Star Link on the way? What a New FCC Ruling Means for SpaceX Internet Service on Moving Vehicles – GeekWire

SpaceX Starlink testing at Black Butte Lake in Northern California. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

A decision this week by the Federal Communications Commission authorized Elon Musk’s SpaceX to provide its Starlink satellite internet service to cars, trucks, boats and planes on the move in the United States.

“Authorizing a new class of terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand the range of broadband capabilities to meet the growing demand from users who now require connectivity while on the go, whether driving a motorhome across the country or a moving cargo ship from Europe to a US port, or on a domestic or international flight,” the FCC said: in his decision.

The approval is an important step towards a major expansion of Starlink’s functionality, but users of the service will have to wait before Internet access can be initiated.

Starlink currently allows: portability for those paying an extra $25 per month on top of the regular $110 monthly fee. However, portability means the ability to move a Starlink base station from one fixed location to another.

Mobility, on the other is the ability to get internet access moving. While the FCC decision gave SpaceX the green light to offer this capability, the company is clear that the service has not yet been configured for this scenario.

“Using the Starlink Kit on the move will void your Kit’s limited warranty,” reads the current version of the Starlink FAQ page on this topic. “While our teams are actively working to enable the use of Starlink on moving vehicles, Starlink is not yet configured to be used safely in this way.”

SpaceX has not provided a public timeline or other details for the rollout of mobility.

While portability and mobility are favorite topics for Starlink users, it’s not clear how widespread the feature would be given the availability of mobile networks in many parts of the country; nor how reliable it would initially be with existing Starlink base stations. For SpaceX, commercial users seem to be a big part of the motivation.

The FCC Approval was first reported this week by CNBCnoting that the decision does not resolve a broader regulatory dispute between SpaceX and Dish Network and RS Access over the 12-gigahertz wireless band’s ability to support both ground-based and remote-based communications services.

Meanwhile, SpaceX continues to expand its constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit. Amazon, which is evolving its own satellite internet service called Project Cooper, recently filed a letter requesting the FCC to “be careful” when considering SpaceX’s second-generation system (with nearly 30,000 satellites proposed) “to ensure that SpaceX’s deployment is not at the expense of competition and innovation” from rival networks.

Starlink satellites are being developed at a SpaceX facility near Seattle, in Redmond, Wash.

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