Mobile Starlink could be around the corner following FCC approval

Mobile Starlink airlines

Customers and fans have been asking SpaceX for a mobile version of their Starlink internet service for a while, with some even finding their own solutions. Now that the FCC has approved in-motion Starlink use, a mobile-optimized version of the Starlink service could be on the way.

People have been finding their own creative ways to use Starlink on-the-go for a while now, but this sort of use has not been permitted. Even when SpaceX launched the “Starlink for RV” service, in-motion use has been prohibited. This wasn’t just a SpaceX decision though. The company has long wanted to offer Starlink to customers on boats, planes, buses, and other mobile vehicles, but did not have FCC permission to do so.

On June 30, however, the FCC authorized SpaceX to provide mobile and in-motion internet connectivity. The FCC also authorized Kepler Communications to provide service to ships in US waters. This sort of mobile use of the Ku-Band is hotly contested, with the likes of Viasat and DISH network opposing the granting.

One of the many places Starlink will be used in motion is on commercial aircraft. Starlink already has deals with Hawaiian Airlines and charter company JSX to provide in-flight internet service via the satellite constellation. This authorization for “Earth Stations in Motion” applies to “Earth Stations on Vessels (ESVs), Vehicle-Mounted Earth Stations (VMESs), and Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (ESAAs)” and could open the door to a truly mobile Starlink solution. JSX anticipates the start of in-flight internet via Starlink by the end of the year.

The current form factor of Starlink terminals isn’t a great fit for mobile use, due to its pole-mounted nature, but some avid fans have modified their devices from the motorized pole into a fixed position. Thanks to the phased array antenna, which can change the direction of the signal without physically moving the device, they have still been able to maintain a reasonable connection. A mobile optimized version could make even better use of this to fit it into a slim form factor.

The Starlink for RV that exists today is very similar to the standard residential Starlink service. Opting for “Starlink for RV” simply means that you get to skip the queue in the waitlisted areas and can stop and start your service as you go, but you also won’t get priority access. You also pay a higher monthly cost of $135 – the same price as the residential Starlink with the “portability” add-on.

The actual terminal for RVs is the same as the standard terminal.

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