As the little graphic on the left denotes, I was a ‘virtual’ guest to today’s SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of Commercial Resupply Mission 22. This is Nasa’s attempt to drum up civilian interest in the current space program. I can’t just take off and drive to the coast to try to watch a launch up close; I’ve tried that a number of times in the past, and every time the launch was scrubbed. Perhaps with SpaceX’s reliability and high launch cadence, I might be able to actually drive over with my wife and truly watch a launch.
I was outside in my front yard with one of my cameras and a long telephoto trying to grab a photo or two, but there was quite a bit of cloud cover to the east, and so I couldn’t. What was more interesting to me was to hear the distant low thunder of the first stage lifting off. I have from time to time, if the cloud cover is just right, been able to hear what I can’t see. Today’s distant rumble was a consolation prize, if you will, of not being able to see the launch. At least I got the opportunity to hear it. What’s more interesting is that I live near Universal Studios south of Orlando, so that was quite the distance for the launch sound to travel.
Yesterday I spent $99 for the privilege of waiting in line for a possible Starlink slot here in Orlando, Florida. There’s no guarantee I’ll get one, and if I do, it won’t happen until “beginning mid to late 2021,” if it happens at all.
I’m doing this because I’m tired of my terrestrial service provider, Spectrum. They bought out Brighthouse Networks, which was a spinout of Time Warner Cable. So you can see I’ve been doing business with that entire group for some number of years. Spectrum keeps slowly raising my monthly rates so that I’m now back up to $124/month. Yes, this month they doubled my download rate to about 200MBS “at no extra charge!”.
I think that Spectrum’s speed boost is more than just a coincidence with Starlink offering service in my area. And if I stay with Starlink, I’ll have to pay an additional $400 to purchase the antenna and associated equipment. But after that, my monthly fee is a flat $99/month, with speeds starting at $100MBS, which was where I was at before Spectrum boosted mine.
My only problem I need to solve is what to do with my house phone. That’s part of my cable package. I’ve already looked into using an AT&T device to in essence add my home phone to my wireless plan, for an additional $15/month. With my home line split out of my cable package, I have the freedom to pick whomever I want for data, and right now, that selection is Starlink.
I also want to make my home a bit more robust. Earlier this year I installed a UPS and put all my comm gear and one of my computers on it. Sure enough, Florida Flash and Flicker lost power on a clear and sunny day. Everything stayed up on the UPS for the two hours we were without power. Unfortunately Spectrum lost power as well (the loss hit over 1,000 customers). When my home power came back I was still out of Internet connectivity for another three hours as Spectrum fixed their equipment issues. So much for power backup; I still had to power cycle my cellular modem/access point to get everything sorted out.
So here’s to the future. Terrestrial service providers are going to get some real competition in the very near future. And I believe that many of us are going to move to Starlink, or something very similar.