Sick of Comcast, AT&T? Elon Musk Wants to Give You Internet from Space
When it comes to internet service providers, you pretty much have two options: AT&T or Comcast. In many places, you just have one option. Elon Musk is looking to turn that paradigm on its head.
In doing so he may turn SpaceX, the aerospace manufacturer and first-ever “space transportation services company,” into a $120 billion powerhouse worth more than the likes of Northrop Grumman Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co.
So what’s the plan?
The goal is to surround the planet with affordable, high-speed, low latency internet access (and disrupt the telecommunications industry) with a constellation nearly 12,000 satellites called Starlink. In contrast to the larger, clunkier internet-providing satellites, which are an average 22,236 miles away, Starlink’s satellites would be just 1,000 miles away from Earth’s surface.
Just how crazy is this idea?
Crazy, but not so crazy that Musk can’t pull it off.
Sixty experimental Starlink satellites were launched in May, a proof of concept that promptly boosted the company’s valuation to over $33 billion. Government documents revealed that Starlink could reach 12,000 satellites by the end of 2027.
Never one to wait, Musk says the network will be up and running within the next couple of years.
What will all this cost?
To be economically viable, the company would need roughly 1,000 satellites in orbit to capture a few percent of the globe’s telecommunications market. That would net the company revenue in the tens of billions.
To cover the planet in service, and to have 12,000 satellites in orbit, would cost about 10 billion a year. But revenue would be between 30 billion and 50 billion on the low end of projections.
The concept isn’t unique to SpaceX — OneWeb and Amazon.com Inc.’s Project Kuiper have the same goal — but SpaceX is far ahead.
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