Satellite Internet is not a new phenomenon and there are companies already offering satellite Internet services. The largest satellite internet providers currently available are ViaSat and HughesNet. It is interesting to know that both of these companies introduced their satellite internet service for the first time in 2012, and Husnet has 1.3 million subscribers in the United States.
But why is the story different this time around, and the whole world is eagerly following the news of the Starlink project and eagerly awaiting the launch of the SpaceX satellite internet?
The answer to the above question lies in the difference between the Starlink satellite system system and other Internet satellite systems:
Starlink is supposed to be global, and in theory its serviceability will not be limited to a specific geographical area.
Starlink will have much more bandwidth due to more satellites, and as a result will serve many more users.
Most importantly, Starlink is much faster and has much less latency than other satellite Internet.
Low latency and universal service
Until now, one of the most important disadvantages of satellite Internet has been its very high latency and limited service to a particular country or continent. The reason for this long delay and geographical constraint is that satellite Internet service providers have previously placed their satellites in fixed orbit or GEO. The rotation speed of the satellites in this orbit is equal to the rotation speed of the earth around it, and as a result, the satellite practically remains fixed at a fixed point in the sky from the point of view of the ground observer.
The position of the satellites in the GEO orbit relative to Earth is fixed
Also, the 35,000 km altitude of the orbit of these satellites makes the internet latency they provide to reach 550 milliseconds at best and up to 600 milliseconds in practice. Such delays make traditional satellite Internet services very inconvenient or even practically unusable for applications such as audio-visual communication and video games.
Starlink satellites are 70 to 100 times closer to Earth than conventional telecommunications satellites
But Starlink satellites are supposed to be in low-Earth orbit or LEO with an altitude of 500 km in the first phase and 300 km in the next phases (ie 70 to 100 times closer than the GEO orbiting satellites). This makes Starlink satellite internet latency theoretically even less than fiber optics.
Comparison of GEO and LEO circuits
Comparison of GEO circuit distance with LEO (latency is related to a round trip route)
But how can a signal that goes into space and back to Earth reach its destination faster than a signal that travels a shorter path inside a fiber optic? The answer lies in the difference between the speed of light and electromagnetic waves in glass (optical fiber) and vacuum: the speed of light in optical fiber is only two-thirds the speed of electromagnetic waves in a vacuum.
According to the results of recently released speed tests, it has been determined that the Starlink Internet latency is currently between 30 and 90 milliseconds, and some users have even reported a latency of 20 and 21 milliseconds.
Starlink speed test results in private beta phase (click on image to view full size)
Ilan Musk had previously said that with the implementation of the next phase, the Starlink latency could be reduced to 8 milliseconds. This means that for the first time, satellite internet can be used for applications such as voice and video calls and video games.
High speed and capacity
Another disadvantage of satellite Internet before was the small number of satellites in orbit, which forced many users to share the bandwidth of a satellite with each other, thus reducing the speed of satellite Internet subscribers. The small number of satellites also limits the number of potential users. For example, even if Viast and Hussant had global coverage, they could not serve tens or hundreds of millions to prevent a sharp drop in speed.
The first part of the first phase of Starlink will consist of 1584 satellites in 24 orbital pages
SpaceX, however, plans to send many more satellites into space to deliver the Internet. If all goes according to plan, SpaceX will increase the number of active satellites in orbit to more than a thousand with at least 10 more launches this year. By the end of the first phase, the number of SpaceX satellites will be more than 4,000, and finally the total number of satellites will reach an incredible 40,000.
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