According to an LA Times roundtable discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX CEO, there will be terminal pre-sale.
When SpaceX’s broadband service starts mid-2020, the initial experience will be “bumpy,” company President Gwynne Shotwell said Friday.
However, she said she expects SpaceX to mature as an internet service provider by 2021.
The company will take pre-sales for customer service, similar to what fellow Elon Musk-led company Tesla Inc. has done for new vehicles, Shotwell said during a media roundtable at the company’s Hawthorne headquarters. And early customers will be part of that learning curve.
“We’re not going to fib and say it’s going to be the best thing ever,” she said. “When you get service, it’s going to be great. But it’ll be bumpy for a while.”
SpaceX has already launched two rounds of 60 satellites each. The company expects it will need 24 launches, with about 1,440 satellites, to have enough to provide full global coverage. SpaceX has not yet determined customer pricing.
Shotwell said subsequent launches will see satellites with experimental coatings to reduce their brightness in the sky, which has been a concern for astronomers who fear the satellites could affect telescope images. The satellites are in low-Earth orbit and there could be a lot of them — SpaceX has asked an international regulatory group for permission to eventually operate as many as 30,000 satellites.
SpaceX is launching 12,000 satellites, which can provide low latency “fiber-like broadband” to rural users around the globe. Initial Starlink service is projected to start in the Northern US by mid-summer, with full US coverage by the end of 2020. SpaceX has launched 120 Starlink satellites, with 60 more planned in December. SpaceX is planning two launches per month in 2020, adding capacity and customers with each new launch. By January 2021, the Starlink constellation will have 1610 satellites in orbit, providing high-speed broadband services to customers.
OneWeb, SpaceX’s nearest competitor, has launched six satellites, with more planned in 2020, starting in February, then again in October and November. Each launch will insert 32 more satellites in orbit. OneWeb is not expected to begin service until they have 350 satellites on orbit.
Three launches of the Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rocket, including with the UK OneWeb communications satellites, from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou are planned for next year, a space industry source told Sputnik.
“In 2020, three launches of the Soyuz-ST are planned from the Guiana Space Centre,” the source said on Tuesday, adding that the launches are planned for the months of February, October and November.
Update: First launch of UK’s OneWeb satellites from Baikonur now set for 30 January.
In November 2020, over 30 OneWeb communications satellites should be launched into orbit, the space industry source told Sputnik.
Last month, OneWeb announced that the launching of its satellites on Russia’s Soyuz rocket were being postponed until next year.
In June 2015, Russian space agency Roscosmos signed contracts with OneWeb and the French Arianespace company for 21 commercial launches – from the European Space Agency’s Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan, and the Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East.
Comment: According to some sources each Soyuz launch should carry 32 satellites into orbit, other sources 30. In November 2020 OneWeb could have a constellation of over 90 satellites, perhaps as many as 102 (6+32+32+32). The February launch should give us a clue as to the number of birds per launch vehicle. By November SpaceX should have 0ver 1,500 Starlinks in orbit, given the aggressive two launches per month schedule for 2020.
This morning I watched in realtime the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 with 60 Starlink Satellites under the shroud. An hour after launch the video showed the flock of 60 birds released as they floated away from the upper stage.
What a thrill to see the booster stage land on the remote recovery platform, completing its fourth mission and ready to be refurbished for a fifth. This mission also reused a shroud recovered from a previous Falcon Heavy launch. According to Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX CEO most Starlink launches will be with reused boosters and when possible the shrouds which are being recovered also.
Elon Musk’s disruption of the telecommunications industry is beginning to accelerate.
We live in interesting times. Stay tuned.
Update 11-11-19: Inverse Has More Details
SpaceX Starlink takes a big step forward with the second groundbreaking launch HERE
Update 11-17-19: The first 60 Starlinks were not fully operational satellites, they were test birds and only had Ku band antennas. The second batch of 60 is fully operational birds, ready to provide broadband internet with both Ku- and Ka-band antennas.
“Since the most recent launch of Starlink satellites in May, SpaceX has increased spectrum capacity for the end-user through upgrades in design that maximize the use of both Ka- and Ku-bands.”
The introduction of millions of satellite ground terminals into the consumer market open up some economic development opportunities. According to Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s President and Chief Operating Officer, the one million terminals will be shipped to the customer in a box, and they will do the installation. I do not have any information on how the 1.5 million OneWeb end-user terminals will arrive?
Based on my experience as a non-profit ISP introducing the dial-up Internet to the community where none existed, this will work for some people, the techies. Still, the average consumer is going to need some help. They will especially need some help in the early days when the network is not yet robust and has a limitation on coverage. Users will need to have some understanding of satellite dynamics and appreciate the line of site restrictions. They will need to understand the weakness of the system as well as the strengths.
As a non-profit, we put a significant volunteer effort into customer support, bring people up to speed on the Internet. This may be an opening for community colleges to offer courses for terminal customer service reps or hold on-campus classes on satellite Internet. The University of Arizona is offering online courses to train people to operate the network ground control terminals and associated satellite dynamics. So far, the end-user terminal training is not being provided. This opens some opportunities for entrepreneurs who might want to do some ground terminal user consulting.
I am planning to be an early end-user and will report the results on this blog. Stay tuned.
SpaceX’s Starlink division is on track to offer satellite-broadband service in the United States in mid-2020, the company’s president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said Oct. 22. Getting there will require the company to launch six to eight batches of satellites, said Shotwell.
The video reveals that Starlink is being tested by the US Air Force. it shows a possible terminal configuration, similar to that proposed by OneWeb which is he first shown in the video, then one which could be the Starlink terminal.
Doug Dawson has an excellent post in Pots and Pans on the impact regulators had on the lack of rural broadband.
Rural America should never have been deregulated. Shame on every regulator in every state that voted to deregulate the big telcos in rural America. Shame on every regulator that allowed companies like Verizon palm off their rural copper to companies like Frontier – a company that cannot succeed, almost by definition.
In rural America the telcos have a physical network monopoly and the regulators should have found ways to support rural copper rather than letting the telcos walk away from it. We know this can be done by looking at the different approaches taken by the smaller independent telephone companies. These small companies took care of their copper and most have now taken the next step to upgrade to fiber to be ready for the next century.
Doug writes: “The big telcos started abandoning rural America as much as thirty years ago. They’ve stopped maintaining copper and have not voluntarily made any investments in rural America for a long time. There was a burst of rural construction recently when the FCC gave them $11 billion to improve rural broadband to 10/1 Mbps – but that doesn’t seem to be drawing many rural subscribers.”
The launch of the low earth-orbiting satellite broadband networks by SpaceX, OneWeb, and Amazon are going to provide rural users alternatives to the poor service and slow speeds offered by the telcos. The LEO ISPs are promising “fiber-like services” to rural customers starting in 2020, with full service by 2021.
One of the challenges will be the start-up costs, which are forecast to be in the $300 to 500 dollar range. The monthly fee of those services is presently an unknown but is expected to be competitive with existing fiber services.
SpaceX is expecting a high demand for their “fiber-like services” from space. They have requested permission to launch up to 42,000 Starlink satellites, 12,000 that are already approved plus 30,000 more to meet the expected global demand. This YouTube video has some details and attractive graphics: