In a move aimed at making its satellite internet service more accessible, SpaceX’s Starlink has begun offering refurbished dishes at half the price in Australia. The discounted units come as the service celebrates crossing the 2 million active subscriber mark, although the number still falls short of the company’s lofty early projections.
A Price Cut Down Under
Originally priced at $599, the Starlink dishes have been a significant investment for users. However, the company has now slashed the price to just $299 for refurbished units. These units, according to Starlink, are “thoroughly cleaned and inspected” and should function identically to new devices.
The promotion is time-sensitive and available only until September 26, according to Starlink Insider. The offer comes amid allegations that the company has been selling refurbished units without explicitly informing customers—a claim that Starlink denies.
A Surge in Subscriber Growth
Despite not meeting its initial target of 20 million subscribers as per a 2015 internal presentation, Starlink has seen a geometric rise in user numbers. From a modest 10,000 users at its beta launch in late 2020, the service boasted 2 million subscribers as of September 2023. This exponential growth shows the increasing appetite for satellite internet services, especially in regions that lack conventional broadband infrastructure.
Performance Metrics: A Double-Edged Sword
While subscriber numbers look promising, the increased user base has had an impact on network performance. Data from network intelligence company Ookla indicates that Starlink’s average U.S. download speeds have dropped from around 85 Mbps in Q1 2023 to approximately 50 Mbps in Q3 2023. Nevertheless, the service continues to score highly in Net Promoter Scores, especially among users in rural areas.
Clearing the Deck for New Hardware?
Last week, the FCC approved SpaceX to sell two next-generation Starlink dishes. This could indicate that the company is planning to phase out older hardware. Selling refurbished units at discounted prices could be a strategic move to clear inventory, making way for the new and possibly more efficient hardware.
Global Impact and Future Prospects
Starlink’s influence isn’t just commercial; it has geopolitical implications too. The service played a crucial role in providing internet connectivity in Ukraine during the Russian invasion and also in Iran during network outages amid protests. Moreover, the company has been expanding its services to air and sea connectivity, partnering with companies like Royal Caribbean and Hawaiian Airlines for onboard Wi-Fi.
As Starlink aims to surround Earth with up to 42,000 satellites by mid-2027, it is setting the stage for more comprehensive broadband connectivity worldwide. While challenges like declining download speeds and missed revenue targets exist, the 2-million-subscriber milestone and the new discounted dish offer signal a positive trajectory for the company.
As the satellite internet landscape continues to evolve, Starlink’s discounted dishes could be a small but significant step in making global internet accessibility a reality.