The Starlink satellite internet service may have the capability to provide users in far-flung regions around the world with high-speed connections before the year ends. SpaceX has deployed 1,800 or so satellites for the Starlink constellation so far. While that number’s just a fraction of the 12,000 satellites regulators already approved for the constellation, it’s enough to enable worldwide coverage. According to Reuters, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell has revealed at a web conference that the service will be able to offer continuous global coverage once all 1,800 satellites reach their operational orbit. The aerospace corporation expects that to happen as soon as September this year.
That doesn’t mean the company can automatically offer everyone around the world access to broadband-speed internet services, though. As Shotwell explained during the event, SpaceX will first have to secure regulatory approval to provide telecommunications services in every country where it wants to offer Starlink’s internet. At the moment, Starlink is available as a beta service in only a handful of countries, including the US, the UK and Canada. CNBC discovered earlier this year, though, that the company has already registered subsidiaries in Austria, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, France, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa and Spain.
As of February this year, SpaceX reported in an FCC filing that the service already has over 10,000 users as part of its initial public beta test rollout. The company then opened its beta testing program to more people and gave everyone interested the option to pay a $99 deposit with the promise of providing them coverage sometime this year or the next. There was so much interest in the service that SpaceX revealed in May that it received over 500,000 Starlink orders. Shotwell didn’t expound on the company’s plans for the service after September, but we’ll likely see Starlink expand its beta program to welcome new users in those aforementioned countries.
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