Starlink is Elon Musk’s attempt at bringing high-speed internet access to people across the globe, regardless of where they may live. The idea behind the service is a sound one, but the hardware cost associated with the service may prove to be a hurdle for many potential users.
Some users are currently beginning to receive the hardware necessary to begin using the beta of Starlink internet service. This hardware is unique and is called a “phased terminal array” with the appearance of a mini satellite dish. The hardware may look complex, but early users claim that it seems more complex than it actually is.
Other companies have attempted and failed to do something similar to Starlink in the past. Facebook’s Aquila internet plane is the best example of this. The concept was that Facebook would have giant solar-powered uncrewed planes that would autonomously fly around and use lasers to beam internet to people below. It became too complicated and costly, so Facebook killed the project.
Elon Musk recently tweeted about the phased array terminal, saying, “Lowering Starlink terminal cost, which may sound rather pedestrian, is actually our most difficult technical challenge.” This is a significant statement from Musk when you consider just how complex other aspects of Starlink must be.
The current price of the phased array terminal necessary for Starlink service is $499. That definitely isn’t a cheap price tag for access to the internet, but many people have no other choice, given their location.
While some may be willing to pay $499 due to having no other way to get internet access, that price puts it out of reach for many others. Something that also needs to be considered is the $99 per month cost associated with using the service.
Offering the phased array terminal at $499 is undoubtedly cheap for what users are actually getting. That being said, lowering the cost even slightly would open up the service to a plethora of new customers who have no other way to access the internet.
Hopefully, when the service exits beta, it will do so at a slightly lower cost. Either way, it seems to be a fantastic service that will ultimately help many people.