A first look at what appears to be SpaceX Starlink prototype user terminals have been seen in Merrillan, Wisconsin. A closeup of the terminal identifies it as a prototype and confirms it is not yet approved by the FCC for lease or sale.
Once the SpaceX Starlink network is available to the public, customers will need to purchase or lease a user terminal, place it outside, and point it at the sky before being able to connect. Up to this point, it was unclear how large these terminals would be and what form they would take.
The unconfirmed images appear to show equipment for a ground station (the round nodes) and an array of user terminals (the small white dishes). The last image in the series shows a close up of one of the user terminals that reveals a tag with the terminal’s serial number and the below disclaimer.
“This unit is intended for demonstrations use only. This device has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. This device is not, and may not, be offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained. Therefore, ownership must remain with SpaceX.”
Earlier this month, SpaceX board director Steve Jurvetson shared an iPhone screenshot on Twitter showing a series of Starlink WiFi networks. Jurvetson described connecting to the Starlink user terminals as the “simplest out-of-box experience imaginable.”
Jurvetson’s update of what is likely private alpha testing of the Starlink network was followed soon after with a call for public Beta testers.
The update to the Starlink website asks visitors to enter their email address, zip code and country. Once they hit submit, they will receive an email advising that they “will be notified via email if beta testing opportunities become available” in their area.
According to SpaceX, private beta testing is “expected to begin later this summer, followed by public beta testing, starting with higher latitudes.”