Space Exploration Technologies Corporation's (SpaceX) Starlink satellite internet constellation has started to move pre-order delivery dates for its equipment to next year according to reports. Starlink had provided estimated timelines of coverage and delivery for late 2021 to several users, but as the year comes to an end, it has sent them emails informing them to check the updated status of their orders. These updates come as pre-orders for the service stretch to touch a million, and SpaceX battles with a global semiconductor shortage and supply chain freeze leaving it unable to sufficiently mass produce its equipment.
Today's reports are courtesy of the social media platform Reddit, where users have taken to express their frustration at being unable to secure Starlink equipment and service despite having placed their pre-order deposits for months. Naturally, since it is social media, there is no certain way to verify all of the reports present, but their volume does seem to suggest that several users are witnessing their estimated delivery times slip to mid-2022 and even as far as to 2023.
One such report is from Reddit user u/QuiramJudaculla who shared an email Starlink sent to him earlier this week. This email reproduced below, explained that silicon shortages were hampering the service's ability to fulfill pre-orders, that Starlink had expanded coverage to 20 countries and that new satellites with laser connectivity were now part of the constellation. u/QuiramJudaculla concluded his post by sharing that his delivery estimate had been moved forward from mid-to-late 2021 to mid 2022.
Other users fared off better, with several seeing their delivery estimates slip from mid 2021 to December 2021. These users, who shared their delivery estimates on a separate post, were joined by others who also had their delivery estimates moved forward to 2022.
A poll opened on the same Reddit thread revealed that the majority of users who had submitted responses had seen their delivery and coverage timeframe pushed forward to mid 2022. This still active poll, which had recorded a little over 2,500 votes at the time of publishing, saw one thousand respondents outline the mid 2022 shipment estimate. The fewest had their estimate moved forward to next month, and a good chunk also saw their timelines extended to either March/April 2022 or Late 2022 or even later.
However, some of the worst news was 'reserved' for those who saw their timelines extend to 2023. One such user is from New Mexico, who signed up for the service in February this year.
The user explained on Reddit that:
Signed up on Feb 8. I knew I was moving to very remote, rural NM; so I signed up for service there. they said MTL 2021. Last month when everyone's dates got extended, mine remained MTL 2021. Then, day before yesterday, late in the day I got the email. I went in to check my account and it had been moved to 2023! I was devistated. My sister wants to come live iwth me, but she needs to be able to work from home and my internet isn't near good enough for that to happen. So, now she can't come.
I have two adjacent properties, so just on a whim, I signed up the other property, yesterday, for Starlink. I checked the delivery and it said ETM 2022. After I signed up, it still said ETM 2022. So, what the heck? The properties literally share a fenceline. All of the other addresses I checked say ETM 2022 (on both sides of the property that says 2023. Grrrrr.............So frustrating. I have no cell service and my crappy DSL upload speeds are .2mbps IF it will stay up. It drops out about 20 times a day (sometimes for a few seconds, sometimes for hours). I'd love to have a part time online job, but no way with this kind of service.
The ongoing semiconductor shortage has affected nearly every industry dependent on chips. Statements made by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) chief executive officer Dr. C.C. Wei in October outlined that the shortage is expected to last throughout 2022 due to high demand from high performance computing (HPC) and fifth generation (5G) products.
Others, such as Intel Corporation chief Mr. Patrick Gelsinger worry that they might extend into 2023, while Advanced Micro Devices, Inc's (AMD) chief Dr. Lisa Su is optimistic that the second half of 2022 will fare better. Starlink currently has more than 750,000 pre-orders according to a presentation made to the FCC earlier this month, as it serves 140,000 users globally.
The full text of Starlink's email courtesy of Reddit user QuiramJudaculla:
Thank you for being a supporter of Starlink! Over 14 million people have inquired about Starlink service in their area and today Starlink is available in over 20 countries (and counting).
The Starlink team has been working hard to expand service and increase capacity while continuously improving quality of service. We will be able to accommodate more users per area as we increase the number of satellites in orbit.
Check delivery timelines in your account
Silicon shortages over the last 6 months have slowed our expected production rate and impacted our ability to fulfill many Starlink orders this year. We apologize for the delay and are working hard across our engineering, supply chain, and production teams to improve and streamline our product and factory to increase our production rate.
You can check estimated delivery times by logging into your account page on Starlink.com. You will still receive an email from the Starlink team when your order is ready to ship, and you may cancel your order at any time for a full refund of your deposit.
Latest Starlink now in production
We recently released the latest version of Starlink which was designed for high volume manufacturing. The latest version of Starlink has comparable performance to the previous version and will begin to ship globally next year.
Expanding to more countries across the world
Since our October 2020 launch in the United States we have expanded our service to 20 additional countries: Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland, Portugal, Chile, Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Sweden, and Croatia. Pending regulatory approval, we are planning to launch in an additional 45+ new countries by the end of 2022.
More satellites in orbit with newer technology
We recently completed our 31st Starlink launch with our latest generation of satellites that are equipped with inter-satellite laser links, which enable our satellites to transfer data between each other. Once fully deployed, inter-satellite laser links will make Starlink one of the fastest options available to transfer data around the world.
Thank you for your continued support!
The Starlink Team