SpaceX retweeted the NSF, expressing that Starlink was “now on all seven continents” and that its power to operate in remote places like Antarctica is gratitude to “Starlink’s space laser network.”
However, while Starlink has driven it to one more continent, glancing at Starlink’s availability map, you may catch that the service is… well, not available in either Africa or Asia.
The company intends to launch service in at least two countries on every continent by the end of the year — Mozambique, Nigeria, Japan, and the Philippines — and its satellites may be competent to provide service there now. Still, at this moment, it seems like you can’t purchase it on all seven continents.
After a race with OneWeb to shield the North Pole and the other Arctic regions with satellite internet, SpaceX has driven it to the other extreme: the National Science Foundation is testing its Starlink points at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The NSF says the improved bandwidth will allow scientists to function on the remote continent close to the South Pole.
According to the NSF, McMurdo, the most heavily inhabited Antarctic station, with over 1,000 individuals living and operating there during the summer, already held satellite internet. Still, it was coarse. According to the United States Antarctic Program, everybody at the base shares a 17 Mbps link, severely limiting what people can do. The station blocks people from using high-bandwidth apps like Netflix, cloud backups, and video calls, except for once-weekly Skype or FaceTime sessions at a public kiosk or mission-critical communications.
The addition of Starlink probably doesn’t suggest that McMurdo residents will be able to maintain a Netflix movie night – the terminals can endure about 50-200 Mbps. Still isn’t plenty to go around, even during the winter when distant lesser people are at the base — but it could quickly transfer important scientific data of the icy continent. NSF representative Mike England said he couldn’t comment additionally on what strictly the system would be employed for, as it’s presently in beta testing.
The same is genuine for Starlink’s maritime service, which only works in coastal waters off certain countries, limiting its usefulness for consumers like Royal Caribbean. However, the company plans to expand that coverage to most of the world’s oceans early next year.
If you liked to use Starlink, you’d maintain to have a SpaceX ground station within hundred miles because a satellite is carried to be able to speak to your Dish and the station simultaneously. While the satellites’ job is always to connect Starlink terminals to the ground stations, SpaceX has been driving the system more flexibly by letting the satellites talk to each other. If the satellite conversing to your Dish can’t also speak to a ground station, it’ll link to a satellite that can, using lasers to pass data back and forth.
SpaceX hopes to massively expand its coverage in 2023 as it makes it so that the company doesn’t have to build dozens upon dozens of different ground stations.
But, of course, there are regulatory limitations as well; SpaceX has to license spectrum in every nation that it operates in, which means dealing with hundreds of regulatory mechanisms. Moreover, it’s not just a one-time matter, as the battle over whether Dish can use the 12Ghz spectrum for 5G has revealed.
Still, if the test in Antarctica runs well, it could help confirm that SpaceX at least has the tech to shield even the most remote areas settled down.