Starlink is Out of This World, Literally

By Varun Talluri (’23)

The internet has become an integral part of our everyday lives. From school to online shopping, the internet supported our recovery during the pandemic and will likely play a prominent role in the coming years. However, this transition to an online environment has signified another structural shift in the way enterprises operate. In fact, numerous companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, have stated that some of their employees can work from home indefinitely. Unfortunately, some concerns have been brought up with this model: companies will now have to surmount the challenges of distractions at home and low internet bandwidth. Now, companies are employing innovative strategies to create a leading internet service to accommodate this increasing demand.

In particular, satellite or space-based internet networks have been receiving a lot of attention. Among these competitors is a company revolutionizing space exploration: SpaceX. In 2015, the company launched a program, Starlink, with the goal to deliver cheap broadband internet services. However, Starlink’s vision for satellite-based internet differs from the traditional model: the company plans to launch thousands of satellites that travel on an orbit much closer to Earth. At the moment, according to Space.com, the company has about “1,300 satellites in orbit” (Thompson); however, as the company has the authorization to launch thousands more, these numbers are expected to sharply increase. Yet, SpaceX is not the only company investing in a space-based satellite network. Lockheed Martin Space and Omnispace, have partnered together to create a 5G satellite-based network with the goal to make the transition from traditional internet services as effortless as possible. In addition, other companies, not specializing in internet services, are blurring the gaps between industries to capitalize on this bustling market. For example, Amazon, an e-commerce giant, is taking strides in this field and, according to TechCrunch, sought “approval to launch a network of 3,236 satellites”(Shieber).

As mentioned before, the internet has become essential to stay connected and informed. However, the benefits of this technology spread beyond the advancements of rural areas and underdeveloped countries. Imagine a world where you could speak with relatives across the world with little lag. Imagine a world where you do not have to worry about using cellular data when going on a vacation. Imagine a world where you can stream videos without worrying about video buffering. The possibilities and potential uses of this technology are endless and the best is yet to come.

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