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Starlink: Beaming wifi to the nooks and crannies of the planet6 min read

July 2, 2021 4 min read


Starlink: Beaming wifi to the nooks and crannies of the planet6 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Confused Pittsburgh Steelers GIF by Microsoft Surface

If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably using Wifi. But did you know that Wifi is yet to reach so much of the world? Now, in just a couple of months, Elon Musk plans to beam the internet to the nooks and crannies of the world. So how is he going to do it? Let’s find out.

Before we get into how the inventor of this rocket, that electric car, and this futuristic tunnel plans to get you faster Wifi, let’s take a quick peek at what internet really is. If you are currently using Wifi, the chances are that you are getting it by one of these means. Either Wifi signals are being transmitted to you through wires or optical fibres, or you’re getting your Wifi from a nearby tower, and least likely of all is that you have Satellite internet.
So what are all these different gadgets sending your way? Well, they are sending our own gadgets radio waves full of data. Can’t quite wrap your head around that?

Watch this video to learn more.

Elon Musk’s Plan

Oh My God Reaction Sticker by Cartuna

Elon Musk’s internet is super fast.

It runs at 150 megabytes per second.

In contrast, the internet that you have in an average household runs at 25 megabytes per second.

Let’s dive into what Elon Musk plans to do with the internet. Well, eventually, he plans to send 40,000 satellites to wrap the planet with free and superfast Wifi. But for now, Starlink, Elon Musk’s Wifi satellite company, has sent up about 1500 satellites that will start beaming the internet in 12 countries by this August. At the moment Starlink aims to reach about 69,000 people. However, Elon Musk has suggested that by the end of 12 months, he expects at least half a million Starlink users.

Starlink is expected in India by the end of 2021.

Space Earth GIF by guardian
A 3D graphic depicting Starlink Satellites circling the planet. Image: The Guardian

A Risky Business

Elon Musk has already paid the tiny sum of

10 billion dollars or 7,45,72,05,00,000 rupees

to get Starlink running.

Elon Musk Reaction GIF by Saturday Night Live

These high costs make Satellite internet a risky business. Musk isn’t the first ambitious businessman who wants to connect the world, yet he may be the first person to do it successfully. Musk’s predecessors haven’t set a great precedent. In fact, previously, Iridium Communications Inc went bankrupt after spending billions of dollars, while a similar fate met Bill Gates’ Teldesic.

Long odds

Space Star Sticker by Ivo Adventures

Starlink is an ambitious venture. However, Musk’s plans to connect rural and unreachable areas may not be as attainable as they seem. The steep price of this internet makes it unlikely that the inhabitants of these areas will be able to reap its benefits. Starlink internet is set to cost a single household a whopping rupees 7000 per month!! Nonetheless, the chances are that as the service gets more users, the company will be able to make the internet cheaper and more accessible.

“Step No. 1 for Starlink is don’t go bankrupt. If we succeed in not going bankrupt then that’ll be great and we can move on from there.”

Elon Musk, Founder of Starlink

Another problem that Starlink faces is that like most other things, it is not immune to climate change. Heat waves and other extreme weather conditions can easily disrupt the flow of Wifi and temporarily stop the connection. Despite all this, Elon Musk has made a name for himself by attaining the impossible. In 2020, he successfully launched the world’s first reusable rocket. Click on the image below to know more.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Endeavor, carrying four astronauts, approaches the International Space Station orbiting the Earth April 24, 2021. Image: NASA

Why do you think it is important that Wifi reach everyone?
Do you think these Satellites will add to the problem of Space Garbage?
Do you think this expensive endeavour is worth the money?


With Excerpts From: Business Insider, HT Tech, The New York Times, Livemint, Space.com, Scientific American, Time Magazine and Leverege.

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