The Starlink satellite broadband is on target to get global coverage in place within the next five weeks, that’s according to the update shared by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. He’s also confident that the Starlink broadband service will have 500,000 users globally within the next 12 months. He has also confirmed that the prices for the broadband service subscription will be the same globally, accounting for currency exchange rates. This means the $99 per month price is to be expected in India as well as the service will roll out sometime next year. SpaceX is also working on more cost-effective next-gen terminals that allow users to connect to satellite broadband, because the ones bundled at this time see the company losing money on every sale. Musk believes Starlink satellite broadband will fill the gap between 5G mobile services and fiber broadband.
“In August we should have global connectivity in everywhere except the poles,” said Elon Musk, during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) keynote speech. Before we get into the finer details, it is important to note that what Musk may be indicating at is the availability of SpaceX Starlink satellites positioned and in place to provide broadband coverage in most parts of the world. And not necessarily that you’d be able to buy it in your part of the world within the next 5 weeks. With services rolling out ahead of plan in more countries, Starlink is confident of clocking 500,000 users in the next year. Musk also confirmed that Starlink services are available in 12 countries, and hopes to add more countries every month.
Musk believes that satellite broadband services will complement existing 5G mobile networks as well as the fiber broadband options. “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. That being said, pricing will remain a challenge for Starlink globally. The company has confirmed that the subscription and tariff prices will be the same around the world, which means it’ll be a direct conversion of the $99 monthly charge in place already, with local taxes added on. In India, you’d be looking at somewhere around Rs 7,000 per month for Starlink satellite broadband services. And there is also the $499 bundle that includes the dish antenna and the terminal, which Musk admits costs SpaceX around $1000, and plans are very much in place to get the next generation update in place that’ll reduce the terminal cost significantly.
Earlier this year, Starlink rolled out pre-reservation invites in India for those who may be interested in signing up, and the service is expected to roll out sometime in 2022. The Starlink deposit terms for this $99 that you pay today suggest that this is for the purchase of the Starlink equipment that you’ll need to access the satellite broadband service. “By placing your Deposit Payment, you have established priority within your region for purchasing the Starlink Kit when available,” says Starlink. Payments are accepted via credit cards and debit cards, as well as Apple Pay, which is still not officially rolled out as a digital payment platform in India. Starlink says that the $99 deposit is fully refundable at any time, though you will forfeit your priority service access position. It is expected that the Starlink hardware kits will be in limited supply, at least in the initial months, of launch of the Starlink satellite broadband in India.
It has also been confirmed that the satellite broadband service will now get a speed boost to 300Mbps this year. That will be double of the maximum speeds that Starlink delivers to customers, which is up to 150Mbps at this time. Starlink, during the beta testing phase, till now offers users broadband speeds between 50Mbps and 150Mbps with the latency expected between 20ms and 40ms, depending on location. The aim is to eventually offer as much as 1Gbps internet speeds and a global coverage, in due course of time, with a fairly low latency of up to 25ms, once the satellite constellation is complete.