Reaching for the Stars

Starlink Beta Program

Beta stage for Starlink Beta program

April 13, 2024 · 5 minutes read

Key Takeaway

Starlink's beta program, "Better Than Nothing Beta," offered speeds of 50-150Mbps, latency of 20-40ms, and costs $99/month plus $499 for equipment

The program aimed to provide global internet coverage, with nearly 900 satellites launched and planned for a constellation of 12,000 satellites

Following the beta, around late 2023 or early 2024, Starlink internet service became commercially available to the public in most areas.

You can register for SpaceX’s email newsletter at Starlink.com to stay updated on future beta program.

In October 2020, the night sky began to tell a new tale, one where constellations were joined by a fleet of satellites aimed at weaving a web of connectivity across its canvas. This marked the advent of SpaceX's "Better Than Nothing Beta" test, an ambitious program to beta test its Starlink satellite internet service. The program heralded a new era in internet technology, promising to blanket the Earth with high-speed data connections served directly from the cosmos.

Following the beta phase, which concluded between late 2023 and early 2024, the Starlink internet service transitioned from a visionary concept to a practical reality for many users across the globe. But let’s take a step back and examine the aspirations and milestones of Starlink's beta endeavor that led to this groundbreaking achievement.

Starlink Beta Program Timeline

2020 October 27

SpaceX launches the Starlink app and provides pricing and service information to early beta testers

2020 October 27

SpaceX begins public beta testing of the Starlink constellation at $99 a month, introducing the "Better Than Nothing Beta" program

2021 May 7

A YouTube video showcases the unboxing, setup, and speed testing of the Starlink beta program

2021 September 18

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announces that the Starlink internet service will leave beta in the following month, marking the end of the open beta phase<

late 2023, early 2024

"Better Than Nothing Beta" concluded following the beta, Starlink internet service became commercially available to the public in many areas.

The Promise of Starlink

The Starlink beta program was not merely a trial; it was the first bridge between SpaceX's grand vision and the everyday user. It offered data speeds ranging from 50Mbps to 150Mbps, with an impressively low latency of 20ms to 40ms — figures that rivaled, and in some cases surpassed, terrestrial broadband services. The service, however, candidly acknowledged potential periods of no connectivity, as the constellation was still under construction. For those willing to be part of this pioneering journey, the cost of entry was a monthly service fee of $99 and an initial outlay of $499 for the Starlink Kit, which included all the necessary components to connect to the stars.

Expanding Horizons

The beta program initially targeted users in the United States and Canada, but SpaceX had its sights set far beyond North American borders. Plans to catapult the service to a global audience were well underway. As of the early stages, the service expanded to include multiple countries across continents including Europe, Oceania, and plans for further expansion into Italy, Poland, Spain, and Chile.

During the beta phase, SpaceX boasted a fleet of nearly 900 satellites, but this was just a fraction of the approximately 12,000 satellites planned for deployment. The burgeoning constellation was a testament to SpaceX's commitment to build a ubiquitous internet service that could reach every corner of the planet, from bustling cities to the most remote locations.

The Beta Experience

Participants of the beta program were at the forefront of witnessing and shaping the evolution of Starlink. To apply, interested users registered for updates through the Starlink website, keeping a keen eye on their inboxes for an invitation to join the "Better Than Nothing Beta." Upon acceptance, they received the Starlink Kit and embarked upon a journey that was part technological marvel, part celestial experiment.

During this phase, SpaceX continued to deploy satellites and establish ground stations, aiming to not only expand coverage but also enhance performance. The company targeted a reduction in latency to between 16ms and 19ms by the summer of 2021, pushing the boundaries of what satellite internet could achieve.

Starlink TV
How to Have Television With Starlink

Starlink allows access to local channels via antenna or streaming, offering an alternative to satellite or cable TV.


Starlink TV

Looking to the Future

As the beta program drew to a close and Starlink transitioned to a commercial service, the lessons learned and the feedback received from beta users proved invaluable. The network's capabilities, resiliency, and user experience had been put to the test, paving the way for a more connected and empowered global population.

SpaceX's Starlink project is more than just an internet service; it represents a leap toward a future where the digital divide is closed, and high-speed internet access is as ubiquitous as the stars in the night sky. It encapsulates the human spirit's unyielding pursuit of innovation and connectivity. The "Better Than Nothing Beta" may have been a humble moniker, but it set the stage for a service that aspires to be everything to anyone, anywhere on Earth.

As we look skyward, it's clear that SpaceX's celestial symphony of satellites will continue to play its part in shaping the future of global communication. With each satellite launch, with every new subscriber, the dream of a world blanketed in seamless, high-speed internet edges closer to reality. And so, the journey of the Starlink beta program becomes a pivotal chapter in humanity's ongoing quest to reach for the stars.

  • Ted Tayler Mobo Telecom
  • about the author

    Ted Taylor, better known as Mr. Mobo, is a telecom analyst and columnist. Mr. Mobo advises consumers on everything related to telecommunications.

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