SpaceX’s Starlink has launched a new “Community Gateways” program, aimed at delivering gigabit-speed internet connectivity to remote and underserved areas. This service targets internet service providers (ISPs) and comes with a significant investment: a $1.25 million upfront cost and a monthly fee of $75,000 per gigabit per second.
The Community Gateways program is not just about providing satellite dishes; it involves constructing entire facilities capable of handling up to 10Gbps broadband speeds. (via PCMag) This approach ensures reliable, high-speed internet, akin to fiber-optic connectivity, in regions where traditional broadband infrastructure is impractical or too costly to install.
The Community Gateway represents the beginning of something great for delivering gbps speeds to anywhere on the planet. Areas that never dreamed of having this capability will now be able to develop new ideas for making use of this technology. Where we are going we don’t need roads.Emmett Fitch, CEO of OptimERA xG
A notable success story of this program is its deployment in Unalaska, where local ISP OptimERA has utilized the gateway to dramatically improve broadband access. This showcases the program’s potential to transform internet access in isolated areas, providing a lifeline of connectivity that can boost local economies and enhance quality of life.
The cost of the program, while steep, is competitive when compared to other high-speed internet offerings in remote areas. For instance, GCI’s rates stand at over $275 per month per megabit, amounting to $2.75 million for 10 Gb of throughput, in stark contrast to Starlink’s $750,000. (via StarlinkInsider)
This cost-effectiveness could encourage the formation of rural internet cooperatives, pooling resources to afford the technology and extend services to hard-to-reach areas.
The program has implications beyond just providing gigabit-speed internet access in remote areas. It could lead to a potential lock-in effect, where governments or business to business (B2B) customers, once invested in the Starlink infrastructure, may find it impractical or unnecessary to switch to another provider, especially in areas where installing fiber is challenging.