Enlarge /. Starlink logo imposed on a stylized image of the earth.
SpaceX Starlink engineers answered a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Saturday on topics such as data restrictions (which they will hopefully never implement), when the public beta will expand to more users, and what the future of satellite broadband service will be expand and change.
"Starlink is an extremely flexible system and will get better with time if we make the software more intelligent. Latency, bandwidth and reliability can be significantly improved," wrote the engineers under the Reddit username "DishyMcFlatface", which SpaceX is also nicknamed the Starlink satellite dish.
Here are some highlights of the AMA.
No data restrictions "at this point"
When asked if users are ever faced with data restrictions, the Starlink team gave a vague answer, "Currently the Starlink beta service does not have data restrictions."
While this answer covered the present but not the future, a comment below from DishyMcFlatface gave a more detailed answer, suggesting SpaceX is trying to avoid data restrictions:
So we really don't want to implement restrictive data constraints like those that have occurred with satellite internet in the past. Right now we're still trying to figure out a lot of things – we may have to do something in the future to prevent abuse and just make sure everyone else is getting quality service.
January Extended Beta – No Bribery Required
Starlink satellite dish and equipment in the Coeur d & # 39; Alene National Forest of the Idaho Panhandle.
Many people who did not receive the Starlink beta are eagerly awaiting updates on availability, and the AMA provided a response. SpaceX "steadily increased network access over time to attract as many people as possible," wrote the Starlink team. "In particular, we plan to move from a limited beta to a broader beta in late January to allow more users to participate."
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted a similar update on Twitter a few weeks ago when a user asked when the beta will be coming to Florida. "Lower latitude states need more satellites in position, so probably in January," Musk wrote at the time.
As before, people who hope to find Starlink can enter their email address and service address on the Starlink website and hope to receive a response. Bribes don't seem to help. As a Reddit user asked, "How are beta users selected and what's a good bribe?" The Starlink team replied, "No need to bribe, our goal is to serve everyone at some point."
More engineers needed
The Starlink team informed Reddit users several times that SpaceX was looking for more engineers. In response to when the beta is expanding, DishyMcFlatface wrote, "If you really want to contribute, send great software engineers to Starlink to make it happen."
Over a dozen Starlink production design, product design, and software jobs are available. In this DishyMcFlatface comment, you will find links to the vacancies. "We are very excited about the initial response and future potential of Starlink, but we still have a lot to learn," wrote the Starlink team. "If you know great people who can help us out, have them email their résumés to firstname.lastname@example.org."
Will Starlink work from home?
A few weeks ago we wrote about a beta user on Starlink who took the satellite dish and portable power supply to a national forest in Idaho where he could get fast internet service. That doesn't mean you can take the dish with you anywhere, however, as SpaceX currently only makes promises that it will work at the service address of every beta user.
A Reddit user who lives and works on a boat docked in South Florida wanted to know if Starlink will offer services on the open sea. "A mobile system that gives me reliable connectivity will really free me to roam the coasts of the United States, the Bahamas and ultimately beyond," the user wrote.
Currently we can only deliver the service to the address with which you registered on starlink.com. You might get lucky trying to use Starlink nearby, but the quality of service can be poor.
Mobility options – including moving your Starlink to other service addresses (or places where addresses don't even exist!) – will be available as soon as we can improve our coverage by launching more satellites and rolling out new software.
SpaceX recently asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to test Starlink user terminals "on sea platforms" and on private jets.
Storms and extreme temperatures
A Reddit user asked if the satellite dish would work in high winds, such as when it is "mounted on the back of a flatbed trailer flying down the highway in a collapsing thunderstorm". The SpaceX team said this is not a recommended use and that the "dish is not designed for tropical storms, tornadoes, etc."
A Reddit user living in Canada asked if the dish would work in temperatures as low as 45 degrees Celsius (that's 49 degrees Fahrenheit). Starlink engineers responded that the shell is certified to operate from 30 ° below zero to 40 ° above zero on the Celsius scale (that's 22 ° below zero to 104 ° F). SpaceX has "tested to these cold temperatures without problems".
Starlink satellite dishes "are self-heating to cope with a variety of weather conditions," the team also said. In the coming weeks and months they plan to provide software updates that will "improve our snowmelt ability".