Starlink has provided an encouraging update for preorderers who unexpectedly had their estimated delivery dates delayed to 2022 or 2023, but the Starlink website is still displaying delayed delivery dates to people who were previously told to expect service in 2021.
As we reported Tuesday, some people who preordered Starlink broadband made tiny changes to their service locations on the Starlink website and immediately had their estimated delivery dates delayed by a year or more. There was a spurt of people making these small changes because SpaceX’s satellite division urged them to use a mapping tool to ensure the accuracy of their location. But people said that even changes of a few feet delayed their orders from 2021 to 2022 or 2023, apparently sending them to the “back of the line.”
Starlink’s public relations division and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk did not respond to requests for comment, but a Starlink support FAQ was subsequently updated with this sentence:
Note: Orders are fulfilled based on the date of your initial Starlink order; if you move to a new location, your place in the queue at the new location will still be based off of your initial order date.
Additionally, one person wrote on Reddit yesterday that they moved the map pin slightly and their delivery date is still listed as 2021. That suggests the problem may be solved for new uses of the mapping tool, but we wouldn’t recommend actually testing this on your own preorder until Starlink offers a clearer statement on the matter.
“It’s still showing early to mid 2023”
Even if the problem is fixed for small location changes that happen now and in the future, Starlink still hasn’t fixed the estimated delivery dates for at least two of the people that we quoted in our Tuesday article.
“I just took a look and it’s still showing early to mid 2023,” Brad, a rural Washington state resident, told us today. We quoted Brad in the previous article as saying his “account has always said service by late 2021 until I updated my position on the map by maybe a couple hundred feet because Google Maps had my address down the street for some reason, and then it instantly changed to mid-2023.”
Our Tuesday article also quoted a Reddit user with the screen name BrdwyBabe13, who wrote, “I moved [the map pin] from the end of my driveway to my house this morning and just looked back and [the availability date] had changed to 2022-2023.”
BrdwyBabe13’s Starlink availability date remained at 2022 to 2023 today. “I’ve tried emailing the [email protected] address without reply, and I even tried to tweet Elon,” BrdwyBabe13 told us today. “I had to pull my daughter out of public school and start homeschooling when COVID hit solely because we didn’t have reliable Internet. They offered a hotspot, but we don’t even have cell towers close enough to use a hotspot. I know I’m one of many in this situation, but we’re desperate for reliable Internet with the only option in my world being HughesNet with about 2Mbps up and 4Mbps down most of the time for me to try to work from home on. Moving that date back so far brought me to tears!”
We contacted SpaceX today and will update this article if we get a response. The company never responded to our inquiry on Tuesday.
Starlink’s lack of communication with preorderers
It’s possible that this is just a website glitch that won’t affect anyone’s actual delivery date. But the website is still telling preorderers that their delivery dates have been delayed by a year or more, and Starlink has not explained why that happened or whether these new dates in 2022 or 2023 are accurate.
Starlink could have easily cleared up this confusion with a specific detailed statement at any time this week. Instead, the ISP’s lack of communication with customers and the press means that people who saw their preorders get delayed can only make guesses based on clues such as the new sentence in the support FAQ.
Starlink seems to have exited beta and moved into general availability but warned that chip shortages “have delayed production which has impacted our ability to fulfill orders.” There doesn’t appear to be any connection between the chip shortage and the delivery-estimate changes that happened immediately after people updated their service locations.
Starlink’s communication with customers could improve a bit in the near future. This week, the company posted a job opening for a Starlink content manager who will “oversee the development of all customer-facing communications and supporting materials, and the overall communications rollout plan for Starlink’s consumer and business lines, both domestically and internationally.” Among other things, that will include creating and distributing “customer updates to ensure awareness of network improvements and service availability” and “baseline communication materials for use by customer support and sales teams.”