Billionaire Elon Musk’s satellite internet service is now streaming to some homes in New Brunswick.
Starlink has enlisted some households in rural areas of Canada and the northern U.S. to test the service before a full launch, possibly in mid-2021.
Greg Rekounas of the Kingston Peninsula is one of those who signed on to help test the high-speed internet service.
The database administrator, who works from home for an IT company, said he has to be connected at all times for his job. After barely a week with the new service, he’s bowled over by the improvement over his previous DSL link, which sometimes forced him to stop using his webcam while participating in work-related video conferencing.
“It changes everything,” said Rekounas. “For me, it was almost to the point where I was considering moving. And now that thought is out of my head.”
Providing service to people around the world
Musk has been using SpaceX, his rocket company, to blast clusters of 60 low Earth orbit satellites into space since May, 2019. The twice-monthly launches have so far planted 955 satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), about 550 kilometres above the planet.
The goal is to have 12,000 in orbit by 2024.
The satellites can provide service improvements to people all over the world who are without access to high-speed internet.
Rekounas said it will certainly be welcome in homes in rural parts of New Brunswick.
“They’re able to video-conference, they’re able to download, they’re able to stream. They’re able to stay connected almost a hundred per cent of the time,” he said.
Service comes with a price
Upfront costs, however, could be a barrier to some. Rekounas paid $820 for the required Starlink hardware, a satellite receiving dish, modem, power supply and 100 feet of cable. The subscription fee is $130 a month.
SpaceX did not respond Thursday to a CBC interview request.
Musk is expected to face tough competition from Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, who has his own rocket company, Blue Origin, and is planning an alternate satellite internet service with 3,200 spacecraft in low Earth orbit.
Another company, Telesat, which originates in Canada, also has plans to enter the LEO internet market with 298 satellites.
The thousands of new satellites, and others likely to follow, are raising questions about the potential impact on the night skies and on the science of astronomy.