SpaceX, one of billionaire Elon Musk’s companies, announced yesterday the opening of its service star link to French SMEs. By offering broadband access anywhere on Earth via a satellite connection, the American start-up is showing its ambitions to conquer the global telecom market.
star link could provide internet access in white areas, cruise ships or airplanes
Elon Musk is the boss of Tesla, the billionaire who wanted to buy Twitter and who changed his mind. But he is also at the head of SpaceX, the start-up which has revolutionized space and which does not want to be satisfied with going to Mars. With SpaceX, Elon Musk also launched the service star link which must allow access to the Internet, anytime and anywhere on Earth. Today, there are already 3,000 satellites in orbit and this makes it possible to start selling the service in the United States and also in France. Can we still do without a mobile phone or high-speed internet access? For professionals and a large part of households, it may be possible for a few hours, but not several days. Connectivity is no longer an option: it’s a must. However, fixed and mobile telecom networks cannot cover everything. There is therefore a need for additional services from time to time.
Starlink can help businesses and households that live in so-called dead zones. They might want to subscribe to the services of the start-up, which will also seek to sell itself on cruise ships or on board planes. It’s not a mass market, but the telecom market remains gigantic. We are talking about more than 1,000 billion every year: if SpaceX takes 2 or 3% of this market, that represents tens of billions in revenue, which is more than the market for launching satellites, for example.
In France, subscription to star link will cost 50 euros per month, not including the antenna at 480 euros
Elon Musk’s bet is therefore not so crazy, but it is a risky bet, because sending satellites is expensive. star link eventually provides for a constellation of 40,000 machines. It is an endless investment in an infrastructure that will have to be constantly maintained or replaced. Then there is a technological bet. Finally, you have to win over customers, which is not easy. Elon Musk has cut the price of the monthly subscription by two in France to 50 euros and you also have to buy the antenna for 480 euros. That’s still expensive for a service that’s potentially less capable than fiber, but probably not enough for Musk to get a return on his investment. On the contrary, if he sells too much, he risks not having many customers because there will be other competing services. The battle has only just begun but it promises to be bloody. And there won’t be only winners.