Specific details about how Starlink’s beta program will operate and its conditions have leaked online and been posted on the Starlink subreddit.
The leak reveals that the hardware for the beta tests is a small satellite dish that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is calling a “UFO on a stick.” The Starlink dish requires a clear view of the northern sky in order to communicate with the Starlink satellites.
All beta testers are required to have a clear view of the northern sky to participate, otherwise the dish will be unable to make a good connection.
The leak notes that Starlink is going to provide the hardware to beta testers for free, and that they will have to install it themselves. Beta testers will receive a kit with a power supply and mount depending on their dwelling type.
“During Starlink Beta, service will be intermittent as teams work to optimize the network. When connected, your service quality will be high, but your connection will not be consistent,” the leak reveals.
This means that it may support streaming video with some buffering, but likely isn’t suitable for gaming or work purposes.
Beta testers are not allowed to reveal details about their participation, and must keep information about things like speeds and quality confidential. They’re also asked to test the service for around 30 minutes to an hour each day and provide feedback on a periodic basis.
Starlink notes that if beta testers are found to be partaking in illegal activities, such as storing pirated content, it may suspend or terminate their participation.
Beta testers will also have the option to cancel their participation at any time. Participants are also encouraged to only install the hardware if they are confident that they can do so in a safe and suitable area.
This comes as several Canadians have reported receiving emails from Starlink requesting their addresses ahead of the company’s upcoming beta tests, after they signed up for updates. The emails state that Starlink is beginning private beta testing this summer with public beta testing to follow.
It’s important to note that no one has been selected to participate in the beta program yet, as Starlink has just started to collect addresses. People who have signed up for updates will be notified if beta testing opportunities become available in their area
News broke last month that Starlink applied for a Basic International Telecommunications Services license from the CRTC. It’s worth noting that BITS licences aren’t actually necessary for internet providers that don’t offer voice-call services.
A few weeks ago, Elon Musk tweeted that Canada is a majority priority for Starlink, as he replied to a Toronto Star article about Canadian support for the ambitious project.
Starlink aims to leverage an extensive network of hundreds of low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites to help provide high-speed internet across the northern parts of the U.S. and Canada.
Image credit: SpaceX