Elon Musk‘s Starlink internet service’s official launch in Greece will take place before the end of the month. The Joint Ministerial Decision (JMD) for the licensing of satellite internet systems is now on its way to publication in the Government Gazette.
Starlink, a subsidiary of Musk’s Space X corporation, provides internet access through a network of low-Earth-orbiting (Low Earth Orbit-LEO) satellites. It has already launched its the first part of its associated activities in Greece.
Essentially, the publication of the JMC will “unlock” the test mode for Starlink in Greece. This will allow a small group of users to use its internet services in the coming weeks. Then, in late November and early December 2021, the Starlink internet hardware will be sent to those who have pre-ordered it.
The regulatory framework for the standard satellite dishes necessary for satellite-based internet, so that it works along the model of satellite TV, has already been signed. The difference between internet “satellite dishes” and usual satellite TV, however, is that the former are both receivers and transmitters.
This is a key regulatory issue that needed to be addressed before Starlink began shipping internet hardware to Greece. The JMC was signed on the basis of the proposal submitted by the National Telecommunications and Post Commission.
Starlink internet via satellite pre-ordered by Greek customers
In the next few days, it is expected to be published in the official Government Gazette and become law. Subsequently, Starlink can now start providing internet services to consumers who are intrigued by the concept.
The equipment required for connections with Starlink Low Earth Orbit satellites is anything but cheap, however. A pre-order costs €500. Some issues remain unresolved as well. These include the status with which the internet service will be offered to the subscriber and how the cost will be amortized over time.
During the test period, Starlink will offer its services using terrestrial satellite stations available in neighboring countries, such as Bulgaria and Italy. In the second phase, it will proceed with the construction of its ground internet station in Greece.
The start of the initially limited test connections is expected in the coming weeks. The equipment will be sent to those who have pre-ordered within the year. But there is an issue concerning a current worldwide lack of processors needed for the service.
Next bet: Ground data station
The next bet for Starlink in Greece is the creation of a ground station which will send the data to the company’s satellites. Utilizing an array of low-orbit satellites promises not only stable connection at high speeds, but also extremely low latency.
As Elon Musk himself has noted, Starlink is essentially targeting “white” areas, meaning those that remain outside the coverage of fixed and mobile networks. This, he said, concerns 3-5% of the planet as a whole.
This advantage of satellite internet is expected to be of service to the Greek state as well. It will bypass coverage issues in the government’s “digital transformation” plan.