Elon’s Island

With reports in the UK’s media that real world Bond villain/genius Elon Musk’s Starlink is setting up on the island, Gef has had a bit of a look at who is involved and what’s the deal?

It was in this week’s Sunday Telegraph that the reports surfaced of this exciting news that the company, an offshoot of SpaceX, is in the final stages of setting up its island base.

What Is Starlink?

Starlink’s plan is to provide high-speed internet using a constellation made up of thousands of satellites which is designed to not really benefit the major towns and cities, but the more rural areas where internet access is slower. Sound familiar?

Why Here?

Let’s not pretend that Elon Musk was sitting at his desk somewhere, presumably in a volcano or secret island, when he looked up at the bank of TV screens before him, saw the statues of the Bee Gees and decided ‘yes, I want to base my internet system there’. In reality he’s probably not even heard of us. But by building a base on the island, it is believed this would allow Starlink to achieve coverage over the entirety of the UK, in essence we’re just a handy location with less busy airwaves. 

The Good(ish) Bit

Now while this is about making stone cold business and technology decisions, let’s go back to the digging we mentioned earlier. The biggest plus from all of this is that Manx businesses are benefiting from this move, the gov has already confirmed that BlueWave Communications is working with Starlink on the system. 

While Starlink is not cheap, it costs £439.00 for the hardware, £54 for delivery and £89 each month for the use of the service, once the dish connects to SpaceX’s satellite constellation, the company is promising future download speeds of up to 210 megabits per second (Mbps). That’s roughly more than six times the average download speed in the UK, or faster than 95% of US connections.

Starlink is now offering its initial beta service which the company says: ‘During beta, users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms in most locations over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all. As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically.’

However, as the service expands, Starlink expects to be able to bring its costs down and in turn for the charge for its internet services to get cheaper and this would mean not only faster internet speeds, but it also removes the need for fibre cables to be sprung up across the island on the telegraph poles which have caused controversy in parts of the island where fibre has already been rolled out. 

Hopefully, if the service is successful, then this could lead to more inward investment for technology services on the island, more choice for Manx customers and creates at least the potential for more jobs in the island’s tech industry.

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