On Monday, February 14, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced the company’s broadband division now has over 250,000 active Starlink user terminals. The revenue generated long-term from the broadband constellation will assist the company in its effort to build a fleet of 1,000 Starships to build the first self-sustaining city on Mars. With 250,000 active customers the company is generating approximately $25 million a month, given the $99 USD per month subscription fee for high-speed internet – that is around $300 million a year. However, the company must pass through a significant amount of negative cash flow before seeing any profit. The entire Starlink constellation is estimated to cost over $10 billion to build.
As of today, the Starlink constellation has around 1,852 operational satellites in Low Earth Orbit, according to data by Astronomer Jonathan McDowell. SpaceX is currently working to launch 4,400 internet-beaming satellites during Phase 1 of the constellation’s deployment. Overall, the Starlink constellation will consist of at least 12,000 satellites beaming Internet data globally. Starlink currently provides internet service across 25 countries, including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, United States, and United Kingdom. SpaceX is working to continue expanding broadband coverage across these countries and other places around the globe. The company’s primary focus is to serve customers living in rural and remote regions where terrestrial internet infrastructures are unreliable or completely unavailable. In November 2021, a SpaceX representative shared that the company received over 750,000 Starlink service pre-orders globally since 2020.
Over 250k Starlink user terminals— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 14, 2022
SpaceX has authorization from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate 1 million Starlink user terminals in the United States, and it filed a a request to operate 5 million more. The terminals are a phased-array antenna and a Wi-Fi router to wirelessly access the satellite network. There is three versions of the user terminal: V1 (version 1) is the original standard Starlink dish that is circular. It is priced at $499 USD to the public but it cost SpaceX around $1,000 to manufacture. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in 2020 that the company lost half of its investment with each Starlink dish antenna it sold and engineers worked on developing a cost-effective version of the antenna.
V2 (version 2) is the new antenna that was released in November 2021 to decrease manufacturing cost and increase production rate during the COVID-19 outbreak that caused silicon chip shortages globally. The V2 terminal is rectangular and features the same capabilities as the original but helped the company decrease the production cost by nearly half. It costs $499 USD with a $99 per month internet subscription fee, like V1. Both, V1 and V2, provide high-speed broadband internet access with download speeds varying between 100Mbps and 200 Mbps (Megabits per second), latency as low as 20ms (milliseconds). Some users report higher speeds over 300Mbps.
The newest user terminal is a more expensive high-performance (HP) model that is for Starlink Premium internet service. The company designed it for “high-demand users” (like businesses) that require extremely high-bandwidth on a daily basis. Starlink Premium was released in February 2022 to “help ensure bandwidth for critical operations even during times of peak network usage,” said SpaceX. The HP model costs $2,500 USD with a monthly internet subscription fee of $500 USD for double the internet speed. "Starlink Premium users can expect download speeds of 150-500 Mbps and latency of 20-40ms, enabling high throughput connectivity for small offices, storefronts, and super users across the globe. With Starlink, there are no long-term contracts, no data caps, and no exclusivity requirements," the company's website states. Visit Starlink.com for more information.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.