pocket the money and do nothing, as they have always done.

      Rural US has always been a key actor in putting a Republican in the WH and Republicans congress, the actual state of communications infrastructure in the US being a direct result of their political colour and views, which very rarely (if ever) take matters such as these into consideration.

      Until you get net-neutrality properly fixed and on a solid legal basis with the state stepping in to build the required infrastructure to rent to the telcos and with the FCC actively controlling their performance (instead of throwing billions of taxpayer's money at them for nought), things will not get better.

      And you will be at the mercy of a rogue seller's market forever as corporations (by design) don't give a monkey's toss for absolutely anything that is not profit.

      The only consolation you have is the fact that the very same thing goes on all over the world, not only in the US.

      O.

    4. Drew Scriver

      Re: Be careful what you wish for

      Rural Virginia here, less than 20 minutes from the state capital.

      A whopping 3 Mbps on DSL - for as long as it lasts. We're at the end of the DSL reach. Our neighbors (300 feet away) get 1.5 Mbps. The next house over gets nothing.

      Verizon is not selling any new subscriptions. Comcast cable a mere 3/4 of a mile away - or $75,000. Probably $500,000 or so for our entire road (30+ houses).

      Mobile service is spotty and of course comes with a throttle/depriorization/extra cost over 20-25 GB a month.

      WISP has been promised for years, but the first company went bankrupt and the next one has delivered nothing more than promises. Keeps the politicians happy and the grants flowing, but doesn't help the residents.

      Lest you think we knew this going in, we made sure to check with both Verizon and Comcast before buying the house. "Sure, we can provide broadband service at that address."

      Only to get their "sincere apologies" when we called after closing to start the service.

      Federal government is hapless also. Question in the latest Census Community Survey:

      Something like, "Do you have access to high speed internet, DSL, fiber, cable? Yes/No"

      In other words, the feds check the internet box for an address whether it has 0.5 Mbps DSL or 3 Gbps fiber.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Be careful what you wish for

        "WISP has been promised for years, but the first company went bankrupt and the next one has delivered nothing more than promises."

        Standard procedure in the UK was for BT to blitz areas where WISPs were setting up and sign them up to DSL - even if they then took 3-5 years to install the DSL, the fact that customers were signed up for it would kill the WISP's ability to sell at all

        Starlink can't be slowed or blocked by local politiicians, which means that incumbent cable/telcos across the USA are about to face the first real competition they've had to deal with in more than 30 years. There are fewer CLECs _NOW_ than there were before AT&T was broken up and DSL has allowed AT&T to reconsolidate itself without the pesky "universal service" obligation from those 1930s antitrust settlements.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Be careful what you wish for

          "Standard procedure in the UK was for BT to blitz areas where WISPs were setting up and sign them up to DSL - even if they then took 3-5 years to install the DSL, the fact that customers were signed up for it would kill the WISP's ability to sell at all"

          Er, no. That's not what they did at all.

          BT had a demand tracker where, if they considered the exchange viable for an ADSL upgrade at all, they'd give it a target number of people to express an interest in signing up should it become available. The number would vary depending on the cost to do the upgrade - some exchanges had 150-200, others were closer to 400.

          There wasn't a commitment to sign up to a service (indeed the tracker was operated by BT Wholesale, and not by BT's ISP arm). I'd presume that if an exchange did hit the target then they'd do a bit of an audit to make sure that these were real people and not someone who has typed the phone book into the website, but that would be more like "did you actually express an interest" and not "what are your bank details"

          You couldn't even order an ADSL service until relatively close to the enablement date.

          Later on, they scrapped the tracker and announced that any exchange that had been given a target would get ADSL anyway. My exchange was in this position, it took about 18 months to get upgraded.

          Not even Hype Meister Musk is positioning Starlink as a competitive option for people who can already get a decent wireline service. It isn't a Comcast killer. It might represent an upgrade for those who are stuck on ADSL. Other countries don't have this problem as investments have been made in futureproof technologies.

        2. Drew Scriver

          Re: Be careful what you wish for

          Agreed to an extent.

          However, Starlink won't be a competitor to traditional ISPs. The latter will be quite happy to drop their (pretense of) a commitment to rural broadband if there is an alternative.

          At an average of $100 per meter running cable is often cost-prohibitive if there are only a handful of homes on a rural road.

          Starlink won't be able to provide service in densely populated areas since each satellite can handle only a relatively small number of subscribers. As such, its complementary and not competitive.

    5. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Be careful what you wish for

      I don't need anything faster; what would I do with it? The only thing people want more bandwidth for is to watch television.

      Indeed, there are no photographers in the countryside. Nobody wants to back up off-site. Heaven forfend that someone living outside a city might want to run their own <thing> server - or want low-latency RDP access to their sensibly co-lo'd servers.

      As for emergency workers. There's no reason firefighters might want a phased-array antennae (no moving parts, no set-up) for their mobile command vehicles when fighting forest fires. None whatsoever.

      For sure, the bulk of consumers want their Netflix. But there's also no shortage of rural-dwellers wanting a sensible, low-latency connection for work-from-home, or enterprising individuals who have converted a barn into business units but need decent connectivity for their tenants.

      StarLink (and, eventually Kuiper and maybe even OneWeb) will fill that gap. Comparing them to geostationary platforms like HughesNet only shafts your own credibility. WISPS still offer significant value and it would be a great loss to see them go. They should also be able to offer >5Mb for all but the most difficult locations if they're using vaguely modern hardware (backhaul notwithstanding - but hey, if they're sick of T1s charging through the nose for transit they could grab a StarLink terminal to bulk up their backhaul).

  5. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Any "fair use" policy?

    It is all very well offing 10Mbit/sec for $99/month or whatever, but is it capped at 1Gbyte or similar? Or usurious fees of you exceed any such limit?

    1. Justthefacts

      Re: Any "fair use" policy?

      Love him or hate him, “fair use policy” isn’t Musk’s style. He’ll just say “ok we’ll launch more satellites, put it on my tab”.

      You need to understand, Musk just pretends to be a capitalist to stick it to The Man in Wall St. He’s a showman who needs to see his name up in lights, PT Barnum if you will.

      He doesn’t really care whether he makes billions or not. For a bit, he will, but I think he fully intends that all these companies will (financially) go down in flames in the end. If they take down Wall Street in the process, that’s a *bonus* to him. Who gets hurt, he doesn’t care. His ideal scenario is for all the suits to lose *their* shirts financing *his* dreams.

      He doesn’t care if hundreds of people die in the first wave of Tesla self-driving. But unlike Ford he won’t do it for profit, he does it because he wants to be the guy who changed the world with the first self-driving car.

      As I said, love him or hate him.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Any "fair use" policy?

        Starlink with laser linking can can offer significantly lower transatlantic/transpacific latencies than _terrestrial_ links, thanks to light being slowed down by 2/3 in fibre/copper

        It's postulated that Starlink can be entirely paid for by simply selling that lower latency to stockmarkets and traders - with all other service just being icing on the cake

        To answer the question about fair use - they've made a huge point about the data being uncapped

        Starlink is going to benefit a lot of consumers worldwide - even though most of them will never actually connect to it - by setting a competition bar that terrestrial ISPs have to beat to stay in business

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Any "fair use" policy?

          Space junk being paid for by HFT nonsense. So 2020.

          Don't worry - the US DoD is already preparing to prop it up just as they had to do with Iridium.

          "To answer the question about fair use - they've made a huge point about the data being uncapped"

          So did some cellular operators, whose networks look like the time of plenty compared to the capacity challenges that even LEO satellite will have. Many have since had to row back on this (or introduce other traffic management measures)

  6. Flak
    Go

    Choice and market segmentation

    Given the options available today for rural Internet access, Starlink will offer a great additional choice.

    It is not everyone, but clearly addresses a need and has a sufficiently large target customer base to become economically viable.

    If Starlink's low orbit satellite service makes other rural solutions providers up their game - then great!

    1. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: Choice and market segmentation

      Even if at launch there are daily gaps in the service, some enterprising techs will merge Starlink with slow but continuous ADSL. So at least email and banking can work during gaps in Starlink coverage, while big downloads can happen during high bandwidth phases.

  7. Binraider Bronze badge

    I imagine as more satellites are added; the dependency upon ground stations may actually reduce and reasonable odds latencies will improve too. 20ms isn't that bad in the grand scheme. Sub 30ms is often good enough for most games unless you are loaded to the eyeballs on caffeine...

    There is arguably a critical mass where the airborne capability will exceed that of land based to come. Starlink to your phone, anyone?

    Whatever you think of Musk; he is willing to throw investment at ideas rather than just sit on his billions; and those ideas have changed the world. What's Warren Buffett done other than leech?

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Buffett has pledged to leave 99% of his fortune to philanthropic causes when he dies, still lives in the same house in Omaha he bought in the 1950s, and doesn't own a megayacht or private jet. In what way is he a "leech"?

      A lot of what he owns (through Berkshire Hathaway) is basic infrastructure without which the US economy would not function - things like railroads and utilities. And those utilities have been heavily investing in renewable energy - you think that would be happening if Koch owned them?

      One could EASILY argue that Buffett has been a lot better for the world than Musk.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        > One could EASILY argue that Buffett has been a lot better for the world than Musk.

        Indeed. Like his friend Bill Gates, he is not only leaving near all of his fortune to philanthropic causes, but also encouraging other mega rich folk to do the same. Also, foundations like the Gates Foundation take a very analytical, medium term approach to getting maximum philanthropic bang for their buck.

        That said, the technologies that Musk is building business models to support are positive for humanity.

        It takes a few different approaches. Good stuff.

  8. aregross

    Searching for Signal

    Maybe I missed it but what happens when it's cloudy or raining? I know what happens to my satellite TV...!

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Searching for Signal

      When i use a sat signal it is never affected by cloud rain - but by high winds physically moving the dish.

      Oh, and by the neighbouring building literally craning an additional storey onto the top of their building about 30-40 minutes after we set the dish up - they passed through line of sight just as they hourly test data was being sent... The next hour was fine since the final resting place of that additional storey was below line of sight.

    2. Drew Scriver

      Re: Searching for Signal

      Starlink uses a frequency that is not much affected by weather, including snow.

      There are still some questions about foliage. That may become a problem for people in dense forests. On the other hand, in Virginia the satellites seem to be higher on the horizon than originally estimated. Only need about 75-100 feet of clearance with 100' trees according to Starlink's iPhone application, especially if the antenna is mounted on a roof.

      Time to tune up the chainsaw...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Searching for Signal

        > Time to tune up the chainsaw...

        Or mount dish on top of tree.

        Yeah, the tree might sway, but there ate ways of engineering around that (gimbals, etc)

  9. stiine Silver badge

    /quote

    Starlink does have one big advantage, even at $99 a month: it’s real, unlike the constant promises by the cable industry, regulators like the FCC and even Congress, who have promised rural areas fast internet access for a decade and so far failed to deliver.

    /quote

    That says it all, right there.

    1. Drew Scriver

      For a decade?!?! More like 20+ years. That's 5 four-year-terms for many political offices, and 10 for many others.

      Promises, promises.

      I think it was less than 2 years ago that Virginia finally eased the restrictions for utilizing the right-of-way along highways.

  10. Dr Gerard Bulger

    So looking forward to this for places the remaining British overseas Territories who are being ripped off by monopoly suppliers.. enforced by local law. Most have to rely on satellite, so of course more costly and geostationary latency is so long. But now they have been awarded long contracts setting local technology into aspic.

    Bringing in a Sat phone with data may even be illegal in Falklands, but Musk kit will be difficult to prevent locally as the service will be cheaper, much faster, and low latency for homes. https://www.sure.co.fk/mobile/mobile-price-plans/ And they charge you £30 to reactivate you sim on every trip. Broadband is iffy, grinds to a at end of each month as everyone uses up their allowance. https://openfalklands.com/business-continuity-vsats-and-the-law-of-unintended-consequences/

    Bring it on!

  11. ben kendim

    Starlink's website is just a service address and email harvester

    I went to their website to check out about the system, and it just wanted my email and address. No way to get any information on what they are considering to offer.

    So, I simply walked away.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Starlink's website is just a service address and email harvester

      There's no info on what they're selling because they are not yet selling anything. The service is moving into a public beta stage. If you want in, sign up on their site and wait. If you want to wait for production ready service, wait until that becomes available (probably late spring 2021 in the continental US, maybe late 2021 for some of Europe).

      If you have true broadband service today: move along, this isn't going to be an improvement for you.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Starlink's website is just a service address and email harvester

        It's odd that the word 'Beta' wasn't mentioned in this Regard article. In all other coverage, 'Public Beta' is in the headline.

  12. Oneman2Many

    Expect the UK government to drag their heels thanks to their ludicrous "investment' in starlink rival oneweb.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was curious about weather disruptions as well.

    I have ADSL, 9Mbps w ~50-90ms latency usually. I get a pretty good discount so it costs $35 per month.

    Others pay $52, I think for roughly same service. 10Mbps is fastest there is.

    Most areas out here don't have access to any broadband. Also, most don't have access to cellular signal either. I'm lucky, and I get 1x data speeds here. I have to go to the front of the house to make a call abt 50% of the time. There are only 2 choices for cellular, verizon and uscellular, both with the same coverage.

    For tv, I use an over the air antenna. During hurricanes I can still watch the news and emergency notifications. Same w my DSL. During hurricanes, w generator, I can still get internet most the time which is more of a relief than you can imagine. Those things are scary.

    Then when power is out for days or weeks at a time, it's nice to have dsl....

    All of that just to show what I have out in Eastern North Carolina US. I'm sure other rurals are similar.

    W dish, you always lose your signal during storms. I really hope Starlink is much better.

    Cheers..

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