SpaceX has revealed a new tier for its Starlink satellite internet service with higher performance but pricing that might make your eyes water, The Verge has reported. Called Starlink Premium, it offers speeds between 150 and 500Mbps with 20 to 40 milliseconds of latency, up from 50 to 250Mbps with the same latency. Upload speeds are also up, from 10 to 20Mbps on the standard plan to 20 to 40Mbps on Premium.
For a performance boost of roughly double, you’ll pay five times more, however. Starlink Premium will cost $500 a month compared to $99 per month for the standard plan. You’ll also pay $2,500 for the antenna and other hardware, compared to $499 for base plan, and will need to leave a $500 deposit to reserve the Premium dish.
SpaceX said the new service will work better in “extreme weather conditions” and customers will get priority 24/7 support. It’s likely to be the only high-speed internet option available in many remote places, where the extra weatherproofing could come in handy.
SpaceX announced that Starlink would come out of beta last October, and recently unveiled a new rectangular satellite dish that’s much smaller and thinner than the original round one. The new Premium antenna is apparently larger than that and it supposedly “helps ensure bandwidth for critical operations even during times of peak network usage,” SpaceX said.
Comment: It was inevitable. At that price, Starlink Premium will not be for the everyday Joe. Still, it makes a lot of sense for businesses and for isolated rural communities. I can see the Nunavut government installing Starlink Premium service in isolated Inuit villages and towns.
In other Starlink news, the Russian Duma came up with a law fining Russians for using the Starlink network. The possibility of Starlink beaming Western propaganda directly to Russian cellphones is the expressed fear. Roscosmos Chief Rogozin also warned that Starlink satellites can be used for military purposes in the future, including changing the flight path of cruise missiles and managing spy networks. Jeez, all Elon’s trying to do is get to Mars.
I haven’t read anything about China banning the use of Starlink, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens. China plans to launch her own 5G satellite network to rival Starlink. Maybe China’s plan is to beat Starlink in direct economic competition. China has complained about her space station having to dodge some of the Starlink satellites. Elon’s satellites have also been dodging space debris left by recent Russian ASAT tests. It’s getting crowded up there.
I composed the above a month ago when Putin and his entire government were busy swearing on their mothers’ graves that any talk of Russia invading Ukraine was pure absurdity. Well, Elon has responded remarkably since the Putin regime proved themselves to be a pack of stinking liars. He started by shipping pallets of Starlink terminals to Ukraine within a few days and arranged for service for all of Ukraine. He then noted that some Starlink terminals near conflict areas were being jammed for several hours at a time. He said his latest software update bypasses the jamming. That’s good stuff. Good for Ukraine and very bad for any authoritarian/totalitarian regime bent on controlling the flow of information to their people. I remember stories of dropping radio receivers behind the Iron Curtain. I don’t know if that’s a true story or not. But I could see getting a bunch of these Starlink terminals distributed across Russia, China and several other places to be a beneficial project. If Elon could miniaturize those terminals to the size of a handset, it would be even better.
I’m reminded of a Warren Zevon song, “Mohammed’s Radio.” That song’s forty five years old and as timely as if it was written today.