Elon Musk’s satellites now streaming to some rural N.B. homes

Billionaire Elon Musk’s satellite internet service is now streaming to some homes in New Brunswick.

Starlink has enlisted some households in rural areas of Canada and the northern US to test the service before a full launch, possibly in mid 2021.

Greg Rekounas of the Kingston Peninsula is one of those who signed on to help test the high-speed internet service.

The database administrator, who works from home for an IT company, said he has to be connected at all times.

After barely a week with the new service, he’s bowled over by the difference over his previous DLS link, which sometimes forced him to stop using his camera while participating in work related video-conferencing.

“It changes everything,” said Rekounas. “For me, it was almost to the point where I was considering moving.  And now that thought is out of my head.”

Providing service to people around the world

Musk has been using SpaceX, his rocket company, to blast clusters of 60 low earth orbit satellites into space since May, 2019. The twice-monthly launches have so far planted 955 satellites in low earth orbit, about 550 kilometres above the earth.

The satellites can provide service improvements to people all over the world who are without access to high-speed internet.

A cluster of 60 Starlink satellites is launched from a SpaceX rocket earlier this year. There are 955 units that orbit the earth and 11,000 more are to be launched by 2024. (SpaceX, via Twitter)

Rekounas said it will certainly be welcome in homes in rural parts of New Brunswick.

“They’re able to video conference, they’re able to download, they’re able to stream. They’re able to stay connected almost a hundred per cent of the time,” he said.

Service comes with a price

Upfront costs could be a barrier to some.  Rekounas paid $820 for the required Starlink hardware, a satellite receiving dish, modem, power supply and 100 feet of cable.

The subscription fee is then $130 a month.

The goal is to have 12,000 in orbit by 2024. 

SpaceX did not respond Thursday to a CBC interview request.

Musk is expected to face tough competition from Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, who has his own rocket company, Blue Origin, and is planning an alternate satellite internet service with 3,200 spacecraft in low earth orbit.

Another company, Telesat, which originates in Canada, also has plans to enter the low earth orbit internet market with 298 satellites.

The thousands of new satellites, and others likely to follow, are raising questions about the potential impact on the night skies and on the science of astronomy.

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