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SpaceX Starlink Broadband Feeling The Heat: Sprinklers Aren't A Fix But Is It A Faulty Dish Design?

By: Vishal Mathur

Last Updated: June 16, 2021, 09:50 IST

SpaceX Starlink Broadband Feeling The Heat: Sprinklers Aren't A Fix But Is It A Faulty Dish Design?

Starlink is accepting preorders for satellite broadband which is expected to be available in India next year. The refundable deposit fee is $99, or around Rs 7000.

It seems that the Starlink satellite broadband is struggling with overheating issues for some users and are temporarily shutting down internet services till things cool down. This comes at a time when the Starlink broadband services are currently in a beta test stage with around 10,000 users. There are complaints on social media platforms including Reddit from users in some regions and states in the US where the temperatures are higher during the day. Initial understanding of the issue is that the satellite dish terminal, which is installed outdoors with direct line of sight with the satellites in the sky, is overhearing. While Starlink is yet to issue a statement, some geniuses on social media are suggesting the affected users to install water sprinklers and mini fountains to keep their satellite dish hardware cool.

There is a thread on Reddit that makes for pretty interesting reading. The thread is started by a user u/SocietyTomorrow as he shares a screenshot of the Starlink app on his phone which says that the internet connectivity is offline because of a ‘Thermal shutdown’. The error screen then says ‘Overheated’ and that Starlink will reconnect after cooling down. He isn’t the only one. Another user w7rh writes, “You’re not he only one. My Starlink is located 50 miles south of Grand Canyon in remote area. It’s been off and on also. It stopped today one hour after cool down period but quit again as ~12:30. Last reported temp at my weather station was 103 degrees.” Later in the thread, u/SocietyTomorrow says that they used a water sprinkler to cool down the dish, often called Dishy McFlatface, and the internet services resumed. “Well, this is about the dumbest thing that actually worked. I pointed a spike down sprinkler at Dishy. Once it turned on I immediately heard YouTube resume playback,” he says.

This started a whole chain of suggestions from users who suggested installing a small contained fountain, a radiator and fan to the back of dishy and misters that spray a fine mist, to refer to a few. Mind you, while dish antennas do bear the brunt of weather elements including rain and get drenched since they are installed outside, we are not sure what Starlink’s warranty terms indicate about spraying the dish (and by accident the accompanying power supply) with water regularly to cool it down, and if something goes wrong. It is also being reported that Starlink does indicate to users that the satellite broadband services may shut down if the temperatures cross 122 degrees Fahrenheit, which is around 50 degrees Celsius. Yet, these users are complaining about internet issues with temperatures between 112 and 119-degrees Fahrenheit. For the specific instances of users reporting these heating issues, it isn’t clear if these are specific hardware issues or whether the SpaceX Starlink dish design isn’t allowing for enough heat dissipation, which may be amplifying the problem in certain situations.

SpaceX Starlink

The Elon Musk owned SpaceX Starlink satellite broadband services are right now available for beta test users and cost $99 per month with an upfront cost of $499 for the satellite dish, a tripod and a Wi-Fi router. Starlink is already accepting preorders for the service which is expected to be available in India sometime next year. The refundable deposit fee is $99 which works out to just over Rs 7000 depending on the currency conversion rates. Starlink says that the $99 deposit is fully refundable at any time, though you will forfeit your priority service access position. It is expected that the Starlink hardware kits will be in limited supply, at least in the initial months, of launch of the Starlink satellite broadband in India—if you really want satellite internet, you should reserve your spot in the line. Whether there are any tariff plan changes for India, we do not know just yet.

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