zoom on Elon Musk’s alternative to ADSL

With its space Internet offer, SpaceX wants to offer in white areas a connection with a speed of up to 150 megabits per second and a latency of less than 20 ms, including at sea.

Starlink is billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space internet project. Run by its commercial aerospace company SpaceX, Starlink aims to provide high-speed internet connectivity around the world through a constellation of 42,000 satellites in low orbit by 2027. Launches are occurring gradually. In February 2018, two prototype satellites were launched and since then the satellites have been orbiting in batches of sixty. A total of 26 launches have been carried out between the start of the project and May 2021, i.e. 2,000 satellites deployed 550 kilometers above the Earth. With this project announced in 2015, Elon Musk intends to mesh the sky in order to offer fast Internet access (up to 1Gb/s) at low latency (less than 20m/s), in particular to digital deserts. On the satellite Internet offer, Starlink will have to face competition from Kuiper, Jeff Bezos’ upcoming project, and its 3,200 satellites. The founder of Amazon is not the only competitor: the English OneWeb project has already been launched and Facebook has also announced its ambition in this area.

In France, Starlink has again had the green light since June 2, 2022. Arcep has been able to grant two frequency bands to Starlink to connect its satellites and its French end users. Arcep has launched a public consultation to be able to grant this green light, and provide a solution to the approximately 4,000 French subscribers, who have subscribed to the offer, available since May 2021.

To access it, interested parties must register for the service on the Starlink site, indicate their address (which cannot be changed) and order a small dish with tripod to be installed at their home in an open area.

Reception quality depends on relay stations. Only one installation has so far been authorized in France at Villenave d’Ornon, in Gironde. In France, three sites were originally intended to host the satellite broadband Internet access service stations. Elon Musk’s project provided for the installation of nine antennas in Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron (Manche), as well as in Gravelines (North), to provide its spatial connectivity. Arcep confirmed their abandonment.

To connect to the Starlink network, the user must acquire the installation kit. The latter contains the modem, the router and the dish and is sold at 634 euros. Its delivery is invoiced 71 euros. The price of the subscription, at 99 euros per month, has not been modified in France but it displays 11 dollars more in the United States, raising fears of an increase to come in France.

SpaceX promises a speed of between 50 and 150 megabits per second, well beyond the 30 Mbits / s threshold necessary to switch to the very high speed category in France.

In France, the media Les Numériques carried out “19 tests over three days at different times of the day which resulted in a speed of approximately 184 Mb / s in downlink speed”.

There are more than 2,000 Starlink satellites deployed 550 kilometers in orbit above the Earth. SpaceX said on January 6, 2022 that its Starlink satellite internet service has more than 400,000 customers across 36 countries worldwide. Elon Musk’s company said Starlink user growth had slowed as silicon shortages delayed production and impacted orders.

Each Starlink satellite weighs only 260 kilograms. Their flat shape makes it possible to place 60 of them inside one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets to put them into orbit. Each satellite includes a solar panel for its power, four antennas for Internet transmissions, lasers that connect them to four other satellites in orbit, and ion thrusters that use krypton gas to keep them in orbit.

To connect to the ground network, the Starlink network needs ground relay stations. Equipped with electric domes and large antennas, these will rely in France on frequency bands of 10.95-12.70 GHz to transmit a signal from space to Earth and 14-14.5 GHz for do the reverse path from the user terminals.

Users must have a kit including a dish, a tripod to fix it and a router for data processing and connection sharing. This Starlink kit is sold at a price of 499 euros.

Elon Musk wants to demonstrate the interest of the space Internet in the maritime sector. The offer, called Starlink Maritime, provides access for $5,000 per month to the Internet from the sea with speeds of up to 350 Mbit/s. “From merchant ships to oil rigs to high-end yachts, Starlink Maritime lets you connect from the most remote waters in the world, just like you would in the office or at home,” the company says on its site. To benefit from the offer, in addition to the subscription, it will be necessary to pay an additional 10,000 dollars for the purchase of two antennas receiving the signal.

Notice to amateur astronomers, the satellites are visible to the naked eye in the sky at certain times. The Find Starlink site allows you to consult the moments of visibility of the satellites according to its position. During launches, it is also possible to see a succession of small luminous points forming a long white trail.

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