SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet is in talks for a place in the UK Project Gigabit valued at $ 6.9 billion.

A Starlink user terminal is set up.

SpaceX

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is in talks with the United Kingdom so that the company’s Starlink satellite unit could potentially be funded under the government’s new $ 6.9 billion Internet infrastructure program, CNBC confirmed.

UK Digital Infrastructure Secretary Matt Warman recently met with Starlink leadership, a person familiar with the talks with CNBC, as part of ongoing discussions with a number of tech communications companies about the Project Gigabit plan launched on Friday.

Covering the talks first, Sky News noted that UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden sees Starlink as one of the best options for delivering internet services to hard-to-reach areas across the country.

SpaceX did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the discussions, while the UK government declined to comment.

Starlink is the company’s capital-intensive project to build an interconnected internet network of thousands of satellites, known in the aerospace industry as a Constellation, designed to deliver high-speed internet to consumers around the world.

The company has put more than 1,200 satellites into orbit to date and began rolling out the early Starlink service in a public beta in October that now includes customers in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and New Zealand – priced at $ 99 a month in the US

The UK on Friday kicked off the first phase of the Gigabit project, which is the government’s $ 6.9 billion program to improve internet service to more than one million homes and businesses.

The first phase of the project collects solutions from companies using a variety of deployment methods, including satellites and other “high altitude” platforms.

Possible addition to FCC winnings

Boxes with Starlink kits with user terminals and WiFi routers.

Starlink

The Gigabit project offers SpaceX the potential to add more government subsidy profits to Starlink, as the company received nearly $ 900 million in subsidies from the Federal Communications Commission’s rural broadband auction late last year.

The FCC awarded SpaceX the fourth most funding in the $ 9.2 billion auction. The subsidies are to be distributed in monthly milestone payments over the next ten years. However, SpaceX’s award was met with protest by other US broadband providers, particularly DISH Network. Other ISPs rejected Starlink as a “scientific experiment” with “completely unproven technology”.

SpaceX has responded, telling the FCC that other vendors’ complaints are “bogus” and are intended to “obstruct a competitor”.

SpaceX has since expanded Starlink’s service further. In the first three months, the public beta gained more than 10,000 users. Musk’s company plans to extend Starlink service beyond households and is calling on the FCC to extend their connectivity entitlement to “moving vehicles” so that Starlink can be used for everything from airplanes to ships to large trucks .

NASA collision agreement

Sixty Starlink satellites will be launched after the company’s 17th mission.

SpaceX

SpaceX also signed an agreement with NASA in January, as the US space agency announced last week, to work together on how to avoid collisions with the company’s Starlink satellites.

As the company puts more spacecraft into orbit each month while its rockets launch 60 Starlink satellites each, NASA said “increased interaction and partnership” is needed “to maintain safe” operations in orbit.

“NASA has agreed not to maneuver in the event of a possible conjunction to ensure the parties do not accidentally maneuver into one another. NASA will work on the basis that the Starlink satellites’ autonomous maneuvering capabilities will attempt to maneuver around one Avoid conjunction with NASA. ” Assets, and that NASA will maintain its planned trajectory unless SpaceX advises otherwise, “the agreement reads.

The agency also said it will work with SpaceX to “share technical expertise and lessons learned” to reduce the brightness of the satellites.

The company has already announced changes to the satellites to reduce brightness after astronomers complained about the increasing presence of Starlink satellites in the sky.

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