SpaceX Starlink Questions Answers: “Wider Beta” coming soon, no plan for data limits

Starlink logo imposed on the stylized image of the Earth.
Enlarge / Starlink logo imposed on the stylized image of the Earth.

SpaceX Starlink engineers answered questions in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) Saturday, which covers topics such as data caps (which they hope they'll never implement), when the public beta will expand to more users, and how satellite broadband service will grow and change over time. ‘to come up.

“Starlink is an extremely flexible system and it will improve over time as we make the software smarter. Latency, bandwidth and reliability can be dramatically improved, ”the engineers wrote under the Reddit username“ DishyMcFlatface, ”which is also SpaceX's nickname for the Starlink satellite dish.

Here are some highlights from AMA.

No data limit “at the moment”

When asked if users would ever face data limits, the Starlink team gave a vague answer: “At the moment, Starlink's beta service has no data limits.”

While this answer covers the present but not the future, a subsequent comment from DishyMcFlatface gave a more detailed answer suggesting that SpaceX is trying to avoid data caps:

So we really don't want to implement restrictive data limits like what people have encountered with satellite internet in the past. Right now we're still trying to figure out a lot of things; we may need to do something in the future to prevent abuse and make sure everyone receives good service.

January Extended Beta: No Bribe Required

Satellite dish and Starlink equipment in the Coeur d'Alene National Forest of Idaho Panhandle.

Satellite dish and Starlink equipment in the Coeur d'Alene National Forest of Idaho Panhandle.

Many people who were unable to get Starlink beta are eagerly awaiting availability updates, and WADA has provided a response. SpaceX “steadily increases network access over time to attract as many people as possible,” the Starlink team wrote. “In particular, we plan to move from a limited beta to a larger beta at the end of January, which should give more users the opportunity to participate.”

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave a similar update on Twitter A few weeks ago, a user asked when the beta is coming to Florida. “Lower latitude states need more satellites in position, so probably January,” Musk wrote at the time.

As before, people wishing to get Starlink can enter their email address and service address in the field Starlink website and I hope to hear from you. Bribes apparently won't help. When a Reddit user asked, “How are beta users chosen and what's a good amount of corruption?” The Starlink team responded, “No bribes are needed, our goal is to serve everyone eventually.”

More engineers are needed

The Starlink team has repeatedly told Reddit users that SpaceX is looking for more engineers. In response to when the beta is extended, DishyMcFlatface wrote: “If you really want to help do it, the best you can do is send some excellent software engineers to Starlink to help you get there.”

There are over a dozen jobs available in production design, product design and Starlink software, and links to jobs can be found at this Comment by DishyMcFlatface. “We are very excited about the initial response and the future potential of Starlink, but we still have a lot to learn,” the Starlink team wrote. “If you know of any great people who can help us, ask them to email your resume to starlink@spacex.com.”

Will Starlink work outside the home?

A few weeks ago, we wrote about a Starlink beta user who brought the satellite dish and portable power supply to a national forest in Idaho, where he was able to get fast internet service. But that doesn't mean you can take the plate anywhere, as SpaceX currently only promises that it will work at every beta user's service address.

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A Reddit user who lives and works on a ship docked in South Florida wanted to know if Starlink would provide service on the high seas. “A mobile system that gives me reliable connectivity will really set me free to roam the coast of the states. -United, Bahamian and possibly beyond, ”the user wrote.

Starlink replied:

At this time, we can only provide the service to the address you register with on starlink.com. You might be lucky if you try to use Starlink nearby, but the quality of service can be worse.

Mobility options, including moving your Starlink to different service addresses (or places that don't even have an address!), Will come once we can increase our coverage by launching more satellites and launching new software.

SpaceX recently asked the Federal Communications Commission

to obtain authorization to test Starlink user terminals “on offshore platforms” and on private jets.

Storms and extreme temperatures

A Reddit user asked if the satellite dish will work in strong winds, such as when it is mounted “on the tail of a flatbed trailer flying on the highway in a collapsing storm.” The SpaceX team said this is not a recommended use and that “the antenna is not designed for tropical storms, tornadoes, etc.”

A Reddit user living in Canada asked if the dish would work in temperatures as low as 45 ° below zero Celsius (or 49 ° below in Fahrenheit). Starlink engineers responded that the antenna is certified to operate from minus 30 ° to minus 40 ° C on the Celsius scale (i.e. minus 22 ° to 104 ° F). SpaceX has “tested these low temperatures without problem”.

Starlink satellite dishes “have self-heating capabilities to cope with a variety of weather conditions,” the team said. In the coming weeks and months, they plan to roll out software updates that “will improve our ability to melt snow”.

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