Snapchat and Telegram usage spiked while Facebook was down

social media apps
  • Snapchat users spent 23% more time on the app while Facebook was down on Monday, Bloomberg reported.
  • Telegram’s CEO said the app gained 70 million new users during the outage that also took WhatsApp offline.
  • Facebook was down for over 6 hours on Monday after a network configuration change.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Social media users flocked to other apps during Facebook’s six-hour outage on Monday.

Snapchat users on Android devices spent about 23% more time on the app on Monday compared with the same day the week before, according to Sensor Tower data shared with Bloomberg. And Telegram, an encrypted messaging app similar to Facebook-owned WhatsApp, gained 70 million new users during the outage, according to the platform’s CEO Pavel Durov.

Snapchat took the top ranking of teens’ favorite social media apps according to Piper Sandler’s “Taking Stock With Teens” survey. Of the 10,000 teens surveyed, 35% of teens named Snapchat as their favorite social media app, followed by TikTok at 30% and Instagram at 22%. However, Instagram is still the social media app most used by teens, with 81% of respondents saying they use the app at all. Snapchat clocked in slightly lower, with 77% saying they use it.

Telegram has about 500 million monthly active users, meaning the number of signups on Monday was equal to about 10% of the app’s existing user base, The Verge reported. The last time Telegram had a similar surge was in January, when Facebook reported problems with WhatsApp, according to the publication.

“The daily growth rate of Telegram exceeded the norm by an order of magnitude, and we welcomed over 70 million refugees from other platforms in one day,” Durov wrote in a message on Telegram on Monday. He said that the app’s newest users from the US might have experienced some delays on the platform due to the sudden influx of downloaders.

Durov added, “We won’t fail you when others will,” an apparent nod to Facebook’s technical troubles that day.

Facebook’s suite of apps and services, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facebook itself, went offline for hours on Monday. In a blog post, the company explained the outage was caused by a “faulty configuration change” to its “backbone routers.”

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Photos: How Facebook and Google use sonar ships, gigantic underwater plows, and divers to lay thousands of miles of undersea internet cables around the globe

A specialised laying vessel spools internet cable behind it.
Specialised vessels like this one are used to lay thousands of miles of internet cable along the seafloor.

  • Google and Facebook are invested in dozens of subsea internet cable projects around the world.
  • Laying these cables takes months of preparation, and specialized vessels take them out to sea.
  • Once laid, the cables can ferry huge quantities of internet data around the globe.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Google and Facebook have both laid thousands of miles of cables along the seafloor, stretching between continents, to carry internet around the world.

An undersea cable laying vessel sails past icebergs.
An undersea cable laying vessel sails past icebergs during a project to lay cable between Canada, Greenland, and Iceland.

Often, the two tech giants invest in cable projects along with a consortium of other companies, although Google has five privately owned cable projects underway.

The landing buoy for Google's Curie undersea cable.
The landing buoy for Google’s Curie undersea cable.

In total, Google is invested in 19 cable projects around the world.

Facebook is invested in two cables that are currently active. It is involved in five more cable projects currently under construction, a spokesman said.

Cable laying vessel Ile de Bréhat off the coast of Australia.
Cable-laying vessel Ile de Bréhat off the coast of Australia.

Facebook is a backer of the 2Africa cable, which is now set to stretch from Europe, around Africa, and across the Arabian Gulf making it the longest cable in the world.

A map of the 2Africa subsea internet cable.
A map of the planned route for the 2Africa subsea internet cable, with its “Pearls” extension across the Arabian Gulf highlighted.

With the Arabian Gulf section announced on September 28, 2Africa is planned to be roughly 28,000 miles long and stop in 33 countries.

The current record-holder, a cable called SEA-ME-WE 3, is roughly 24,233 miles long. 

Here’s how the companies lay the cables along the bottom of the ocean.

Google Curie undersea cable
The new Grace Hopper cable will join existing Google cables like Curie, pictured here.

First, the companies have to plan the route they want the cable to take.

Google Strategic Negotiator for Global Infrastructure Jayne Stowell.
Jayne Stowell.

Jayne Stowell, strategic negotiator for Global Infrastructure at Google, told Insider planning the route can take up to a year.

A Facebook spokesperson told Insider it conducts a bathymetric and geophysical survey along its expected route, which allows it to plan down to the meter.

Laying vessels Ile d'Aiz (in the foreground) and Ile de Batz (in the background).
Laying vessels Ile d’Aix (in the foreground) and Ile de Batz (in the background).

To do this, it sends out vessels equipped with sonar to map out the seabed and look for risks such as high currents, underwater landslides, and unexploded bombs or mines.

The cable itself is about the thickness of a garden hose, Stowell said.

A subsea internet cable is loaded onto a laying vessel.
A subsea internet cable is loaded onto a laying vessel.

Optical fibres are wrapped in a copper casing for electricity conduction.

Subsea cables in the process of being manufactured.
Subsea cables in the process of being manufactured.

“A plastic and steel sheathing is then added to waterproof the cable and help it withstand potentially adverse ocean conditions such as heavy currents, earthquakes or interference from fishing trawlers,” Stowell said.

For Facebook’s 2Africa cable, it’s using aluminium rather than copper, which it said will lower manufacturing costs and enable longer cables.

A subsea cable before it's had its sheathing added.
A subsea cable after it’s had its sheathing added.

2Africa is in the process of being laid around the entire continent and is 37,000 kilometers long — only slightly shorter than the circumference of the Earth.

Once the route is mapped out and the cable is made, it’s time to load the cable onto a specialised laying vessel.

Crew members spooling Google's Curie subsea cable into tanks inside the laying vessel.
Crew members spooling Google’s Curie subsea cable into tanks inside the laying vessel.

Google’s Stowell said the industry uses a fleet of 50 to 55 specialised laying vessels, with capacity for up to 100 crew members. Just loading the cable onto the ship can take four weeks, she said.

Facebook said its vessels generally need a crew of 30 to 50 people.

A specialised subsea laying vessel.
A specialised subsea laying vessel.

The vessel leaves port, spooling the cable behind it. Once it gets into deeper water, it deploys an underwater plow to dig a trench along the seabed into which it lays the cable.

Machinery on a subsea internet cable vessel.
Machinery on a subsea internet cable vessel.

“The natural movement of wave action will then cover the cable once the ship moves on,” Stowell said.

“An ocean plow does not look too different from a plow a farmer might use in a field, except it is much larger – about the height of a two-story building,” Stowell said.

A subsea laying vessel in the Greenland sea.
A subsea laying vessel in the Greenland sea.

The plow is only used at a maximum depth of 1,500 meters (4921 feet), Stowell added.

“This is where it is needed to protect the cable from potential damage from other seabed users – most frequently bottom trawling fishing vessels or ships anchors that are put down at sea in a storm,” Stowell said.

A trawler fishing net is pulled out of the ocean.
Subsea cables need to be buried to protect them trawler nets like this one.

A cable is fairly safe in the deep seas and has no need for burial nor armoring, she added.

For longer cables, Stowell said Google also installs a device called an amplifier every 100 kilometers (62 miles) to boost the signal and keep the data moving.

An amplifier is loaded onto a laying vessel.
An amplifier is loaded onto a laying vessel.

“Although fibre-optic cables are made of the purest glass, over long distances the intensity of a beam of light begins to weaken,” she said.

Subsea cable amplifiers.
Subsea cable amplifiers after being manufactured.

Amplifiers help boost the light back to its original intensity.

When the laying vessel reaches its final destination it isn’t able to come close to shore.

Engineers land Google's Grace Hopper cable on the beach in Bude, UK.
Engineers land Google’s Grace Hopper cable on the beach in Bude, UK.

Buoys are used to float the cable at the surface and it is guided into position by divers and smaller boats.

A line of buoys helps float a subsea internet cable as it's landed on the shore.
A line of buoys helps float a subsea internet cable as it’s landed on the shore.

Finally, the cable is pulled up onto the beach to a ready-made trench, where it’s connected to a beach manhole, a buried container where the undersea cable is hooked up to a terrestrial cable – which in turn connects to a cable station.

A machine helps land Google's Grace Hopper cable on the coast of the UK.
A machine helps land Google’s Grace Hopper cable on the coast of the UK.

These cables are able to channel a huge amount of data around every second.

Small boats guide Google's Grace Hopper to shore from its laying vessel in Bilbao, Spain.
Small boats guide Google’s Grace Hopper to shore from its laying vessel in Bilbao, Spain.

Stowell said Google’s Grace Hopper cable — which was landed in the UK earlier this week — is set to funnel 340 terabytes of data per second, which would mean 17.5 million people could stream 4K videos at the same time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The US and 23 other countries enacted laws to try and control content on the internet, study finds

A person holds a smartphone with the Twitter app open
Twitter

  • 24 different countries created new laws or rules determining how online platforms can treat content, a study by Freedom House found.
  • Internet freedom has declined for the past 11 years globally, according to the report.
  • The trend can be attributed to problems like extremism, fraud, and criminal activity in the internet.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Authorities in at least 24 different countries, including the US, created new laws or rules determining how online platforms can treat content, a study finds.

Freedom House, a Washington DC-based democracy advocacy group, reported that global internet freedom has been on the decline for 11 consecutive years.

Freedom House, which publishes its Freedom on the Net report annually, found that at least 48 countries pursued new rules for tech companies on content, data, and competition in 2020, and 24 countries created new rulings specifically on how content is treated on the internet. Some of the rulings include requirements to take down illegal content, stronger transparency, and extremes like political and journalistic censorship, according to the study.

Freedom House says the trend can be attributed to problems within society like extremism, exploitative business practices, and criminal activity.

The report said there were “few positive exceptions” to the worldwide push to regulate the big tech companies, such as dismantling harmful online harassment and manipulative market practices.

“While a few measures introduced this year have the potential to hold tech giants more accountable for their performance, most simply impose state and even political responsibilities on private firms without securing greater rights for users,” the report said.

This past year, officials in India pressured Twitter to remove protest-related commentary and to stop flagging manipulated content shared by the ruling party. In Nigeria, authorities blocked access to Twitter across the country after the social media platform removed incendiary posts by the country’s president.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to stop social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from censoring users based on their politics and allows private citizens and the Texas attorney general to sue tech companies who they believe have unfairly kicked someone off a platform, Insider reported.

Two major trade groups have sued Abbott and Texas over the bill, saying in the lawsuit it will “unconstitutionally require platforms like YouTube and Facebook to disseminate, for example, pro-Nazi speech, terrorist propaganda, foreign government disinformation, and medical misinformation.”

Currently, Twitter does not screen content or remove potentially offensive content, according to the company’s policy. But targeted abuse or harassment can violate Twitter rules.

Facebook, in a white paper released by the company last year, said it wants regulators to create legal standards for content moderation. Earlier this month, a meeting of Facebook leaders focused on “whether Facebook has gotten too big,” Insider reported. Facebook, the world’s largest social network, with nearly 3 billion users, disagreed with the report.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google and Facebook lay thousands of miles of undersea cables to ferry internet around the world. Here’s how they do it.

A specialised laying vessel spools internet cable behind it.
Specialised vessels like this one are used to lay thousands of miles of internet cable along the seafloor.

  • Google and Facebook are invested in dozens of subsea internet cable projects around the world.
  • Laying these cables takes months of preparation, and specialized vessels take them out to sea.
  • Once laid, the cables can ferry huge quantities of internet data around the globe.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Google and Facebook have both laid thousands of miles of cables along the seafloor, stretching between continents, to carry internet around the world.

An undersea cable laying vessel sails past icebergs.
An undersea cable laying vessel sails past icebergs during a project to lay cable between Canada, Greenland, and Iceland.

Often, the two tech giants invest in cable projects along with a consortium of other companies, although Google has five privately owned cable projects underway.

The landing buoy for Google's Curie undersea cable.
The landing buoy for Google’s Curie undersea cable.

In total, Google is invested in 19 cable projects around the world.

Facebook is invested in two cables that are currently active. It is involved in five more cable projects currently under construction, a spokesman said.

Cable laying vessel Ile de Bréhat off the coast of Australia.
Cable laying vessel Ile de Bréhat off the coast of Australia.

Here’s how the companies lay the cables along the bottom of the ocean.

Google Curie undersea cable
The new Grace Hopper cable will join existing Google cables like Curie, pictured here.

First, the companies have to plan the route they want the cable to take.

Google Strategic Negotiator for Global Infrastructure Jayne Stowell.
Jayne Stowell.

Jayne Stowell, strategic negotiator for Global Infrastructure at Google, told Insider planning the route can take up to a year.

A Facebook spokesperson told Insider it conducts a bathymetric and geophysical survey along its expected route, which allows it to plan down to the meter.

Laying vessels Ile d'Aiz (in the foreground) and Ile de Batz (in the background).
Laying vessels Ile d’Aiz (in the foreground) and Ile de Batz (in the background).

To do this, it sends out vessels equipped with sonar to map out the seabed and look for risks such as high currents, underwater landslides, and unexploded bombs or mines.

The cable itself is about the thickness of a garden hose, Stowell said.

A subsea internet cable is loaded onto a laying vessel.
A subsea internet cable is loaded onto a laying vessel.

Cables are wrapped in a copper casing for electricity conduction.

Subsea cables in the process of being manufactured.
Subsea cables in the process of being manufactured.

“A plastic and steel sheathing is then added to waterproof the cable and help it withstand potentially adverse ocean conditions such as heavy currents, earthquakes or interference from fishing trawlers,” Stowell said.

For Facebook’s 2Africa cable, it’s using aluminium rather than copper, which it said will lower manufacturing costs and enable longer cables.

A subsea cable before it's had its sheathing added.
A subsea cable before it’s had its sheathing added.

2Africa is in the process of being laid around the entire continent and is 37,000 kilometers long — only slightly shorter than the circumference of the Earth.

Once the route is mapped out and the cable is made, it’s time to load the cable onto a specialised laying vessel.

Crew members spooling Google's Curie subsea cable into tanks inside the laying vessel.
Crew members spooling Google’s Curie subsea cable into tanks inside the laying vessel.

Google’s Stowell said the company uses a fleet of 50 to 55 specialised laying vessels, with capacity for up to 100 crew members. Just loading the cable onto the ship can take four weeks, she said.

Facebook said its vessels generally need a crew of 30 to 50 people.

A specialised subsea laying vessel.
A specialised subsea laying vessel.

The vessel leaves port, spooling the cable behind it. Once it gets into deeper water, it deploys an underwater plow to dig a trench along the seabed into which it lays the cable.

Machinery on a subsea internet cable vessel.
Machinery on a subsea internet cable vessel.

“The natural movement of wave action will then cover the cable once the ship moves on,” Stowell said.

“An ocean plough does not look too different from a plow a farmer might use in a field, except it is much larger – about the height of a two-story building,” Stowell said.

A subsea laying vessel in the Greenland sea.
A subsea laying vessel in the Greenland sea.

The plow is only used at depths of 1,000 to 1,500 meters (3281 to 4921 feet), Stowell added.

“This is where it is needed to protect the cable from potential damage from other seabed users – most frequently bottom trawling fishing vessels or ships anchors that are put down at sea in a storm,” Stowell said.

A trawler fishing net is pulled out of the ocean.
Subsea cables need to be buried to protect them trawler nets like this one.

A cable is fairly safe in the deep seas and has no need for burial nor armoring, she added.

For longer cables, Stowell said Google also installs a device called an amplifier every 100 meters (328 feet) to boost the signal and keep the data moving.

An amplifier is loaded onto a laying vessel.
An amplifier is loaded onto a laying vessel.

“Although fibre-optic cables are made of the purest glass, over long distances the intensity of a beam of light begins to weaken,” she said.

Subsea cable amplifiers.
Subsea cable amplifiers after being manufactured.

Amplifiers help boost the light back to its original intensity.

When the laying vessel reaches its final destination it isn’t able to come close to shore.

Engineers land Google's Grace Hopper cable on the beach in Bude, UK.
Engineers land Google’s Grace Hopper cable on the beach in Bude, UK.

Buoys are used to float the cable at the surface and it is guided into position by divers, jet skis, and smaller boats.

A line of buoys helps float a subsea internet cable as it's landed on the shore.
A line of buoys helps float a subsea internet cable as it’s landed on the shore.

Finally, the cable is pulled up onto the beach to a ready-made trench, where it’s connected to a beach manhole, a buried container where the undersea cable is hooked up to a terrestrial cable – which in turn connects to a cable station.

A machine helps land Google's Grace Hopper cable on the coast of the UK.
A machine helps land Google’s Grace Hopper cable on the coast of the UK.

These cables are able to channel a huge amount of data around every second.

Small boats guide Google's Grace Hopper to shore from its laying vessel in Bilbao, Spain.
Small boats guide Google’s Grace Hopper to shore from its laying vessel in Bilbao, Spain.

Stowell said Google’s Grace Hopper cable — which was landed in the UK earlier this week — is set to funnel 340 terabytes of data per second, which would mean 17.5 million people could stream 4K videos at the same time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Elon Musk announced that Starlink’s satellite-internet service will come out of its beta-testing phase next month

elon musk starlink internet 2x1
  • Elon Musk said on Twitter that Starlink will enter its next phase in October.
  • The SpaceX CEO had initially planned to bring the internet service out of beta by the end of the summer.
  • The first Starlink satellite was launched in 2019, but the service has since gathered over 90,000 users.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced on Friday that Starlink will come out of beta-testing mode in October, a key step toward a wider launch.

Earlier this year, Musk said SpaceX hoped to bring Starlink out of beta by the end of the summer. The CEO said Starlink users were seeing improvements in the service’s internet speeds and the company hoped to have the internet service “full mobile” by the end of summer, meaning customers would be able to use it in moving vehicles or between different addresses.

Insider’s Kate Duffy reported earlier this year that Starlink users were seeing even faster internet speeds than SpaceX had advertised, hitting speeds of 175 Mbps.

To date, SpaceX has launched over 1,700 Starlink satellites into orbit, according to the company’s fillings with the Federal Communications Commission. Though, Musk has said he eventually wants to send up to 42,000 satellites into space, completely enveloping the Earth. Insider’s Morgan McFall-Johnsen has reported that scientists worry Musk’s satellites could create issues with space-junk and make astronomy on Earth near “impossible.”

Interest in Starlink appears to have been picking up steam recently. In February, Musk said SpaceX had over 10,000 Starlink subscribers. In August, CNBC reported that Starlink had added over 80,000 more users to its $99 per month service.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A slice of the Pentagon’s internet space that was taken over by a Florida company minutes before Trump left office has been returned, but the mystery remains

Pentagon
Aerial view of the Pentagon

  • Right before Trump left office, a large chunk of the Pentagon’s internet space was transferred to a private firm.
  • Now that space has been returned and the Pentagon said the cybersecurity program has ended.
  • It’s still unclear what exactly the program did and how a young Florida company was chosen for it.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Minutes before the official end of President Donald Trump’s term, a young company based in Florida reportedly took control over a large chunk of internet space owned by the Pentagon.

Eight months later, it has been returned to the Department of Defense, The Washington Post reported Friday, but questions remain about the program.

The company at one point held 175 million IP addresses, controlling more of the internet than some of the world’s largest internet companies, including Comcast and AT&T.

The company was identified as Global Resource Systems LLC, headquartered in Plantation, Florida, Insider’s Kevin Shalvey reported in April. The company appeared to have been founded in the fall of last year, filing paperwork in Florida in October, and was incorporated in Delaware.

When news of the transfer of the internet space broke in April, the Department of Defense told the Associated Press it was being done to “assess, evaluate and prevent unauthorized use of DoD IP address space.”

But AP said officials could not answer why Global Resource Systems, a company that seemed to only be in existence for less than six months, was chosen to take over the space.

The Post reported Friday the 175 million IP addresses, a whopping 6% of the entire internet, were transferred back to the Pentagon this week.

A Pentagon spokesperson told the outlet that the cybersecurity program, started by the self-described “swat team of nerds” from the Defense Digital Service, had ended, and confirmed that the internet space was back under the control of the Department of Defense Information Network.

“The Defense Digital Service established a plan to launch the cybersecurity pilot and then transition control of the initiative to DoD partners,” Defense Department Spokesperson Russell Goemaere told The Post.

“Following the DDS pilot, shifting DoD Internet Protocol (IP) advertisement to DoD’s traditional operations and mature network security processes, maintains consistency across the DODIN. This allows for active management of the IP space and ensure the Department has the operational maneuver space necessary to maintain and improve DODIN resiliency,” the statement said.

Goemaere said the program was launched in the fall and that the timing of the transfer was “agnostic of administration change.”

The Pentagon did not give details about what exactly the program did or why that company was chosen. Global Resource Systems did not respond to requests for comment from Insider, The Post, or AP.

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SpaceX’s CFO reportedly said the company makes 5,000 Starlink dishes a week, lagging behind preorders

Photo by BRITTA PEDERSEN:POOL:AFP via Getty Images
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • SpaceX CFO Bret Johnsen said the company makes 5,000 Starlink user dishes weekly, per Space News.
  • This lags behind orders: Starlink, the satellite internet service, had 500,000 pre-orders as of May.
  • SpaceX wants to increase production in the next few months, Johnsen said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

SpaceX’s chief financial officer says the aerospace company makes 5,000 Starlink user dishes every week, but plans to speed up manufacturing to meet growing customer demand, Space News first reported.

The company has at least 400,000 preorders to fulfill, and has previously warned that the global chip shortage was slowing production of the terminals, which are the dishes that connect to the Starlink internet satellites in orbit.

Bret Johnsen said in a panel discussion during the Satellite 2021 conference on Tuesday that SpaceX would increase the current production of 5,000 Starlink dishes per week to “multiples of that” in the coming months, Space News reporter Jeff Foust tweeted. Other people watching the conference tweeted the same figure.

Global supply chain problems had hit SpaceX’s production line, Johnsen said, per Space News.

Starlink’s satellite internet service had 500,000 pre-orders between October 2020 and May 2021, Siva Bharadvaj, a SpaceX space operations engineer, said during a broadcast of SpaceX’s launch of Starlink satellites in May. The company has not released updated figures since.

SpaceX has shipped about 100,000 terminals, CEO Elon Musk said last month. This leaves at least 400,000 orders unfulfilled.

At a rate of 5,000 terminals a week, it would take SpaceX around a year and a half to make 400,000 user terminals.

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

People who have paid $100 deposits for Starlink told Insider that they were frustrated because they’d waited up to seven months to receive the service, and couldn’t reach Starlink for updates on their arrival dates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX Starlink customers who paid a $100 deposit 7 months ago are frustrated at being unable to contact customer service to see when their kits will arrive

Elon Musk phone
Elon Musk created Starlink to provide high-speed internet access.

  • Starlink customers have no way of talking to customer service after paying a deposit months ago.
  • Four people told Insider there’s no phone number or email available to contact Starlink.
  • Starlink said they’d get the kits in mid or late 2021, but customers want more specific updates.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Starlink customers are frustrated with Elon Musk’s internet company.

After forking out $100 for the high-speed satellite broadband service, the customers say there’s no way of contacting Starlink to find out when it will be available in their area and if the kit is on its way.

Insider spoke to four people who paid a $100 refundable deposit up to seven months ago to secure Starlink’s Better Than Nothing Beta, which has 1,639 working satellites in orbit.

They sent Insider email confirmations of their Starlink purchases, made between February and May.

Starlink said in the confirmation email that they should expect the service to begin operating in their area in mid to late 2021.

At some point, those who secured deposits will receive another email from Starlink, asking them to place an order for the $499 kit, consisting of a tripod, WiFi router, and terminal, and $100 for the monthly subscription.

As the end of the third quarter approaches, the customers still don’t know when they’ll be connected to the network.

Keith Bosse ordered Starlink on February 25 but hasn’t received any updates and can’t find a customer service contact.

“If they can send a rocket to space, why can’t they figure out how to provide customer service?” he said. A deployment map would be useful to check when to expect Starlink, he added.

The Starlink app doesn’t have a customer service option for people with deposits, said Corey Gordon, who is based in Alberta, Canada, and paid 129 Canadian dollars ($103) for the deposit in May.

“I have left a couple of detailed voicemails on an answering service at SpaceX over a month ago and still have heard nothing,” he told Insider.

Gordon said that working online and streaming videos during the pandemic are “next to impossible” with his current internet.

For those who have already received the kit, contacting Starlink’s customer service doesn’t seem to be an issue.

One Starlink customer in Berkshire county, Massachusetts, who asked to remain anonymous, told Insider that once he got the kit, he was able to email Starlink about a problem. They fixed it within days, he said.

The long waits that Starlink customers are experiencing isn’t surprising, Rich Leshner, vice president for consulting at analytics and engineering firm BryceTech, told Insider.

“We have heard from several, varied players in the space sector that supply chain challenges are hurting them, in terms of delivery schedules, product quality, or just generally in terms of the dependability of their supply network,” Leshner said.

SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said during a Space Symposium panel that the worldwide chip shortage has delayed new Starlink user terminals, while a lack of liquid oxygen has impacted rocket launches.

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Brad Stuart, in east Texas, told Insider he secured a $100 deposit for Starlink in February.

“Starlink is MIA and we don’t have a clue when it will turn up,” Stuart said. “This is treating their paid clients and supporters very badly.”

Daniel Martin, from Santa Cruz, California, also paid for Starlink at the start of February and has no idea when the service will go live in his area. “My objection at this point is a total lack of communication from Starlink,” he said.

These four customers aren’t alone. Reddit users have also complained about poor customer service in the Starlink community group.

In the meantime, Starlink’s website said the service is available to a “limited number of users” in an area where it’s operating, and that “orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis.”

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SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet is fast approaching the speed of regular broadband, a test has found

Elon Musk
Elon Musk’s SpaceX was the quickest satellite internet provider, beating competitors HughesNet and Viasat, according to a Speedtest report.

  • Starlink’s internet speeds are fast approaching those of regular broadband, Speedtest found.
  • Starlink had an average Q2 download speed of 97.23 Mbps, meaning it took about a minute to download a film.
  • Elon Musk’s company had the fastest satellite internet speeds, beating HughesNet and Viasat.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet is fast approaching the speed of regular broadband, a test has found.

Elon Musk’s space-based network, which beams internet down from 1,650 satellites in orbit, recorded an average download speed of 97.23 megabits per second (Mbps) in the second quarter of 2021, according to a report from Speedtest, published Wednesday.

Starlink wasn’t too far off the average download speed for US fixed broadband providers. They averaged 115.22 Mbps during the second quarter, Speedtest said in its report.

Fixed broadband providers, including AT&T Internet and Comcast, deliver internet through a phone line or fiber optic cables.

Starlink’s average download speed in the first quarter of 2021 was 65.72 Mbps, Speedtest said.

With a 100 Mbps download speed, users can download a film in under a minute, according to the USwitch speed calculator.

According to the Speedtest report, fixed broadband recorded median latency of 14 milliseconds (ms) in the second quarter. Starlink was the only satellite service to come close to this, with latency of 45 ms, according to the report. Latency is a measure of the time it takes to send data and receive a response, and the shorter the time, the better.

Starlink has lower latency speeds than HughesNet and Viasat, competitors cited in the Speedtest report, because its satellites are closer to Earth.

The Speedtest report showed that HughesNet and Viasat provided average download speeds of 19.73 Mbps and 18.13 Mbps respectively in the second quarter.

In October, Starlink told its users that they should expect download speeds between 50 and 150 Mbps and latency from 20ms to 40ms as the company enhanced its systems. However, some users have seen speeds of more than 210 Mbps.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Starlink app adds a 3D sky scanner so users can better check for obstructions between their dish and SpaceX’s internet satellites – take a look

Elon Musk looking at his iPhone
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • SpaceX updated its Starlink app with a 3D sky scanner for users to check for skyward obstructions.
  • The app generates a dome above the Starlink disk, flagging obstructions that could block connection.
  • Starlink beams the internet down to users’ terminals from a network of 1,650 satellites.
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SpaceX on Tuesday added a 3D sky scanner to the app for its Starlink satellite internet.

It says the scanner makes it easier for users to check for skyward obstructions before installing their dish.

On the old app version, users checked for obstructions above the dish with their phone camera. In the new version, the app generates an image of a 3D dome above the Starlink dish, showing potential obstructions in different colours.

The parts of the 3D dome that are red warn users that obstructions could stop them connecting to Starlink’s network of 1,650 satellites. Blue indicates no obstructions. Based on the scanner, users can decide where best to place their Starlink dish.

Other updates to the Starlink app include a tool tracking how many times the internet service drops, and a dark mode that makes the app’s background black.

People who received their $499 Starlink kit must download the company’s app to set up the equipment and join the network. A monthly subscription to the satellite internet service costs $99, and the company is currently charging $100 for pre-orders.

Starlink, which beams internet down to Earth from its satellites in orbit, has topped 90,000 users. Its goal is to provide a worldwide internet network.

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