The low-orbit satellite broadband service Starlink will be available for global coverage beginning in August, Elon Musk said on Tuesday, with the exception of the north and south poles.
During a virtual talk at the Mobile World Congress 2021, Musk announced that Starlink’s high-speed broadband service is “operational now in about 12 countries, and more are being added every month.” He also added that Starlink currently has more than 69,000 active customers — a number he expects to grow exponentially as the service expands its reach.
“We are on our way to having a few hundred thousand users, possibly over 500,000 users within 12 months,” Musk said. The maths adds up: Starlink had just about 10,000 users in February of 2021, meaning that the high speed internet service’s customer base has grown sevenfold in just four months.
Starlink currently has over 1,800 satellites that have been launched into space by Musk’s space exploration venture, SpaceX. The satellites are low orbit, meaning they have shorter latency — the time it takes signals to travel between satellites and Earth. The shorter download times are what makes Starlink’s broadband a good substitute for 5G and fibre when they’re unavailable, which is a particularly useful feature given that Starlink was designed to specifically service remote areas where those other services might not be available.
During his remarks, Musk also teased some forthcoming partnerships with two notable wireless carriers.
“We have two quite significant partnerships with major country [carriers] that I’d like to be able to announce now, but obviously we defer to our partners to make any announcement,” Musk said. “And we are in discussions with a number of other [carriers] to provide Starlink access.”
That news comes on the heels of a separate announcement Musk made earlier this month, in which he claimed that Starlink was in talks with “several” airlines in a bid to provide their crafts with WiFi.