I’m afraid I won’t have internet anymore because of Elon Musk’s whims about Starlink

JVTech News I’m afraid I won’t have internet anymore because of Elon Musk’s whims about Starlink

I have been a Starlink user since the early days and am totally dependent on this connectivity tool in my family and I can’t say that using it is like a long smooth river. Starlink is perhaps too innovative at times and too often in the limelight. Today, a new threat to Starlink with the arrival of Data Cap.

Starlink, a subsidiary of SpaceX owned by Elon Musk, is a company which aims to democratize the Internet worldwide, regardless of your location on Earth. Diametrically opposed to a traditional satellite link, Starlink is characterized by a large network of low-orbit satellites. Starlink thus allows a very high-speed, low-latency connection for those who have forgotten fiber.

Living in a very remote area, for many years I have suffered severe degradation of ADSL services with increasingly slow speeds and repeated crashes. Frustrated, I turned to Nordnet for a while, but this connection tool is completely incompatible with my gamer profile. Indeed, the main drawback for me in using Nordnet was the high latency which could exceed 650ms.

Therefore, Starlink is a key part of my family. At a time when remote work is becoming more democratic, when streaming services have become the norm and/or gaming is increasingly heavy, it was no longer possible for me to rely solely on an abandoned and old ADSL connection. fiber for several years, the fault of incessant political contests further delayed the arrival of this type of connection. So I have been a Starlink customer since May 2020.

However, this isn’t the first time the Elon Musk-led service has been in the spotlight. On 5 April 2022, following legal actions by the two ecological associations Priartem and Agir pour l’environnement, the Council of State revoked the authorization granted by Arcep to use two radio frequency bands for Starlink, making the service unusable on French territory.

The Council of State had criticized Arcepi for not conducting a public consultation before granting these precious authorizations. Arcep had to proceed urgently in early May 2022 with the missing public consultation. These 30 days of consultation enabled Arcep to receive just over 2,000 responses from Starlink customers and industry players. In view of the contributions received, Arcep made the decision to grant Starlink a new authorization to use the frequencies.

I thought I was safe from this kind of threat that undermines the user experience, but an important change is coming for American and Canadian customers with the advent of the “Data Cap” forcing users not to exceed 1 TB of data. This system aims to empower customers in using data to ensure a fair experience for all. Starlink is therefore pursuing large data users in order to best limit the costly equipment placed in orbit in order to better respond to the increasing number of users.

Limit of 1 TB per month

But what does 1TB of data represent? Personally, with 3 people in my family, including a teenage girl addicted to TikTok and normal internet use via telecom + video games on some machines and streaming services like Netflix, Prime video or others. So I barely exceed 800/900GB of data despite what for me is heavy usage.

This restriction, announced some time ago, starts with North American users. They are limited to 1 TB of data per month. Once this fixed rate is reached, a limit is set. We still do not know the nature of this restriction and at what speed it will be implemented next.

I'm afraid I won't have internet anymore because of Elon Musk's whims about StarlinkI'm afraid I won't have internet anymore because of Elon Musk's whims about Starlink

Why such restrictions?

The number of customers continues to grow with the bar of 700,000 users being crossed last September, undermining the number of satellites in orbit. In North America, where the customer base is more concentrated involves a more complicated network strain, thus forcing SpaceX to find solutions. The first is the 1TB limit for users with the ability to purchase additional credits. Thus, users can choose to purchase additional data to recover priority for 0.25 ct per additional GB.

But this is not the only track considered by Elon Musk’s firm. Aware of the challenge of its system, it will be imperative for SpaceX to find a viable solution, and it is to the stars that it will have to look. In effect, one of the solutions to manage the mass flow of users is to upgrade the Starlink satellites with a V2 version which should be released in 2023/2024.. This new generation of much larger and heavier satellites will be launched by the still-developing Starship/SuperHeavy.

Across the Atlantic, the Starlink service is much more popular than in Europe. The US and Canada suffer from very poor global infrastructure, especially outside cities, forcing users to massively use Starlink. In Europe and especially in France, our network infrastructure, although still very uneven, is much better, which brings the number of French customers is only 4,000 (Figure May 2022).

SpaceX is therefore starting to introduce data caps in the US and Canada, like what NordNet has been offering for years. This 1TB limit is not without compensation to the customer. To accept this “Data Cap”, SpaceX reduced the price of the service by 50%, dropping from 100 to 50 euros.. Therefore, this is quite good news for French customers. It is not currently affected by this “Data Cap”, which even if it were to enter the service, would in any case be sufficient for 90% of users, of which I am a part.

What are the consequences after these 1 TB are consumed?

After 1 TB of data has been consumed, users will switch from a “premium” offer to “basic” access without any information about what the latter represents. Some rumors indicate that this rate would be 1 Mb/s, which is obviously incompatible with traditional Internet usage these days. Such a reduced package no longer allows you to watch streaming video even in degraded format.

According to the email received, customers who have exceeded 1TB in their billing month will see their connection go to “non-priority” with no further details available at this time. One can only imagine that their throughput will depend on other connected customers nearby. SpaceX explains this choice in email received from Starlink users last August (note that at the time, the Data Cap was set at just 250GB):

I'm afraid I won't have internet anymore because of Elon Musk's whims about Starlink

Under the fair use policy, all users will continue to have access to unlimited data. Users consuming 250 GB/month (Editor’s note: now at 1 TB) or less data will take precedence. Users exceeding 250GB/month will still have access to unlimited data, but may experience slower speeds during times of network congestion.

However, if necessary, since large consumers cannot do without such a service, it will be possible to purchase additional priority data. You’ll have to pay 0.25 cents per additional GB, or $250 for an additional 1 TB. SpaceX ensures that only 10% of users regularly exceed the threshold of 1 TB of data per month.

What does SpaceX say about this restriction in France?

After my concern about the restrictions imposed in the US and Canada, I contacted SpaceX to get more information on possible restrictions in France. These were meant to be soothing. Some time later, I received an email confirming that there would be no restrictions in France for the time being. But nothing says that later, depending on the number of French customers, these restrictions may be applied as is the case in North America to guarantee a fair service for all.

We appreciate those of you who took the time to give us feedback on the Fair Use Policy. Based on your feedback, we have decided to update the terms and conditions of use of our residential service to remove the priority data limit of 250GB. The price of the service remains unchanged at €50 per month and our residential customers can continue to enjoy unlimited data.

Starlink breaks the conventional way of accessing the Internet. Its mode of operation coupled with its growing popularity requires SpaceX to review several aspects in order to make data sharing more fair. Threatening in early May with a 250GB limit, Elon Musk’s company revised its limits upward with a data cap of 1TB, which is more than enough for 90% of users. Even if we are not affected by this Data Cap in Europe, it is very possible that it will arrive later in our regions. Even if it did, I’m not worried about the future of Starlink.

Steam connected with Starlink, downloading is fast and stable

I'm afraid I won't have internet anymore because of Elon Musk's whims about Starlink

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