Although the internet as we know it today was born in 1991, it has become an important power that influences and shapes our lives as of the early 2000s. This is such an effect that we can define even generations as before and after the internet.
Broadband internet technologies also developed rapidly, while it became easier to obtain internet services in the process. 20 years ago, you had to have a strong budget to get "broadband" internet service. Of course, I am talking about 128kbps ADSL service, not tens of megabit, gigabit broadband as now. Today, we can reach 100Mbps bandwidth with the mobile phones we carry in our pocket. The fees we pay for this service are not at the same level as they used to be. This development does not slow down, on the contrary, it continues with acceleration. In the coming years, broadband internet offered by satellite networks with features that will go beyond traditional satellite internet will become much more common. A few giant companies of the world make significant investments in this field, but one of them has an advantage; SpaceX.
SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, is now leading the race due to the important innovations it has made in rocket technology. In this article, we will try to look at the details of the Starlink project carried out by SpaceX from a different perspective.
Within the framework of the Starlink project, SpaceX aims to establish an interconnected network of small satellites in order to provide high speed internet service to the world. Moreover, if the project is successful, high-speed access will be possible (almost) anywhere in the world, from the oceans to the most remote forest areas.
How fast will Starlink's internet be? The company is assessing that it can achieve 100Mbps download and 40Mbps upload speeds. Although it is unclear whether consumers will reach the same level, even 600Mbps was achieved in a test with the US Air Force.
When asked whether games such as Starlink and Warzone, Fortnite and NBA 2K are playable, Musk stated that Starlink is designed to run competitive games in real time. According to Musk, the delay time is around 20ms and in Version 2, which will be placed in lower orbits, the delay time can be reduced to 8ms.
As of now, SpaceX has received authorization from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to launch 12,000 Starlink satellites. It is planned that 8,000 of the 12,000 satellites in question will orbit 500 km and 4,000 of the planet approximately 1,200 km above the planet. However, SpaceX asked permission from ITU (International Telecommunication Union) to launch 30,000 more satellites in addition to these 12,000 satellites in October 2019. Approximately 600 Starlink satellites have been launched so far.
SpaceX senior executive Gwynne Shotwell stated that building the network would cost the company $ 10 billion or more. It is unclear whether these massive costs will be covered by SpaceX or its competitors. As a matter of fact, SpaceX's rival OneWeb filed for bankruptcy on March 27, just after launching 34 satellites on March 21, increasing the total number of satellites to 74. Considering the previous bankruptcies, it is possible to say that this area is risky. Despite the high cost and past unsuccessful examples, if the Starlink project is implemented at the desired level, the benefits to be obtained are quite high.
As of now, SpaceX is worth approximately $ 36 billion. According to Morgan Stanley's assessment in July 2020, if the Starlink project is a success, it is possible for SpaceX to increase its value to 175 billion dollars.
Consumers will be able to connect to Starlink's internet via devices called user terminals. User terminals are defined by Musk as flat, pizza-shaped antennas. Unlike dishes, which are highly sensitive according to Musk, user terminals can be placed at almost any angle facing the sky.
While SpaceX aims for consumers to acquire user terminals for $ 200-300, analysts estimate that each of these devices costs at least $ 1,200 each. Therefore, there is a discrepancy in terms of cost. In a statement he made to Aviation Week, Musk admitted this situation; He stated that the biggest challenge for Starlink is to make the user terminal and user terminal costs affordable.
Information on monthly subscription fees for the service has not yet been shared via official channels. Shotwell said millions of people in the US pay $ 80 each month for a "lousy" service, although he did not provide information as to whether Starlink's monthly subscription fee is under or over $ 80. Accordingly, there is a public opinion that the monthly price will be around $ 80. Therefore, as Musk points out, if the costs of user terminals can be reduced, it is possible for Starlink's internet to be an accessible service (at least in certain markets).
What about the demand side? SpaceX announced that almost 700,000 individuals in the US are interested in the service Starlink has not yet served, and accordingly there is an "extraordinary demand" for Starlink. In addition, SpaceX applied to the FCC to increase the number of user terminals from 1 million to 5 million in line with this potential demand, which exceeded expectations.
SpaceX aims for Starlink to first start serving in the North USA and Canada in 2020. Starlink's potential customers are not limited to individual consumers. For example, even the partial activation of Starlik is expected to benefit the financial sector.
There are also some concerns brought about by Starlink or similar systems.
(1) Currently, with social media and different communication applications, the information of citizens from many countries is in the hands of a limited number of countries that can be described as a monopoly. Thanks to the value of this information collected, social media companies that do not charge any fees from their users can earn huge revenues. When Starlink and projects like it are implemented, much more information will be in the hands of the companies and / or companies that manage these systems. In short, when we start to receive our internet connection, which is currently received through national telecommunication companies, from satellites, the information will almost be collected in one hand.
(2) It is quite possible for national telecommunication companies to suffer significant subscriber losses if Starlink is put into operation at full capacity. It may be expected that national telecommunications companies that suffer from loss of subscribers and income will have difficulties in making new investments and adapting to the competitive environment. National telecommunications companies may have to sacrifice their technological updates and human resources. Ultimately, the activation of Starlink may harm nation states through different fields such as economic, technological and security.
(3) There are also concerns that Starlink will increase the risk of creating space junk, pose a threat to spaceflight and make astronomy studies difficult by causing light pollution.
With all these possible benefits and harms, it seems possible that Starlink and / or its competitors will become a power affecting global balances in the upcoming period.