US approves SpaceX's Starlink internet for use with ships, boats and planes

US approves SpaceX’s Starlink internet for use with ships, boats and planes

WASHINGTON, June 30 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday allowed Elon Musk’s SpaceX to use its Starlink satellite internet network with moving vehicles, giving the green light to the company’s plan to expand broadband offers to commercial airlines, transport ships and trucks.

Starlink, a rapidly growing constellation of satellites beaming the internet from orbit, has long sought to expand its customer base, from individual broadband users in rural internet-poor areas to enterprise customers in the potentially lucrative automotive, shipping, and shipping industries. and air transport.

“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,” the FCC said in its statement. clearance released Thursday, echoing plans outlined in SpaceX’s application for approval early last year.

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SpaceX has regularly launched some 2,700 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit since 2019 and amassed hundreds of thousands of subscribers, many of whom pay $110 a month for high-speed internet using $599 self-installing terminal kits.

The Hawthorne, Calif.-based space company has been heavily focused in recent years on courting airlines around Starlink for in-flight WiFi, having signed its first such deals in recent months with Hawaiian Airlines and the JSX semi-private jet service.

“We’re obsessed with the passenger experience,” Jonathan Hofeller, Starlink’s chief commercial sales officer, told an aviation conference earlier this month. “We’re going to be on planes here very soon, so hopefully passengers will enjoy the experience.”

SpaceX, under an earlier experimental FCC license, tested aircraft-friendly Starlink terminals on Gulfstream jets and US military aircraft.

Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, previously said the types of vehicles Starlink must be used with under Thursday’s clearance were airplanes, ships, large trucks and motor homes. Musk, also CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc , had said he didn’t see it “connecting Tesla cars to Starlink because our terminal is way too big.”

Competition in the low Earth orbit satellite internet business is fierce between SpaceX, satellite operator OneWeb, and Jeff Bezos’ Project Kuiper, a unit of e-commerce giant Amazon.com (AMZN.O) which plans to launch the first satellite prototypes of its own broadband network later this year.

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Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Leslie Adler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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