Venture plans to deploy thousands of low-orbit satellites to provide high-speed internet to isolated and poorly connected areas
(AF) Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk said on Tuesday he plans to invest up to $30 billion to develop his ambitious Starlink satellite internet service.
It has so far deployed more than 1,500 satellites and by August it will be able to provide coverage everywhere in the world except the North and South Poles, Musk told the Mobile World Congress, a telecoms industry conference in Barcelona, by video.
The Tesla chief said he expects to invest “at least $5 billion, and maybe as much as $10 billion” in Starlink before the service has a positive cash flow. “Then over time it is going to be a multiple of that, and that would be $20 or $30 billion dollars. It is a lot basically,” he added.
Starlink is operating in about a dozen countries, with more being added, and has just over 69,000 active users, Musk said. “We are on our way, I think, to having a few hundred thousand users, possibly over 500,000 users, within 12 months,” he added.
Musk’s SpaceX firm, which operates Starlink, has requested authorisation from US regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to deploy up to 42,000 satellites to provide the satellite internet service.
SpaceX postponed the launch of dozens of satellites just seconds before liftoff on Tuesday when a wayward plane flew inside the mission’s safety zone.
A used Falcon 9 rocket was just 11 seconds away from launching 88 small satellites into orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida when SpaceX called a hold in the countdown.
A few minutes later, SpaceX production supervisor Andy Tran said the launch was scrubbed for the day.
Starlink faces competition from a number of rivals including OneWeb, a broadband satellite communications company acquired by a consortium of investors comprising the UK government and Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Global, and Amazon subsidiary Kuiper.
With reporting by Agence France-Presse