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Between Elon's "Private beta begins in ~3 months, public beta in ~6 months, starting with high latitudes"
and the FCC's ratification of WIFI6 ..
.. the nerd is me is kind of getting excited.
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@Wedgy sort of. The Starlink system isn't designed to communicate directly with handsets like the ground-based cellphone/tower system, or Iridium, or some of the others are. Starlink needs a ground terminal "about the size of a pizza box". Said pizza box has a phased array antenna system* to communicate with the satellites via Ku and Ka bands. Presumably however this box will also have some sort of standard, consumer-friendly output like an Ethernet port and/or WiFi connectivity.
The WiFi 6 connection is purely in my mind at this point but it makes sense. WiFi 6 is theoretically able to cover an entire house with up to 1.2Ghz bandwidth. Most urban locations will likely have interference that limits that to something somewhat less, but it should still be able to handle the full bandwidth of a Starlink connection, which is (again theoretically) in the ~600Mb range. The overall idea (in my mind anyway) being that you could put a Starlink pizza box with built-in wifi on your house's roof and get a ~500Mb connection to the internet, wherever your house is in the world. Even if your "house" is actually a plane, a boat, or an RV it still works, since the "pizza box's" antenna and electronics are designed to be mobile. As long as it has visibility to the sky and power you should be good.
(*basically a flat panel of electronically-controlled elements that together behave like a steerable dish antenna only with no moving parts.)
So the ground terminal though could be used to communicate with the average consumer devices, wherever they may be installed? I hope I understand that correctly. If so, that's a pretty cool development and can help bring connectivity to rural areas.
Also, I found this note pretty wild: "SpaceX has long-term plans to develop and deploy a version of the satellite communication system to serve Mars." Musk is really pushing for space exploration isn't he?
Yes. Rural areas is his stated primary target audience since they're under-served by the AT&Ts and Comcasts and TimeWrners out there. But any one who is disenchanted with the current monopolies is welcome as well.
And yes, pretty much everything he does is directly or indirectly related to setting up a permanent Mars colony. Starlink was started because he needed something big to justify all the launches he's been doing, and putting up 12,000 satellites is a good way to guarantee a steady supply of paying customers for Falcon, Falcon Heavy, and Starship. Of course the money has to come from somewhere, so "hey, how about we sell universal broadband while we're at it?". While putting up Starlink he'll be getting experience to do the same thing at Mars, where there's virtually no global communications infrastructure. Same reason he's taking people to the space station. He'll probably also be the commercial carrier for NASA when they go to the Moon. (He's already tried to get a NASA contract for a lunar landing, but Boeing and LockMart successfully lobbied against it on the grounds that they don't believe it can be done. Whereupon Musk said, "It may literally be easier to just land Starship on the moon than try to convince NASA that we can.") Again, more Mars practice. Solar panels and batteries for houses and power grids. Tunnel diggers. Internal combustion engines don't work on Mars, but electric cars would. It all fits together if you assume Mars as a background context.
The man may be crazy, but he's crazy like a fox.