SpaceX Starlink have issued a second-generation user terminal for their low-earth-orbit satellite Internet service that is intended to help the rural broadband situation. This is due to it heading towards full service with 1800 LEO satellites currently in orbit.
Compared to the previous user terminal which used a dish, this unit uses a 11” x 19” rectangular panel as its antenna. There will be a different set of accessories including a pole you can set up in your yard for this antenna. As well there is increased tolerance for heat which will benefit areas that are really hot such as desert areas.
But you use this new satellite antenna with a new different Wi-Fi modem router that doesn’t have an Ethernet port. Here, if you want Ethernet connectivity, you would have to use an Ethernet adaptor accessory thanks to this design heading towards IP54 outdoor water-resistance requirements.
Some of the computing press reckoned that SpaceX Starlink should forego the IP54 weather-resistance goal and install at least one Ethernet LAN socket on the modem router. This is because the modem router would likely be installed within the house rather than outside.
The WI-Fi LAN for this device will be a three-stream MU-MIMO Wi-Fi 5 setup rather than the previous design’s two-stream MU-MIMO Wi-Fi 5 approach. This will most likely be about improved bandwidth for the LAN aspect of the setup.
SpaceX are still selling their Starlink user equipment as a loss-leader and this new device is about being more compact and cheaper to build.
But they could offer other modem options for the Starlink user terminals. This would include an indoor-optimised modem router with Wi-Fi and Ethernet support along with a pure-play modem that works with a broadband router of your own choice. The latter setup could come in to play with business-grade routers, dual-WAN routers or where a more flexible or better-performing network is desired.
As well, I would like to see some of these modem options able to work from a DC power supply of 12 to 24 volts. That would then come in to its own with Starlink setups in caravan / RV or small-craft marine setups where that voltage range is dominant in such vehicles or craft. It would also come in to its own in areas that don’t have or can’t afford to deploy a reliable mains-voltage power supply.
What is being shown here is that by offering a second-generation user terminal for the Starlink satellite Internet service, SpaceX are showing that there is strong interest in the idea of low-earth-orbit satellite Internet.