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SpaceX has shipped 100,000 Starlink terminals

Starlink, SpaceX's low Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite broadband service, has reached a deployment milestone with word this week that the company has shipped 100,000 Starlink terminals.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced the milestone Monday on Twitter, adding that Starlink now serves parts of 14 countries. "Our license applications are pending in many more countries. Hoping to serve Earth soon!," Musk tweeted.

According to CNBC, the shipment announcement implies that SpaceX has added 10,000 new Starlink customers in a span of about three weeks, as the company announced in July that it had 90,000 users.

Starlink's hardware kit includes a satellite dish, mounting tripod, power supply, requisite cables and a Wi-Fi router. 
(Image source: SpaceX)
Starlink's hardware kit includes a satellite dish, mounting tripod, power supply, requisite cables and a Wi-Fi router.
(Image source: SpaceX)

The latest shipment figure comes nearly a year after Starlink launched its beta program. Starlink's service, which remains in beta, currently sells for $99 per month and requires beta users to purchase a $499 hardware kit.

Lengthy wait times for some

Starlink offers its beta service on a first-come/first-served basis, but it appears that interested consumers in some areas are in for a lengthy wait. For example, when Starlink service availability is checked for an address in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, the system notes that area is at capacity for 2021, and orders might not be fulfilled until late 2022. PC Mag reports that some users in northern Virginia are being told that orders won't be fulfilled by SpaceX/Starlink until sometime in 2023.

Speaking virtually at the Mobile World Congress show in June, Musk declared that Starlink was on pace to have "a few hundred thousand users, possibly over 500,000 users within 12 months." It's not clear how the current backlog of beta customers will affect that expectation, but SpaceX reported in May that it had about 500,000 Starlink orders in hand.

Starlink notes that beta users can expect data speeds to range from 50 Mbit/s to 150 Mbit/s and latency in the range of 20 milliseconds to 40 milliseconds. A recent study from Ookla found that Starlink's median download speed in the US reached 97.23 Mbit/s downstream in Q2 2021, up from 65.72 Mbit/s in Q1 2021; and its median upload speed was 13.89 Mbit/s in Q2 2021, up slightly from 13.77 Mbit/s in Q1 2021.

'Gen2' system in the works

Amid ongoing support for the current Starlink beta service, SpaceX is now working on a "Gen2" satellite system featuring heavier, more powerful satellites that, if all goes to plan, will be delivered into orbit via the company's new, more massive Starship rocket.

SpaceX's Gen2 proposal, now under review at the FCC, calls for a new, densified constellation of nearly 30,000 satellites at orbits ranging from 340 kilometers (211 miles) to 614 kilometers (382 miles). SpaceX said the plan does not require the use of additional spectrum resources, as Starlink would continue to use a blend of Ku-band, Ka-band and E-band frequencies.

SpaceX has launched about 1,740 first-gen Starlink satellites.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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