Elon Musk’s Starlink Satellite Broadband Gains UK Approval

The UK communications regulator Ofcom has approved Elon Musk’s Space X Starlink satellite broadband service for use in the United Kingdom.

Starlink is already being used by a number of people in the UK, after Ofcom reportedly granted it authorisation back in November 2020.

Starlink also began offering a beta service in the United States and Southern Canada in late 2020, and its arrival in the US and the UK could potentially help reduce the price of satellite broadband services around the world for consumers.

A stack of flat Starlink satellites prepares to deploy in Earth orbit. Image credit: SpaceX

UK licence

According to Business Insider, people in the UK who signed up for SpaceX’s ‘Better Than Nothing Beta’ test have started receiving the Starlink kit. There is an upfront cost of £439 ($600), coupled with a hefty monthly subscription of £84 ($120).

Philip Hall, in rural Devon, told Business Insider that he received the router and terminal to connect to the satellites on New Year’s Eve.

Hall had reportedly been getting download speeds of only 0.5Mbps with BT, but now with Starlink he is averaging 85 Mbps.

“Within the hour we ran a Zoom quiz with grandchildren – it was wonderful,” he reportedly said.

It is understood SpaceX hopes to offer Starlink customers speeds of between 50 to 150 Mbps, but some US users have reportedly achieved download speeds of more than 210 Mbps.

Besides, the US, Canada and the UK, SpaceX also intends to enter countries such as Greece, Germany, and Australia, all of whom have reportedly approved the broadband service.

At the moment, SpaceX currently has 800 satellites in orbit and hopes to have 12,000 in the sky by 2026.

It eventually hopes to have a fleet of 42,000 satellites in space.

OneWeb rival

The high price of the Starlink service could hinder its widespread adoption, but in the UK it remains to be seen what charges rival service OneWeb will levy.

OneWeb was of course rescued from bankruptcy by the UK government and Bharti last year, and it is due to be begin offering commercial connectivity services to the UK and the Arctic region in late 2021.

It will expand to delivering global services in 2022.

The idea is that OneWeb will provide a new source of broadband connectivity for businesses, communities, and governments around the world. It could also help provide low latency connectivity for industry sectors including aviation, maritime, government, and enterprise.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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