Starlink to the conquest of the world: the words of Elon Musk

By next year the company could reach half a million users for its satellite internet connection service. This is the estimate of the founder of SpaceX.

The goals that Elon Musk has set for Starlink, the internet connectivity service via satellite, are ambitious. The South African entrepreneur participated in a video conference at Mobile World Congress 2021 and explained what his expectations are for the future. "We are on track to have a few hundred thousand users, possibly 500 thousand users within 12 months," is the estimate of the founder of Space X.

Elon Musk's goals for Starlink

The current goal of SpaceX is to transmit broadband internet to most of the planet by August. The Internet network, with the beta phase open, has launched more than 1,700 satellites into low Earth orbit since 2018 and recently passed a "strategically significant" benchmark of 69,420 active users, Musk said at MWC. Starlink is already active in 12 countries and would be expanding even further.

Reaching half a million users in the next year and unlocking global Internet coverage in the next two months, however, is an extremely ambitious goal. Starlink Internet service could be sold directly to consumers in more rural areas of the world and to governments seeking better military Internet connections. Many users currently pay $99 per month for a beta Internet subscription and $499 for activation including installation of Starlink's dish or wi-fi router. SpaceX promises download speeds of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps, but reviews on the actual capabilities of the Starlink network are mixed, with some confirming what the company says and others talking about lower performance.

Musk also said the company has signed agreements with two telecommunications operators in "major countries," but without indicating which ones they are. The entrepreneur believes that Starlink can be complementary to existing 5G providers rather than their competitors. For Musk, Starlink should be thought of as a service that can bridge the gaps between 5G and fiber to "really get to the hardest-to-reach parts of the world."

The total investment for Starlink should be around $20-30 billion before the network becomes fully operational. The assumption is then to split it from Space X and perhaps go public with an IPO. The revenues obtained will then be used to finance SpaceX's Starship system, which deals with finding solutions to transport humans to the Moon and Mars.

Putting people into space is becoming a goal to be achieved also by other billionaire entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos, who is preparing to leave with his brother on his Blue Origin's New Shepard, and Richard Branson, who has obtained the license for short commercial space trips for a fee with his Virgin Galactic rocket.

Stefania Bernardini