Starlink will change the World before 5G

Within the last few weeks Elon Musk has accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime.  For the first time by a private industry, and first time in nearly 10 years, his company SpaceX successfully put humans into space.  Last week, his startup electric company Tesla became the most valuable automobile company in the world. Two weeks ago, his company Starlink deployed 58 new satellites; bringing the total constellation to 540 allowing them to start inviting users to be beta testers.  While the first two accomplishments are nothing to sneeze at, it is the later accomplishment, I believe, that will revolutionize the world’s economy, and accelerate technologies growth as the foundation to our critical infrastructure.

While a majority of the hype around internet and data service has revolved around 5G, the cost and infrastructure required to deploy 5G, which includes a large amount of fiber optics delivered right to the 5G distribution point, is a large financial burden to incur for just better speeds that what LTE already provides.  The main advantage that 5G offers over 4G LTE is faster speeds, yet speeds are not the issue with LTE today, coverage is.  If coverage is good, and saturation is low, LTE is more than capable of handling every request we make of it from our mobile devices: 4K video streams, unlimited music, supporting our logistic industries, and providing a solid foundation to our IOT infrastructure.  Improving speed alone does not fix the current limitations LTE has; again, Coverage and Capacity.

Now let’s turn our focus to Starlink. Starlink will offer speeds of up to a gigabit per second at latencies from 25 milliseconds to 35 milliseconds. This is 10 times greater than current LTE limitations of 100mb/sec, but also far less than potential 5G speeds of up to 8GB/sec. Although the speeds are not as fast as 5G, what Starlink does improve upon are Coverage and Capacity, the two critical components lacking in today’s LTE environment. Eight gigabit speeds, while impressive, are far greater than any normal internet user’s needs, although it will also improve the capacity issue LTE experiences. So the question remains, why improve speeds, when the limiting factors of coverage.

Another downside to 5G, are the infrastructure costs to support the technology. These costs will be far greater than seen in the metropolis areas. To this day, almost 30 years after the World Wide Web was first introduced to the general public, rural areas still struggle for adequate internet connections. As a CIO in a rural resort town, I can firmly attest to this. Starlink will not only bring high speed internet services to the rural landscape, instantaneously removing the technology divide between urban and rural, but also to desolate areas where zero coverage currently exists; and this is how Starlink is going to change the world, far faster and with a much greater impact than 5G technology ever will.

Later this week, and next, I will be blogging about how I vision Starlink’s ability to change the rural landscape as we now know it.  From providing a haven for workers to leave the cities and work from home anywhere they want, to support IOT infrastructure in some of the most rugged terrains imaginable, to providing high speed internet services anywhere and everywhere for every profession in existence, Starlink has the ability to create a new-normal that was not possible until just this week.

What’s your vote: Starlink or 5G as the better technological deployment in 2020?

4 Comments on “Starlink will change the World before 5G”

  1. The string of satellites caused quite a stir around the Southwest US in mid-April. Me too! I was out walking the dog through a golf course in a valley, and looked up to see a long conga-line of Elon’s digital birds silently following each other as they were heading from the Pacific due-Northward toward over the mountains. Dozens of them. One right after another. Similar to your normal dark-night satellite – but an endless string of them. Took 20-30 minutes for the queue to glide by. All were quite close to each other, at the altitude, and a few were moving in a tighter formation of 2 or 3-at-a-time. ~8:20pm local. Fascinating observation – especially when one would slowly rotate and catch a reflection from the sun, already below the horizon: a bright strobe-like flash.

    That’s quite the aviary, eh Ian?! Let’s see if it pays off as expected. His shareholders seem to have plenty of confident at the moment…



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