SpaceX has debuted Starlink Maritime for merchant vessels, oil rigs, and yachts. The service promises to connect large boats with high-speed, low-latency satellite internet, all “from the most remote waters across the world.”
Starlink Maritime touts download speeds of up to 350Mbps at sea. Mileage may vary, though, as Starlink legal documents say users can expect anywhere from 100-350Mbps. Upload speeds range from 20 to 40Mbps. Latency is <99ms, versus the 20-40ms expected with other Starlink packages.
The service costs $5,000 a month. The kit, consisting of two ruggedized terminals, costs $10,000. Starlink Maritime customers can pause and unpause service at any time. They’ll be billed in monthly increments. The sticker price is “still obv premium pricing,” Elon Musk noted on Twitter, “but way cheaper & faster than alternatives.” More on that in 3, 2, 1…
Dogfooding at sea
SpaceX’s 10-ship fleet previously relied on very small aperture terminals (VSATs) from an unnamed provider. According to a SpaceX white paper, this service cost $165,000+ per month for 25 Mb/s download and upload of prepaid bandwidth and was “one of the top operating costs” for SpaceX’s drone ships and recovery vessels.
The company therefore decided to dogfood Starlink Maritime by installing the dish on its droneship. And it appears to be working. SpaceX says “Starlink is currently being used to get high-quality video of SpaceX rocket landings at sea.” Here’s a side-by-side comparison of rocket droneship landings with the old stack vs. Starlink:
Sizing up the business
By our count, Starlink Maritime represents the fifth product line for the satellite broadband service. To wit…
- There’s the traditional direct-to-consumer Dishy McDishfaces and residential service at a fixed address. Starlink is approaching 500,000 users and we’d bet the majority of them fall into this category.
- Starlink has a premium B2B offering (aka Starlink Business), which soft-launched in February. The service costs $110 monthly and the hardware is $599.
- SpaceX unveiled Starlink RV earlier this summer, with a $135/month subscription fee and upfront hardware cost of $599.
- Finally, there’s Starlink for airlines.
+ While we’re here: SpaceX has now launched 2,800+ Starlink satellites, with the two most recent batches going up in the past four days.