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SpaceX deploys more Starlink internet satellites in prep for premium service

SpaceX launched 49 of its Starlink internet satellites to low-Earth orbit on Thursday.

The mission took place a day after news emerged that SpaceX is preparing a Starlink Premium broadband service on top of its standard service.

Starlink Premium will offer speeds of up to 500 mbps, but the service won’t be cheap. Customers will have to pay a $500 refundable deposit, along with a $2,500 fee for the antenna and router. After that, a monthly payment of $500 is required.

That’s way more than the standard Starlink internet service, which since launching in October 2020 has required a $99 deposit, $499 for the hardware, and a monthly service fee of $99.

The costlier option guarantees download speeds of 150 mbps to 500 mbps, with latency as low as 20 milliseconds. The standard service, on the other hand, claims to offer download speeds of between 100 mbps and 200 mbps “in most locations,” with latency also advertised at 20 milliseconds.

Folks ordering Starlink Premium at the current time can expect the kit, which includes a larger dish than the standard option, to ship in the second quarter of this year, SpaceX says on its website, though in the small print it says “orders may take six months to fulfill.”

Besides faster speeds, the extra cost will also get you “improved performance in extreme weather conditions,” and “prioritized, 24/7 support,” so if you’re living in a remote location with an extreme climate — and you have the money — Starlink Premium could be a viable option.

With Thursday’s launch, SpaceX has now deployed more than 2,000 Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit as it continues to build out its constellation and expand its broadband-from-space service to more countries.

The company revealed in January that it currently has 145,000 users in 25 countries.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said previously that Starlink has the potential to generate up to $50 billion in annual revenue if it can win even just a few percent of the global telecommunications market in the coming years.

For an overview of Starlink, including what it is and how it works, check out this helpful Digital Trends article.

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