Starlink, SpaceX's broadband satellite service, has surpassed 250,000 subscribers, an exec revealed at this week's Satellite 2022 conference.
The latest subscriber figure includes both residential customers and those on Starlink's speedier and pricier service for business customers, Jonathan Hofeller, VP of Starlink commercial sales at SpaceX, said, according to Space News. That total is up from the 100,000 Starlink terminals that had been shipped as of last August.
Hofeller estimated that the company is manufacturing "close to eight satellites" a day at its Redmond, Washington-based facility, as Starlink aims to build out a constellation of thousands of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Hofeller, the report added, also made note of Starlink's ambitions to serve other markets, including mobile backhaul, services for schools and in-flight connectivity. SpaceX, he said, is testing an antenna for aircraft, but didn't say when such a product might be ready for commercial deployment.
"Connectivity on airplanes is something we think is ripe for an overhaul," he said in an apparent jab at incumbent providers such as Viasat.
Last week, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that another 53 satellites had been deployed. That deployment will help to replace dozens of satellites that were lost in early February due to the impact of a geomagnetic storm. Starlink has launched about 2,000 LEO satellites so far.
Elsewhere, SpaceX has already sent "thousands" of Starlink satellite Internet kits to Ukraine to help provide connectivity during the ongoing invasion by Russia, company President Gwynne Shotwell told CNBC.
Back at Satellite 2022, Evan Dixon, president of global fixed broadband at Viasat who was on a panel with SpaceX's Hofeller, said his company is "doing plenty in Ukraine, but it's not something we publicize and we're not going to," according to Space News.
"We're certainly not going to make publicity out of a war," Dixon added. He did point out that Viasat is providing connectivity to Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia.
Feeling the inflation pinch
Meanwhile, Starlink is feeling the effects of inflation, sending word to customers and prospective customers that it has boosted the price of its baseline satellite broadband kit – from $499 to $549 for deposit holders, and to $599 for new orders.
Starlink blamed the increase on "excessive levels of inflation," according to a message sent to customers and shared on Twitter. Starlink said customers can cancel service at any time and return the hardware within the first year of service for a partial refund of $200. Customers can get a full refund if equipment is returned within 30 days of receiving it.
BREAKING:: Due to excessive levels of inflation, @SpaceX is increasing the price of the Starlink kit from $499 to $549 for deposit holders, and $599 for all new orders, effective today.— Sawyer Merritt 📈🚀 (@SawyerMerritt) March 22, 2022
In addition, the Starlink monthly service price will increase from $99 to $110. pic.twitter.com/23evjbGDrp
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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading