On today’s show we’re talking about how Elon Musk could change the dynamics of real estate for ever.
Now you’re probably thinking that is a bold statement. You might be thinking that I’m talking about electric cars. But I’m not.
You see the value of real estate is determined by location, location, location. Location matters for several reasons.
People want to be close to certain amenities. They don’t want to have to travel too far to get their groceries, eat a nice dinner in a restaurant, or commute to work.
Many people view their house is a sanctuary, a place to get away from the density and hustle of the big city.
But rural properties suffer from a number of problems. Unless the city has brought the infrastructure to your property, the cost of building and maintaining your own infrastructure is less appealing than using city services.
We’re accustomed to having seven utilities at our property. We expect electricity, water, sewer, natural gas, TV, phone and internet. If even one of those are missing, the property is less desirable. The cost to bring those services to your property can be prohibitive.
Well a little over a year ago, SpaceX launched its first satellites for its Starlink service of low earth orbit satellites.
This mesh of satellites will enable global rural communications. Eventually, SpaceX hopes to launch 42,000 satellites to service rural internet in virtually every corner of the globe including the high arctic.
Today’s satellite internet service uses geostationary satellites. But in order to match the earth’s rotation, the satellites must be 22,236 miles from the earth’s surface. Even at the speed of light, it takes about 1/9 of a second to reach the satellite from earth. Sending a round trip message to a satellite, another destination on earth and back takes about half a second. That’s a long delay in the world of computing. That’s just the travel time. Computers need time on each end of the link to process information. So satellite internet traditionally has been very slow.
The Starlink service has already over 1,000 satellites in service. Each launch of the falcon 9 rocket carries another 60 satellites. Friends of mine are already participating in the limited beta trial of the Starlink service. The downlink speeds of 70-80 Mbps are pretty respectable. Uplink speeds of 20 mbps are also quite acceptable. The service today is prone to short term dropouts. Uptime statistics are reportedly between 98.5% and 99%. These brief outages are the result of gaps in coverage. As more satellites are launched, these brief periods of downtime should disappear.
If the launch schedule is maintained, there should be 12,000 satellites circling the earth at a distance of 340 miles by 2024.
The price for a receiver is $450 USD and the service costs $99 a month. I just purchased a rural property for my wife and I and the Starlink website indicates that I should be eligible to get a Starlink receiver later this year.
If I can get respectable internet service for under $500 in up front investment and $99 a month, pretty much anywhere, then the choice of property location opens up dramatically.