Photos are starting to leak from SpaceX Starlink beta users, who are trying the satellite broadband service in remote areas for the first time. So far, the beta testing appears to be going far better than that of full self driving.
One beta tester shared his experience on Reddit after he brought his Starlink equipment to a remote forest in Idaho. There, he said he was able to achieve 120Mbps download speeds and access the internet at lightning fast speed.
He wrote that the service "works beautifully." He continued: "I did a real-time video call and some tests. My power supply is max 300w, and the drain for the whole system while active was around 116w."
"Starlink pulled that off in a place where [the user] couldn't get any cellular service from Google Fi, which relies on the T-Mobile and US Cellular networks. There is no cell here with any carrier," he said, according to ARS Technica.
The user put the satellite dish on the ground in an open part of forest and did a speed test to confirm his 120Mbps download speeds. He said the results got worse as he moved into more heavily forested locations.
"It didn't work well with a heavy tree canopy/trees directly in the line of sight, as expected. I would be connected only for about 5 seconds at a time. Make sure you have as clear a view of the sky as possible," he said.
He also commented that other beta testers should probably keep the equipment at its registered location for the time being: "All things considered, [it's] probably best to keep [the user terminal] where registered until there is official illumination on the topic. Just knowing mobility is possible, though, is nice."
At his house, he said he got 135Mbps download speeds when the dish was at a ground-level spot with "limited obstruction."
"Given all the obstructions for this connection at the moment, I am amazed at how well it works. Streaming, low-latency video conferencing, and gaming are all completely accessible with this service. Even for the beta, it appears as though they've under-estimated Starlink's capabilities, so I am excited to see it mature."
After unboxing the equipment, he said: "Everything is of an extreme build quality, and this works significantly better than I had ever imagined. It feels like it's from the future. Given a top-tier cell phone costs in the $1,000 range, I am completely amazed I have my hands on a setup like this for ~$500, so I am biased positively towards this service."
As ARS Technica noted, Starlink appears to be "much faster" than traditional satellites:
New speed-test data collected by Ookla and published by PCMag last week found average Starlink download speeds of 79.5Mbps and average upload speeds of 13.8Mbps in October, when the service was in a more limited beta. The same data found average download speeds of 24.75Mbps for Viasat's Exede service and 19.84Mbps for HughesNet, both of which offer service from geostationary satellites. Upload speeds for Viasat and HughesNet were 3.25Mbps and 2.64Mbps, respectively.
The beta costs $99 a month plus an upfront $499 fee for the hardware.