Your next flight could have fast Starlink satellite internet

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Elon Musk Starlink Will Save You Ti...
Elon Musk Starlink Will Save You Time And Money


Shutterstock.com/Jason Schronce

Starlink is an Internet service operated by SpaceX that uses thousands of small satellites in low Earth orbit. It has been limited to stationary stations such as homes and parked RVs, but now Starlink is reaching moving vehicles.

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted SpaceX authorization to deploy Starlink’s ultra-fast internet on “Ground Stations on the Move”—that is, cars, ships, trucks, and planes. Although Starlink uses ground-based wireless antennas to communicate with the satellites, which can (in theory) be placed anywhere, the company did not have permission for active moving vehicles until now.

The same authorization also granted Kepler Communications permission to operate its own satellite Internet service on ships within the United States and on any US-registered ship in international waters. Kepler is a Canadian company working on a similar network of small Internet satellites in Earth orbit.

Satellite internet is nothing new, as services like HughesNet and Viasat have been around for a while. However, Starlink (and other newer networks) are unique in that they use a larger number of satellites in a much closer orbit, about 340 miles above the Earth’s surface. HughesNet, Exede, and other companies have satellites much further out in geostationary orbit (about 22,000 miles), which reduces speeds and latency (ping times). Starlink still isn’t perfect, but it’s much more like land-based Internet access, and it’s even possible to play multiplayer games over a Starlink connection.

Now that SpaceX can legally implement Starlink on moving vehicles, it won’t be long before commercial aircraft and ships start using the system. Delta was testing Starlink internet on planes in April, and SpaceX signed a deal with charter airline JSX to equip 100 planes with internet later this year.

The new authorization comes just two weeks after SpaceX launched an additional 53 Starlink satellites into orbit, on one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets. Additional satellites are helping to increase the capacity of the network, which I wish means faster speeds for Starlink customers.

Source: FCC, The Verge