Who’d have thought the latest challenge facing the Starlink satellite WiFi system would be … cats?
That’s right. The New York Post and several other news outlets reported this week that the newest challenge to Elon Musk’s satellite WiFi empire isn’t tricky space launches or near misses with other satellites. It’s furry felines deciding to take up residence in those nice, warm satellite receiving dishes this winter.
Don’t laugh. If you’re one of those RVers anxiously awaiting Starlink to finish beta testing so you can be an early adopter, you might consider how many stray cats are haunting your favorite camping spots.
One Canadian Starlink user said he recently spotted about five kitties curled up inside his shiny Starlink receiver dish. He also reported that cats don’t do much to improve internet reception.
The trouble started when the cats figured out that the satellite dishes put out a good amount of warmth on those cold winter days. Another Starlink beta tester said he checked the thermal output of his dish and found both the front and the back were warm. That could be a lure for more than just cats as the winter goes on.
In other Starlink news …
Musk and his space minions likely have more to worry about than lounging cats. Last week, Chinese Space Agency officials said some of Musk’s little Starlink satellites almost collided with the Chinese space station not once, but twice last year. That’s probably not surprising, since Starlink’s parent, SpaceX, has now launched nearly 2,000 of the Starlink satellites into low-earth orbit.
Starlink would be a huge boon to those in remote areas of the world who can’t get regular WiFi services. Musk bragged that Starlink has already shipped more than 100,000 satellite internet terminals to customers in 14 countries. Many RVers are also anxiously awaiting their turn to hook up to the web via outer space.
RVers were pretty much left out of Starlink’s beta test, since right now the service requires registration to a specific, fixed address – that’s not so good for a traveling RVer. Starlink’s terms of service specifically say, “Services and the Starlink Kit are for use exclusively at the address you provided in your order, and only for personal, family, household or residential use.”
The good news is that Musk did say last spring that Starlink “should be fully mobile later this year, so you can move it anywhere or use it on an RV or truck in motion.” There’s no word yet on just how much an RV/Starlink option will cost, but we can tell you that the service is currently being billed at $99 a month, plus taxes and fees, plus the initial payment of $499 for the satellite dish and router. Right now, it is taking about six months to fill orders.
That cost is a lot for a service that currently isn’t as fast (about 50 to 150 megabits per second) as fiber optic internet, but it could still sound pretty good to RVers who don’t have many other options.
We’d also all do well to remember that we’re dealing with Elon Musk here. He’s already secured the deal with the government to propel Americans back to the moon. And he’s thinking way bigger and way farther ahead than that when it comes to Starlink.
Starlink’s terms of service currently include a “Governing Law Mars Clause” that says Starlink users must agree that Mars is a free planet, unbound by the authority of any Earth-bound government. (See text image below). No word yet if your RV Starlink contract would be good for travel around the Red Planet.
There’s still hope that RVers will soon be able to strap on a dish after beta testing is complete and Starlink comes up with a way to easily reassign location addresses as your RV changes locations.
After that, your biggest problem will be ensuring your campsite is free of signal-blocking overhead trees and, of course, those darn cats.