Elon Musk expects to get the Starlink low-earth-orbit satellite Internet service up and running as a full-time service by August according to a virtual-presence talk he had done for the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
According to him, he has a constellation of 1,800 Starlink satellites in orbit at the moment and expects to have 5000 users “on the books” for that service within the next 12 months. There is also expected to be engagement with various countries’ telcos and mobile carriers in order for them to resell the service or use it in some form.
He also had a talk with some airlines who are wanting to equip some of their fleet for Starlink satellite Internet as a backhaul for their headline in-flight Wi-Fi amenities. But what was not put on the map was that the New South Wales police force in Australia were signing up to Starlink satellite Internet for their remote police stations. This police force’s Starlink contract could be seen as an “acid-test” regarding how “fit-for-service” a low-earth-satellite broadband service like this one is for emergency-service and essential-service use cases.
But Elon Musk is looking at the possibility of impending competition in the low-earth-orbit satellite Internet space. He is looking at Jeff Bezon who is establishing the Project Kuiper service along with the UK and India who are establishing their OneWeb consortium for this service.
There will be issues like offering residential and business satellite Internet service with fixed and transportable installations as well as mobile services for vehicles, vessels and aircraft in motion. Let’s not forget making sure that low-earth-orbit satellite broadband is offered as a viable service at prices affordable for most people.
Add to this efforts to encourage remote communities to take advantage of this technology as a way of being able to stay competitive with the rest of the world. This could be through education programs along with last-mile setups for villages especially where a household may not be able to afford or be able to install the satellite dish for these services.
Who knows how the low-earth-orbit satellite Internet will impact rural and remote Internet service over the next years as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezon establish their satellite Internet services.