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SpaceX begins public beta testing of Starlink constellation at $99 a month

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Last night, SpaceX invited some early users to join public beta testing of its Starlink program, which aims to provide global internet coverage from space. To join the beta test, called Better Than Nothing Beta, users must purchase all of the Starlink ground equipment for $499 and then pay a $99 monthly fee for active service.

The company sent out emails to people who had signed up on SpaceX’s Starlink website to hear updates about the program. One user posted an email to Reddit last night, and CNBC later confirmed the email after seeing screenshots. The Verge also confirmed the veracity of the email with sources familiar with the matter. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the program. SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.

The email is brief, first detailing what beta users can expect from the initial Starlink system. “Expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system,” the email reads. “There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all.” SpaceX claims in the email that latency and data speeds will improve as the company launches more satellites and installs more ground stations to receive signals from the satellites. The company also notes it will continue to update its networking software and expects latency to decrease to between 16ms and 19ms by 2021.

For Starlink, SpaceX envisions launching a massive constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites into low orbits over Earth in order to beam continuous broadband internet services to the ground below. The company claims such a giant number of satellites are needed so that at least one satellite will be above any area of the globe at all times. So far, SpaceX has launched nearly 900 Starlink satellites, though a handful of the vehicles have failed in orbit, while the company has actively taken others out of orbit. Musk has said that SpaceX would need 800 satellites in space to provide “significant operational capabilities.”

To connect to the system, users will need to purchase one of SpaceX’s user terminals, which CEO Elon Musk has described as resembling a “UFO on a stick.” In the new email, SpaceX says that the user terminal, the tripod used to mount the terminal to the ground, and the Wi-Fi router together will cost $499. The email provides a link for users to order the equipment.

Additionally, SpaceX has rolled out a Starlink app that will help beta users set up their systems. Using augmented reality, the app allows users to search for areas of the sky with unobstructed views so that they can ensure their user terminals will have line of sight with satellites. The app also walks people through the setup process. The app’s description also notes that public beta testing will start with users in the United States and Canada in 2020.

Over the summer, SpaceX rolled out private beta testing of Starlink, though participants of the program had to keep quiet about it. “You may NOT discuss your participation in the Beta Program online or with those outside of your household, unless they are SpaceX employees,” the Starlink website stated, according to code found on the website. Despite the secrecy, the public got some glimpses of the system’s test speeds. Early Starlink tests done through Ookla showed average data speeds between 11 Mbps and 60 Mbps. During a launch of a batch of Starlink satellites, SpaceX claimed it had seen data speeds up to 100 Mbps. The company also claimed it had tested out “space lasers” on its satellites that would allow the vehicles to communicate with one another in space and potentially increase data sharing.

With the public beta program, things seem to be far less secretive, so it’s possible these early users may reveal more information about how SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are performing in the future.

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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