A new SpaceX document outlines plans for Starlink to offer telephone service, backup assistance for voice calls and cheaper plans for low-income people through the government program Lifeline.
According to ArsTechnica, the details of these plans are in Starlink’s petition to the Federal Communications Commission for designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Operator (ETC) under the terms of the Communications Law.
SpaceX said that need this legal designation in some of the states where it won government funding to deploy broadband in unattended areas.
ETC designation is also required to obtain reimbursement for the program Lifeline from the FCC for offering discounts on telecommunications services to people on low incomes.
Starlink is in beta and costs $ 99 per month, plus a one-time fee of $ 499 for the user terminal, tripod mount and router.
The SpaceX document also reveals that Starlink now has more than 10 thousand users in the United States and abroad.
SpaceX is expected to have capacity for several million customers in the United States – the company is allowed to deploy up to one million user terminals – satellite dishes – and is seeking to obtain FCC permission to increase the maximum deployment level to five million user terminals.
Telephone service and emergency backup
Although the Starlink beta includes only broadband, SpaceX said it will eventually sell the VoIP service (Voice over IP) which includes “(a) voice level access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) or its functional equivalent; (b) minutes of local use service provided at no additional cost to end users; (c) access to emergency services; and (d) toll limitation services for qualified low-income consumers ”.
The voice service will be sold “on an independent basis at rates that are reasonably comparable to urban rates“According to SpaceX.
The plan is not finalized, but SpaceX said it is exploring the use of “a white label managed service provider (MSP) voice platform”. SpaceX said it is also exploring other phone service options.
Like other VoIP providers, Starlink would sell a 24 hour battery backup customers who wanted it. “At the user level, the Starlink Services will offer a 24 hour battery backup option for user equipment that will provide the ability to make calls in the event of a power outage ”.
The 24-hour reservation offer would satisfy an FCC rule approved in 2015 under then President Tom Wheeler. Although the backup option described in the SpaceX order applies to the telephone service, the user terminal can provide broadband with a portable power supply.
SpaceX did not provide many details about the company’s plans Lifeline, in addition to the fact that intend to offer them. “A Starlink Services currently has no customers Lifeline because only operators designated as ETC can participate in the program Lifeline”.
However, once it receives the ETC designation, SpaceX “will provide Lifeline to qualify low-income consumers and disclose the availability of the service Lifeline in a manner reasonably designed to reach those likely to qualify for the service. ”
The SpaceX lawsuit also reveals that broadband and the Starlink phone will be offered as common operator services. “For the purposes of this designation [ETC], a Starlink Services will provide broadband Internet access service and autonomous voice service to the public in all service areas on a common operator basis ”.
Maria Campos, ZAP //