It’s still very early in the ‘ballgame’ of broadband and low earth orbit (LEO) satellite broadband players haven’t gotten up to bat much yet. But recent performance for SpaceX’s Starlink service reveals somewhat underwhelming momentum.
During a Starlink satellite launch event yesterday, a company engineer, Jessie Anderson, offered an update on progress for the highly anticipated broadband service, led by celebrity executive Elon Musk. Starlink has a total of 145K subscribers across the globe, Anderson reported.
That’s up only 5K subscribers from a similar revelation last November, according to a CNBC report. According to the report, SpaceX blames the slowdown in part on supply chain woes, specifically a shortage of silicon chips, a familiar explanation these days.
It’s an interesting data point, considering a recent report from Ookla noted a slowdown in Starlink median speeds in the third quarter 2021. A slowdown Ookla suggested may be attributed to more subscribers on Starlink’s service.
Back in May 2021, CNBC reported that Starlink had 500K pre-orders, with prospective customers paying a deposit of $99. At the time, Musk suggested the company wouldn’t have much issue serving those 500K customers. “Most likely, all of the initial 500K will receive service,” Musk said in a tweet. “More of a challenge when we get into several million user range.”
By my math, it seems like there are hundreds of thousands of prospective Starlink subscribers waiting for service, with many having waited well over 8 months (so far).
Starlink service is now live in 25 countries and regions, according to Andersen. The engineer noted during the launch event that Starlink is increasingly working with first responders to bring internet access during natural disasters.
She also gave an update on a pilot project with the school system in Wise County, Virginia. Starlink connected 45 student homes in 2021, with 315 additional student homes on tap to receive the service soon in the mountainous region of Appalachia.
Thursday’s launch placed 49 Starlink satellites into orbit. Starlink could eventually place over 12K satellites into orbit. There are just shy of 1,900 in orbit today (including the 49 from yesterday), highlighting again, we’re still quite early in the game.