SpaceX Starlink Internet Slated to Go Live Globally in August

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) has already launched 1,500+ satellites for Elon Musk’s broadband Internet network Starlink that is currently available in about a dozen countries. According to Musk, who spoke at the Mobile World Congress this week, Starlink will be beaming Internet everywhere in the world except polar regions by August. He added that Starlink should have about 500,000 users within the next 12 months and that SpaceX will have invested between $5 billion and $10 billion before cash flow becomes positive.

Bloomberg reports that, “SpaceX aims to offer broadband to as much as 5 percent of the world’s population where conventional fiber and wireless networks can’t reach.” Musk, who reported that Starlink currently has 69,420 active users, said he signed deals with two “major country” telecom operators for which his company will provide “data back haul” spines.

Musk did not name those telecoms but added that he’s “in discussions” with more operators. Starlink currently “moves about 30 terabits of data per second, and Musk said he’s targeting a user latency — or network response time — of less than 20 milliseconds.”

Next year, SpaceX will debut a new version of Starlink satellites with “inter-satellite laser links to help them cover polar regions.” Rooftop dishes currently cost consumers $1,000+ and company engineers are “developing a new ground terminal to stem losses.”

The Verge reports that Starlink has launched 1,700+ satellites in low-Earth orbit since 2018 and adds that “reaching half a million users in the next year and unlocking global Internet coverage … in the next two months is a wildly ambitious goal for Starlink.”

Among targeted potential customers are “governments looking for better military Internet connections” and “consumers in the world’s most rural areas.” Under the current beta test, “many individual users are paying $99 per month for Internet … using a $499 bundle of a self-aligning Starlink dish and Wi-Fi router.” SpaceX promises “100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload speeds … [and] reviews so far have been mixed.”

Musk admitted that, “a key goal for SpaceX is avoiding bankruptcy as it passes through a deep chasm of negative cash flow.” Its main rival, London-based OneWeb “filed for — and since recovered from — bankruptcy last year.” Musk also emphasized that “he considers Starlink to be ‘complementary’ to existing 5G providers rather than directly competing with them.”

“You can think of Starlink as filling in the gaps between 5G and fiber and really getting to the parts of the world that are the hardest to reach,” he said.

SpaceX Is Losing Money on its Starlink Terminals, But Sees Lower Costs Ahead, TechCrunch, 6/29/21
SpaceX Plans to Use Its Starlink Internet on Starship Orbital Launch to Demonstrate Connection Quality, TechCrunch, 6/29/21

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