A SpaceX Starlink user terminal, also known as a satellite dish, seen against a city's skyline.
Enlarge / A SpaceX Starlink user terminal/satellite dish.

SpaceX has begun sending email invitations to Starlink’s public beta and will charge beta users $99 per month plus a one-time fee of $499 for the user terminal, mounting tripod, and router. The emails are being sent to people who previously registered interest in the service on the Starlink website. One person in Washington state who got the email posted it on Reddit. Another person who lives in Wisconsin got the Starlink public-beta invitation and passed the details along to Ars via email.

SpaceX is calling it the “Better Than Nothing” beta, perhaps partly because the Starlink satellite service will be most useful to people who cannot get cable or fiber broadband. But the email also says, “As you can tell from the title, we are trying to lower your initial expectations.”

The rest of the email reads as follows:

Expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mbps to 150Mbps and latency from 20ms to 40ms over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all.

As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations, and improve our networking software, data speed, latency, and uptime will improve dramatically. For latency, we expect to achieve 16ms to 19ms by summer 2021.

The Starlink phased-array user terminal, which is more advanced than what’s in fighter jets, plus mounting tripod and Wi-Fi router, costs $499 and the monthly subscription costs $99.

The email then provides a link for ordering service. There is apparently no data cap. A Starlink mobile app to help beta users set up and manage the service also just went live on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

There’s another Reddit thread with speculation on when user terminals (i.e., satellite dishes) will arrive at people’s homes, but we haven’t seen any firm delivery dates.



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