Over the recent months, you may have clocked a few headlines acknowledging the launch of more than a few low orbit earth satellites. We've not even finished 2020, and yet Elon and his team of space nerds have launched over 650 of these satellites into orbit with a further 120 scheduled in before November. Let's cover what the devil is what's going on!
If you're a follower of Elon and his many endeavours, you'll need to take off Tesla, SolarCity or The Boring Company hat and pop on your space cap
With that done, we're ready to go!
So look, this might sound like the opening plot to a movie with an evil villain hell-bent on controlling the world, but here we have it
Starlink is Elon's effort to connect the world with internet by scattering thousands of low orbit satellites around the earth that provide a 'netting' effect around the globe
This netting effect allows the internet to be distributed everywhere on the planet with amazing connectivity coverage and super-low latencies. The ‘low orbit’ portion of this is crucial for these fast speeds (shorter the distance, quick it is kinda thing)
Currently, more than half the world's population does not have access to the internet. Just to slap on some numbers to this. Africa has a population of 1.3'ish' billion people as of 2020, the percentage of those in the region with internet access totals a whimsey 28.2%
Imagine all of the information and learning that is accessible over the internet and how much we all take it for granted!
Offering the opportunity to experience the virtual world to those in harder to reach regions might just change everything
Will Starlink Ever go Public?
We can't say we have a definitive answer on this, but we do have a comment from the man with the power to press 'launch' for the IPO (Initial Public Offering):
The first bit to get excited about, of course, is the 'We will probably IPO Starlink'!
Elon is saying he will probably be interested in presenting an IPO for the company on the stock market for investors, which could be you!
Next interesting bit, " I'm a huge fan of small retail investors ". He's referring to those who get involved with investing but don't represent a firm, fund or business. Just the public investing in companies and ventures they believe in
This is encouraging because Elon is fantastic at doing what's right by the majority and those who need it the most. He paints the picture of a future where everyone benefits, to provide opportunities like this are life-changing for many and it’s nice to know you don't need to be a big city investor to get a piece of the space pie
The final bit, 'Will make sure they get priority. You can hold me to it'. What he's probably referring to here is that he will make the share price affordable and offer a tonne of 'floating' or available shares to be purchased by everyone
This will open up the opportunity to those involved with brokers that do not offer fractional shares and even then the cheaper price, the more appealing and affordable anyhow, great stuff!
Furthermore, it's common that big investment companies get priority buys which means they are offered a buy price that no one else can get access to. Of course, from this recognise a potential bargain and buy a lot of shares which eat up the ones available and rocket the share price before retail investors even know it's hit the market
At the end of the tweet, he even reassures us by saying 'You can hold me to it'
Now, one fascinating thing about this man is how honest and genuine he is with his intentions. A promise from Elon is something you can likely trust - although do come to your own conclusion on this!
When Will Starlink be Ready?
Well, if you head over to the Starlink website, you'll notice an interesting message right there as the greeting:
You're asked to put in your details and they will let you know when!
This isn't because it's far away, it's because in some areas - you're already in the beta phase of the roll-out
In terms of total coverage, an initial amount of 12,000 satellites are planned with a further 42,000 pencilled in ( if they need them ) when it really gets going
As of late September 2020, there exist 775 satellites are deployed. Although far off the initial 12,000 number, it's only the beginning
The rapid growth portion is just around the corner, sending things to orbit every few months is almost becoming a casual headline!
Starlink currently targets the Northern US and Canada for 2020 but they hope to achieve near-global coverage of the populated world by 2021 ( populated world meaning the densest areas - i.e giving the biggest test sample of customers for beta testing and development )
What are the Benefits?
The knowledge of an upcoming IPO is only relevant if you understand the benefits and therefore the 'potential' of the company/idea
Having a low orbit satellite 'net' has a few benefits, speed is certainly one. The premise for this is that the closer a transmitter and receiver are.. the less time it takes for information to be communicated between them
As a Starlink satellite orbits above you, you'll continuously connect to the satellite nearest to you, and benefit from a consistent speedy connection
This ensures that the distance between you and the satellite always remains short and the connection speed consistent
Secondly, due to the number of satellites that exist, you will always be within a high connectivity region of the radiation pattern from that satellite. If at any time you're not in this high exposure region, you'll be within the high exposure region of the next satellite and will just connect to the next!
Currently, the reason everyone doesn't have internet is that it's not accessible in some areas due to the service being unreliable, expensive or just completely impractical
This netting effect allows the receiver or 'customer' to be connected through an array of satellites overlooking their location
Each portion land area will have a satellite dedicated to it, this, of course, requires a high number of satellites in order to meet the challenge of connection speed vs coverage
Today, if you're on the outer edge of a high altitude satellite or a connection tower's coverage area, you won't receive the best speeds. You'll receive the slowest speeds from that provider compared to those who are in better locations where a more direct link can exist
Areas called 'black zones' or 'blackspots' also exist. These are areas where a particular or collection of satellites or towers fail to illuminate an area due to their radiation pattern
Even having more of these satellites/towers create a situation where some radiation patterns may overlap, but there will still exist areas where you get low to no coverage. These are 'invisible' to the provider satellite or tower and therefore are known to be 'in the dark' giving rise to the term 'black spot'
Starlink solves this by having numerous satellites close together, so radiation patterns will overlap but so closely that any blackspots will be filled in by satellites being close enough together. Furthermore, these satellites will exist in more areas than ever before... so that's coverage is pretty much... covered!
Above is this 'net' we've been banging on about, pretty cool idea!
You can see how this kind of coverage allows each portion of land to have its very own dedicated satellite!
Long Term Plans
We're about to sound like a complete whack-a-doodle
The long term plans for the company probably aren't what most people think. Scratch that, they definitely aren't what most people think
It's to do with Mars...
Starlink or SpaceX (who exist as their operator - both owned by Elon.) are looking to fund their Martian ambitions. The cash flow provided from the global broadband internet service will be partly used to fund their projects to get to, and habitat Mars.
The ambition here is that a similar type of technology should be used to connect Mars as it will Earth
We're just covering this quickly since the company defined it as their long term intention. But this type of topic requires a dedicated post. We'll tackle that when we feel 'brainy' enough!
Jumping back to the intention of this post, the potential IPO
Well, here's a brief introduction to the type of company that may be joining the public market. It's astounding that in this day and age we can speak about these kinds of ventures
Being familiar with Elon's other companies, you'd know just how successful they are and they aren't anywhere near their full potential
If you, like many, feel like they missed out on the Tesla IPO back on June 29th 2010 (where it opened at 17$ per share)
This may be a fresh opportunity for you to take advantage of a brand new and disruptive technology to take over the world.. and worlds beyond. My invitation to you?...keep a lookout!
What a time to be around!
Thanks for reading