Musk’s Manx Connection

The Isle of Man tends to punch above its weight when it comes to celebrity connections, but as far as we know recent news about Starlink is a first for news linking the Island with Elon Musk.

The Independent was among several UK media channels that reported news about Starlink’s plans to build a ground station on the Island as part of the company’s strategy to provide coverage across Britain.

A division of Musk’s SpaceX, Starlink offers high-speed, low-latency broadband internet and – according to the company’s website – aims to expand to ‘near global coverage of the populated world in 2021’. Under the current beta service it promises speeds of from 50 to 150Mb/s – but admits that speeds and latency currently vary, and that there will be periods of no connectivity at all while Starlink is in its current phase of development. However, plans to launch more satellites, build more ground stations and deploy enhanced software will, say Starlink, result in customers being offered dramatically improved speeds, latency and uptime. As present, the company has base stations in Buckinghamshire and Cornwall as part of its UK coverage network.

The Telegraph reported that Starlink has already applied for a licence from the Isle of Man Communications Commission, although at the time of writing there’s no news about that from the telecoms and broadcasting regulator.

All of this news comes just a few weeks after the BBC reported that Musk had claimed Starlink would be able to provide internet access anywhere in the world, except the north and south poles, by August 2021. Customers are already using Starlink in North America and the UK, and the firm’s ambitious growth plans are supported by a strategy that aims to increase its network of orbiting satellites from the current 800 to 12,000 by 2026.

But it’s far from a one rocket race with a fleet of satellite internet competitors – such as OneWeb and Viasat, and Amazon’s $10billion Project Kuiper – all in the hunt to capture a share of a massive potential global market.

We will watch this space (J) and look forward to seeing Starlink’s plans contributing to the Isle of Man’s space and satellite comms sector.

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