Gwynne Shotwell (president of SpaceX) recently spoke at a panel discussion and talked about Starlink (also, CNBC article here). There were a few goodies in the talk:
I don’t think we’re going to do tiered pricing to consumers. We’re going to try to keep it as simple as possible and transparent as possible, so right now there are no plans to tier for consumers
Makes sense to me. For now, the ground terminals are pretty expensive and SpaceX is subsidizing them. It wouldn’t make sense to have, say, a $50 tier right now.
Shotwell said SpaceX has “made great progress on reducing the cost” of the Starlink user terminal, which originally were about $3,000 each. She said the terminals now cost less than $1,500, and SpaceX “just rolled out a new version that saved about $200 off the cost.” … While SpaceX is not charging customers for the full price of the terminals so far, Shotwell said the company expects the cost to come down to “the few hundred dollar range within the next year or two.”
$3000 down to $1500 is a pretty good reduction, but obviously still costly. Given that the consumer currently pays $500, there’s a 10-month payback time at the moment.
The terminals are fairly remarkable–they’re a single, giant (~18") circuit board, with hundreds of chips on it. They’ll have their work cut out for them to lower the costs to a few hundred. I’d say it largely depends on them further integrating and cost-lowering the semiconductors. Circuit boards and the rest of the terminal looks to be pretty cheap, but they need either fewer components or cheaper components if they’re even going to break $1000.
Musk’s company plans to expand Starlink beyond homes, asking the Federal Communications Commission to widen its connectivity authorization to “moving vehicles,” so the service could be used with everything from aircraft to ships to large trucks.
People have definitely been waiting for this. In particular, RVers will love a mobile service.