I have often come across claims that Elon Musk intended to provide free internet via Starlink for all users across the globe.
Whether this is the truth or not, as a Starlink customer I have often wondered whether Starlink's fee will come down.
So I dug deep and decided to make this article to put an end to this question by relaying my findings on whether Starlink will ever be free in the foreseeable future.
Starlink is a paid service and will never be completely free for its users. But there are certain scenarios where Starlink has provided their satellite internet connection for free, like in the case of their T mobile partnership, or during the Ukraine crisis.
Will Starlink Ever Be Free?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question will have to be a strict no.
As of writing this article, there is no relevance in hoping that Starlink will provide a satellite internet connection to the world free of any charge.
This rumor seems to have sprouted sometime during the initial Starlink beta phase, most probably drawing comparisons from earlier ventures of Elon Musk.
With his successful ventures in the most demanding of markets, from electric cars to spacecraft, when he revealed his plans for satellite connectivity, people got excited.
Maybe even a bit too excited, and this is what must have probably started the rumor wagon.
Starlink's Business Model
Starlink is primarily an infrastructure company, their primary costs are for the launches and the satellites they send out.
Starlink initially launched about 60 satellites, which cost them about $500,000 per satellite. The expenses must have only grown since then.
Judging from user and analyst reports, it is only fair to assume that if the user base increases exponentially, there might be a possibility of free internet.
But such a scenario is far off into the future, and for a company like Starlink, it would not be a feasible trade to provide.
Also, considering they need numbers, their current strategy of providing service on a first come first serve basis can prove to be a boon and a bane to their service.
It can help the company manage its subscribers in effective ways while keeping the process simple, but it comes at the cost of a long waiting list.
T-Mobile’s Free Starlink Connectivity
This might have been confusing news for the unknowing, but Starlink had recently formed a 'technology alliance' with T-Mobile.
They promised that this alliance will bring forward free Starlink connectivity for T-mobile customers.
But this connection is radically different from the satellite internet connection that Starlink natively offers.
The T-mobile satellite connection is similar to what Apple offers with their iPhone 14 lineup, where you technically have access to a wireless connection anywhere.
This satellite-based connection will be primarily used for global roaming functionality, as well as hopefully support for emergency calls and text messages.
Although there has been no further information regarding this 'alliance', it is safe to assume that Starlink will not be prioritizing its bandwidth for T-mobile customers.
This feature will be barely useful in your daily cellular usage routines too, as it is for a very niche audience that too for a possibly limited time.
This will be the situation for a while, at least until the technology improves to the point it can replace cell towers.
Free Starlink in Ukraine
Elon Musk is not someone who has a great track record for going through with things that he promises, mostly due to the absurd nature of his statements.
But in the case of need, when Ukraine needed it most, Elon Musk has made sure that the people stay connected to the internet even under their dire circumstances.
In fact, Musk has ensured that the internet connection will be free, and the users only need to buy the equipment to access the internet.
With the equipment set up, users can connect to the internet without many hassles.
Starlink dishes that Elon Musk donated are set up in critical areas of need, such as hospitals and energy companies.
They are also hosted in population-heavy regions such as in the western part of the country for local telecommunications and emergency services.
As of writing this, there are more than 10,000 satellite dishes in operation in Ukraine, with about 150,000 active users of the service every single day.
In short, it is currently only a pipe dream to consider Starlink satellite internet connection free for all.
But considering instances such as the support they gave for Ukraine, their deal with T mobile, and their general business model do form a silver lining.
But that day is still far off, at least as of writing this article.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is Starlink faster than a fiber internet connection?
Starlink averages download speeds of about 200 Mbps for users, while most fiber connections can deliver between 300 Mbps to 1000 Mbps on average.
How far are Starlink Satellites from the surface of the Earth?
Starlink satellites orbit the earth about 340 miles from the surface of the earth, making them one of the closest low orbit satellites active currently.
Will Starlink internet be accessible on Mars?
Starlink has revealed plans to bring their satellite constellations to Mars once SpaceX starts with their plans to bring people to Mars.
They also plan to set up communication centers to connect Mars and Earth to further enhance the telecom between the planets.