The time when a select few will be able to access Elon Musk’s ambitious Starlink internet is finally here. SpaceX’s satellite-powered internet platform is now officially looking for applicants to beta test its service. However, before you rush to sign up for the same, the testing is currently limited to those living in “high altitude” geographic areas such as Seattle or Germany, based on Musk’s tweets in the past.
“Private beta testing is expected to begin later this summer, followed by public beta testing, starting with higher latitudes,” the message on Starlink’s website says. “If you provided us with your zip code, you will be notified via email if beta testing opportunities become available in your area.”
This beta testing comes days after news broke out, that SpaceX will have to prove usability of low latency internet service via Starlink, before it can get access to over $16Bn in Federal funding. The investment, which can be availed by any company seeking to establish internet facilities in rural areas, has a low latency clause.
Starlink is being marketed as a high bandwidth, low latency internet that will provide global coverage. However, full operability is still way down the road for the company, and SpaceX would need to work to demonstrate its capabilities. This beta testing program could be a part of that required demonstration.
The company stands a good chance of securing the grant. The FCC demands that any company applying for the investment must demonstrate latency under 100 milliseconds. SpaceX claims that it’s aiming to keep its latency as low as under 20 milliseconds, which is even lower than some of the traditional terrestrial cable-backed bandwidth networks we have today.
There are currently 538 Starlink satellites in orbit, with the most recent batch launched just days ago. Starlink launches have now begun to happen by the week, with the next batch of 60 satellites scheduled to go up into the orbit next week Tuesday.