The FCC authorized SpaceX to provide Starlink satellite internet to vehicles in motion. “Authorizing a new class of [customer] 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,” FCC International Bureau Chief Tom Sullivan wrote in the authorization. It also approved a request from Kepler Communications Inc. to operate unlimited Ku-band Earth Stations on Vessels.
Starlink is SpaceX’s network of satellites in low-Earth orbit, designed to deliver high-speed internet anywhere on the globe. SpaceX has launched about 2,700 satellites to support the global network. As of May, SpaceX told the FCC that Starlink had more than 400,000 subscribers, according to MSNBC.
The FCC imposed conditions on what is officially called Starlink Earth Stations in Motion service. SpaceX is required to “accept any interference received from both current and future services authorized,” and further investment in Starlink will “assume the risk that operations may be subject to additional conditions or requirements” from the Commission.
SpaceX has deals with commercial air carriers in preparation for the decision, notes MSNBC. It has agreements with Hawaiian Airlines and semi-private charter firm JSX to provide WiFi on planes. The FCC’s authorization also includes connecting to ships and vehicles like semi trucks and RVs. SpaceX had already deployed a version of its service called “Starlink for RVs,” with an additional “portability” fee.
12 GHz Use Remains Unresolved
The ruling did not resolve a broader SpaceX regulatory dispute with DISH Network and RS Access, a company backed by billionaire Michael Dell, over the use of the 12 GHz band. The 12 GHz band is currently used for DBS, fixed satellite service multichannel video and data service, like Starlink’s broadband service. All are co-primary users, but DBS must be protected from interference, notes NextTV.
The FCC continues to analyze whether the band can support both ground-based and space-based services. SpaceX is pushing for the regulator to make a ruling.
RS Access and DISH oppose SpaceX use of spectrum between 12.2-12.7 GHz. Viasat challenged SpaceX services in the broader Ku-band, according to the FCC.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
The post FCC Authorizes SpaceX to Provide Mobile Starlink Internet Service appeared first on Inside Towers.