In 2022, many parts of the world are still struggling to maintain or even provide basic internet connectivity. Those who are connected in these areas still face slow speeds and unreliable service. Starlink seeks to solves this issue by bringing next-generation satellite internet to homes and business in these areas.
What Is Starlink?
Starlink is a new broadband internet service provider brought to you by the same minds behind SpaceX, the rocket and spacecraft company.
The Starlink initiative aims to bring high-speed internet to virtually any market worldwide by utilizing low-orbital satellites. The use of low-orbital satellites for internet connection is unlike anything we’ve seen in the past.
This allows us to stream and browse the web with significantly lower latency, resulting in a much better user experience overall.
“Low latency” is a key phrase when talking about Starlink or other satellite internet providers using low-orbital satellite technology. This approach is a real game changer for satellite-based internet.
Think of latency as the lag time when you click a link and how long it takes to load a website. The higher the latency is, the more unstable your browsing experience becomes. Measured in milliseconds (ms), you want this number to be as close to zero as possible.
The correlation between you, a server location, and your internet service provider can impact the latency of your connection.
How Does The Service Work?
The Starlink satellites are closer to Earth versus other satellites, with an orbital height of around 335 to 354 miles or 540 and 570 kilometers respectively.
This classifies them as low-Earth orbit satellites (LEO), which can have a typical orbital height range of up to 1,200 miles.
Since Starlink carries an internet connection signal that needs to be fast and reliable, being closer to Earth means it has less distance to travel. The result is a high-speed, low-latency internet connection that allows you to stream your favorite shows in 4K.
Older satellite internet services before Starlink relied on a single geostationary satellite, which orbited 22,300 miles above Earth. The latency would be too high at that distance to effectively meet today’s internet demands. Rather than using a single unit, Starlink deploys its satellites in what’s known as a constellation of multiple satellites.
This idea is similar to a mesh Wi-Fi network in our homes today. The various access points all work together as a single unit. Once deployed, these satellites communicate via high-speed lasers, allowing them to transmit a tremendous amount of information between them.
Combined with low-Earth orbit, Starlink’s approach should help revolutionize and push the satellite internet industry forward.
And since Starlink has access to SpaceX, you’ll see them fire off more clusters of satellites from their space stations as needed. This allows them to keep up with new hardware upgrades year-round to offer the best user experience possible.
SpaceX eventually intends to launch as many as 12,000 Starlink satellites into space over the coming years. If everything goes as planned, they may even extend the total number of satellites to 42,000 sometime after that.
When Will It Launch In Kenya?
Starlink was first launched in Africa in Nigeria around August, 2022. This was after the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) awarded Starlink two licences – a ten-year international gateway licence and a five-year ISP licence.
According Starlink’s map, the service is scheduled to be launched in Kenya in the first quarter of 2023. This could be a game changer, especially for organizations and schools operating in areas where basic internet connectivity is an issue.
The biggest problem, however, will be the cost. In Nigeria, a full kit that includes a terminal, mounting tripod, and Wi-Fi router goes for $599. A $110 fee for the preorder and monthly subscription is also present.
Its premium service costs about $2,500 for the full kit and $500 monthly. I don’t expect these charges to change when the service is launched in Kenya.