Starlink seeks to link planes, trucks and other moving vehicles
Even as Starlink pushes toward a commercial launch of its fixed broadband satellite service, its parent company, SpaceX, is also pursuing a plan to connect Starlink’s network to trucks, planes, ships and other types of relatively large moving vehicles.
Starlink’s mobile-facing interests were outlined in an application for blanket-licensed Earth Stations in Motion, or ESIMs, filed on March 5 with the FCC. SpaceX believes authorization for a “new class of ground-based components” that would expand the range of broadband options available to moving vehicles would serve the public interest.
“This application takes the next step by seeking authority for ESIMs that will enable the extension of that network from homes and offices to vehicles, vessels, and aircraft,” David Goldman, SpaceX’s director of satellite policy, explained.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk also clarified on Twitter that the ESIM terminals tied to the plan are too large for deployment on Tesla cars.
The filing, whose aim would seemingly encroach on the turf of terrestrial mobile networks, arrives as Starlink continues to push a beta version of a broadband satellite service that has surpassed 10,000 users. In addition to an upfront cost of $499 for the Starlink satellite dish and home router, beta users are paying $99 per month. SpaceX said it had launched more than 1,100 satellites at the time of the filing.
Northern Sky Research analyst Brady Grady told Space News that Inmarsat, SES and Intelsat are among the satellite players that could face disruption from SpaceX’s mobile-facing plans.
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