SpaceX may have lost a bunch of its Starlink internet satellites last week, but it looks to have found 150,000 new Starlink customers in recent months.
A tweet posted by SpaceX boss Elon Musk on Monday, February 14, said simply: “Over 250k Starlink user terminals” — that’s 100,000 more than it reported last August.
Over 250k Starlink user terminals
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 14, 2022
Whether Musk’s revelation refers to paying customers or the number of terminals built to date isn’t clear, but the former seems more like something to tweet about.
Starlink uses a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites to beam broadband to customers on the ground. While its primary goal is to serve locations without internet connectivity or with poor service, anyone in a growing number of countries — 25 to date — can sign up for the service.
The standard Starlink internet service launched in October 2020, with customers required to pay a $99 deposit, $499 for hardware that includes a receiving dish, and a monthly service fee of $99 for download speeds of up to 200 mbps.
Earlier this month SpaceX added a pricier premium Starlink service to its sign-up page. Set to launch in the first half of this year, Starlink Premium offers faster speeds of up to 500 mbps, with customers having to hand over a $500 refundable deposit, along with $2,500 for the hardware, and a monthly fee of $500.
Starlink’s growing customer base suggests SpaceX could already be raking in around $25 million a month, a decent sum but nowhere near the $50 billion in annual revenue Musk predicted Starlink could generate if it’s able to secure even just a few percent of the global telecommunications market. Still, there’s plenty of time for that to happen.
The Starlink service might have grown at a faster rate if it wasn’t for the chip shortage currently impacting the tech industry. In November SpaceX apologized to some customers waiting longer than expected for their Starlink kit, citing supply chain issues. It added that it was preparing the launch of a new Starlink kit designed for high-volume manufacturing that will start shipping this year.
Musk’s tweet comes just a few days after a geomagnetic storm knocked out most of SpaceX’s latest deployment of Starlink satellites. The company usually launches around 60 Starlink satellites at a time and currently has around 2,000 of them in orbit.