November 12, 2021

Starlink Updates their User Terminals

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SpaceX has updated the Starlink suite with a new user terminal. The dish replaces a larger one sold to beta users.

Scaling down: The new terminal is a 19” x 12”, 9.2 lb dish that users can mount to the side of a home (like the older version), their roof, or a pole (new capability).

But users won’t get a price cut just yet. Starlink’s hardware set costs $499 upfront with a $99/month subscription. Users also can’t exchange current terminals for the new one, and silicon shortages are affecting production across the board.

SpaceX’s angle: The companyhas been eating some user terminal costs. When pre-orders for Starlink first opened in February, SpaceX was spending more than $2,000 to produce each terminal, subsidizing more than 75% of that cost for end users. It’s a great customer acquisition strategy, but only becomes sustainable when Starlink manufacturing starts attaining economies of scale.

  • According to an October Morgan Stanley note seen by Payload, user terminals will be the most expensive part of scaling up Starlink, representing ~83% of the total buildout costs (~$240B).
  • In April, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said the company had shaved production costs to $1,300. Eventually, SpaceX hopes to get that below $250. 
  • Meanwhile, SpaceX is continuing to build out the Starlink constellation. A new batch of satellites launched today.

+ While we’re here: Payment processor Shift4 announced a strategic partnership with Starlink this week. We chatted with Shift4 CEO Jared Isaacman (who also funded Inspiration4) about the deal. Check out the convo here