Elon Musk enters the French Internet access market

Very high speed will eventually reach the depths of the countryside. Arcep, the telecoms regulatory authority, awarded in February “ an authorization for the use of frequencies to the company Starlink », A network of a thousand satellites put into orbit by Elon Musk via his company SpaceX. The American businessman can now offer a very high speed Internet access offer to French people who are still far from optical fiber.

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In the sky, Elon Musk’s satellites are ready for use. In the test phase, they are already providing Internet to more than 10,000 subscribers, mainly in North America, but also in the United Kingdom. On land, Arcep has authorized the construction of several Starlink stations: in the North at Gravelines; in Gironde in Villenave-d’Ornon and Belin-Béliet; and in the Channel at Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron, where the installation of relay antennas arouses opposition from elected officials and residents.

The price of performance

It is already possible to pay a first deposit of around 80 €, to benefit from the Starlink offer as soon as it is launched in France, scheduled from mid-2021. The first to arrive will be the first to be equipped. The satellite connection requires the installation at home of an antenna, a small white disc mounted on a tripod. In the United States, this connection kit is sold for 500 dollars (412 €), to which is added 99 dollars of monthly subscription. Its price for France is not yet known. These rates are much higher than the existing broadband offers in France.

On the performance side, the operator promises a speed of between 50 and 100 megabits per second, well beyond the threshold of 30 Mbits / s necessary to switch to the category of “very high speed” according to the criteria in force in France, but still below the optical fiber which allows the download of 1000 megabits of data per second.

A new competitor

The French satellite Internet market is a still underdeveloped niche, dominated by a few players, including Orange, the only national operator present through its subsidiary Nordnet which operates its own high-performance satellite and plans to launch a second in 2022. Its kit costs around one hundred euros, to which is added a monthly subscription of around sixty euros.

For the moment, the competition of Elon Musk does not worry Orange. According to the French, Starlink will not be in full capacity before 2025 to meet demand. It remains to be seen how the American will line up in terms of price. But the satellite market is not a priority for France, which relies much more on optical fiber, in accordance with the France very high speed plan.

In 2013, the government made a commitment that all French people would have access to very high speed by 2022 before postponing this objective to 2024. Optical fiber was to provide 80% of this network, the remaining 20% ​​being returned. alternative technologies. These millions of French people are the core target of Elon Musk, who has the ambition to “ create a global high-speed internet “Which he hopes to eventually control 3 to 5% of the global market.


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