Big news yacht owners- the days of VHF radio for primary communications may soon be coming to an end.
SpaceX is expanding its Starlink Maritime internet service to private yachts, off-shore oil rigs, and commercial vessels.
According to the Starlink Maritime website, customers can expect ‘high-speed, low-latency internet’ with download speeds over 350 megabits per second, even in the most remote corners of the world.
The service won't be cheap, as Starlink Maritime will have an initial hardware fee of $10,000 USD which includes two terminals and associated components. Users can expect a monthly fee of roughly $5000 USD, although it can be paused or canceled at any time (i.e., during the off-season). Those prices are still higher than existing Starlink terrestrial service, which is also marketed as a premium service provider.
Standard Starlink service in Canada can include a $3500-$4500 Cdn hardware fee prior to installation, depending on location and access to satellite signals.
In terms of service power, Starlink Maritime is expected to achieve 100-350 Mbps down and 20-40 Mbps up with less than 99ms of latency. That's faster than many standard at-home internet service packages. Regular terrestrial Starlink terminals pull down about 100 Mbps, but performance can vary dramatically depending on location and signal access.
After the initial announcement, critics were quick to point out that Starlink Maritime is priced significantly higher than terrestrial service. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk didn't disagree, telling one Twitter user that its admittedly a premium price, but is still markedly cheaper than any other alternative.
The primary reason behind the high initial service cost is two-fold: 1) launching the service requires significant investment for the infrastructure, and 2) the Starlink Maritime service is significantly more robust than any existing option and is designed to withstand harsh maritime conditions- namely strong winds, saltwater exposure, inclement weather, and wave impacts.
According to Musk, before they launched Starlink Maritime the company was paying in excess of $150,000 USD per month for an inferior service with a poorer connection for use on its commercial ships.
SpaceX also posted a video comparison showing the difference between a SpaceX rocket landing on a ship, one using the Starlink Maritime service, and the other using the previous system. Its apparent from the video how much stronger the Starlink Maritime system is with respect to quality of connection and data flow.
Starlink Maritime currently offers coverage in waters surrounding North America, Europe and Australia, although the company has already laid plans to expand coverage throughout the world in Q1 of 2023.
Starlink is currently available in 34 countries around the world, with more coverage being added as SpaceX continues to launch more satellites to expand its network. The company launched an additional 46 satellites on July 10th. That puts their total satellite array at over 2,000 units, with plans to have over 12,000 units orbiting the Earth by 2026.
Yacht owners interested in adding Starlink Maritime can order now and have their hardware shipped within two weeks (meanwhile, residential dishes are already backordered until 2023). New Maritime subscribers will also have the option to upgrade to improved flat panel terminals by the end of 2022, as well.