SpaceX’s presentation to the FCC also shows the company has introduced a software upgrade that can boost the satellite network’s speeds by 2.5 times from the previous speed tests

SpaceX is indicating more beta testers for Starlink have begun trying out the high-speed satellite internet network. 

On Tuesday, the company gave an update to the Federal Communications Commission on its progress with developing the satellite broadband network. According to the presentation slides, Starlink has already “begun beta service for users across multiple US states.” 

Whether the beta testers were recruited through Starlink.com’s email newsletter, which anyone can sign up for, is unclear. But the same presentation references how SpaceX last month began offering access to Starlink for certain residents in Washington state who had their homes burnt down in the recent wildfires. 

The company also notes Starlink has been “providing service to previously unserved students in rural areas.” This might include a Native American Tribe based in Washington state, which has also received early access to Starlink

Back on Oct. 6, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said a “fairly wide public beta” for the high-speed internet system would start soon after the company successfully launched another round of Starlink satellites into orbit, bringing the total to around 770. According to Musk, the public beta is going to target users in the northern US and possibly southern Canada. 

Since then, the company has remained mum on the Starlink public beta when many internet users who lack access to high-speed broadband are eager to try out the service. 

We’ve reached out to SpaceX about the public beta’s availability, and we’ll update our story if we hear back. However, it’s possible the company has been seeding Starlink test kits here and there. This past weekend, a user on Reddit uploaded a picture of someone in his Seattle apartment building receiving an apparent Starlink package from SpaceX. The details to the original Reddit post have since been deleted. 

The silence around the beta testing is probably by design. Leaked details from SpaceX’s own website concerning Starlink show the company is asking beta testers to sign a non-disclosure agreement, barring them from discussing their experience in public or posting photos about it on social media.  

In the meantime, SpaceX’s presentation to the FCC shows the company has introduced a “software upgrade,” which can boost the network’s speeds by 2.5 times from previous speed tests. (Back in early Sept., SpaceX reported the download speeds on Starlink hitting over 100 Mbps.)  

Starlink is also able to reach a consistent latency of 30 milliseconds “on actual consumer-grade equipment in congested cells.” To demonstrate this, the presentation includes a graph taken from 30 Starlink “high-usage customers,” showing the median latency reaching 30ms, which is on par with ground-based internet services. At worst, the latency among the 30 users lagged to 42ms. 

SpaceX’s long-term goal is to operate thousands of satellites to supply 1Gbps internet speeds to almost anywhere on the planet. To reach the goal, SpaceX told the FCC it’s hoping to launch as many as 120 satellites per month.

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Source: https://www.pcmag.com/news/spacex-indicates-more-beta-testers-are-receiving-access-to-starlink

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