Wed. May 22nd, 2024

What You Need To Know About Elon Musk’s Starlink Super-Speed Satellite Internet In Nigeria. How To Use Starlink.

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Recently, Elon Musk’s satellite internet, Starlink was awarded license to operate in Nigeria. Many Nigerians have questions on what Starlink internet is all about. The difference between satellite internet and the ones provided by other Internet Service Providers in Nigeria. SpaceX, got six different licences, including Internet Service Provider (ISP) operational licence; International Data Access (IDA) operational licence; Full Gateway Operational licence; Sales and Installation Major (S&I- Major) licence; Gateway Earth Station (GES) Network Frequency licence per Gateway the company is to build; and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Network Frequency licence.

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There appears to be hope of connectivity for the about 114 access gaps (communities without telecoms services) in Nigeria.

Data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that the 114 access gaps in the country currently house some 25 million Nigerians without basic telephony services. It must also be stated that where there are coverage currently, telecoms services have not been optimal.

What Is A Satellite Internet?

Satellite internet is wireless internet beamed down from satellites orbiting the Earth. It’s a lot different from land-based internet services like cable or DSL, which transmit data through wires. Since it’s the only internet service that’s available nationwide, satellite internet is a reliable way to get online for many rural homes and businesses.

HughesNet and Viasat are the two popular primary residential satellite internet providers in the US, Starlink; from SpaceX with it’s individual services is unique and Project Kuiper (from Amazon) will also offer satellite internet service.

How does satellite internet work?

Satellite internet works by using radio waves to communicate with satellites orbiting the Earth. Data is sent and retrieved through a communication network that starts with your device and travels through your modem and satellite dish, out to a satellite in space, then back to Earth to ground stations known as network operations centers (NOC). And then, data travels back through this network—out to space and then back to your satellite dish on Earth—to deliver data on your device.

Satellite internet uses a five-part relay system:

  • Internet-ready device
  • Modem/router
  • Satellite dish
  • Satellite in space
  • Network Operations Center (NOC

Internet-ready device

An internet-ready device is any device that can access the internet through the proper service. This includes your computer, tablet, smartphone, smart TV, gaming consoles, and any other internet-enabled equipment.

When you use the internet on one of these devices, it sends and receives data through your modem/router.

Modem/router

A modem translates data so it can move between your internet-ready device and the satellite dish. You can connect some devices, like a computer, smart TV, or gaming console, directly to your modem using an ethernet cable.

Wi-Fi capabilities: However, those cables can get a bit messy, and you’ll still need Wi-Fi capabilities for devices like tablets and smartphones. That’s where a router comes in. It connects to the modem to give it Wi-Fi capabilities. A router broadcasts an internet signal wirelessly, so you can pick it up on your phone, laptop, or other device. HughesNet and Viasat satellite internet modems come with a router built in, although you can upgrade your network by using a fancier model if you’d like.

Satellite dish

The next step in the relay is your home satellite dish. This dish must be precisely positioned to beam signals to the provider’s satellite in orbit and receive information back. A certified technician from your provider will take care of placement for you.

The tricky positioning of a satellite dish can make satellite internet difficult for traveling RVs. Additionally, your account is set up to be under a specific spot beam from the satellite in space, so how far you would be able to travel and still get internet would be somewhat limited.

Satellite in space

At about 300 miles above the Earth, next-generation satellites from Starlink (SpaceX) and Project Kuiper (Amazon) are much closer to the Earth. These satellites are launched into low-Earth orbit (LEO). Because of their closer proximity, next-generation satellites can provide customers with faster internet speeds and lower latency than previous satellite internet services. But the downside is the satellites can’t cover as wide an area as satellites in geostationary orbit, so thousands of Starlink satellites are needed to deliver the same coverage area as two or three traditional satellites.

Network operations center (NOC)

Whenever you request information from the internet, whether you’re clicking on a link, streaming a show, or opening Facebook, the data from that request is uploaded through the above relay. The satellite then beams that request to the NOC.

Using a much larger satellite dish than the one you have at home, the NOC receives your request. The NOC then taps into the internet backbone, gathers the information you requested, and sends it back through the relay to you.

All of this process, including beaming information 22,000 miles into space and back twice, happens in fractions of a second.

Because the information has to travel so far, you may notice more latency (also called lag) than you might with DSL or cable internet, but advances in technology have made the satellite internet today much faster than it used to be

Starlink is SpaceX’s bid to launch a network of small satellites into low-Earth orbit that can provide high-speed internet coverage with minimal delay to even the most remote places around the globe. 

Satellites are already used in many ways to connect people on the ground, but traditional communication satellites are stationed in an orbit roughly 36,000 kilometers (approximately 22,369 miles) above the surface of the Earth, Melodia says. These low-Earth orbit satellites, or LEO satellites, operate somewhere between 500 to 2,000 kilometers (311 to 1,243 miles) above the planet’s surface. 

“When satellites are closer to Earth, they can provide connectivity to a smaller area,” and it is a stronger connection, Melodia says. But with a “mega-constellation” of many of these LEO satellites, he says, “you can provide connectivity to a very broad part of the surface.” As such, this approach has the potential to bring high-speed connectivity to remote places with smaller populations where it might not make sense to lay down cables for connectivity.

“Technologies like Starlink can provide an alternative to fiber and they naturally reach areas that are not otherwise covered by fiber connectivity,” Melodia says.

What technology is on the ground?

“There’s the satellites that provide connectivity, then you need Earth stations that can connect to the satellites,” Melodia says. It’s similar to other sources of satellite connectivity. “So the way it works is that you have these large dish antennas, those antennas connect to the satellite, and then the antennas connect to something like your WiFi router at home” to provide internet to users. 

It’s those dish antennas—which are specifically called “terminals” when referring to Starlink devices.

CEO Elon Musk’s goal is to build a high-speed broadband system run by satellites that wrap around the Earth and provide internet to people, especially those in rural areas. There could be up to 42,000 satellites in orbit by mid-2027.

1. Find an open space

For Starlink to provide the best speeds, the terminal needs to have about 100 degrees of clear sky above it to easily connect to the satellites. Prepare to set up the kit here.

2. Open the box and look at the instructions

When you open the grey Starlink box, there’s a sheet of paper with three drawings — no words. These are the instructions. Take the instructions out and you’ll find the Starlink kit neatly stacked with the tripod on top of the terminal next to the router and 100 feet-worth of thick black cable.

3. Build The Kit

Put the tripod on the ground and click the rod of the terminal into the tripod. The router is already connected to the terminal and the cable. 

Alternatively, if you want to attach the Starlink securely to a roof or pole, you can buy a “Volcano Roof Mount” or a “Pipe Adapter” from the Starlink website.

Plug the end of the cable into a power source to get Starlink up and running. Two white lights will appear on the power brick. The terminal will then tilt upwards.

Go onto the app store on your smartphone to download the Starlink app.

Click the “Start Setup” button, it’ll then ask you if all the kit is plugged in. Click “Open Wifi Settings” and join the Starlink network. Then set up your WiFi with a name and password on the app, and connect to it on your phone’s WiFi settings.

Go back to the app to check when the terminal connects to the satellites. It will then tilt to align with any of the 1,241 Starlink satellites in orbit. This may take a few minutes. 

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One thought on “What You Need To Know About Elon Musk’s Starlink Super-Speed Satellite Internet In Nigeria. How To Use Starlink.”
  1. Wow, this is awesome.

    But it seems that without the dish, you can’t access the network on your device. I’m right?

    If that’s it. Having a network hub of Starlink is not bad tho, right?

    What if our local networks adopt this new technology, it would be more accessible like that. Instead of having one dish at home or something.

    Wonderful article.

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