EU may launch its own competitor to Elon Musk's Starlink

Europe map in global satellite photo, view of city lights on night Earth from space. EU and Mediterr...


The European Union's estimated cost for the project.

The Irish Times


After two rounds of rejection, the European Union can officially move forward with plans to construct a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet system that will compete with the likes of Amazon’s Project Kuiper and SpaceX’s Starlink. Although the European Commission’s Regulatory Scrutiny Board turned down the proposal twice before on the grounds that the project would “waste money and compete with commercial services” according to The Irish Times, the group eventually green-lit the idea following a number of fiscal compromises while also admitting the system would be important for the EU’s “strategic and technical sovereignty.”

While the satellite system’s cost remains around €6 billion (roughly $6.8 billion USD), much of the overall budget will be derived from a private-public partnership of member states and small businesses, and be built and run by a “consortium” following a bidding period. Although the project still needs to be voted on by EU members and the European Parliament, it is still expected to be approved, despite some remaining reservations.

Pretty much exactly what a satellite internet array looks like, down to the laser beam net.Shutterstock

Extending service to Europe and Africa — In addition to EU coverage, the new service reportedly will also be accessible for many African nations in a bid to provide an alternative to Chinese-backed internet infrastructures. It’s likely this played a large role in the European Commission’s final decision, as they undoubtedly are looking to curb competing influence in the region.

Playing catchup — Once the EU’s program finally gets underway, it will need to play quite a bit of catchup against heavyweight industry competitors like Amazon and Starlink, the latter of which already has around 4,000 LEO satellites above our heads. While Elon Musk’s service remains preposterously expensive, there is still a real need for this kind of internet infrastructure and access across the world.