Starlink Exits Beta, But SpaceX Says Orders Delayed Due To Chip Shortage

A large circuit board that has been removed from a Starlink satellite dish.
Enlarge / Printed circuit board of a Starlink satellite dish.

If you’ve ordered Starlink broadband service and aren’t getting your “Dishy McFlatface” satellite dish anytime soon, global chip shortages may be one of the reasons.

“Silicon shortages have delayed production, affecting our ability to fulfill orders. Please visit your Account page for the latest estimate on when you can expect your order to be fulfilled,” SpaceX said in a question. frequent on the Starlink support website. The language was added to the Starlink website on Thursday night, according to a PCMag article.

Starlink has apparently just come out of its beta state. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in September that he would be coming out of beta in October, and the word “beta” was removed from descriptions on Starlink. Homepage at the end of last week. The website was also updated to announce “download speeds between 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps and latency as low as 20 ms in most locations”, an improvement over “50 Mbps to 150 Mbps and latency of 20 ms. 40 ms in most locations. “

But the move from beta to general availability doesn’t necessarily coincide with general availability. PCMag too he pointed that anticipated shipping times for Starlink have been delayed to late 2022 or early 2023 elsewhere in the US Starlink’s website reports expected “early to mid-2022” service times in other areas.

“My account still says mid to late 2021 to me, but I went to the home page and put my address like I was going to order again and now it says late 2022 there,” said one Reddit user. wrote on the Starlink subreddit last week.

Satellite capacity and demand were already important factors

The chip shortage is probably not the reason why some areas have later coverage times than others, because that variation is explained by the capacity of the satellites and the demand in each region. Starlink is primarily intended for rural areas without good wired internet access, and Musk has said multiple times that it won’t be able to serve everyone in densely populated areas. Wait times can be postponed if registrations in a given area exceed the number of open spaces.

“If you order where we have coverage and capacity, you will receive a confirmation email with your order number, service, and shipping address, and you can view the shipping details on your Account page. Usually we ship the kits. Starlink in 2 weeks, “says the FAQ section of the Starlink website.

While that two-week schedule for completed orders looks promising, you’ll only be able to get the service when there’s enough satellite capacity and a user terminal available that SpaceX can ship to you. We asked SpaceX for more details on how the chip shortage is affecting wait times and will update this article if we get a response.

SpaceX was producing 5,000 terminals a week

In early September, SpaceX CFO Bret Johnsen said the company was producing around 5,000 user terminals a week and that production would increase to “multiples of that” in the coming months. according to SpaceNews. Given SpaceX’s most recent statement on chip shortages, it is unclear what the current production rate is for the new user terminals.

Musk seems confident that the chip shortage will be fixed, saying it is a “short-term” problem. “There are a lot of chip manufacturing plants being built and I think we will have good capacity next year,” Musk said at a tech event, according to a CNBC article on September 24.

In May, Musk said that SpaceX had received more than 500,000 orders from Starlink and that SpaceX could “probably” fulfill all of them. “The only limitation is the high density of users in urban areas,” he wrote in a cheep at the time. “Most likely, all of the initial 500k will be serviced. A bigger challenge as we enter the multi-million user range.”

If the chip shortage doesn’t dramatically reduce satellite dish production for a long time, Starlink’s rapid pace of satellite launches should eventually make it easier to get the service. “If you order in an area where we do not have coverage or capacity, you will see an estimated service date on the order page … Orders will be processed on a first come, first serve basis,” says Starlink’s FAQ section. “We will be able to accommodate more users per area over time as we increase the number of satellites in orbit.”

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