Twitter user @Tippen22 shared a photo of cats in the snow huddled up together, but they’re all sitting on a pretty expensive Starlink internet satellite dish by SpaceX. While the photo is incredibly cute, it poses a huge problem with the device and the service—as @Tippen22 mentioned that the situation “slowed down the service’s performance” and “interrupted movie live streams”.
Starlink is SpaceX’s satellite broadband service. The company has deployed over a thousand small satellites in low earth orbit—which promises to provide “high-speed internet access with significantly lower latency” compared to existing satellite providers. According to Ookla last year, Starlink’s internet speeds are faster worldwide than the leading alternative satellite offerings.
The dishes also have a self-heating feature called Snow Melt Mode, which “prevents snow build-up from interfering with the signal”. This, however, is also the cause of why cats seem to be attracted to sitting on it. The dish also apparently attracts birds.
As a cat owner myself, I’m more than familiar with them preferring to sit on weird things, and they don’t care if it bothers you. My cat would sit on my laptop, especially if I’m trying to use it. And it’s likely to do with how warm my laptop can be, so I’m really not surprised that cats seem to also be attracted to self-heating flat surfaces like the dish.
When other users began suggesting alternative solutions to help keep the cats warm amid record heavy snowfalls, @Tippen22 pointed out that cats will just do as they please. They will also go out of their way to “voluntarily leave [the] heated cathouse” just to use the dish outside.
He adds that the cat butts “interrupt streaming of movies” and “slow everything down”. However, they do not shut down the signal completely.
It’s a wholesome problem to have, but having your internet signal slowed down because of this would be really frustrating for users. This is especially as a Starlink satellite dish costs USD 499 (RM2,096.80) each. And from there, Starlink satellite internet service costs USD 99 (RM416) a month.
Starlink exited its beta phase in October of last year. However, a worldwide chip shortage has bottlenecked production and delayed orders into late 2022 and 2023. It still isn’t clear if Starlink has received approval to operate as an internet provider in Malaysia, but they are allowing Malaysians to order the service by placing a fully refundable deposit of USD 99 on their website. At least by having it in Malaysia, you won’t really need to worry about self-heating dishes—the country is already warm enough.