By Supantha Mukherjee and Clara-Laeila Laudette
BARCELONA, Jun 29 (.) – Billionaire Elon Musk said on Tuesday that his Starlink company is growing rapidly and forecast total investment costs in the satellite internet business to be between $ 20 billion and $ 30 billion.
The CEO of Tesla Inc and founder of SpaceX, a rocket company seeking to colonize Mars, said initial investment costs before Starlink achieves substantial positive cash flow would be $ 5 billion to $ 10 billion.
“Basically, it’s a lot,” Musk said in a video interview from California on the occasion of the Mobile World Congress, the largest annual gathering of the telecommunications industry held in Barcelona.
Starlink, a set of low-orbit satellites offering high-speed connectivity to people living in remote areas, already offers a trial service and says it aims for near-full coverage of the populated world this year.
Today, the network has more than 1,500 satellites in the air and operates in a dozen countries, adding more each month, according to Musk, who expects the total number of customers to reach half a million in the next 12 months, compared to 69,000 today.
Skeptics wonder if satellite Internet can become a viable business model, because the main market it is targeting is people living in remote areas, who are too few to bear the huge costs of the initial investment. .
“There is a need for connectivity in places that don’t have it now,” Musk countered.
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Clara-Laeila Laudette; Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)