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Elon Musk’s internet service Starlink all set for India foray

Pre-bookings for Starlink are open, service comes for a price of $99.

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NEW DELHI: Tech mogul Elon Musk’s satellite-based internet service Starlink is coming to India and pre-bookings are already open. Starlink is now available for a price of $99, or roughly Rs 7,200. Any user can go and check the availability of the services in their area through Starlink’s website. The company has clarified that this amount is refundable.

“Starlink is available to a limited number of users per coverage area at this time. Orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis,” reads Starlink’s website.

The Starlink service is operated by Musk's aerospace company SpaceX. Internet connectivity is expected to be made available to Indian users in 2022 through satellites that SpaceX will launch in orbit. It is currently in the beta-testing phase.

Most of the major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and others seem to be covered. During beta testing, Starlink offers speeds between 50-150 Mbps. However, Musk has stated that speeds will be doubled to 300 Mbps by the end of 2021.

The Starlink satellites beam down internet to Earth from positions that are more than 60 times closer than traditional satellites, leading to low latency period. "Unbounded by traditional ground infrastructure, Starlink can deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable," says the website.

Moreover, "during beta, users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps and latency from 20 ms to 40 ms in most locations over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system.”

Starlink has also spelled out that the service will be released and will be available depending on various regulatory approvals. It aims to provide such high-speed internet not only in urban areas, like current broadband services, but also in rural and remote areas where present broadband services usually fail. 

This is good news for India, where broadband access remains an issue with there being a little over 22 million wired broadband users in the country. Contrast this to mobile subscribers, which numbered over 115 million, according to a recent TRAI report.

The announcement comes close on the heels of the confirmation of the debut of Musk’s electric vehicle company Tesla in the country, indicating the technocrat’s interest in venturing out to the large market base that India offers.

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