Elon Musk says Starlink has 2 major telecommunications partners

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SpaceX's satellite internet service, Starlink, has forged two "quite significant" partnerships with major telecommunications companies, according to CEO Elon Musk. 

"We have two quite significant partnerships with major country [telecommunications companies], that I’d like to be able to announce now but obviously we defer it to our partners to make any announcement," Musk said during a virtual keynote at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday.

Musk added that the company is in additional discussions with other telecommunications companies to provide Starlink access, noting that a number of countries require operators to provide rural coverage as conditions of their 5G licenses.

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To date, Starlink has launched and activated over 1,500 satellites.

Musk said Starlink is currently operational in 12 countries with more being added every month and that the service is on track to provide connectivity to "everywhere except the poles" beginning in August. He noted the Starlink recently passed "the strategically notable number of 69,420 active users."

"We are on our way to having a few hundred thousand users, possibly over 500,000 users within 12 months," Musk added.

Starlink is aiming to get latency speeds, or the time it takes to send data from one point to the next, below 20 milliseconds.

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Musk acknowledged that the company is currently losing money on Starlink's terminal, which can cost over $1,000 each to build. SpaceX currently charges its customers half price for its Starlink terminal, with subscriptions for about $100 per month.

"We’re working on a next generation terminal that provides the same level of capability, roughly same level capability, but costs a lot less," Musk said. "Over time, we would like to reduce the terminal cost from $500 to, I don't know, $300 or $250 or something like that."

Starlink is also getting closer to launching its next-generation satellite 1.5, which will be used "especially for continuous connectivity over the Arctic and Antarctic regions." Version two of Starlink's satellites, which will be significantly more capable, will launch next year.   

Musk estimates Starlink could cost between $5 billion to $10 billion to operate before reaching full positive cash flow and as much as $20 billion to $30 billion over the long-term.

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