SpaceX has been launching hundreds of Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide broadband Internet in the remotest places on Earth. The price of the service? 99 dollars a month with a down payment of 499 dollars, according to an email filtered to CNBC by its first betatesters.
As Starlink expands its coverage with more satellites (and there are already 895, enough for an extensive test in the northern United States), new interested parties are admitted to the beta phase of the service. On Monday, SpaceX sent an email to the first beta testers welcoming them to the "Better Than Nothing Beta" test, a name intentionally chosen to lower the expectations of these first customers:
"As you can guess from the title, we are trying to lower your initial expectations," signed the Starlink team in the emails. "Expect data speeds to vary between 50 and 150 Mb, and latency between 20 and 40 ms over the next few months, as we improve the Starlink system. There will also be short periods of no connectivity."
The emails, which mark the start of Starlink's public beta following a private beta for employees, detail the initial cost of the service, which will be $99 per month, but with an initial payment of $499 to receive the "Starlink kit. This kit includes the satellite dish to connect to the satellites, a tripod to mount the antenna in the open air and a wifi router. There is also a Starlink application available on Google Play and the App Store.
You can sign up for the beta on Starlink's website. According to SpaceX, nearly 700,000 people have expressed interest in the service in the United States alone. Initial coverage will also extend to Canada by 2020, and SpaceX plans to offer "near-global coverage in the inhabited world" by 2021. If all goes well, Starlink will become a publicly traded company within five years.