A new report has revealed that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted SpaceX approval for an expansion of its Starlink satellite internet service.
CNN has reported that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved SpaceX for bringing Starlink internet to trains, ships, and other vehicles such as RVs and planes. Commercial airlines and private jets currently use ground-based cell towers and satellites for internet connections. However, the distance between the plane and the cell tower or satellite is extreme, sometimes reaching 22,000 miles (satellite). This extreme distance can cause inconsistent connection/speed.
Switching to Starlink would reduce the distance between the plane and the satellite, giving a more stable internet connection per the proximity of the satellites. SpaceX has launched Starlink satellites into lower-Earth orbit, which are only a few hundred miles from the surface of Earth. Having the satellites closer to the ground gives Starlink a lower latency internet connection, according to SpaceX. Notably, Hawaiian Airlines has already signed a deal with SpaceX back in April to implement Starlink services to its selection of jets.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said in the past that Starlink's internet capabilities aren't yet at 100% for moving vehicles such as cruise ships, planes, or even cars. Musk said that the service "does work", but isn't yet capable of working "reliably". In contrast to Musk's comments, the Royal Caribbean Group gave praise for Starlink and SpaceX, writing to the FCC:
"We believe we have identified a true next-generation solution for our vessels. Our work with SpaceX, the first of its kind in the cruise industry, will set the standard for other cruise operators and will mean a leap in terms of guest experience and business operations while at sea," said Royal Caribbean Group Vice President of Operational Excellence, John Maya.
The FCC argues in its filing dated June 30 that SpaceX's application to expand its Starlink services to new modes of vehicles and the launching of more satellites is in the public's best interest and that the next-generation satellite system will expand broadband capabilities.
"With more than double the antenna capability of Starlink, Starlink Business delivers faster internet speeds and higher throughput. $500/mo with a one-time hardware cost of $2,500," writes SpaceX on its website.
The regulator even states that Starlink and its coming on-the-move internet service will meet consumer demand for a stable internet connection while on the move, whether that movement is "driving an RV across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a U.S. port or while on a domestic or international flight."
As the technology matures, and new versions of SpaceX's service is rolled out into more locations, we can expect that the not-so-distant future will be a world of always-connected. There won't be "off" periods when it comes to the internet. International or domestic flights will no longer be time to completely disconnect, and the very same goes for those long car rides across the country. There will be an endless internet connection, and SpaceX just received official approval to build it.
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