Subtel greenlights Starlink launch

21 Oct 2021

Chilean telecoms regulator the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has granted Starlink – the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite broadband provider backed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX venture – approval to operate five satellite ground stations, enabling the operator to launch commercial services on a national level. The authorisation covers sites in Caldera, Coquimbo, San Clemente, Puerto Saavedra and Puerto Montt and follows ‘several months’ of pilot tests in Sotomo (Los Lagos Region) and Caleta Sierra (Coquimbo Region).

Commenting on the development, Undersecretary of Telecommunications Francisco Moreno, was quoted as saying: ‘We are facing a true milestone in terms of digital inclusion that will provide our users with one more connectivity alternative. From Subtel we promote connectivity by sky, sea and land, bringing high-speed connections to different areas of our country, allowing students, entrepreneurs or different productive sectors to be part of the digital revolution … Furthermore, the interest of companies such as Starlink, Amazon and other low-orbit satellite providers reveals that Chile is an attractive country for investment in telecommunications.’

Starlink is aiming to launch commercial services in parts of Chile by the end of the year, and accepting orders from interested customers. A subscription is priced at CLP92,600 (USD114) per month although no further details regarding the tariff, such as download limits or connection speeds are currently available. The company website does note, however, that its ‘Beta’ service provides downlink speeds of between 50Mbps and 150Mbps, with ‘brief period of no connectivity at all’. In addition to the monthly price, subscribers must pay setup costs totalling CLP562,500, including CLP466,700 for the equipment an shipping fees of CLP95,800.