The Starlink Internet project from Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX is now in beta. It will soon be available in Germany too. As if that weren’t enough, the company recently applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for telephone service with voice calls. The expansion provides cheaper tariffs for households with low incomes, as reported by “The Independent”.
The documents submitted to the FCC show that Starlink will offer voice call services (Voice over IP), the tariffs of which should be comparable to urban tariffs. An initial test of the independent voice service via the Starlink network was successful. SpaceX also ensures that all minimum FCC requirements for Starlink’s standalone voice service are met. A 24-hour battery backup option should also make it possible to make calls in the event of a power failure. In emergency situations, the Starlink services will therefore manage without an external power source.
SpaceX has applied to the US authorities for ETC status, which identifies them as an operator of telecommunications networks. This status offers you some additional advantages, such as qualification for the US Lifeline program. This grants network operators subsidies and grants that allow them to offer lower-cost telephone and broadband services to low-income consumers. As soon as the application goes through, the company wants to “provide the lifeline for qualified low-income customers”.
The program subsidizes those involved with $ 9.25 a month for broadband Internet access and $ 5.25 for telephone services, according to Ars Technica. But that’s far from enough to make Starlink services affordable for everyone: In addition to a monthly fee of $ 99, there is a one-time purchase of a hardware package for $ 499.
For people with lower incomes, SpaceX should offer a better alternative. Despite the high prices, the company says it already has over 10,000 users. In addition, SpaceX has recently started accepting pre-orders for the Internet service in Germany – which will probably only be available from mid to late 2021 or even until 2022.