SpaceX's Starlink talks with numerous airlines to beam in-flight internet, the project's VP stated during a conference panel on Wednesday. Expanding Starlink from rural homes onto flights is an expected move for the space firm as it speeds up broadband connectivity commercially later this year. SpaceX's VP of Starlink & commercial sales - Jonathan Hofeller, stated, "We're discussing with several airlines. We have our own aviation product in development - some demonstrations are done & looking to finalize the product on airlines very soon."
The expansion of SpaceX has been fast-moving since its debut in 2018. It has launched around 1,800 Starlink satellites out of approximately 4,400; it requires global broadband connectivity, primarily in rural areas where fiber connections aren't available. The firm is in the midst of a Starlink beta phase that promises download speed - 100Mbps & upload speed - 20Mbps.
Hofeller stated the SpaceX's airline antenna design will be similar to the tech inside its consumer terminals. Although there will be improvements for aviation internet & its hardware will be designed & developed by SpaceX. The airborne antennas could connect with ground stations to communicate with Starlink satellites.
For Starlink to offer internet to flights flying over remote ocean areas, far from ground stations, it will need inter-satellite links. This link allows satellites to communicate with each other using laser links without 1st signal bounce off ground stations. Hofeller added, the next generation of their constellation, which is under operation, will have this innovative link connectivity.
Competition Fierce Between Satellite Internet Providers
Competition is flaming between the growing industry of low-orbit satellite internet providers & the Starlink network. Novel competitors include Amazon's mega-constellations, which has yet to launch its planned 3,000 satellites, & UK's OneWeb - launched 182 satellites of around 640 planned. All of these will be in low-Earth orbit that currently offer internet services to commercial airlines.
American competitors for in-flight Wi-Fi are ViaSat & Intelsat, which operate satellite networks in geostationary orbit. ViaSat recently publicized plans to use its innovative satellite network on Delta's mainline fleet. It is already a diehard competitor to SpaceX. The firm has threatened to sue FCC for not conducting an environmental review on a recent Starlink change.
Enhanced Aviation Wi-Fi & Starlink Speed
According to Gizmodo, Hofeller also mentioned that passengers want a better internet experience than the existing in-flight connectivity; he then directed the decision to the airline. The executive stated that they have a final call if they will respond to their customer's demands. Starlink promises high-speed & low-latency wireless connectivity.
Recent research by Ookla, owner of the Speedtest app, showed that Starlink's internet speed is significantly lower in high-density areas. Its average speed varies from 40 to 90Mbps, & its best latency record is 31ms. Overall, only one place experienced a more stable network when compared to the current network. However, it is worth noting that Musk's internet was still in the beta stage during the research. Its commercial release is yet to arrive.
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