Capitalism in space: SpaceX revealed yesterday that its Starlink internet constellation now has over 10,000 users in both the U.S. and elsewhere.
The update on Starlink’s customer base came in a petition to the FCC, with SpaceX asking that Starlink be designated an “Eligible Telecommunications Carrier” or ETC. The company noted that receiving this designation is necessary for Starlink to provide service to regions in “Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.”
SpaceX was awarded access to those regions under the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunities Fund, an auction to bring broadband services to rural areas. The FCC in December awarded SpaceX with nearly $900 million in federal subsidies in the first phase of the auction.
“Designating Starlink Services as an ETC is in the public interest because it will enable the company to receive support that will facilitate rapid deployment of broadband and voice service to the Service Areas at speeds and latency comparable to terrestrial systems in urban locations,” SpaceX wrote in the filing on Thursday.
One of my readers, Steve Golson, emailed me yesterday to tell me he is one of those rural customers, as he is located in Maine.
We are at latitude 43.2°N which was too far south for their early beta program, but they’ve just opened it up to us. I signed up back in June 2020, when the Starlink beta signup first went live. Yesterday I received this email:
“Starlink is now available in limited supply in your service area. … Availability is limited so orders must be completed within 15 minutes of landing on the order page. If you are not able to order at this time, the Starlink team will continue to send updates as more capacity becomes available.”
I ordered right away, and I was notified that the dish shipped today, with delivery late next week by FedEx Ground. Cost is $500 for the dish, WiFi router, power supply, cables, mounting tripod. Monthy cost is $99. That’s the beta cost, but I suspect their final costs will be similar.
Now I’m getting a roof mount ready. You *really* need an unobstructed view of the whole sky. The very cool Starlink app (iOS and Android) shows you how much of your sky needs to be unobstructed.
He promises to give further updates as his service rolls out.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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