Elon Musk Starlink | The Untold Story


In early 2020, at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, there were updates about the installations of scary 5G networks. A lot was said about the implications and other information was about the relevance, especially with connectivity and speed. Then there were not many stories about the satellite internet services from top corporations and billionaires like Amazon Project Kuiper satellite-internet dishes and Elon Musk Starlink project becoming a global service let alone getting to Africa this fast.

The need for high-speed internet connectivity cannot be overemphasized. Indeed we have seen high-speed fiber optic networks running at about 500Mbps and that of the 5G network. Why then do we need mini satellite constellations from non-governmental organizations patrolling the night sky to provide internet services?

In their blog post, SpaceX during the release of the Elon Musk Starlink, said: we have lived in the dark for too long because of our underwhelming mobile networks and it is time to step into the light of fast internet connection. Do you agree with this?

Today’s discussion is centred on Elon Musk Starlink including the speed, performance, price, and how to get your own SpaceX Starlink Kit. Previously, we discussed Jeff Bezos’s Amazon Portable Satellite-Internet Dishes Vs Elon Musk Starlink Project and it would be great to check it out.

What Is Elon Musk Starlink?

Before going on to explain what Elon Musk Starlink is, it is important to note that it is the same as SpaceX Starlink or for short Starlink. These terms will be used interchangeably here but they mean the same thing.

Starlink, a satellite internet constellation developed by SpaceX is a high-speed, low-latency broadband internet in remote and rural locations across the globe aimed at providing satellite internet access coverage to over 50 countries and also for global mobile phone services. It helps users to engage in their activities beyond the traditional line-of-sight antenna.

Starlink is an offshoot of SpaceX designed to bring high-speed broadband Internet connectivity to the remote and rural parts of the world with little or no Internet access.

While SpaceX leverages its experience in building rockets and spacecraft to deploy the world’s most advanced broadband internet system, other satellite cable networks use a geostationary satellite that orbits the Earth at 35,786km but with high latency because of the time taken for signals to bounce off the satellite and reach consumers.

As of the time of writing, SpaceX has launched more than 3000 satellites into space using the SpaceX Falcon9 rocket. According to Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the number may reach 42000 Starlink satellites navigating the Earth in years to come.

As of March 3rd, 2023, 51 more Starlink satellites were launched from California to hit the goal of covering the entire globe.

Shooting more Starlink satellites into space means more coverage and faster Internet access for Starlink subscribers. Though astronomers might not agree with that because they believe that the mini Starlink ships are polluting the night sky with light when you look through the eye of a telescope. SpaceX has put in some constrictions but some sects of the science community are still not satisfied.

Uses of Starlink

Starlink as a satellite constellation system aimed at delivering global internet coverage capable of supporting streaming, online gaming, video calls, browsing, and more is majorly used for high-speed internet connection around the globe, including rural and remote areas where access to the internet is limited due to low or lack of internet coverage from local telecommunication service providers.

It can be used individually, in groups, or by small businesses since it is portable and lightweight. By implication, users can use Starlink anywhere, therefore they can travel along with it to any location just like mobile phones, and still have the same internet experience.

How does Starlink work?

Just like Digital Satellite Television (DSTV), Starlink leverages a constellation of near-orbiting satellites to deliver high-speed, low-latency internet access to users all over the world.

It has a ground-based terminal (antenna), which is a dish that transmits signals to the nearest orbiting satellite which in turn sends back signals through radio waves that grant internet access to your Wi-Fi router. It uses a bidirectional mechanism to transmit signals in seconds.

The terminal can be mounted anywhere including on the roof, on vehicles as you travel, etc. While the terminal connects to the satellite in orbit, it must be connected to a Wi-Fi router through its custom cable that comes with the Starlink kit for it to work effectively.

Starlink Kit

About the Starlink Kit

The Starlink kit consists of a Starlink dish, a Wi-Fi router, a cable, and a base to mount the dish. The Starlink dish is self-orienting and can easily lock on to the Starlink network once it has a clear view of the sky with no obstructions like trees or buildings.

Starlink Apps

In the era where mobile technologies are the order, Starlink understands that their customers need mobile phone apps to operate the use the Starlink products. Therefore, Starlink has both Android and iPhone apps to support its terminal. These apps use augmented reality to select the perfect spot for your terminal to get the maximum connection.

Once your Starlink kit arrives you will have to download the app and follow the instructions to successfully mount and install your kit in no time. If for any reason you can’t receive any network or experience poor network coverage you can contact Starlink’s support team or find a quick solution from their FAQ page.

Below-par speeds can be attributed to the dish not having a clear view of the sky or your area not having sufficient coverage in which case you will have to wait for SpaceX to ramp up the number of satellites in Space.

Starlink Cost

Generally speaking, the cost of acquiring a Starlink kit is quite expensive compared to its greatest rival Amazon Project Kuiper satellite-internet dishes and local mobile network providers like Airtel, MTN, and 9Mobile. But if you value speed, and convenience and you are willing to break the bank for it, then this might be good for you. However, before you buy Starlink, check out Jeff Bezos’s Amazon Portable Satellite-Internet Dishes Vs Elon Musk Starlink Project.

To purchase the Starlink kit, you will have to make a down payment (pre-order) of $99. 99(45,995) and an additional $499(229,540) to complete the payment with a $110(50,600) monthly subscription. Which is the same as $599(275,540) for the Starlink equipment and a monthly fee pegged at $110(50,600).

Do not be deceived by the price you found on the Starlink website, it is just a conversion based on the CBN bank rate and you still won’t be able to pay with your Nigeria debit cards and the payment will be charged based on USD.

Additionally, there are other pricing plans like Starlink Premium which costs $2500(1,150,000) for the Starlink kit and a $500(230,000) monthly subscription fee. This plan is geared towards businesses while the latter is for residential users, which justifies the glaring price cap.

Starlink Premium comes with a larger pizza box dish which has faster browsing and download speeds and serves a certain number of persons without getting overloaded.

Then, a Starlink R.V. plan costs $135(62,100) per month and if you place an order you will receive your equipment speedily. But you may get a slower connection if you are surrounded by residential Starlink subscribers.

There are still other plans like Starlink Maritime and Aviation for ships and aeroplanes respectively. One bottleneck that you may encounter while making your purchase is that you must have a dollar card or a foreign account.

Digital entrepreneurs who earn in dollars will smile at this while others will have to create and fund a virtual dollar card like Payday or Barter.

Note, that we used the standard Naira to dollar rate(1USD = 460) so the amount you’re paying will vary based on your dollar card rates.

It will probably take about a few days or at least a week to get your shipment from DHL or any other means of shipment you choose.

How to order the Starlink Kit

As of the time of this article, the Starlink kit is sold directly to customers via their sales portal. Interested customers will have to sign up on their website to check if it is available in their locations through the map section on the company’s website. If you were given a green light you can proceed to place your order.

How Fast Is Starlink Internet

As per the Starlink website “users can expect to see Starlink data speeds vary from 50 to 150 megabytes per second and latency from 20 to 40 milliseconds in most locations over the next several months.”

Then Elon Musk later announced in February 2021 that speeds could move up to 300mbps and latency will drop down to 20ms. This is more or less of a mixed baggage considering the mixed reviews from users.

A Starlink user in Nigeria, Gbadego tweeted that he had speeds as high as 240Mbps at Abeokuta while Fisayo Fosudo a tech Youtuber reported having speeds between 50-200Mbps and above 200Mbps a few times.

That’s a far cry from the mobile networks used in Nigeria which put up meagre speeds; Airtel runs at 22.42Mbps, MTN at 21.71Mbps, Glo at 8.70Mbps, and 9Mobile at 8.32Mbps(ookla).

Although fiber optic networks may say differently, for instance, Fibre One can deliver speeds up to 500Mbps for a monthly fee pegged at $220. Fibre internet practically beats Starlink for speed, cost, and reliability, though it’s not available on every part of the planet.

It is worth noting that, download and upload speeds will vary in different locations depending on the network coverage you have in your area.

Also, Starlink placed a safety net for heavy users who would use more than 1TB monthly, in which they will experience slower speeds for the remainder of the month. Nevertheless, they would still have access to unlimited data.

Does Starlink Work In Bad Weather Conditions?

That’s a definite yes, as the Starlink dish has a built-in heater that will help keep it dry during rain storms.

Though there FAQ section says that, “Heavy rain or wind can also affect your satellite internet connection, potentially leading to slower speeds or a rare outage,”

It would be best to mount the dish on a convenient spot like rooftops or a high elevation to prevent rain splash and obstructions.

Where Is Starlink Available?

As of the time of writing, the company announced that it has covered all 7 continents and has reached 48 countries in the world including Nigeria.

The satellite internet service was created to reach out to underserved areas(rural) or parts of the planet with poor internet connection.

You can check if the Starlink network is in your area by going to their website > map > enter your location.

Pros And Cons Of Starlink

Let’s look at how Starlink stacks up in terms of the pros and cons so you can decide if this service is really for you.

Pros of Starlink in Nigeria

  • Unlimited data every month
  • It is easy to install.
  • Low latency
  • It favours remote and rural areas

Cons of StarLink in Nigeria

  • It is expensive.
  • Nigerian debit Cards Cannot be used to make payment
  • It is not portable
  • There may be delays in your order
  • Slower speed due to congestion
  • Speed Might become reduced when connected to numerous devices
  • Will need a new setup mechanism if you leave your current residential area
  • Cloudy Days (Rainy) Make Starlink’s internet speed slow
  • Uploading on StarLink is very slow compared to Nigerian internet providers
  • Can not work without electricity (Biggest Problem, especially here in Nigeria without stable or no electricity)

The Future Of Starlink

The company made a bold statement, that download speeds could move on to 1Gbps and even spike up to 10Gbps in the coming years as SpaceX launches more satellites enough to cover the Earth.

Starlink holds a lot of promises on a silver platter and it remains to be seen if they would hit such targets. Though Starlink is faster than competitor satellite internet providers like HughesNet and Viasat it still has a long way off from beating ground-based fiber internet that could hit 1Gbps speed.

The satellite speeds are still anywhere around 150Mbps because of long-distance signals which have to travel back and forth from the dish to the Starlink satellite. It could take some time before Starlink would be able to stand toe to toe with the high-speed Fibre internet.

If there is anything we have learned from Musk-driven companies like Tesla and SpaceX, they go to great lengths to beat the odds and establish themselves as a beam of light for others to follow.

2 Comments on “Elon Musk Starlink | The Untold Story”

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