Elon’s next move, take over the cell phone market.
I first saw it one night I was walking on a golf course. I was in Scottsdale, walking on a golf course with my dog. We were talking, well I was talking to him. Why might you ask? He was a really good listener but that’s another article. Anyway, I was walking, talking, and looking up at the stars. I was looking for UFO’s, it was Phoenix after all. It was known for UFO’s so I was hoping that one might decide to do a fly by and pick me up. Why, that’s another article as well. I walked and made my turn and started heading back towards where I was staying. The night was still hot, it’s Phoenix, the oven of the world, 105 degrees at 10 o’clock. I continued scanning the sky and I saw a light streaking across the sky, it was followed by another one, it was about a hand width behind, and then another. I hoped for a minute that one of them would peel off and head towards me. I knew that it wouldn’t. I didn’t know for sure what it was but somewhere in my brain I had heard about SpaceX’s satellites, and that they had pissed off some Astronomers because their satellites were too bright. They were flying from the South West to the Northwest or at least generally in that direction. I was surprised I would see them in AZ. I thought they would be further north. Circling the top of the globe. Why did I think that, because I don’t know? I am not an Astrophysicists or a telemetry expert, or a guy that knows the optimized orbital path of a low orbit satellite. I figured that they would be north because I figured the market for people that couldn’t get high speed internet in rural areas would be more focused up there.
I had heard that Elon was doing something with low level satellites. I thought I was aimed at developing nations for some reason, but he had opened up a beta test, I signed up. I had internet where I was, but I like beta testing and it was SpaceX. I put in my information and they said they would let me know. I figured they were using the beta program to gauge interest, so I just filed it away. I moved to Montana and then back to Idaho where I bought a rural house, and I went back to the Starlink website and updated my address. After a few seconds I was notified that my address qualified for Starlink and for the ultra-reasonable price of $499.00 I could get on a wait list to pay $100.00 a month to be a part of a beta test. I put in my info and waited. It was around 6 or 7 weeks when I got the email saying, I had been blessed by the canticle of Elonowisk and my hardware was on its way. It took longer to get to me than it said it would, got stuck in California, probably wanted to take one last long look at the shithole before crossing borders.
It arrived, I had drilled holes in my wall, figured out where to set it up, I plugged it in, by the time I had it plugged in and got the 20 feet to my door where I could see it, it had already acquired the satellite and was doing its thing. No unboxing video for me.
I started researching more about the mesh network and how the whole “low level” satellite thingy worked. It was cool, I had another reason to research but yet again, another article. I learned about the mesh network, how it passed off connections as the satellites spun around the earth. How there were laser beams that connected the satellites so that the information flowed. It was impressive. The issue was the latency. I am a gamer, not a great gamer but a decent gamer, I am too old to be top notch anymore, but latency is kind of a big deal and latency is where Starlink falls short. Elon knows this, he has said as much, his plan is to put more satellites in the air to fix that but it’s an issue. With that issues comes the next challenge, Elon wants a millions subscribers by the end of the year. Simply math shows that a million subscribers paying a 100 bucks a month is 100 million dollars a month. There are rumors that Elon wants to spin off Starlink from SpaceX so that he has a ready-made customer paying for rocket launches. This is where I think Musk is brilliant.
Currently, it cost 52 Million to launch a rocket. There are other people that also launch rockets. It’s a cost thing on who gets the payload. Musk can have Starlink buy a launch a month for ever, if he hits the 1million subs. If Starlink buys a launch a month they can send up, let’s say half a pay load of satellites. The rest he can almost give away to whoever wants to send something up to orbit. That would destroy the competition.
Tesla is a car company, but they really are a software company that makes cars. These cars like to talk to each other. If we truly want autonomous vehicles the best way to make that happen is if, let’s say, 10000 cars are driving down the 101 and they are sending information up and down the freeway letting all the other cars know what’s going on, they will make better decisions. Cars that know 15 miles in front of them is a traffic accident can start slowing down, making alterations to their course, etc. Information is the key to autonomous and all Elon would need to do would be design a little disk that sits in a bubble strategically placed on the roof of a Telsa and suddenly you have a car that is connected to Starlink and talking to all the other cars. Elon could partition off that bandwidth and hide it from the user so you would be none the wiser. This addition would probably be readily accepted by the Cult of Tesla and that would generate more users for Starlink. Let’s say that give Starlink another millions subs, that takes us to 200 M a month, Starlink could now pay for 3 launches a month, ever strangling the rest of the rocket startups.
With cars talking to each other, and little roaming hotspots driving the streets the next logical step for Elon is become a cellphone provider. He doesn’t need to make them; Apple and Samsung can do the R&D and deal with the costs. Elon just needs to be the provider. Xcomm, (that’s my name for it) could use all the existing infrastructure to create a cell phone network with very little hardware costs and just some dev time. We have wi-fi calling already so if you sign up for Xcomm than all your calls at home should be fine. If you drive a Telsa your calls would be handled, also with the Telsa already linked the calls could probably follow a similar mesh mindset and have good coverage. The best thing is that there would be very little terrestrial equipment and as I said the satellites are connected by lasers, so your connection speed could be in the terraflops. No more 5g, 6g,7g worries, you got lasers pushing your data around. So, let’s say that Elon picks up 2 million subs that want to use Xcomm because it’s Elon, it’s cheaper, let’s say $50.00 a month for unlimited everything. That’s another 100M a month, that’s 2 more rocket launches, that’s 5 a month. That’s the death nail to competition. I don’t even know if there is enough payload for that many launches, but Mars is the goal.
With this model SpaceX is generating 250M a month for rocket launches, Starlink is generating 300M a month from subscriptions, Tesla is selling cars as quickly as they can make them with the Starlink integrated satellite dish, and XComm is making 100M a month providing data and cell services.
I am sure there are holes in my logic, I am not Elon Musk after all, but logically this makes sense and once Elon corners the market on rocket launches, he could use the revenue to build up the moon base. A stationary base with a logical orbit would allow Starlink to create laser towers that bounced data from the moon to parts of the earth and maybe that would fix the latency issues. This is how I would do it and Elon is much smarter than me.