Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted SpaceX permission to use its Starlink satellite internet system on moving vehicles, including cars, trucks, boats and planes. It’s a big win for SpaceX’s Starlink system, potentially opening up the service to a more diverse range of use cases and customers.
SpaceX sought regulatory approval from the FCC in March of last year to allow the use of Starlink Earth Stations in Motion (ESIM) terminals in moving vehicles. To access the system and receive high-speed Internet coverage, customers must purchase a personal ground antenna, or user terminal, designed to connect to all orbiting Starlink satellites overhead. Until now, these dishes had to stay in a fixed place to access the system.
Now the FCC has granted SpaceX’s request — along with that of another satellite company, Kepler Communications — paving the way for a new class of user terminals that can connect to broadband satellites during their displacements. In doing so, the FCC chose to dismiss a Dish Network petition that sought to block companies from using the frequency in the 12 GHz band. However, the FCC will continue to conduct analysis as it moves forward in developing rules on the presence of ESIM devices in the 12 GHz band and has stated that Kepler and SpaceX will be subject to all future rules. that she will establish.
The FCC argues that approving the new capacity is in the public interest. “We agree with SpaceX and Kepler that the public interest would benefit from conditionally granting their candidacies,” the FCC wrote in its authorization, dated June 30. “Authorizing a new class of terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand the range of broadband capabilities to meet the growing demands of users who now require connectivity on the go, whether driving an RV across the country, moving cargo from Europe to a US port, or on a domestic or international flight.
Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious initiative to launch a constellation of thousands of satellites into low-to-medium Earth orbit to provide low-latency, high-speed coverage to the Earth below. The company has more than 2,400 satellites in orbit so far, and after emerging from beta testing late last year, the company recently boasted of having 400,000 users. Customers who want to order Starlink must buy the kit – which comes with a user terminal – for $599 and then pay a monthly fee of $110.
SpaceX has made it clear, however, that it wants to expand Starlink beyond just residential customer use. The company has negotiated with various airlines over the use of Starlink internet service and has reached agreements with Hawaiian Airlines and private jet service JSX to begin providing internet connectivity on their planes within the next two years. Additionally, Starlink has just rolled out a special new level of service for motorhomes, allowing users to connect to Starlink satellites from multiple locations like campsites or vacation cabins, without an assigned “home” address for a fee. additional charges. However, at the time of the announcement, subscribers could not use the dishes while their motorhomes or vans were moving.