Elon Musk expects 500,000 Starlink users in 2022

The SpaceX boss set big goals for his company Starlink at Mobile World Congress 2021 (MWC). The network is expected to have about 500,000 users by next year. Musk also acknowledged that the bill to fully deploy his constellation of satellites would be higher than expected.

SpaceX’s Starlink project, which was presented in 2015, is beginning to take shape. The company has multiplied the number of satellite launches in recent months and already has more than 1,700 active in low Earth orbit. Ultimately, SpaceX plans a constellation of 12,000 satellites, before considering expanding to 42,000. Objective: To provide a connection speed of 1,000 megabits per second, comparable to what fiber offers today, anywhere in the world. To do this, SpaceX needs at least 4,400 active satellites in orbit.

The project is currently available in a dozen countries with al almost 70,000 active users Hospitalized. The price is still very high. Count around 500 euros to purchase the necessary equipment, then 99 euros per month subscription. And for now, the services are still mediocre, with a speed that fluctuates between 50 and 100 Mbps. But SpaceX will gear up.

20 to 30 billion investments

The Starlink network should indeed have approximately 500,000 users in the next 12 monthsElon Musk said at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) conference on Tuesday. SpaceX is also working to reduce the cost of its terminals to “a few hundred dollars in a year or two”said SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell last April.

On the investment side, Musk estimates $5 to $10 billion will be needed “before we move to positive cash flow”. SpaceX will then have to keep investing in order to remain relevant with competitors. “Starlink’s total investment can reach twenty or thirty billion dollars”he explained. This is two to three times the figure the company put forward three years ago.

A “train” of Starlink satellites a few hours after their placement in space. Credit: SpaceX

Once the network is fully operational, SpaceX hopes to thirty billion dollars in revenue per year. Much of that money, as agreed, will fund SpaceX’s Starship program. Musk, known for his highly ambitious development schedules, told the conference that his ship’s first orbital test could take place in “the upcoming months”delaying the July deadline hoped for by company president Gwynne Shotwel.