With over 800 Starlink satellites currently in orbit, SpaceX is ready to recruit its first beta testers, reports Forbes.com. Those interested in the “Better Than Nothing Beta” can sign up on the Starlink website by entering an email address and location. At this time, beta testers must live in the northern United States or Canada to participate.
While the connection speeds reported by SpaceX are in the 50 to 150 Mbps range with latency of 20 to 40 milliseconds, this service may be the first broadband available for many users. The launch of more satellites will make the service available to additional users as the geographic range extends. Prior to the beta testing, Starlink hook-ups have already brought broadband service to the isolated Hoh Nation in Washington state.
If selected for the “Better Than Nothing Beta” service, users will be charged a $99 monthly fee. Participants will also need to spend $499 on an equipment package. The package includes a WiFi router, phased-array downlink antenna and mounting hardware.
SpaceX plans to grow its fleet of satellites to 12,000, with 4,000 operational by 2021. Other vendors, including T-Mobile, also want to bring connectivity to the underserved rural market. Amazon has said that it may set up its own satellite deployed internet but so far, SpaceX has the only game in the stratosphere.