SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s satellite Internet service Starlink has unveiled a new smaller and rectangular dish that interested customers can buy to tap into the company’s growing satellite constellation in low Earth orbit.
According to The Verge, it is a thinner and lighter-weight option than the circular dish that Starlink beta users have been testing over the last year.
Starlink is SpaceX’s satellite internet project, which aims to launch nearly 12,000 satellites into low Earth orbit where they can provide broadband internet coverage to people on the ground — notably those in remote and rural areas where traditional internet infrastructure is lacking.
With so many satellites in low orbit at once, the idea is to have at least one satellite in the view over every patch of the Earth, providing near-continuous internet coverage to users, the report said.
To tap into the system, users need to mount a dish somewhere near their home, like the roof, where they can get a clear view of the sky (free of trees) at all times.
SpaceX launched the beta version of Starlink in October 2020, allowing users in certain geographical areas of the US to purchase the company’s starter kit, which included a 23-inch-wide circular user terminal — or dish — mounting equipment, a Wi-Fi router, and all the cables one would need.
The buy-in cost was $499 for the kit and then $99 a month for coverage. Now, users have the option to buy this new rectangular dish instead, which is just 12-inches wide and 19-inches long.
At 9.2 pounds, it is nearly half the weight of the original 16-pound dish. However, the price to buy the rectangular option appears unchanged.