Elon Musk’s space internet venture has set up on the Isle of Man with plans for a satellite station that will allow it to provide blanket coverage across Britain.
The Tesla billionaire’s Starlink service is in the final stages of securing a licence to build a ground station on the island, a step towards providing satellite broadband coverage to rural parts of northern Britain.
Filings from the Isle of Man’s communications regulator reveal that Starlink, which aims to use a constellation of thousands of satellites to blanket the earth in high-speed coverage, has secured a telecoms licence and the right to use certain spectrum bands and install equipment on the island.
In addition to bases in Buckinghamshire and Cornwall, it is believed the station would allow it to provide full coverage across Britain.
Starlink launched a test service in the UK earlier this year, charging customers £89 a month and the £439 cost of a satellite dish for speeds of up to 150 megabits a second. It has said it expects to be able to provide global coverage later this month. The service is designed to fill in the gaps where fibre broadband and 5G cannot reach.
Transmitting from the Isle of Man to its satellite network would allow Starlink, a subsidiary of Mr Musk’s SpaceX, to take advantage of the island’s less crowded airwaves, which are awarded separately from the UK’s.
The company was the only one to express an interest in multiple spectrum bands, the island’s regulator said.
Ofcom said in a recent consultation that it was in the final stage of issuing a licence for a satellite station on the island, believed to refer to Starlink.
How low-orbiting satellites work
The regulator said last week it was planning to raise the bar for new satellite broadband licence applications, requiring providers to demonstrate that they will not interfere with rival systems, and would suspend new applications in the process.
Starlink did not respond to a request for comment.