A nationwide rollout for satellite internet service Starlink begins later this month, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Musk made the statement after he previously mentioned that Starlink is set to exit its beta phase sometime in October. On Thursday, a Twitter user asked what this might mean for U.S. consumers, particularly those based in the south. "Starlink beta is ending this month as stated, will we see more of the southern states (Louisiana, Texas, etc.) roll outs?” the user wrote.
In response, Musk tweeted: "Should be nationwide rollout by end of month. Note, still limited by peak number of users in same area. This will improve as more satellites are launched."
The statement signals that SpaceX is preparing to send out more Starlink terminals to users across the U.S. However, if you live in an area already full of existing Starlink users, you’ll still need to wait until the company can launch more satellites into orbit to create more network capacity. Starlink is currently serving over 100,000 users across the globe.
The big question is how SpaceX defines nationwide. Starlink is already serving most U.S. states across the country. But data from Ookla, the company behind Speedtest, indicates there's still wide gaps in Starlink's coverage.
In a follow-up tweet, Musk added: “Starlink is designed for low to medium population density, which means we can hit max users in some areas fast. Please sign up early to ensure a spot. As more satellites roll out, SpaceX will be able to serve more.”
Interested users can place a $99 pre-order for Starlink on the company’s official website. However, the service is already facing a massive backlog of over 500,000 users who’ve already signed up to try Starlink. As a result, the official Starlink website will in some cases say the service won’t be available until 2022 or even 2023, depending on the area.
To bring more customers on board, SpaceX is preparing to boost production of the Starlink dish terminal with a new version that’s easier to manufacture. These new dishes are expected to arrive later this year.