SpaceX is now advertising Starlink Aviation, promising 350 Mbps broadband with unlimited data for every plane it sits on.
“Starlink can deliver up to 350 Mbps to each aircraft, allowing all passengers to access streaming-enabled internet at the same time,” the company said. “With latency as low as 20ms, passengers can engage in previously non-functional in-flight activities, including video calls, online games, virtual private networks and other high data rate activities. “
Starlink said the aircraft service will use a “low-profile aerodynamic terminal” with “an electronically steered phased array antenna, which enables new levels of reliability, redundancy and performance.” It has a “simplified design” that “enables installations for minimal downtime and combines well with other routine maintenance checks,” says Starlink. The service hardware also includes two wireless access points.
There is a one-time hardware cost of $150,000, not including installation. “Installation can be done by your current maintenance organization or Starlink can recommend experienced, qualified installers,” Starlink explains.
Musk: It will be like ‘accessing the internet at home’
Monthly service fees are $12,500 to $25,000. There are “no long-term contracts and all plans include unlimited data. Your hardware is under warranty for as long as you subscribe to the service,” Starlink Aviation’s webpage says. Buyers can book now and deliveries will begin in mid-2023, a Starlink FAQ says.
“The internet on planes will feel like you’re accessing the internet at home,” said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. tweeted.
Starlink Aviation will have global coverage because “there are always satellites overhead or nearby to provide a strong signal at high latitudes and in polar regions,” the FAQ says. “The service will be available in flight over land and water and on the ground during taxi, takeoff and landing. As long as the equipment is powered on and the Starlink has a clear view of the sky , connection is possible.”
So far, Starlink said it is preparing to obtain additional type certificates for the following aircraft: ERJ-135, ERJ-145, G650, G550, Falcon 2000, G450, Challenger 300, Challenger 350, Global Express , Global 5000, Global 6000, and Global 7500. These models are business jets and regional jets, but SpaceX said that “Starlink’s engineering team will update this list as the development of additional aircraft will begin”.
At least two airlines plan to use Starlink
Starlink recently received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to provide Starlink satellite Internet service on moving vehicles, ships and aircraft. Even before getting that approval, SpaceX was negotiating with airlines to bring Starlink on flights. In April, Hawaiian Airlines announced that it would offer Starlink service to passengers at no additional cost, starting next year.
Starlink Aviation could help SpaceX improve Starlink’s finances, which have taken a hit with the company donating terminals and services to the Ukrainian war effort. “SpaceX is losing about $20 million a month due to unpaid service and costs related to enhanced security measures for cyberwar defense, but we will continue to do so (sigh),” Musk wrote on Twitter yesterday.
SpaceX also lost $885.51 million in rural broadband funding from the FCC that would have been spread over 10 years, though it is appealing that decision. The FCC doubted Starlink’s ability to meet broadband subsidy speed requirements – recent speed tests show that Starlink’s home internet is slowing down as more people use it.
Starlink demonstrated last month on a JSX Air flight between Burbank and San Jose, Calif., achieving speeds of over 100 Mbps. JSX CEO Alex Wilcox said the airline will begin offering Starlink service on passenger-carrying flights in October, according to an Aviation Today article published Sept. 9.
“JSX operates a total fleet of 77 Embraer 135s and 145s, and currently has Starlink antennas, modems and wireless access points installed and tested on two of its aircraft,” the Aviation Today article states. . “Wilcox described Starlink’s performance on these two aircraft as working ‘incredibly well’.”
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