Business Standard

Musk set to invest up to $30 bn in Starlink

Plans to deploy thousands of low-orbit satellites to provide internet to isolated, poorly connected areas


Elon Musk’s satellite network Starlink is on track to beam broadband internet everywhere in the world except the polar regions by August.

Space Exploratio­n Technologi­es Corp has launched more than 1,500 satellites so far and has Starlink operations in about a dozen countries, Musk said during a presentati­on at the Mobile World Congress conference on

Tuesday. That’s costing a lot. Spacex’s total investment in the network will be between $5 billion and $10 billion before cash flow is positive, he said.

Some $20 billion or $30 billion may be needed in the longer term to maintain Starlink’s competitiv­e position, Musk added. The service, which has more than 69,000 active users, may reach half a million in the next 12 months, he said.

“Our goal is not to go bankrupt,” he joked, referencin­g the tumultuous history of the industry. “Step No. 1 for Starlink is don’t go bankrupt. If we succeed in not going bankrupt then that’ll be great and we can move on from there.”

Spacex aims to offer broadband to as much as 5 per cent of the world’s population where convention­al fiber and wireless networks can’t reach. Musk said he’s signed two deals with “major country” telecom operators but he couldn’t name them yet, and he’s in discussion­s with more. Starlink will provide so-called “data back haul” spines for their networks. The satellite network 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.

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