The new SpaceX document lays out Starlink’s plans to provide phone services, voice calls even in the absence of power, and cheaper plans for low-income people under the government’s Lifeline program.
For details, see Starlink’s petition to the FCC to be designated an Eligible Telecom Operator (ETC) under the Communications Act. SpaceX has said it needs this legal status in some states where it has received government funding to roll out broadband in underdeveloped areas. ETC status is also required to qualify for FCC Lifeline reimbursement for low-income communications discounts.
The Starlink satellite internet service is currently in beta testing and costs $ 99 per month plus a one-time fee of $ 499 for terminal, antenna and router. SpaceX’s documentation also states that Starlink now has over 10,000 users in the US and abroad. In the future, the company is going to connect several million customers in the United States alone: now it has permission to deploy up to 1 million terminals (that is, satellite dishes). The company has requested permission from the FCC to increase the maximum level to 5 million terminals.
While the beta version of Starlink only includes broadband, SpaceX has said it will eventually sell VoIP services that include: “A) voice access to the public switched telephone network or its functional equivalent; b) a package of free minutes for user calls to local subscribers; c) access to emergency services; and e) services at reduced rates for confirmed low-income subscribers ”.
SpaceX said that voice services will be sold separately at prices comparable to those in cities. The company added that consumers will be able to use a regular third-party SIP phone or IP phone from a list of certified models. SpaceX is also exploring other telephone service options. Like other VoIP providers, Starlink is going to sell versions of terminals with a backup battery, which will provide voice communication for at least 24 hours even in the absence of power supply in case of emergencies.
Also SpaceX wrote: “Starlink does not currently have Lifeline customers because only ETC operators can participate in this program. But once SpaceX gains ETC status, it is going to provide Lifeline discounts to low-income consumers and will advertise the related service to attract interested people. “… Lifeline currently provides a subsidy of $ 9.25 per month for low-income households for broadband services or $ 5.25 for telephone services. What kind of discount Starlink is going to offer is not specified.
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