BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany wants to help citizens in rural areas get better access to the world wide web by supporting the purchase of hardware for satellite internet services such as Elon Musk’s Starlink, the transport ministry said on Monday.
The planned subsidy scheme will be open to all providers who offer wireless internet connections in rural areas, for example through satellites or directional radio links, the ministry said.
Coalition talks about the details of the voucher scheme are still ongoing and the aim is to subsidize the purchase of the technical equipment, it added.
“The monthly costs for using the internet connection will not be covered by the grant,” the ministry said.
The government will subsidize the purchase of Starlink satellite dishes and similar providers of wireless internet connections with grants to households worth 500 euros (R8300), business daily Handelsblatt reported.
The decision came after Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer met SpaceX founder Musk at the construction site of Tesla’s first European factory near Berlin in mid-May, the newspaper reported.
Starlink is offering satellite internet for a monthly fee of 99 euros (R1700).
Musk said earlier this month that SpaceX had received more than 500,000 preorders for its Starlink satellite internet service.
The company plans to eventually deploy 12,000 satellites in total and has said the Starlink constellation will cost it roughly $10 billion (R10 trillion).
Building and sending rockets to outer space is a capital-intensive business, but two of the world’s richest men, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Musk, who is also the chief of automaker Tesla Inc, have invested billions of dollars over the years to make inroads in this market.
($1 = 0.8179 euros)
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Bernadette Baum)