TECH
27/02/2018 14:54 GMT | Updated 27/02/2018 15:44 GMT

SpaceX Starlink: Elon Musk's Plan To Cover The Globe In Superfast Internet

Only 51% of the world's population has internet access.

Not content with revolutionising electric cars, space travel, renewable energy in the home or high-speed transportation Elon Musk has another big plan to change the world.

Called Starlink, it’s an ambitious plan to cover the entire globe with superfast internet using a vast network of satellites, the first two of which were placed in orbit this week.

George Rose via Getty Images

First envisioned by Musk back in 2015, Starlink has managed to move from paper to the launch pad in less than three years.

As of June 2017, the International Telecommunications Union states that only 51% of the world’s population has internet access.

Rather than wait for nations to increase their infrastructure or for land-based technology to progress, Musk proposes going from 51% to 100% using a single system.

How does it work? Quite simply by blanketing the globe in a vast network of over 10,000 satellites.

To give you some idea of how momentous a step up that is from the norm, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that there are just 1,738 operating satellites orbiting our planet (that we know of).

SpaceX has already launched two test satellites affectionately named Tintin A and Tintin B.

If and when Musk is able to get the initial number of satellites in orbit that he needs (around 4,000) the network can then start delivering fast satellite-based internet to anywhere around the globe.

Depending on whether Musk and SpaceX can get FCC approval, the initial satellite network would be in place and ready to start delivering internet by 2024.

Now there are still some unanswered questions. For starters we have no idea how much it’s going to cost both SpaceX or us as potential customers.

According to a 2015 interview Musk did say that he expected the user terminals to be anywhere around the $300 mark. This of course does not take into account any monthly fees.

What we do know however is that if Tintin A and Tintin B both prove to be a success then you’re going to be hearing a lot more about Starlink over the next few years.