SpaceX’s Starlink, the ambitious satellite internet project led by Elon Musk, is making headlines once again. In a recent discussion on Hacker News, users delved into the technical details of Starlink’s laser links and their potential impact on internet speeds and connectivity.
According to the conversation, Starlink’s laser links boast an impressive capability of 432 Mbit/s per laser, with a total of 9,000 lasers. While this may sound impressive, the users pointed out that each laser is underused on average, operating at just 0.432% of its maximum capacity. The lasers are primarily used in bursts, establishing a connection for only a few tens of seconds or minutes until the satellites move out of line of sight.
Despite this, the laser links can be maintained for weeks in some cases. Starlink’s satellites are aligned in such a way that the same satellites will remain “ahead” and “behind” users in the orbital plane, enabling relatively persistent laser links.
The discussion also touched on the average internet speeds and data consumption for Starlink’s estimated 2.3 million customers. With an average speed of 1.7 Mbit/s per customer, or around 550 GB per customer per month, some users noted that this data consumption is higher than the average American internet user, who typically consumes less than 100 GB/month.
When it comes to routing data through space, users highlighted the potential advantages of using lasers rather than traditional gateways. Laser links could potentially offer faster and more cost-effective connections, especially for traffic between different continents. However, the current infrastructure and routing capabilities needed to support this type of system are not yet in place.
The conversation also touched on related topics, such as the impact on bandwidth and data consumption, the potential for local ISP competition, and the future of video resolution and streaming capabilities.
While the discussion on Hacker News provided insights into the technical aspects of Starlink’s laser links and the potential benefits they could offer, it should be noted that these were speculative discussions among users and not official statements from SpaceX or Elon Musk.
Starlink continues to make strides in its mission to provide high-speed internet access to users around the world, and it remains an exciting project to watch as it develops further.
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Author Eliza Ng