By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Starlink high-speed internet network is now available on Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, offering a new option for local residents who currently subscribe to three carriers that provide services through submarine cable systems.
Starlink, which will be a game-changer for the telecom landscape on Guam and the CNMI, is a satellite internet constellation operated by aerospace company SpaceX founded and owned by billionaire Elon Musk.
The company announced Starlink's launch on Guam and the CNMI through a tweet on X.
"Since the original license to operate the Starlink Generation 1 network was granted in March 2018, SpaceX has rapidly deployed satellites to bring internet to the hardest-to-reach places in the United States and abroad," the company said in a statement in February.
Docomo Pacific, GTA and IT&E currently provide internet, cable and phone services to Guam. Docomo and IT&E serve the CNMI.
According to a new Starlink subscriber on Guam, the Starlink service costs $70 per month, plus $620 for the dish hardware and shipping.
In CNMI, the service costs $65 per month on top of $625 for hardware and shipment.
According to Starlink Insider, Starlink has actually been available to residents of both territories through Global Roam tier subscriptions that cost $200 a month.
"Connections from Guam to Starlink would end up at a ground station in Japan, thus providing users with a Japanese IP address and making services like Hulu or HBO inaccessible," Starlink Insider said.
In September, SpaceX announced plans to build and operate 99 Starlink Gateway stations in 40 U.S. states and territories, including Guam and Puerto Rico.
On May 16, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission granted SpaceX Services temporary authorization for 60 days to operate its fixed earth station in Apra Heights. In another notice dated June 27, 2022, the FCC announced that SpaceX S was granted another 60-day authorization to operate in Tumon.
SpaceX has launched nearly 4,000 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit since 2019, providing highspeed internet to more than a million locations around the world, the company said on its website.
On its website, Starlink explains how the system works: "Most satellite internet services come from single geostationary satellites that orbit the planet at 35,786 km. As a result, the round trip data time between the user and satellite—also known as latency—is high, making it nearly impossible to support streaming, online gaming, video calls or other high data rate activities.
"Starlink is a constellation of thousands of satellites that orbit the planet much closer to Earth, at about 550km, and cover the entire globe. Because Starlink satellites are in a low orbit, latency is significantly lower—around 25 ms vs 600+ ms."
In February this year, Stars and Stripes reported that the Air Force was using commercial Starlink satellites to communicate with airmen dispersed across the vast Indo-Pacific.