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SpaceX indicates that more beta testers are accessing Starlink

(Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX indicates that more beta testers for Starlink have started testing the high-speed satellite Internet network.

On Tuesday, the company provided an update to the Federal Communications Commission on its progress in developing satellite broadband networks. According to the presentation images, Starlink has already “started beta service for users in several US states.”

The presentation slide from SpaceX(Credit: SpaceX / FCC)

Whether beta testers were recruited via Starlink.com̵

7;s email newsletter, which anyone can sign up for, is unclear. But the same presentation refers to how SpaceX last month began offering access to Starlink to certain residents of the state of Washington who had their homes burned down in recent fires.

The company also notes that Starlink has provided service to previously unattended rural students. This may include an Indian tribe based in the state of Washington, which has also gained early access to Starlink

Back on October 6, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said a “fairly broad public beta” for the high-speed Internet system would launch shortly after the company successfully launched a new round of Starlink satellites into orbit, bringing the total amount to around 770. According to Musk, the public beta will target users in the northern United States and possibly southern Canada.

Since then, the company has remained the mother of Starlink’s public beta when many Internet users who lack high-speed broadband access are eager to try the service.

We’ve reached out to SpaceX about the availability of the public beta, and we’ll update our story if we hear back. However, it is possible that the company has sown Starlink test kits here and there. Last weekend, a Reddit user uploaded a photo of a person in his apartment complex in Seattle receiving an apparent Starlink package from SpaceX. The details of the original Reddit post have since been deleted.

The silence around beta testing is probably by design. Leaked details from SpaceX’s own website regarding Starlink show that the company is asking beta testers to sign a confidentiality agreement that prevents them from discussing their experiences in public or posting photos about it on social media.

Meanwhile, SpaceX’s presentation to the FCC shows that the company has introduced a “software upgrade” that can increase network speeds by 2.5 times from previous speed tests. (Back in early September, SpaceX reported download speeds on Starlink that hit over 100 Mbps.)

The presentation slide from SpaceX(Credit: SpaceX / FCC)

Starlink is also capable of reaching a constant latency of 30 milliseconds “on actual consumer-grade equipment in congested cells.” To demonstrate this, the presentation includes a graph taken from 30 Starlink “high-consumption customers” showing the average latency reaching 30 ms, which is on par with terrestrial internet services. In the worst case, the latency time among the 30 users was delayed to 42 ms.

SpaceX’s long-term goal is to operate thousands of satellites to deliver 1Gbps Internet speeds to almost anywhere on the planet. To reach the goal, SpaceX told the FCC that it hopes to launch as many as 120 satellites a month.

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