In 2020, the Starlink pilot program will officially roll out with US households getting the first chance to try the service.
Judging by the registration numbers, many people were delighted with this opportunity. However, like any new technology that most people don’t fully understand, not everyone agrees.
Starlink involves launching thousands of new satellites. Some question whether this is a price worth paying, and there are also questions about the safety of satellite internet.
So, is it safe to use satellite internet? And is launching so many satellites a good idea?
Why was satellite Internet born?
The Internet is now very popular, but there are still some areas that do not have Internet such as at sea, or in remote, remote and mountainous areas. Because pulling fiber optic cables to those locations is quite expensive and difficult. Satellite Internet was born to overcome those shortcomings.
Satellite internet providers hope to change this. Once there are a sufficient number of satellites in orbit (Starlink aims for 12,000), the blind spots on the internet are expected to disappear. Anyone who wants to go online will need nothing more than a satellite dish pointed up into the sky.
Is satellite internet safe to use?
Due to the number of satellites launched, some have questioned whether all of this is safe. Satellites are known to emit radiation, and there will be plenty of it.
The good news is that each satellite is based on well-tested technology. Data is transmitted by radio waves, especially Ku and Ka . bands .
Radio waves have been around for decades. If you have satellite TV, you see them every day. However, the widely dispersed nature of satellite radiation means that it has negligible effects on the ground, meaning that satellite internet does not pose any health risks.
Is satellite internet secure?
The potential health risks of satellite internet are well understood. A more difficult question to answer about a service is whether it is secure. The growing popularity of satellite internet has been greeted with questions from some security experts.
The problem they point out is that some of the data transmitted by the satellite can be collected as it moves to and from Earth. Is the data modified before it reaches the recipient (Sniffing)?
And this also doesn’t necessarily require professional equipment. A recent study showed that with $300 worth of equipment, you can do that.
It is important to note that this issue does not apply to all traffic. This type of attack also doesn’t work as long as you’re using it encrypted connection .
But it highlights the fact that as satellite internet grows in popularity, it also creates new opportunities for hackers.
Is it dangerous to have so many satellites in orbit?
As of 2021, SpaceX has launched 1,791 satellites into orbit. While this is only a small fraction of the satellites scheduled, there is still a hidden danger.
Starlink Satellite Showing in Astronomical Images
Many astronomers were not satisfied with the project. For example, some satellites in orbit are much brighter than expected, making them difficult to take pictures of stars.
SpaceX has responded to these complaints. All Starlink satellites are now launched with sunshades that reduce the amount of sunlight reflected off them.
Many satellite companies, including SpaceX, have agree to a brightness threshold that the human eye cannot see satellites in the dark sky.
SpaceX seems to be close to this threshold, but it’s not quite there yet. It is worth noting that even when this threshold is reached, anyone using a telescope can still see the satellite.
Satellites can collide with each other
Another problem with adding thousands of satellites to the sky is that the chance of a collision can only increase.
Whenever one satellite passes within one kilometer of another, this is called a close encounter. One thousand six hundred of these encounters take place weekly, and SpaceX satellites account for more than half of them.
Collisions in space have happened before. Furthermore, a collision in space does not automatically mean that any debris will find its way to Earth.
But there is also a limit to the number of collisions that can happen before satellite internet starts to look like a failed proposition.
Will satellite internet succeed?
SpaceX launched a pilot program in 2020. Initial demand for the service has been strong with more than half a million registered users in the United States alone.
Pilot programs don’t come cheap. Customers pay $499 for the device and $99 per month thereafter. Some were quick to point out the problem with these prices.
If satellite internet is to achieve the main goal of bringing internet to everyone, it will have to be a lot cheaper.
Many people living in areas without Internet often have low income, so it will be difficult to access satellite Internet.
The good news is that SpaceX recognizes this problem and the price is expected to drop as it becomes widely available.
Satellite Internet is not a new invention, but it has not been tested on this scale before. Therefore, questions are also raised about its effectiveness.
To be affordable, millions of users are required. At that time, is the Internet connection speed still stable?
The strength of the satellite signal also depends largely on the location of the satellite dish. If satellite internet is used in hard-to-reach areas such as walls or tall trees, the signal will be weaker.
Although the initial reviews of Starlink are positive, it is likely that we will not know the exact answers to these questions for quite some time.