Earlier this month, Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink internet program began sending out beta invitations to Canadians in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. People who signed up — and paid the rather larger upfront cost to get on board — are now starting to reap the benefits.
CBC News spoke with Greg Rekounas, who lives on the Kingston Peninsula in New Brunswick, and found Starlink to be a significant improvement over his previous internet set up. Rekounas signed up to test Musk’s satellite internet service and after a week with it, told CBC News that it “changes everything.”
Rekounas works from home for an IT company, a job the required him to be connected all the time, and said his previous DSL link internet service sometimes forced him to turn off his webcam during video meetings. According to CBC News, the issues got so bad Rekounas was considering moving to somewhere with better internet.
With Starlink, Rekounas can stay where he is. He told CBC News the program would be welcome in rural New Brunswick, where it enables video conferencing, downloads, streaming and better connectivity.
Since May 2019, Musk’s SpaceX rocket company has been blasting clusters of 60 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites into space. In total, there are 955 satellites in LEO (about 550km above the planet). By 2024, the company hopes to have 12,000 satellites in orbit.
These satellites power the Starlink program, which delivers high-speed internet to people in parts of the world without access to high-speed internet.
The invites Starlink sent out earlier this month listed the cost of internet as $129 per month, while the required satellite dish for connecting is $649, bringing the total initial cost of ownership to about $800. Further, the Starlink team notes that beta participants can expect speeds varying from 50 to 150Mbps and latency of 20 to 40ms.
At the same time, many rural internet customers already pay monthly prices in that range for significantly slower and less reliable internet connections. Upfront hardware costs aside, $130 per month for internet of that speed is definitely enticing. Urban Canadians may be used to getting those kinds of speeds for less, but in many parts of the country, Starlink could be a more cost-effective option.
It remains to be seen how Starlink will handle increased customer loads, especially when it fully launches. But if it continues to provide this level of service, and do so reliably, it could be a big win for rural Canadians.
Source: CBC News