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Starlink satellites start beaming broadband internet service to Puerto Rico

Access to Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite broadband internet is now open in Puerto Rico, where customers who signed up for a waiting list last year are starting to receive confirmation about the next steps to hook up to the service.

“Starlink provides high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe,” through a network of more than 2,000 low-orbit satellites, according to its description.

“Within each coverage area, orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis,” according to the service’s website.

In January, SpaceX Services Inc. — which provides the Starlink broadband service — filed an application at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking for authorization to set up a gateway station in Ponce. The company followed up with another petition in February 2022 to establish a similar facility in Toa Baja.

The federal regulator has not granted either application yet. However, the company’s coverage area map already blankets Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which are the only two territories in the Caribbean with access to the service so far.

Activity on a Reddit message board created by consumers in Puerto Rico has been picking up in recent weeks, as people who signed up on a waiting list have been confirming receipt of e-mails instructing them to move ahead with their equipment orders and pay the required fees.

To link with Starlink satellites, consumers receive a kit including a wi-fi router, cables, and base, which is essentially a small antenna that must be installed outside in an area with a clear view of the sky. The company provides the Starlink App, which users must download and use to determine the best place to install the equipment that the company says is “proven to withstand extreme cold and heat, hail, sleet, heavy rain, and gale force winds – and it can even melt snow.”

“Starlink is ideally suited for areas where connectivity has been unreliable or completely unavailable. People across the globe are using Starlink to gain access to education, health services and even communications support during natural disasters,” the company stated.

“Using advanced satellites in a low orbit, Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet. Users can expect to see download speeds between 100 Mb/s and 200 Mb/s and latency as low as 20ms in most locations,” it stated, adding that currently there are no data caps.

In related news, on Thursday, SpaceX launched its 43rd mission for the Starlink internet constellation with a batch of internet-beaming satellites from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The payload went up on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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