Can Elon Musk's Space-based 'Starlink'​ Internet Project Really Provide Cheap Broadband for Everyone?

Can Elon Musk's Space-based 'Starlink'​ Internet Project Really Provide Cheap Broadband for Everyone?

Steve Blakeman 15/11/2018 7

Not content with building electric cars and space rockets, Elon Musk now has plans on hijacking the global broadband market via his ambitious 'Starlink' project.

The basic idea is built around a constellation of thousands of connected satellites enveloping the globe in a low orbit to provide low cost, high powered broadband for everyone on the planet. His aim is to launch 4425 satellites via his re-usable SpaceX rockets and once the network is fully deployed he claims that around 3 billion people who currently don't have reliable access to the internet will have the ability to go online. To put that number of satellites into some kind of perspective, there are currently less than 1500 working satellites in operation around the earth, so clearly this not a small scale endeavour.

And the benefits for the consumer? No more lag, no cold spots on the other side of your house, faster download / upload speeds and significantly cheaper costs.

The anticipated timeline is around 5 years to complete (only 3 satellites have been launched to date). And the total cost? A whopping $9.8 billion (£7.1bn). But if he captures the lucrative broadband market on a global basis, he will quickly be able to recoup his investment. And what will he use the profits on? To send a manned mission to Mars with a longer term plan to populate the red planet. As you do.

Professor Mark Handley from University College London has produced a video of how the Starlink will operate via 32 different orbital planes with 50 satellites rotating on each of them:

Google have also looked to solve the infrastructure problem via various initiatives including 'Project Loon' (hot air balloons acting as cell towers in the sky) or a network of drones but both of these are only seen as temporary measures rather than a realistic permanent solution. Rumour has it that Facebook has a project entitled 'Athena' which is apparently similar in approach to Starlink but they would need to partner with someone to launch their network of satellites and, as such, their options are somewhat limited.

If the Starlink system becomes successful it could herald the end for the cell tower network and fibre optic cables which we currently use for delivering our access to the web. Beyond that, there is a prediction that phones numbers will become obsolete because web based services such as WhatsApp and Messenger will become your unique identifier for all your telecommunication needs.

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  • Tom Nesbit

    It would be nice but I think somebody might put a hit on him for other businesses shut down.

  • Megan Garforth

    Spacebook failed already.

  • Robyn Howse

    I'm not an expert, but I don't think having 4000 more satellites in orbit would affect Earth's gravitational field. The problem with so many more satellites in orbit would be with space navigation as I see it.

  • Shane Euston

    Everything seems impossible, untill it's done... Remember when Elon said he wanted to land and reuse a rocket? Everybody said it could not be done... Untill he did it...

  • Louis Burton

    The government will do anything to get into our phones !!!!

  • Ruth Lovatt

    The next generation will study about Elon Musk in textbooks

  • Phil Harvey

    Who is Elon Musk? A Legend.

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Steve Blakeman

Business Expert

Steve is Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Prior to this role, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts for OMD based in London / Paris leading Groupe Renault and CEO for OMD in Asia for 4 years based in Singapore. At OMD, he increased billings by +60% to over US$ 5bn and won 1000+ industry awards including agency network wins at the Cannes Lions (2013) and Festival of Media Asia (2013). He was named by LinkedIn as a 'Top 10 Writer' for 3 consecutive years (15/16/17). His first book 'How to be a Top 10 Writer on LinkedIn' is a Best Seller on Amazon. Steve holds a Bachelor in Psychology from Liverpool University. 

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