Business magnate Elon Musk’s venture to provide the world with satellite internet service is expanding into Mexico.
Starlink, operated by Musk’s SpaceX, says it is planning to offer high-speed broadband in parts of the country by the middle of 2021.
The company has ambitious plans to continue expanding to “near-global coverage of the populated world in 2021.” Service is currently available in parts of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
When complete, Starlink’s network will be connected by 42,000 SpaceX satellites in low-Earth orbit, although as of late January it had just surpassed the 1,000-satellite mark. SpaceX continues to launch more satellites regularly. The next 120 Starlink satellites will leave Cape Canaveral, Florida, on February 13 and 16.
Getting service in Mexico depends on where you live. The company is currently taking orders on a first-come, first-serve basis with payment of a US $99 refundable deposit. Service will also require the purchase of a Starlink hardware kit, which will cost $499 plus shipping. The service will cost $99 monthly.
The company is promising a 50–150 Mbps data transfer rate with a latency of 20–40 milliseconds. The website warns that initially there will be brief periods of no connectivity at all. However, it said latency and uptime will improve as the company continues to launch more satellites, install ground stations and improve software.
The meat of Starlink’s big promises comes from the fact that its satellites are 60 times closer to Earth than ones used by competitors. Due to the satellites’ greater proximity to Earth, latency — the time it takes a signal to travel from your device to the server, or vice versa — will be much lower (i.e. a shorter amount of time). SpaceX promises it will provide speeds able to accommodate bandwidth-heavy computing activities such as gaming and video conferencing.
Besides Musk’s personal wealth, SpaceX will be able to draw upon funding from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to expand Starlink’s network in the United States, which could help the company have more funds available for infrastructure in places like Mexico.
On December 7, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission granted SpaceX $885.51 million in broadband subsidies over 10 years via the $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund in exchange for providing broadband service to over 640,000 rural homes and businesses in 35 states. However, the award process has come under fire from competitors, as well as from FCC acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
In a post on his personal Twitter account this week, Musk said that SpaceX needs to pass through a deep chasm of negative cash flow over the next year or so to make Starlink financially viable.
“Every new satellite constellation in history has gone bankrupt,” he said. “We hope to be the first that does not.”
Sources: Infobae (sp)