After launching its beta service to select customers across the United States and Canada, Elon Musk’s satellite internet constellation, Starlink, is set to launch in Lebanon as soon as 2022.
Last year, Lebanese computer science researcher Nadim Kobeissi asked Elon Musk on Twitter to position one of his satellites over Lebanon. His tweet quickly gained traction among other Lebanese Twitter users, many of which have to rely on slow and unreliable internet connections that are behind the rest of the world.
To everyone’s surprise, Musk replied, assuring Nadim that Starlink would provide global coverage. Well, it’s now clear that Musk was serious because pre-orders are already available with a fully refundable deposit of $99. The deposit will go toward the cost of the hardware kit ($499), the monthly service fee ($99 a month), and the shipping & handling fee (varies from region to region).
The fine print states that paying the deposit doesn’t guarantee availability. Instead, the deposit gives the payer’s order a higher priority in their region for ordering Starlink when it becomes available in the future.
Those who receive the Starlink kit can look forward to data speeds between 50 Mbps and 150 Mbps and latency from 20 ms to 40 ms, which is good enough for online gaming, high-definition streaming, and video conferencing. Both speed and latency are promised to keep improving as SpaceX, the company behind Starlink, launches more satellites and improves its software.
Already, around 1,000 Starlink satellites have been launched into orbit, but SpaceX has sought approval for tens of thousands more. Other private companies that are planning to launch satellite internet constellations include OneWeb, Amazon, Samsung, and Boeing.
At the moment, satellite internet access is aimed mostly at people living in rural and hard-to-reach locations, where wired connectivity has typically been a challenge. As the technology improves and the number of satellites in orbit increases, it’s possible that it will become a viable alternative to broadband internet even in otherwise well-connected areas.
It still isn’t clear whether or not the Lebanese government will formally allow the use of Starlink within the country as Ogero, Lebanon’s state telecommunications operator, doesn’t allow the use of Internet services that don’t pass through their network. It will be interesting to see what their take is on the matter.
Emirates Airline To Invest $2 Billion On Major Upgrades
Emirates plans a huge retrofit on its fleet and an upgrade to the inflight experience.
Emirates Airline has just announced plans to improve its inflight experience for passengers. The carrier has budgeted $2 billion to refit the interiors of over 120 of its aircraft, aiming for a more modern aesthetic for cabins, along with better food choices, modern inflight entertainment options, and a significant service overhaul.
Emirates is well known for its premium service, so this overhaul is an ambitious decision, as many other airlines are trying their hardest to increase revenues and reduce costs.
“Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver ever better experiences to our customers. Through the pandemic we’ve continued to launch new services and initiatives to ensure our customers travel with the assurance and ease, including digital initiatives to improve customer experiences on the ground. Now we’re rolling out a series of intensive programmes to take Emirates’ signature inflight experiences to the next level,” says Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline.
The investment aims to ensure Emirates stays on top form, with many of the upgrades scheduled to materialize quickly. For the physical refit, aircraft are scheduled to enter the Emirates Engineering Center in November. So what can passengers expect once work is complete? The most significant change will be to aircraft interiors, where flyers of all classes will immediately spot new flooring, paneling, and reupholstered seats.
As well as a physical overhaul, the airline plans to upgrade entertainment systems, adding a “Cinema in the Sky” experience, complete with a bespoke app. In addition, better meal choices will reflect changing dietary preferences, including a new vegan menu and a nod to sustainability — though there will remain a strong luxury vibe to the proceedings, as the company has entered an exclusive agreement to offer Dom Perignon vintage champagne on board, as well as delicacies such as Persian caviar.
Though many of the improvements may seem trivial, Emirates is hoping that along with a huge cabin overhaul, their overall flight experience will continue to make travel a pleasurable experience, elevating their service above the competition.