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August 18, 2021

Letter from Starlink

With a few notes on significance.

Last month Starlink sent the letter below to Beta users of which I am one. The news in it is important to those waiting for Starlink or considering ordering it. I can’t find an online copy so I’m posting it here along with some comments following the text of the letter.

Starlink
 

Since our last update, the Starlink team has been hard at work building the systems and infrastructure to enable growth while continuously improving service quality. Below are some of the highlights:  

Space Lasers
As Elon recently mentioned, the Starlink team is preparing to launch upgraded satellites that will include space lasers.  Space lasers enable our satellites to transfer data between each other without having to go through a ground station.  Once fully deployed, space lasers will make Starlink one of the fastest options available to transfer data around the world. 

 Connecting to the Best Satellite

The team completed roll out of a new feature to all users that enables your Starlink to seamlessly switch to a different satellite in real time if communication with your assigned satellite is interrupted for any reason.  There can only be one satellite connected to your Starlink at any time, but this feature will enable choice of the best satellite, resulting in far fewer network disruptions.  

High Temperature Management
The Starlink team has initiated a series of software improvements that change how your Starlink responds to high temperatures.  These improvements will roll out over the next few weeks and should address invalid “Thermal Shutdown” app alerts seen by some customers. 

Starlink App Upgrades
The Starlink team recently rolled out several improvements that enable users to
do all of the following from the app:

  • make network name/password changes 
  • enable WPA3 security
  • separate control of 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz  

To date, Starlink has received deposits from almost every country around the world.  Going forward, our ability to expand service will be driven in part by governments granting Starlink licensing internationally.  

Thank you for being an early user of Starlink—we appreciate your feedback and continued support!    

The Starlink Team

 

Space Exploration Technologies Corp | 1 Rocket Road, Hawthorne, CA 90250 | Unsubscribe

Questions? See Starlink FAQs

My Comments:

The most important news is the space lasers; but they are an intent, not a reality for Starlink. Iridium already uses inter-satellite laser communication to provide true worldwide coverage albeit low bandwidth from their constellation of 66 LEOS with only four ground stations. Once the lasers are operational, Starlink will be able to provide coverage even in countries which don’t allow ground stations to be built. Satellites will also be able to choose optimum paths for packets to the ground based both on capacity available at various ground stations and which ground station can provide the best entry point into the terrestrial Internet for the current packet. Smart routing will improve the perceived speed of Starlink and open the door to space-based cloud computing. Finally, inter-satellite communication opens the way for Starlink to be used as long-distance backbone. But the feature is useless until implemented in many satellites – so still vapor at this point.

Connecting to the best satellite is here today and is a BFD. It has reduced (but not eliminated) Starlink’s annoying small drops in service. I also hear that it has made Starlink more useful in places where there is an obstruction some of the time since Dishy now doesn’t have to insist on trying to see through a tree if it has another alternative. My dish is in an obstacle-free location now so I haven’t tested this.

High temperatures are not a problem here in Vermont. It’s impressive that the Starlink team has been able to respond quickly to the thermal problem experienced in hotter places.

Altogether good progress. The announcement I’m really waiting for, however, is that Starlink is out of beta. It can’t be a serious contender for all the money now going to broadband unless it goes into production status. Staying in beta too long is like the CDC never quite getting around to full rather than emergency approval of the various Covid vaccines. It doesn’t inspire confidence.

See posts in Starlink for more on the service.

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