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Monday, July 26, 2021
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Musk ready to invest as much as $30 billion in Starlink

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk said on Tuesday (June 29) that his Starlink venture was growing quickly as he forecast total investment costs in the satellite internet business at between $20 billion and $30 billion.

The Tesla Inc CEO and founder of SpaceX, a rocket ship venture that seeks to colonise Mars, said up-front investment costs before Starlink achieves substantial positive cash flow would be $5-$10 billion.

“It’s a lot, basically,” Musk said in a video interview from California with the Mobile World Congress, the telecoms industry’s largest annual gathering that is being held in Barcelona.

Starlink, an array of low-orbit satellites offering high-speed connectivity for people living in remote areas, is already offering a trial service and says it aims for near-global coverage of the populated world this year.

It now has more than 1,500 satellites aloft and is operating in about a dozen countries, adding more every month, said Musk, forecasting that total customer numbers would reach half a million over the next 12 months, from 69,000 now.

Skeptics question whether satellite internet can ever develop a viable business model, because the main market it targets is people living in remote areas, who are too few in number to support the vast up-front investment costs.

He pushed back against that idea, saying that Starlink could help fill in the gaps in fifth-generation mobile and fiber-optic networks.

(Production: Natasa Bansagi)

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