The modern world relies heavily on the internet, whether it’s work or play everyone is spending some time online, because of this it’s hard to believe that so many people still have such outdated service from their providers. In some areas of rural Alberta, the internet can be as slow as 100kbps (too slow to load a web page reliably) and can even be inconsistent with its connection. Many people are forced to endure the annoyances of satellite internet with its high price and still mediocre service. However, a new age of satellite internet is on the horizon, boasting high speeds and low latency, this new internet will bring everyone into the modern age.
Starlink is a company specializing in satellite internet, promising they can give connection to everyone regardless of country or location, at speeds that were never possible before. Over the last year, Space X (Starlink’s parent company) has launched over 1000 satellites for their internet service. Starlink varies slightly from the traditional techniques of how satellite internet has been done in the past, rather than the standard distance from the surface they opt to launch their satellites into low Earth orbit (about 500km in the sky). When compared to Traditional satellites (which fly at around 20,000km), Starlinks satellites have considerably lower latency, this is because they are noticeably closer to the ground. For those who don’t know, latency is how long it takes for the information requested by the computer to fly up to the satellite, reach the tower on the ground, then return back through the satellite to your house. So, given that it takes time to travel those distances, even for radio waves, it should be obvious that having a shorter path to follow would result in snappier service and lower loading times. This is especially important for those who partake in online gaming where a maximum of 50ms of delay is required for a smooth and lag-free experience, something Starlink is able to provide where the traditional satellite solutions are not. This has allowed Starlink to not only lower latency but also increase its speeds to about 150mb/s, about 6 times faster than its competitors.
Although Starlink has considerable improvements over its competition some do have concerns. Notably, due to the satellites being 60 times closer to earth than what has been typically done people are worried that they will pollute the night sky with unwanted lights. And while at first, that was the case, Starlink has since made improvements to help lower the visibility of its satellites. Now rather than leaving the brightness of the light full they dim them once they know they are in proper orbit and functioning correctly, they have also worked with astronomers to ensure that they will not interfere with stargazing. So if you’re lucky in the first week of a new launch you may see a line of lights sliding across the night sky, but after that, they are dimmed until they are virtually invisible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to use this new satellite internet yet, as Starlink has not yet finished launching its satellites into orbit. Though, once it has completed its plan they are sure to offer the service everywhere regardless of geographical location as well as improve the speed and reliability even further.