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How Starlink and other satellite services are changing the shape of the internet

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Building an orbital internet

With so much attention on Elon Musk’s bizarre Twitter adventures, it’s easy to forget how fast SpaceX’s Starlink project has been moving. In just the past six months, the service has rolled out to nine new countries and launched a new service for vehicles as well as a new premium tier. There’s even a spectrum fight quietly bubbling in the background. New satellites are launching regularly, and the dream of a low-orbit internet is only getting closer.

That doesn’t mean the service is delivering everything it promised. Our 2021 review found huge problems with reliability — particularly if you’re anywhere near trees. A more recent review of the RV service was a little better, but it’s clear that many of the big reliability issues have yet to be solved. Astronomers are still unhappy about its impact on observations, but that hasn’t slowed down any satellite launches.

There’s something significant happening here, whether you’re a believer or not. It’s not just Starlink but also projects like OneWeb or Amazon’s Project Kuiper — the whole generation of services providing internet connections through low Earth orbit satellites. If any of those projects can actually make it work, it would change a lot of fundamental facts about internet infrastructure.

To get into exactly why that’s different from the internet that exists today... you’ll have to watch the video.