SpaceX’s satellite-based internet business, Starlink, now has approval from the US government to expand its service to planes, ships, automobiles, RVs and other mobile vehicles.
The move sets the company up to expand its customer base, which so far has been focused solely on providing roughly $100-per-month internet services to homes, mostly in areas that aren’t serviced by traditional ground-based internet service. It has hundreds of thousands of subscribers around the world.
Now, the company is likely to begin rolling out service to commercial airlines, possibly beginning with Hawaiian Airlines, which signed a deal with SpaceX in April saying it planned to bring complimentary Starlink services to some jets.
The regulatory approval, handed down from the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday, also grants SpaceX the ability to expand its service to trains, ships, and other vehicles, opening up a broad swath of potential corporate customers. The company has also already been advertising its services for RV drivers.
Traditionally, airlines, ships and trains have relied on satellites in geosynchronous orbit, a band of orbit that lies more than 22,000 miles away, provided by companies such as ViaSat. SpaceX’s Starlink takes a different approach to beaming internet from space by putting thousands of satellites in low-Earth orbit, or just a few hundred miles off the ground. The company says this offers lower latency, or lag times, for its service.
It’s not clear how Starlink’s mobile services may be priced, but SpaceX does already market its service