Elon Musk's Starlink may use Vodafone spectrum to expand service in UK

Topics Elon Musk | Vodafone | UK

Elon Musk’s Starlink is considering a tie-up with Vodafone Group Plc to expand its satellite broadband service in the UK, the Telegraph reported on Sunday, citing unidentified people in the industry. 

Starlink has been searching for ground station infrastructure and high-frequency spectrum to expand the capacity of its service, the paper said. 

A Vodafone spokesperson told the Telegraph: “Regarding satellite spectrum, we can confirm we are in talks with multiple operators. We’re close to striking a deal.”

Starlink did not respond to the Telegraph’s request for comment.

The newspaper cited a Vodafone filing with UK industry regulator Ofcom stating that the company is open to approaches from satellite companies that may want to lease the spectrum it holds under license for use in gateway links to their satellites.

Starlink is competing with UK-backed OneWeb to offer internet from low-earth orbit to consumers and businesses in regions of the world where terrestrial fixed and wireless communications are not profitable. Both are seeking out partnerships with telecommunication companies as part of the process. In September, OneWeb announced a deal with AT&T Inc. for the latter to use OneWeb’s satellites to offer broadband to businesses in remote areas. Starlink has previously said it signed deals with two “major country” telecom operators that it hasn’t named, as Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. approaches near-global coverage for Starlink.

 Musk said in a tweet on October 14 he was in talks with airlines about installing Starlink.

Musk, known for his Twitter banter, announcements and lively interactions with followers, did not provide any details about the talks in his tweet. It was not immediately clear which airlines were approached or when installation would occur.

Starlink, the satellite internet unit of SpaceX, plans to deploy 12,000 satellites. SpaceX has said the Starlink constellation will cost it roughly $10 billion.

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