Posted on September 12, 2022, 7:30 pmUpdated September 12, 2022 at 7:37 pm
Returning from a vacation in County Kerry, Ireland, Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, congratulates herself on never leaving the internet during her hikes in the very wild “Black Valley”. This is thanks to the portable receiving kit developed by Starlink, the constellation of low-orbit satellites developed by SpaceX. Starlink is already operational, with 3,000 satellites already in orbit of the more than 40,000 planned, Elon Musk’s teams are even starting an aggressive commercial campaign.
In France, Arcep finally authorized the service after legal challenges that delayed commissioning. In early August, SpaceX announced that it was halving the price of the monthly subscription to the Starlink service from 99 euros to 50 euros. In addition to the subscription, there is a one-time material cost of 480 euros for the receiving antenna.
Offer for SMEs
Passing through Paris, Gwynne Shotwell clarified that the internet service launched at the end of 2020 now has more than 700,000 customers worldwide, including 75,000 active “devices” in Europe and around 6,500 in France. A “device” supplying homes, businesses or schools, it is clear that it is necessary to multiply the number of users. Interest in France has increased since the price drop, says Gwynne Shotwell.
It also announced the launch for SMEs of a service called “Starlink Business” for France, UK, Germany and Italy, with guaranteed download speeds of up to 350 megabits per second (Mbps) and latency of 20-40 milliseconds (ms ), allowing high-speed connectivity for offices with up to 20 users for retail stores or individual entrepreneurs who require heavy network usage.
The American market in sight
“We still have 700,000 applications in the pipeline to deliver and we’ve started marketing in 40 countries,” says Gwynne Shotwell, emphasizing that the biggest potential customers are at this stage in the United States. There, Starlink hopes to win up to 30 million homes.
“Very few Americans are satisfied with their Internet services. They pay a lot for mediocre and unstable services and the demand is greater than the amount of kits we can produce at this stage, we are exhausted”, declares the one who puts Elon Musk’s dreams into music and who will soon celebrate his twentieth year at SpaceX.
According to her, despite an already global service, many other satellites will have to be launched to meet the demand. Cautious, however, she repeats that SpaceX respects the rules of client states and is keen not to cause interference with other satellite operators.
As proof of good faith, she recalls that Starlink has concluded an agreement with the other OneWeb constellation so that each can exist without interfering with the other’s signal. She admits, however, that SpaceX still doesn’t have great skills in telecommunications and hasn’t lost its DNA: space travel.
“We are experts in launchers, but not in telecommunications, which explains why we didn’t immediately assess the right price in France,” explains the SpaceX boss. But when the market for sending satellites, astronauts or any other spacecraft into the outer vacuum peaks at 6 to 8 billion dollars a year, according to her, the internet market weighs 1,000 billion! “If SpaceX takes 3%, it will always bring more than the space market, or about 30 billion”, he points out.
SpaceX, which has just “burned in” a new engine for its Starship mega-rocket project, needs the money to carry out a first-time orbital flight as desired next year. “With Starship, I could travel between Paris and Texas in an hour, that would be great,” exclaims the SpaceX boss, confirming that she is already calculating how SpaceX could conquer the long-haul market…