Google said on Thursday that it has signed a deal with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to use the expanding satellite Internet service from space company Starlink with its cloud unit. SpaceX will install Starlink terminals in Google’s cloud data centers around the world, with the goal of leveraging the cloud for Starlink customers and enabling Google to leverage the satellite network’s high-speed internet for its corporate cloud customers.
The Starlink-Google Cloud capabilities, including secure data delivery to remote areas of the world, will be available to customers by the end of 2021, Google said in a press release Thursday morning. SpaceX will install the first Starlink terminal at Google New Albany, Ohio, a data center spokesperson said, adding more plans about the partnership will be shared in the coming months.
The deal is a natural alliance between SpaceX and Google from Elon Musk – launched in 2015 invested $ 900 million in the space business to cover a range of technology, including the production of Starlink satellites. So far, SpaceX has launched 1,625 Starlink satellites, with about 1,550 currently in orbit. A Starlink beta program launched last year has at least 10,000 users in the US, Canada and some European countries, with at least 500,000 $ 100 deposits posted by potential customers of the service.
Competition is fierce between Musk’s Starlink network and Jeff Bezos’ nascent Kuiper project Amazon, which aims to launch more than 3,000 satellites into roughly the same orbit as Starlink to also provide broadband internet worldwide. The Google-SpaceX deal marks another competitive victory for Google in its own rivalry with Amazon’s giant cloud services unit, Amazon Web Services. Amazon executives have said they want to use Kuiper’s internet connectivity to boost its AWS cloud services.
“Applications and services running in the cloud can be transformative for organizations, whether they operate in a highly networked or remote environment,” said Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of Infrastructure at Google Cloud in the release. Hölzle said Google is “excited to partner with SpaceX to ensure that organizations with distributed footprints have seamless, secure, and fast access to the critical applications and services they need to keep their teams running.”
The Google deal includes providing Internet data “access to companies, public sector organizations and many other groups operating around the world,” said SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell in the release. “By combining Starlink’s fast, low-latency broadband with Google’s infrastructure and capabilities, global organizations get the secure and fast connection that modern organizations expect,” she said.
Microsoft, which operates another massive cloud service called Azure, which also competes with Amazon’s cloud, also teamed up with SpaceX in a similar partnership last year. By deploying Azure cloud data over Starlink’s broadband highway, the two companies will “jointly sell to our common customers, sell together to new ventures and prospective customers” for data services, Shotwell said in a promotional video at the time.