After conquering Earth orbit, SpaceX’s next location appears to be the high seas, via a dedicated yacht-focused sub-brand of its satellite Internet service called Starlink Maritime†
The idea of satellite internet on water isn’t new, but the actual service isn’t great overall: you can expect to pay hundreds or thousands per month for DSL speeds, capped at a few megabits.
In any case, Starlink Maritime is tackling the speed issue and says it can deliver customers up to 350 Mbps. But with a monthly price of $5,000 and a one-time $10,000 hardware fee for the dual terminals you need, it doesn’t exactly get more accessible. Although consumers have the option to pause and resume the subscription and be billed only for the months they use.
The terminals are “performance dishes” about twice the size of a home dish, Starlink’s Joseph Scarantino noticed on Twitter†
“Two Perf Dishes quadruple the performance – so that helps reduce latency, ping drops or signal loss at sea due to the broader FOV provided by the two dishes,” he wrote.
Of course, the device should still be installed where there is a clear view of the sky. Consumers can download the Starlink phone application to ensure their device is placed in the ideal location.
SpaceX claims that Starlink Maritime “allows you to connect from some of the most remote waters in the world”, but currently their coverage area is limited to coastal waters in North America (mainly the US), Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Chile. Not a problem if you’re only cruising the Mediterranean, but trans-ocean ships will lose connection quite quickly after leaving port.
Starlink claims they will expand their coverage to more bodies of water – primarily across the Northern Hemisphere – by Q4 of this year and the Southern Hemisphere by Q1 of 2023.
Today’s marine ISPs offer coverage across most ocean waters depending on the coverage plan, but again, the speed isn’t great. Fast service even only in local waters, even with that price tag, is likely to attract many high-end customers and commercial services such as cruise ships.