The FCC granted approval for SpaceX to deploy up to one million “fixed earth stations,” i.e. user terminals, that can communicate with its satellite supplied broadband network. SpaceX mastermind Elon Musk is aiming for those who are hardest to reach, reports Ars Technica.
Musk confirmed the initial audience for Starlink will be the “3 or 4 percent hardest-to-reach customers for telcos” and “people who simply have no connectivity right now, or the connectivity is really bad.” This outreach excludes highly congested areas because Musk stated that the “bandwidth per cell is simply not high enough.”
The one million user terminals will connect up with 362 currently orbiting satellites, with FCC approval for up to 11,943 in total. Launching the satellite fleet is an ongoing project, but the company says bringing users onboard is on schedule for later this year. A network with this kind of scope has been touted by SpaceX as a real opportunity to link with the large number of individuals worldwide who do not currently have broadband service.
Musk describes the user terminals in fanciful terms, referring to them as looking like “a UFO on a stick.” He has said his company strives for ease of use for new users. “It’s very important that you don’t need a specialist to install it. The goal is that there’s just two instructions, and they can be done in either order: point at sky, plug in.”
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