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Starlink Not Some Huge Threat to Broadband Companies, Elon Musk Says at Satellite Event

David Jelke



Photo of Elon Musk at Satellite Convention by David Jelke

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2020— “I wanna be clear, it’s not like Starlink is some huge threat to telcos. I just want to be super clear, it is not.”

That’s a point SpaceX and Starlink founder Elon Musk wanted to impress upon his zealous audience at the 2020 Satellite Convention on Monday.

When doors opened to the Walter E. Washington ballroom, conference-goers burst through every opening to claim a chair. “I thought it was Black Friday,” said the attendee to this reporter’s left.

Picking up on his point, Musk doubled down on why his broadband-beaming constellation of satellites will not be a threat to telecommunications companies:

“In fact it will be helpful to telcos because Starlink will serve the hardest-to-serve customers that telcos otherwise have trouble doing with landlines or cell towers

“Starlink will effectively serve the three or four percent hardest-to-reach customers for telcos, or people who simply have no connectivity right now, or where the connectivity is really bad,” he continued.

This will “take a significant load off the telcos,” Musk assured the crowd and the cameras.

“The whole purpose of SpaceX is to help make life multiplanetary,” explained Musk. But the SpaceX founder did not hide the potential profits of beaming broadband to the masses:

“The revenue potential of launching satellites, servicing the space station and whatnot, that taps out at about $3 billion a year, but I think providing broadband is more like an order of magnitude more than that, probably $30 billion a year.”

What are some other specs about the notoriously cryptic project highlighted in the keynote by Musk?

It will boast “below 20 millisecond” latency. “Somebody will be able to watch high-def movies, play video games, and do all the things they’d want to do without noticing speed.”

Musk also revealed some details about the aesthetic of Starlink’s ground transceivers, describing the equipment that receives his broadband as “a UFO on a stick.”

Musk also stressed consumer friendliness: “It’s very important that you don’t need a specialist to install” the transceiver.

“There’s just two instructions on the box and it can be done in either order: Point at sky, plug in.”


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