High-speed, broadband internet access via satellite is now available in France through the Starlink network provider, part of the global aerospace SpaceX service founded by billionaire Elon Musk.
The official launch of Starlink in France was announced on May 10. The provider hopes to attract a million customers in Europe this year, on a first come first served basis.
The number of customers is limited in order to guarantee quality of service. Starlink is still in the beta-testing phase, and is not yet operating at full capacity.
Service expected to improve rapidly
Currently Starlink has a connectivity rate of 50-150 Megabits per second – comparable to existing 4G services - but this is expected to significantlly improve.
The service is currently being provided by one thousand small satellites in low-Earth orbit, but SpaceX has authorisation to launch over 40,000 satellites in total, meaning internet provision should get better.
The company aims to provide a connection equivalent to fibre optic broadband (1 Gigabit per second) entirely by satellite around the world, even in uninhabited areas.
Satellite internet provider second to operate in France
After launching this week Starlink has become France’s second satellite internet provider.
Neosat, from Nordnet (part of the Orange group) already offers internet provision using a geostationary satellite, called Konnect, which rotates in synchrony with the Earth’s orbit.
The satellite provides a stable signal but a lower speed connection than Starlink as it is placed higher in the atmosphere.
Cost is also a factor.
Neosat offers four different monthly satellite internet contracts (also including TV, a landline telephone and a mobile phone) with the cheapest starting at €29.90 a month for the first six months, then rising to €39.90.
The most expensive starts at €49.90 for the first six months, rising to €59.90.
Technical equipment needed for installation costs €150.
Starlink is significantly more expensive, costing €99 per month, with technical equipment (including a satellite dish, modem and router) priced at €499.
It also charges processing and postage fees of €59, bringing the total spend in the first month to €657.