SpaceX will offer a public beta version of its emerging Starlink high-speed internet service to a small group of users for $99 a month plus a $499 upfront fee for an installation kit, according to emails seen by CNBC on Tuesday.
Named “Better Than Nothing Beta,” the public test will be available to selected users who have expressed an interest in trying out the service.
“As you can tell from the title, we are trying to lower your initial expectations,” the emails read. “Expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all.”
The public beta is an extension of the series of private tests SpaceX has been running with employees since June. The company has said those tests showed strong results in both download speeds and latency, two key metrics of internet connectivity.
Monday’s emails were sent to an unspecific number of people. According to information disclosed by SpaceX in August, there have been at least 700,000 people in the U.S. who have signed up to participate in the beta test.
The $99 price point is comparable to most internet providers in the market. The $499 starter kit will include a user terminal, which Elon Musk says looks like a “little UFO on a stick” and requires no expert installation, to connect to the satellites, a mounting tripod and a wifi router.
To date, SpaceX has launched 895 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit. About 97 percent of them are functional, making the constellation large enough to provide basic internet service in most parts of the U.S. and Canada. The company is growing the constellation at the pace of deploying 120 satellites a month. The latest mission was launched this past Saturday, and two more missions are scheduled for November.
At current pace, the Starlink project will achieve full North America coverage by the end of the year and global coverage in 2021.