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Starlink satellites bring Wi-Fi to rural France

SpaceX’s Starlink has proved controversial since its launch in France, but its satellite internet services could be a solution in rural areas with little access to broadband

Starlink could be a solution for areas with poor broadband internet coverage Pic: Mike Mareen / Shutterstock

The Starlink satellite internet service is slowly gaining popularity in France after cutting its prices. 

Starlink offers high-speed internet access in rural areas that have little access to broadband. 

The service, operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, lowered its monthly subscription costs from €99 to €50 in August, although users must also buy a €480 installation kit. 

Subscribers receive a small satellite dish to set up somewhere with a clear view of the sky, and a wi-fi router. 

For €100 per month you can get portable internet that can be used when travelling in vehicles such as camper vans. 

Controversial

Starlink has proved controversial since launching in France in May 2021. 

Critics say its constellation of thousands of low-orbiting satellites – there are currently more than 3,000, with plans for up to 42,000 – risks cluttering the night sky. 

In April, France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, revoked Starlink’s frequency authorisations, as there had been no public consultation. 

The regulatory authority Arcep granted the company a new authorisation in June following the required consultation, saying this process had highlighted the service’s benefits in terms of providing connectivity in areas poorly served by fibre-optic. 

Starlink announced in September that it had 700,000 subscribers, including 6,500 in France. 

Read more: Musk’s Starlink internet growing popular in France: Your experiences

It is possible to undertake a 30-day trial before shelling out for the installation kit. 

Rival services

The EU recently agreed to go ahead with plans for its own satellite communication system, IRIS² to launch in 2024. 

The main aim is to secure government communications in times of crisis, although it could also be used to connect areas not currently covered by broadband. 

Neosat, from Nordnet, part of the Orange group, also offers satellite internet, at lower speeds but also lower cost – starting at €39.90 per month and €299 for the hardware. 

Amazon plans to launch its own Project Kuiper satellites, starting in 2023.

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