back to article Hooking up to Starlink might be pricier than you thought

Prices are rising for customers of both Elon Musk's Starlink Internet service and his SpaceX rockets, with "excessive levels of inflation" to blame. An email to users posted on Reddit showed a hike from $499 to $549 for Starlink deposit holders waiting for hardware, and a jump to $599 for new orders. The monthly service price …

  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Trollface

    I am sure the space-X price increase is in no way related to the loss of Russian competition, no sir!

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Someone has to subsidise the costs of Musk's own Starlink launches. Especially if they're still launching obsolete satellites while figuring out how to get Starship into orbit.

      Still, in typical Musk fashion, tax payers will absorb the increase. Unless maybe a government asks an awkward question about Musk's internal costs vs the price they're being charged, and if that's legal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I dunno, Boeing & ULA bent the gov't over for decades and no one asked any awkward questions.

        I'll bet SpaceX is still the cheapest. I'm a SpaceX "fanboi" mainly because it was amusing to watch all the old established firms scramble and hop to deal with actual competition.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          But is it actual competition, or predatory pricing to buy market? So it'd be interesting to see Starlink's launch costs vs OneWeb's quote.

          Or I guess there's scope to analyse the price increase wrt commodity prices to get an idea of inflation vs margin improvement. Also not sure if Musk's fraccing operation in Boca Chica. Presumably selling 'raw' gas would offset the costs of pure CH4 fuel.

      2. nojobhopes

        Starlink has plenty of competition. There's the traditional satellite internet proviers, who are expensive and have restrictive monthly data caps. But the biggest competition is the traditional earth based telecoms providers. They could have provided fast broadband to every person on the planet but decided that excessive profits and asking governments to subsidise their networks was more important. They could have expanded their wire, fibre, or mobile networrks to cover everyone. But apparently it costs more to dig a trench and lay some wires to the nearest town than it does for Elon to concieve, design, manufacture, and launch thousands of satellites which provide amazing connections.

        1. o5ky
          Childcatcher

          You think it's cheap and simple to dig a trench that requires closing roads, going over other people's land and then build the infrastructure at the other end. The nice thing about satellites is that you don't have all the councils trying to cash in on the road being closed.

          1. thondwe

            BUT - a lot of trenches/pylons already there - phone, water, gas, electricity etc. Musk's just "cashing in" on the isolated communities of the world where no ISP can be bothered to invest... But very much doubt he'll ever see a profit before the satellites start failing...

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              No ISP can be bothered to "invest" because the cost of installation is in the tens of thousands, even for a short run of fibre, which only goes to one house, for which they can then charge perhaps £10 a month more for. The economics only make sense in a city where you can connect an entire block of flats for a single installation over a few hundred metres to the nearest fibre enabled cabinet.

              If you have to run a cable 5 miles to get to a village with a few hundred people, probably only a third of which are interested then it's not actually economically viable to do, especially since ISP's are allowed to charge full rates for ADSL1 level performance anyway.

          2. Lazlo Woodbine Silver badge

            This is very true

            We wanted to run a fibre from one site to another, the most sensible run has to cut across an unused part of someone's land.

            It took two years of court action to get him to give permission for us to dig a trench across his land.

            1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

              Re: most sensible run has to cut across an unused part of someone's land

              Sounds like it would have been more sensible and cheaper to go around his land, rather than waste 2 years in court trying to take a shortcut. But as I'm not privy to all the details, this may be a glib assessment.

              1. DJO Silver badge

                Re: most sensible run has to cut across an unused part of someone's land

                Or over, we have a laser link between a couple of offices, works well but unfortunately it's not powerful enough to bisect passing pigeons.

              2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: most sensible run has to cut across an unused part of someone's land

                Going around would still mean getting permissions. Which could get even more complicated if that's a public road. It can be a lot of paperwork figuring out who owns land, asking for wayleaves, negotiating those and then starting work. And it gets even more FUN! if the landowner knows about ransom strips.

                Lasers can be a good alternative, but not without risks, ie link being obstructed. Plus I think crossing public land might need licensing.

            2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              It took two years of court action to get him to give permission for us to dig a trench across his land.

              Did you try offering him money?

              then more money?

              1. Bob McBobface

                depends on the neighbour

                Depends on the relationships.

                our neighbour in a rural location is an absolute ar5e. hence i refused permission for not only data, but power and any other utility i could block....

                and no amount of money could convince me otherwise.

        2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          But apparently it costs more to dig a trench and lay some wires to the nearest town than it does for Elon to concieve, design, manufacture, and launch thousands of satellites which provide amazing connections ...

          ... which cost about five times as much as a landline connection. If the market would allow BT and its resellers to charge £417 for setup and £83/month for the connection, we'd all be on fibre already. Well, you'd all be on fibre, 'cos I am, but you know what I mean.

          1. sreynolds Silver badge

            At least the fibre should work come rain hail or shine. Not to mention the latency of 1000's of kms of space travel.

            1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

              Latency might not be as high as you think.

              These are LEO satellites, so often the signal isn't crossing thousands of km of space. And if there's inter-satellite transmission, the speed of light through the atmosphere and vacuum of space, even in LEO which is a tad less vacuumy than higher orbits, is signficantly faster then through fibre optics.

              Swings and roundabouts though. At some point sat-to-sat relaying will start to add more latency than fibre-exchange-fibre routes.

              1. sreynolds Silver badge

                Lets say 500km orbit. And you are not directly underneath one of them. Then there is the relay and from one bird to another, and then to the ground segment. You would have clocked up at least a couple of thousand of space miles.

                Elon's 20ms latency is best case. What do the real world figures show for different locations would be interesting. You can do sub ms in a city and 20ms cross continent. I am guessing about 50ms at least for the pizza bozes

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  with laser linking between the LEO birds, intercontinental latency via starlink is likely to be LOWER than via fibre-optic connection

                  It's been speculated for quite some time that once the constellations are sufficiently working to interlink financial centres a large chunk of Starlink income will come from stockmarket firms - especially in the asia-Europe/USA market

      3. nojobhopes

        No-one likes price increases, but SpaceX have done more to cut launch costs than anyone else. Why are NASA using them to get to the ISS? Because they are reliable and cheap. So instead of being subsidised by tax payers they are actually saving the tax payer money. Of course the biggest saving would be to defund space, but that's a different question.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          "Of course the biggest saving would be to defund space"

          For a very limited use of the word saving.

          You could save on your food bills by not eating.

      4. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Holmes

        "internal costs vs the price they're being charged"

        That's called profit. Every good business has some. American businesses seem to be driven to maximise it above all else.

        If the retail cost is cheaper than the competition (by a large margin), why would anyone care how low their internal costs are? Plus, they're using the profit to develop the next generation of launch vehicle to make it even cheaper in future, in the process providing some very high tech jobs etc.

      5. LogicGate

        Have you tried sourcing electric components lately?

        Or aerospace materials like carbon fibre, epoxies, high strength aluminum-, steel- and titanium-alloys?

        Consumer inflation may be at 7-8% right now.

        Specialized materials have seen price increases from 50 to 100%. Brokers charge up to 2500% of pre upset prices for some components.

        And that is if there is anything to be found at all.

        The price increases announced by Starlink will most likely not cover the increased cost of purchasing.

        Moan as much as you will.. Many industries will have trouble producing at all in the coming months.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          It's not so much moaning, simply questioning if price increases are justified. Especially as price increases are of course themselves inflationary. A Falcon is probably a bit large to fit in the Bank's shopping basket though.

          But Musk's been hit with big cost increases for stuff like nickel and lithium, making 'renewables' even less viable. Politicians might even start noticing that. But they'd still have political challenges. During WW2 there were anti-profiteering laws, and there have also been price controls.

          1. LogicGate

            I suspect that the anti-profiteering laws will not work in this case, since almost all available electronics components must be sourced from China, where I suspect, a number of new millionaires will start showing up.

            I honestly do think that a number of western manufacturers will be not able to rise their prices suficciently to cover the additional cost for what is going on right now.

            A price hike of 10-.20% will not cover it for many products. Let us just hope that things will normalize at some point.

            Regrettably Vladolf Pulter took over when Covid started to become manageable.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Yup. On the plus side, sanctions could be turned off. Politicians seem to be testing each other's pain tolerance. As long as Russia and China can sustain their economies, it may harm us more, especially given the timescales needed to bring alternative supplies on stream.

      6. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Someone has to subsidise the costs of Musk's own Starlink launches."

        Starlink have made it clear in the past that they'd been subsidising the price of dishes and service for early adoptors. That pricing model couldn't last forever

        Hopefully things will stabilise (or drop) as time goes on. The current pricing model keeps people in poorer countries (especially africa and asia essentially locked out and they're where the big markets really are (billions of customers), not the rich ones.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          "The current pricing model keeps people in poorer countries (especially africa and asia essentially locked out"

          It's possible that a community might be able to afford a starlink terminal as a shared resource - though there are a myriad other questions that that then entails.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Russian competition?

      Name it.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Russian competition?

        Who were OneWeb due to launch with, and now have had to go Space-X?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is still competition. If the 97 million for a Falcon heavy has put you off, you can always launch on a Delta IV for the bargain price of 350 million.

      If your payload is smaller, you could stick it on an Ariane 5 for about 177 million.

      1. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge

        From what I understand (from you tube channels like marcus house and simialr) all the Delta IV and Ariane V launches are fully booked so Falcon was effectively the only show in town when Soyuz became unavailable

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          From what I understand (from you tube channels like marcus house and simialr) all the Delta IV and Ariane V launches are fully booked ...

          Why, if the Falcon is so much cheaper? Serious question.

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            Because they are very good at blowing rockets up?… whilst the technology evolved/beds into being ‘production’.

            Whereas Soyuz/Ariane/Delta are proven reliable workhorses and - Ukrainian Invasion aside - something you can rely on.

            1. iron Silver badge

              Falcon 9 has the longest successful launch record (number of flights) of any rocket and breaks the record wih every flight. The nearest competition is not Atlas or Delta either, it is Soyuz-U which managed an unbroken run of 100 successful flights vs Falcon 9 with 112+ successful flights in a row.

              The Falcon 9 rocket has launched over 140 times, of those one mission failed in June 2015. In January it exceeded the total number of flights of the Space Shuttle (133 / 135). Individual Falcon 9 boosters have flown more than 12 times.

              So the safe, proven, reliable workhorse of the space industry... Falcon 9.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Only two Falcon 9s have been lost leading to loss of payload. One blew up on the pad, the other broke up in flight. One other launch was considered a partial failure as an engine shut down in flight. NASA was the primary customer and declined a re-ignition. The primary NASA payload was put into the correct orbit, but a secondary payload ended up in the wrong orbit and was lost.

              All of these were early models of the Falcon 9. The current block 5 version have a 100% success record.

              Contrast this with Ariane. Of the 253 launches of all rockets in the Ariane family only 241 were successful, so only a 95.3% success rate. The Ariane 5 has only had 106 successful launces out of 111.

              Of course, some other F9s have been lost during landing, but if you factor this into your statistics, then every other rocket system has a 100% failure rate.

          2. S4qFBxkFFg

            Redundancy is one reason: consider ViaSat's latest satellites, each of the three is launching on a different rocket (Ariane, Atlas, and Falcon).

          3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            A Smart car is cheaper than a truck. One could move a piano, the other make for an amusing YT video.

            Or payloads are more than just mass, so whether it'll fit inside fairings. There was also an issue that SpaceX didn't have facilities or clearance to integrate and launch classified payloads until taxpayers funded that capability.

            I think there were also performance differences, ie if the launch needed a fully expended Falcon or Falcon Heavy, the price ends up closer to competitors.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            They probably booked the launches years ago when there was still some doubt about SpaceX and are tied into the contracts.

            With SpaceX incredible record now though there would have to be a very good reason to launch on anything else. 145 missions and counting. The only incidents were a partial failure on the 4th launch, one in flight failure on the 19th launch and what would have been the 29th launch going boom on the pad.

            Since then every flight a success and a very good record at landing the boosters for reuse. The booster used for last weeks Starlink launch landed safely after its 12th mission.

            The whole Ariane family has had 253 launches since 1979 and only 241 were successful. SpaceX will pass this total in 3 or 4 years at the current launch rate.

  2. msobkow Silver badge

    Inflation?

    You mean because vulture capitalists never take a loss themselves; they pass it on to the customer base, plus a nice little "stipend" for the "service" of raising the prices...

    1. gotes

      Businesses do prefer to make a profit rather than give their stuff away to customers at a loss, the greedy bastards.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        $62M -> $67M does make it seem like this is an actual cost, rather than ULA announcing that SLS has gone from $10Bn to $20Bn

        1. 105kayem
          Coat

          Ah, but once they’ve launched, landed and reused the hardware a dozen times that 20 billion price tag is almost palatable. After all, its not as though you’d spend that amount of money on something, use it once and then throw it away…

        2. iron Silver badge

          That's the dev costs, this is flight costs which for SLS recently increased from a mere $1Bn to $4.5Bn per flight.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        But like drug dealers they like to get you hooked first.

        1. steviebuk Silver badge

          Like cloud providers

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Whats happening to all this Huawie eqpt?

    looks like it might be cheaper to set your own 5G network up!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whats happening to all this Huawie eqpt?

      With Blackjack...and hookers!

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Whats happening to all this Huawie eqpt?

        Don't mention hookers. I've been musing about a Mars book. For the 250th anniversary of Mars Founders Day, Martians recover the space car to take pride of place in a new museum. But they discover the reason it missed Mars in the first place was an unexpected 60kg object in it's baggage area.

        But then I'd need to wrap a few hundred pages around that meme, and deal with lawyers.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks Musk

    They finally delivered my Starlink this week after 16 months on the waiting list, just in time for the subscription price increases.

  5. rcxb1 Bronze badge

    Inflation?

    > "excessive levels of inflation"

    Google should bring back their 'loon project. They might benefit from a little "excessive inflation"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inflation?

      Seems to be affecting the pron industry too, I've noticed.

      1. DanceMan
        Joke

        Re: Inflation?

        The pron industry has always depended on inflation.

        Bulgarian airbag variety.

  6. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    I really couldn't care less, as long as Ukraine get's free access and hardware.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cut this guy some slack

    he has to put bread on the table for his family.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Cut this guy some slack

      Presumably the bread is to protect the table from the impact of the wedges of bills crashing down on it.

  8. BOFH in Training Bronze badge
    Trollface

    Well someone has to pay for Ukraine's gear

    Well they are getting a free service and free hardware from SpaceX.

    Someone has to pay for it.

    IT's A JOKE :P

  9. Colin Miller

    wages

    And will he be raising staff wages by 6% (or whatever the local inflation rate is)?

    No? I thought not

  10. A Known Coward

    Not applicable to existing customers?

    I've not received any email advising of subscription price rises in the UK? Are these price rises not being applied to existing customers, as I've seen suggested elsewhere, or they not applicable in the UK?

    Either way, a relatively small price increase makes no difference to me given the lack of any other alternatives where I'm moving. Thankfully my order, placed last year was already fulfilled last month so I won't have to pay the increase hardware cost.

  11. Randy Hudson

    Misleading

    The hardware rise is effective immediately? That is misleading. If you order today you won't receive the hardware until 2023. Just like Tesla, Starlink is doing the right thing by attempting to predict future costs, and then locking in prices for preorders and honoring them.

    I ordered a Model X in Feb 2021, but I'm not expecting it until July or later. But Tesla locked in my price and I'll be paying significantly less than someone ordering today, because they would be ordering a car to be delivered in January or later.

  12. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    To be fair, inflation is being used to justify price hikes across the board

    Well , not the part of the board where the price of paying peoples wages is addressed

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