SpaceX Wants to Offer Voice Service

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SpaceX plans to offer phone service, emergency backup for voice calls and less expensive plans for low-income customers through the FCC’s Lifeline program, according to a new filing with the FCC.

The filing concerns SpaceX’s designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC). The company tells the agency it needs that legal definition in some of the states where it won government funding to deploy rural broadband in unserved areas, reports Ars Technica.  

It’s satellite-delivered broadband service Starlink is in beta and costs $99 per month. There’s also a one-time fee of $499 for a satellite dish, mounting tripod and router, according to the filing. SpaceX says it has a total of more than 10,000 users in the U.S. and abroad. The company has authority to deploy up to one million satellite dishes in the U.S. and is asking the agency to raise that threshold to five million. 

SpaceX said it will eventually sell VoIP service that includes “(a) voice-grade access to the public switched telephone network or its functional equivalent; (b) minutes of use for local service provided at no additional charge to end users; (c) access to emergency services; and (d) toll limitation services to qualifying low-income consumers.”

Voice service will be sold “on a standalone basis at rates that are reasonably comparable to urban rates,” SpaceX said. The plan isn’t finalized, but SpaceX said it is exploring the use of “a white-label managed service provider voice platform,” according to the account.

SpaceX’s filing also noted that Starlink broadband and phone will be offered as common-carrier services. “For purposes of this [ETC] designation, Starlink Services will provide broadband internet access service and standalone voice service to the public throughout the Service Areas on a common carrier basis,” the company said in the filing.

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