Why Starlink chose the Isle of Man as Groundbase

Why Starlink chose the Isle of Man as Groundbase: Starlink, the space internet service created in 2015 by Elon Musk’s space transportation firm SpaceX, has installed a “ground station” on a small self-governing island in the Irish Sea, which allows it to beam internet from satellites in low Earth orbit to homes. helps to. Office.

Starlink’s Isle of Man ground station, first reported by The Telegraph late last month, can be found on the Starlink.sx website. The government of the Isle of Man said that Starlink is working with local communications provider BlueWave, adding that the pair has licensed some of the island’s available spectrum together.

BlueWave has a ground station just outside the capital of Douglas that can be viewed on Google Maps. It acquired the site last year from SES Satellite Leasing. SES kicked off the Isle of Man last summer.

The site boasts between four and eight radomes, according to a local source who works in the satellite industry, who asked to remain anonymous because they are not allowed to discuss the matter.

These are structural, weatherproof enclosures that protect a radar antenna, which sends and receives data transmissions. “There’s an almost new empty base station array here that is connected directly to the data centers,” said another source who works in the Isle of Man’s tech industry, who asked to remain anonymous because they are not directly connected to the Starlink project. .

The source added that it “has an excellent horizon scan because being surrounded by ocean means there is nothing in the way.” 32 miles long and 13 miles wide, the Isle of Man is a British Crown dependency located roughly equidistant from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales in the middle of the Irish Sea.

Starlink already has bases in Buckinghamshire and Cornwall in England, and the Isle of Man base will enable the company to provide blanket Internet coverage across the UK. According to two CNBC sources, the island’s location, spectrum, and existing satellite infrastructure contributed to Starlink’s decision.

The first source to receive Starlink kits in May said the island has a “very efficient” telecommunications regulator that is quick to issue relatively cheap licenses. “Then, of course, the Isle of Man is a low tax jurisdiction so [there is] very little overhead,” he said. “In addition, the country has an adequacy agreement with the European Union for GDPR compliance. All this makes the island a good place for satellite or data-related services.”

GDPR is a set of data protection and privacy rules introduced by the European Union in May 2018. The island also has its own spectrum bands that are less busy than those used in the UK; The Isle of Man has just 85,000 residents while the UK has around 70 million.

The Isle of Man Communications and Utilities Regulatory Authority confirmed to CNBC on Thursday that Starlink and BlueWave have been licensed for “the provision of the services and location of related equipment on the island.”

“This is very exciting and positive news for the island that will enable the deployment of satellite broadband service on the island and in the region beyond,” a spokesman for the island’s enterprise division told CNBC.

He added: “Licensing available spectrum will provide more options for local consumers and the potential for further jobs within the island’s telecommunications sector.” SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment, while BlueWave declined to comment.

What is Starlink? Starlink ultimately wants to provide the world with faster Internet, starting with improving Internet access in parts of the world that are not currently served by broadband providers.

It allows people to connect to the Internet through a satellite dish that is placed on or near a person’s property. Internet is delivered to the dish via a network of Starlink satellites that have been placed in orbit by SpaceX and ground stations.

The company has said it plans to spend $10 billion to put 12,000 small satellites in low-Earth orbit that can beam high-speed, low-latency internet to the ground. It has made 1,700 launches so far and the service is being used by 90,000 customers in 12 countries.

“You can assume that they would need a lot of ground stations in many places to ensure uninterrupted coverage,” Craig Moffett, an analyst at the research firm MoffettNathanson, told CNBC.

“Satellites are not yet equipped with fiber interlinks, so for now, they need to be in constant contact with the ground. This requires a tremendous number of ground stations,” Moffett said.

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