Speaking at the Tesla shareholders' annual meeting, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, also SpaceX Chief Executive Officer, briefly joined the SpaceLine ambitious Starlink program and discussed how he thought the satellite constellation could support more than 3-5% of the world's population.
On May 23, SpaceX successfully launched 60 "v0.9" Starlink satellites – weighing 18.5 tons (~ 41000 lb) – at LEO, a first step unmatched by the ambition in the history of commercial satellites. Delivered in the orbit of ~ 450 km (280 miles), all but four of the 60 spaceships successfully launched their electric ionic pushers and 55 have already raised their orbits to ~ 500 km (31
In general, Musk is more than ready to recognize some of the potential limitations of the low earth orbit broadband (LEO) system at the Tesla shareholders' meeting in 2019. Most notably, he unambiguously noted that Starlink was not intended to serve densely populated areas and would be primarily focused on low to medium density populations. Excited by the investor's question about the possibility of integrating Starlink into future Tesla cars, Musk confirmed that Starlink's first generations of consumer terminals (ie terrestrial antennas) would be roughly the size of "medium pizza."
Although pizza sizing is not ISO-certified, Starlink's consumer antennas are likely to be about 12-14 inches (30-36 cm) in width and square in shape. Thanks to the use of what Musk regards as the world's most advanced phase antennas, neither Starlink's satellite antennas nor user terminals will have to physically move to maintain a strong signal. Still, as Mouse notes, a medium sized pizza box antenna will still stand out as a sick thumb on the typically all-glass roof of Tesla's consumer cars, although Starlink's built-in antennas may make sense in Tesla Semis.
Elon Musk's specific commentary shows that Starlink, at least in its current iteration, has never served to serve more than 3-5% of the Earth (population: ~ 7.8 billion), most or all of it users are nominally located in areas with low to medium population density. This usually confirms the technical suspicions that Starlink (and other constellations like OneWeb and Telesat) are actually unable to provide the Internet to each by itself.
For SpaceX, each Starlink companion – on official statements that the first 60 satellites represent more than one bandwidth bandwidth – probably offers a bandwidth of around 17-20 gigabits per second. Simply put, this means that one of Starlink's satellites can theoretically support up to 4,000 users who simultaneously stream video on YouTube with 1080p / 30fps, a figure that sounds impressive but exceeds the huge number of people living in cities. It is important to note that every Starlink satellite about 550 km will likely have a radius of service of several thousand, if not tens of thousands of square kilometers.