SpaceX has just filed a case with the Federal Communications Commission to connect its network of Starlink satellites to trucks, ships and aircraft. The request was filed on March 5.
Starlink is moving forward
As of October 2020, several thousand North American users have participated in public beta testing of SpaceX’s Starlink program. The program is currently aimed at rural areas that have little or no Internet connectivity. Before them, company employees had already been using terminals for several weeks to collect latency statistics and perform standard system speed tests.
With more than 1,000 satellites currently active, SpaceX would like to take a further step. On March 5, the company approached the Federal Communications Commission to request a general license authorizing the operation of Starlink terminals on “earth stations in motion“. This generic term includes cars, trucks, ships and airplanes.
“Users will no longer be willing to forgo connectivity while on the move, whether it’s driving a truck across the country, moving cargo from Europe to a US port, or on a domestic or international flight.“, Indicates the file.
Small passenger vehicles, however, may have to wait. Tesla cars, for example, cannot be connected to the system straight away, because “the Starlink terminal is way too big“, a tweeted this Monday the CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk.
New supports for the antennas
The new dossier filed by SpaceX does not mention many details about the new antenna designs. However, Elon Musk pointed out that these structures would “electrically identical to those of the terminals of other previously authorized users, but with brackets allowing them to be installed on vehicles, ships and airplanes“. These new mobile antennas would then be housed on “masts of ships or tops of trucks“, He detailed.
Finally, unlike the current Starlink terminals which are installed directly by the customer, these new antennas must be installed by “qualified people“.
Finally, remember that for the beta version, the data speeds vary from 50 MB / s to 150 MB / s and the latency from 20 ms to 40 ms. To log into the system, users must purchase a terminal from 499 dollars (around 430 euros). They then have to pay a monthly fee of $ 99 (around $ 85) to keep the service active.
Starlink services are therefore still expensive and the results average. However, this is only a test version here. The throughput should therefore increase as the number of satellites in orbit increases. SpaceX is planning a 1 Gb / s throughput for reduced latency to between 16 ms and 19 ms. On the equipment side, Musk had suggested that eventually the equipment would cost between $ 100 and $ 300 for a subscription price of around $ 80 per month.