Billionaire, entrepreneur, CEO — any of these titles can be used to describe Elon Musk. Most people associate Musk with Tesla, his electric vehicle (EV) company, or know him as the richest person on the planet.
Musk has dominated news headlines recently with his ambitious projects, social media controversies and viral tweets. One of Musk’s lesser-known, yet notable business ventures is Starlink. What is Starlink? Does it offer unlimited internet access?
Below, we’ll explain Starlink’s services and if it provides customers with unlimited data and internet access. You’ll also find answers to other common questions about SpaceX’s Starlink.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a group of artificial satellites, also known as a satellite internet constellation, operated by SpaceX that provides internet access for people around the world. It officially launched in 2019 and operates out of SpaceX’s satellite development facility located in Redmond, Washington.
Musk’s Starlink sends these small, mass-produced satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), where they communicate with transceivers on the ground and provide high-speed, low-latency broadband internet access.
One of the goals of Starlink is to improve access to fast and reliable broadband internet, particularly for people living in rural and remote communities. In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted SpaceX $900 million in subsidies to help them do just that.
There are four types of Starlink plans, including:
In June 2022, Musk claimed that the number of active Starlink users hit nearly 500,000. To put that figure in perspective, Musk said there were more than 250,000 Starlink users in the February prior.
Is Starlink Internet Unlimited?
Yes, Starlink currently offers unlimited data for its customers. However, the company has not confirmed if it will always offer unlimited data.
There will be a large user-satellite ratio as Starlink expands — right now, the company is trying to put 42,000 satellites into LEO to improve its services. Therefore, Starlink could add data caps in the future.
What Internet Speeds are Available With Starlink?
Two of the major benefits of satellite internet is high-speed and low-latency. According to a blog post from Ookla, Starlink media download speeds increased dramatically between Q1 and Q2 2021 in the United States and Canada.
Starlink was reportedly the fastest internet provider in Europe, offering 100+ Mbps median download speeds in countries with Starlink commercially available.
Does Starlink Internet Have a Monthly Fee?
Here are the monthly Starlink fees for residential, business, RV and maritime users:
- Residential: $110 per month with a one-time hardware cost of $599
- Business: $500 per month with a one-time hardware cost of $2,500
- RV: $135 per month with a one-time hardware cost of $599
- Maritime: $5,000 per month with a one-time hardware cost of $10,000 (with two high-performance terminals)
As you can see, Starlink is not the most affordable internet service provider (ISP) available. There are many other ISPs available that provide cost-effective internet plans — some for only $10 per month.
Is Starlink Worth Buying?
If you live in an area with multiple ISPs that offer affordable plans, Starlink may not be a worthwhile investment for you. Other ISPs, such as Spectrum, AT&T Internet or Xfinity, are more popular among the masses because they offer such widespread coverage. Try researching other ISPs before paying for Starlink.
However, residents with extremely limited access to the internet would agree that Starlink is a gamechanger. Paying $110 per month for a great internet connection as opposed to having no internet access makes Starlink worth it for some customers.
Is Starlink the Right Internet Provider for You?
There’s no way to determine which ISP is the best, as it’s usually dependent on your unique internet needs. For example, if you only use the internet for online shopping or scrolling through social media sites, you would only need a low-tier, affordable internet plan with average upload and download speeds.
On the other hand, if you live somewhat off the grid and you’re trying to run a business, you may need to use an ISP like Starlink to establish a solid internet connection.
It’s expected that Starlink will continue to grow and improve internet access globally. Other companies competing in the satellite internet market are Amazon, HughesNet and Viasat may make it more challenging for Starlink to become the market leader. It’ll be interesting to see how Starlink develops and impacts internet services worldwide.
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