It seems Elon Musk is thinking beyond the 1 percent as SpaceX's new Federal Communications Commission petition is aiming to offer cheaper phone plans for people with lower incomes through Starlink. In the petition, Starlink is seeking designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) under the Communications Act.
For now, Starlink beta only includes broadband, but SpaceX specified in the filing that it plans to sell Voice over IP (VoIP) services that include "(a) voice-grade access to the public switched telephone network ('PSTN') or its functional equivalent; (b) minutes of use for local service provided at no additional charge to end-users; (c) access to emergency services; and (d) toll limitation services to qualifying low-income consumers."
The filing also reveals that Starlink now has over 10,000 customers in the U.S. and abroad. However, the firm should have the capacity for several million customers as the company has permission to deploy up to 1 million satellite dishes.
"Founded and created by SpaceX, Starlink Services will offer the world’s first high-speed, low-latency satellite internet service, coordinating the world’s largest fleet of operating satellites to deliver consistent service to the world’s most disconnected areas, including those in the United States," writes ambitiously SpaceX in its petition.
The firm also adds that it is the world’s first high-speed, low-latency satellite internet provider. Currently, a subscription to Starlink costs $99 per month. It also comes with an initial fee of $499 for the user terminal, mounting tripod, and router.
It goes without saying that this amount would have to be significantly be reduced for low-income homes. SpaceX did mention a Lifeline plan that would cost $9.25 per month for broadband and $5.25 monthly for phone service.
However, it added that it currently has no Lifeline customers as "only carriers designated as an ETC can participate in the Lifeline program." Guess we will just have to wait and see what offers will be available should the petition go through.