The long arm of Elon Musk grew a little longer this week when the Tesla and SpaceX founder said his Starlink satellite network is on track to beam broadband internet everywhere in the world except the polar regions by August. But it will take a lot of money to turn the operation into a profitable venture.
Starlink is being constructed by Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — better known as SpaceX — and has already launched more than 1,500 satellites, with operations in about a dozen countries, Bloomberg reported this week. During a Tuesday presentation at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Musk said SpaceX’s total investment in Starlink will be between $5 billion and $10 billion before cash flow is positive.
As much as $30 billion might be needed over the long term to maintain Starlink’s competitive position, Musk added. He said the service already has more than 69,000 active users and could reach half a million over the next year.
“Our goal is not to go bankrupt,” Musk quipped. “Step No. 1 for Starlink is don’t go bankrupt. If we succeed in not going bankrupt then that’ll be great and we can move on from there.”
Musk also said Starlink has a pair of “quite significant” partnerships with telcos in major countries that could help the SpaceX division plug gaps in fifth-generation mobile and cellular networks, Reuters reported.
Starlink features a collection of low-orbit satellites that provide high-speed, low-latency connectivity. It already offers a trial service and ultimately aims to supply broadband to as much as 5% of the world’s population that conventional fiber and wireless networks can’t reach.
More From GOBankingRates