SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwyn Shotwell wants what SpaceX is doing to “revive the industry” while making “young children think of being in the space industry again.”
Kimberly White Vanity Fair Getty images
SpaceX President Gwyn Shotwell doesn’t think the company will add “differentiated pricing”
“I don’t think we’re going to do differentiated pricing for consumers. We’re going to try to keep it as simple and transparent as possible, so there are no plans at the consumer level right now,” Shotwell told the 2021 LEO Digital Forum satellite. virtual panel on Tuesday.
In a differentiated pricing system, what the customer pays is based on the level of service he or she chooses.
Starlink is the company’s capital-intensive project to build an interconnected Internet network with thousands of satellites, known in the space industry as a constellation designed to deliver high-speed Internet to consumers anywhere on the planet.
Starlink consumer terminal installed on the roof of a building in Canada.
So far, the company has launched more than 1,200 satellites into orbit.
In October, SpaceX began launching Starlink’s early service in a public beta that now extends to customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and New Zealand – with a $ 99-a-month service in the United States, in addition to upfront costs. for the equipment needed to connect to the satellites.
Elon Musk’s company continued to expand Starlink’s service, with the public beta winning more than 10,000 users in the first three months. Shotwell noted that SpaceX has no “time frame for exiting the beta phase,” saying the company still has “a lot of work to do to make the network reliable.”
Musk’s company plans to extend Starlink out of homes by asking the FCC to extend its permission to connect to “moving vehicles” so that the service can be used with everything from planes to ships to large trucks.
For now, SpaceX is focusing on customer service in rural and hard-to-reach areas, with Shotwell saying Starlink “will be able to serve any rural household in the United States” or “about 60 million people.” While SpaceX adds service to other countries, Shotwell said SpaceX was initially focused on the United States, “because they speak English and are close, and if they have a problem with their dish, we can deliver it quickly.”
“But we definitely want to expand that capability beyond the United States and Canada,” Shotwell added.
SpaceX consumes much of Starlink’s equipment
Boxes containing Starlink kits, with user terminals and Wi-Fi routers.
One of the main obstacles to Starlink, as well as any satellite broadband service, is the cost of consumer terminals: The ground equipment that connects customers to the network.
Shotwell said SpaceX had “made great progress in reducing costs” at Starlink’s consumer terminal, which was originally about $ 3,000 each. She said the terminals now cost less than $ 1,500, and SpaceX “just released a new version that saved about $ 200 in costs.”
This means that SpaceX bears about two-thirds of the cost of the terminals, as the company charges beta customers $ 499 in advance for a consumer terminal. Musk said earlier this year that Starlink “must go through a deep gap in negative cash flow,” much of which is expected to be due to the price of consumer terminals.
While SpaceX has so far not charged customers the full cost of the terminals, Shotwell said the company expects its costs to reach “a range of several hundred dollars over the next year or two.”
Starlink “complements” the existing broadband service
60 Starlink satellites are in orbit after the company’s 17th mission.
Shotwell reiterated previous comments from SpaceX management that Starlink was not seeking to replace the service of “giant providers AT&T, Comcast, etc.” as it noted that its satellite Internet was “very complementary to the services they provide.” provide. “
“The Starlink system is best suited for a highly distributed rural or semi-rural population,” Shotwell said.
Shotwell, meanwhile, said SpaceX’s challenge is to learn how to scale consumer customers while “making sure we can build a reliable network.” But, she added, none of them is a challenge “that we cannot solve”.