December 6, 2023

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted SpaceX a license to Use of the Starlink satellite internet system on moving vehicles – Including cars, trucks, boats and planes. It’s a big win for SpaceX’s Starlink system, and potentially open the service to a much more diverse set of use cases and customers.

SpaceX requested regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in March of last year to allow the use of Starlink Earth Station in Moving (ESIM) terminals in moving vehicles. To take advantage of the system and obtain broadband Internet coverage, customers must purchase a personal ground antenna, or user station, designed to communicate with any Starlink satellites orbiting in space. Until now, those dishes had to be kept in a fixed place to get into order.

Now, the FCC has granted SpaceX’s request — as well as a request from another satellite company, Kepler Communications — paving the way for a new class of user terminals that can connect to broadband satellites on the go. While doing so, the FCC chose to reject a petition from Dish Network that sought to ban companies from using the frequency in the 12GHz band. However, the FCC will continue to do the analysis as it moves forward with setting rules on the presence of ESIM devices in the 12GHz band, and said Kepler and SpaceX will be subject to any future rules it sets.

The FCC argues that approval of the new capability is in the public’s interest. “We agree with SpaceX and Kepler that the public interest will benefit by granting their requests with conditions,” the FCC wrote in its June 30 mandate. “The commissioning of a new class of terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand broadband capabilities to meet growing user requirements that now require connectivity on the go, whether driving an RV across the country, or moving a cargo ship from Europe to a US port, or while traveling on a domestic or international flight.”

Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious initiative to launch a constellation of thousands of satellites into low to medium Earth orbit in order to provide low-latency broadband coverage of the Earth below. The company owns More than 2,400 satellites are in orbit so farand after coming out of beta testing towards the end of last year, the company recently He boasted that he has 400,000 users. Customers who want to order the Starlink must purchase the kit — which comes with a user station — for $599 and then pay a $110 monthly fee.

SpaceX has made it clear that it wants to expand Starlink beyond just using local customers. The company is negotiating with several airlines about using Starlink internet and has deals with Hawaiian Airlines and JSX private jet service to start providing internet connectivity on their planes over the next two years. In addition, Starlink has just introduced a new special service class for recreational vehicles, allowing users to connect to Starlink satellites from multiple locations such as campgrounds or vacation cottages, without a dedicated “home” address for an additional fee. Though, at the time of the announcement, subscribers were unable to use the dishes while their carts or carts were in motion.

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