By Randall Brink
Inveterate boondockers They are always looking for techniques and technology that help them stay away longer and allow them to stay in communication, receive news and entertainment, and work remotely. Anything to do with water, waste management or access to the Internet is of great interest. So when I read about the development of Starlink, a satellite internet service provider under development by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, I was intrigued.
However, my enthusiasm quickly gave way to bewilderment as I read a wide range of articles on the subject. An online news story dashed my hopes for universal RV connectivity. It stated that the recipient must remain in a fixed geographic position to receive the Starlink service. Another spoke of the high starting prices and installation costs of the equipment. Another quoted SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk as saying his company was specifically developing mobile solutions for RVs and commercial truck applications. I tried to contact SpaceX / Starlink for information to resolve these contradictions, but the company did not respond.
Additional The research revealed that, like all technologies in development, things change daily. The information on the fixed location requirement was out of date. However, the technology to provide Mobile Internet access has not yet been fully developed, and the the entire Starlink service is still in beta testing. But Starlink is going accelerated development, and now we have some new facts that we can trust.
Starlink needs more satellites
Some of the time and uncertainty revolve around the development and scale of Starlink satellite technology. In February this year, SpaceX had launched 1,000 Starlink satellites, allowing the company to offer a limited beta testing service. This is primarily in the northern US and southern Canada (the company has stated between 45 and 53 degrees north latitude). But Starlink says it needs to have 42,000 satellites in low Earth orbit to facilitate global service. The US government and international bureaucracies have only issued approvals for 12,000 satellites. Therefore, there are still bureaucratic procedures to overcome in order for Starlink to obtain the required team in orbit. However, as SpaceX and its stellar technological achievements have shown, it is never safe to bet against Musk and his projects.
Once the service is fully implemented, Starlink says that:
(1) The cost of setting up the service will be less. Right now (beta) it costs $ 499 per team plus $ 99 per month. However, it does not say how much lower. Boondockers Determined to acquire Starlink’s capabilities, you probably won’t complain too much about an equipment cost below $ 499. And they’ll likely be fine with a fee of $ 99 per month or less.
(2) Internet speed, which in beta testing is currently between 100 and 150 megabits per second (Mbps), will increase to around 1000 Mbps. In addition, the company has stated that its low-orbiting satellites (that is, at only 390 miles above the earth, as opposed to the 14,429 miles of standard communications satellites currently deployed like Galileo) will deliver a much lower “latency” rate (the time a signal sent from a satellite takes to reach the earth’s surface ) of 20 milliseconds.
So when will it be available?
Starlink anticipates completion of its rollout and deployment in 2024.
If Starlink achieves its lofty ambitions, the RVers will be a direct beneficiary. There will be no more blind spots, as with cell-based Internet service providers that also provide their cell phone services. No more degraded services in the most remote trailer parks, where smoke signals are faster than email. RV dwellers can ditch the bulky domes on top of the car and the ones you drive and place on the ground outside the RV. In fact, standalone cable television services or bundled television and Internet will become a thing of the past.
As Starlink development gathers momentum toward full implementation, we will continue to report on its capabilities, costs, and availability.