SpaceX has made significant progress with its Starlink division as the company looks to offer high-speed internet access to the world through its constellation of satellites.
However, while the initial results from the project have been nothing short of promising, a flood of demand might be pushing the implementation back a little bit.
A Demand Influx for Satellite Internet
Recently, reports confirmed that the Starlink broadband system has seen a surge in demand that might push its wait times by as much as two years. The reports followed a post on Reddit where a user placed an order for the broadband service and was presented with a prompt saying the order might not be processed until 2023 or later.
It appears that customers ordering from specific areas are beginning to deal with rising demand, which will mean that their order fulfillment will have to wait for quite a while.
Following the Reddit user’s post, several others tried to place orders to see the possible areas that had been affected. Most users inserted different addresses, and they found different messages with different dates based on locations. For instance, orders originating from places like Round Hill, Virginia will not be fulfilled until 2023 or later. The same goes for people ordering from Evergreen, Colorado. But, several other locations saw estimates around 2021 and 2022.
Of course, it is worth noting that these are just estimates. So, orders can come earlier than expected - just as it is possible for them to be pushed back even later. People who have already ordered Starlink systems for themselves might want to check the estimated delivery dates regularly as Starlink can change them based on order numbers.
Rural Areas Are Key for Starlink
The surging demand for Starlink isn’t new information. As of June, company chief executive Elon Musk announced on Twitter that they had recorded over 69,000. Keep in mind that this number stood at 10,000 people in February. In a follow-up tweet, Musk gave updates on things like orbital planes, which will be pivotal in ensuring the global access that Starlink hopes to achieve.
While users have reported stability issues in the past, Starlink is set to be a hit - especially in areas where internet connectivity isn’t so high. SpaceX itself understands that, and the company has been doing a lot to get to these areas with its service.
Last month, The Telegraph reported that Starlink had set up a ground station on the Isle of Man. Located on the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man will be key in helping Starlink to serve people in several remote areas of the United Kingdom. The ground station’s location is quite impressive, with The Telegraph noting that it contains a vacant new base station array that is perfectly linked to several data centers around. The sea also surrounds the ground station, so there are no buildings or structures to get in its place.
This month reports also confirmed that Starlink had gotten an operating license in the Czech Republic. The company is rumored to be working towards an initial deployment date of September, while its full launch in the country - and all its pockets of remote locations - should come sometime next year.
Lastly, Starlink has successfully provided internet access to a fishing village in Chile. Starlink reportedly selected two locations in the country to host its pilot project there, and it will be looking to expand from there on out.
More Expansion Incoming
The company is also starting on order fulfillment. This month, Elon Musk confirmed that Starlink had shipped 100,000 terminals for the internet project. The development is significant, with Starlink only starting satellite launches in November 2019 and opening its beta program last year. Since then, over 1,700 satellites have successfully made it to space, and Starlink itself has gotten over 500,000 orders for its internet service.
Part of Starlink’s speed has come from its decision to make things in-house. Satellites launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, so the company can reduce costs as much as possible. With SpaceX all but perfecting the design and implementation of the Falcon 9, the company doesn’t have any need to rely on outside contractors to get its satellites into space.
There is even talk of Starlink satellites launching on SpaceX’s upcoming Super Heavy rocket. This will help SpaceX launch even more satellites as the Super Heavy has a much bigger carrying capacity than the Falcon 9.
Starlink will most likely continue to focus on users in rural areas - which reports claim is the vast majority of the company’s customers. However, the company's overall objective is worldwide coverage.