FCC authorizes SpaceX’s Starlink system to be used on vehicles in motion

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted SpaceX authorization to use its Starlink satellite Internet system on vehicles in motion – including cars, trucks, boats and planes. It’s a big win for SpaceX’s Starlink systems, potentially opening up the service to a more diverse range of use cases and customers.

SpaceX requested regulatory approval from the FCC in March last year to allow Earth Station in Motion (ESIM) Starlink terminals to be used in moving vehicles. To tap into the system and receive broadband Internet coverage, customers must purchase an individual ground-based antenna, or user terminal, which is designed to connect to any orbiting Starlink satellites that occur overhead. Until now, those dishes had to stay in a certain location to access the system.

Now, the FCC has accepted a request from SpaceX — as well as from another satellite company, Kepler Communications — paving the way for a new class of user terminals that can connect to broadband-beaming satellites on the go. While doing so, the FCC opted to deny a petition from Dish Network that sought to bar the companies from using the frequency in the 12GHz band. However, the FCC will continue to analyze as it moves forward with making rules on the presence of eSIM devices in the 12GHz band and said Kepler and SpaceX will be subject to any future regulations.

The FCC argues that it is in the public interest to approve the new capacity. “We agree with SpaceX and Kepler that the public interest will benefit from awarding their applications with conditions,” the FCC wrote in its authorization on June 30. “Authorizing a new class of terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand the range of broadband capabilities to meet growing user demands that now require connectivity on the move, whether driving an RV across the country.” whether carrying a cargo from Europe to a US port, or during a domestic or international flight.”

Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious initiative to launch a group of thousands of satellites into low-to-medium-Earth orbit, in order to provide low-latency broadband coverage to below-Earth. The company has more than 2,400 satellites in orbit so far, and after coming out of beta testing late last year, the company recently claimed it had 400,000 users. Customers who want to order Starlink will have to purchase the kit — which comes with the user terminal — for $599 and then pay a monthly fee of $110.

SpaceX has made it clear that it wants to expand Starlink beyond just residential customer use. The company is in talks with various airlines about using Starlink Internet service and has deals with Hawaiian Airlines and private jet service JSX to start providing Internet connectivity on their planes in the next few years. Additionally, Starlink has introduced a new special service level for RVs, allowing users to connect to Starlink satellites from multiple locations such as campsites or vacation cabins with no designated “home” address for an additional fee. . However, at the time of the announcement, customers could not use the dishes while their RV or van was moving.

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