Feb 15, 2021

Elon Musk’s Starlink filings show plans for phone service and low-income web access

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, government, mobile phones, satellites

It appears that Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite constellation is not just aiming to provide high-speed internet service. Based on recent filings to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Starlink also plans to introduce a suite of related products to its portfolio, from a dedicated phone service, emergency backup for voice calls, and more affordable internet access for low-income customers through the US government’s Lifeline program.

Details of Starlink’s expanded services were mentioned in SpaceX’s petition to the FCC for a designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC). According to the Elon Musk-led company, an ETC designation is required in some US states where the satellite internet program won government funding to provide internet access to underserved areas. It is also required to receive reimbursement from the FCC’s Lifeline program, which offers discounts on telecom services for low-income customers.

Starlink’s beta today only offers internet access, but in its filing, SpaceX noted that “Starlink Services will provide voice telephony services, including: (a) voice-grade access to the public switched telephone network (‘PSTN’) or its functional equivalent; (b) minutes of use for local service provided at no additional charge to end-users; © access to emergency services; and (d) toll limitation services to qualifying low-income consumers in accordance with 47 CFR §§ 54.500, et seq. Starlink Services will offer voice services on a standalone basis at rates that are reasonably comparable to urban rates.”

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