The Federal Communications Commission has granted SpaceX authorization to provide Starlink for moving vehicles, according to an order released by the agency last week that allows cars, boats, planes, and more to leverage the specialized broadband service, which relies on a constellation of satellites that is theoretically capable of delivering internet access to any location in the world. The decision means that Starlink can now effectively sell itself as a mobile service and reach more consumers and businesses, particularly those who might find it useful during travel. SpaceX has already signed early deals with commercial air carriers, including Hawaiian Airlines and semiprivate charter provider JSX, both of which plan to use the service to provide Wi-Fi on planes. Starlink costs $110 a month with a one-time $599 equipment fee and already has more than 400,000 subscribers.
We agree with SpaceX and Kepler that the public interest would benefit by granting with conditions their applications. Authorizing a new class of terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand the range of broadband capabilities to meet the growing user demands that now require connectivity while on the move, whether driving an RV across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a U.S. port, or while on a domestic or international flight.
Similarly, authorization of the Kepler ESVs service will provide much-needed connectivity to vessels in territorial waters of Hawaii and Alaska and remote areas throughout the world, including the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions. In order to grant such authorizations on a case-by-case basis under section 2.202(b), we must ensure that it can be done in a way that does not violate our rules or harm the public interest. Therefore, we examine closely the potential effects on the existing and future radiofrequency environment.