Starlink to offer WiFi on airplanes: SpaceX already negotiates with airlines its commercial implementation
SpaceX wants to go one step further with Starlink, your satellite internet service. And for this, Elon Musk’s company will seek to solve one of the problems that affect thousands of travelers: not being able to have WiFi on the plane.
Jonathan Hofeller, VP of sales at SpaceX, explained during the ‘Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit’ that the company is already in negotiations with “multiple” airlines to take advantage of Starlink and provide network coverage.
A big leap in aircraft connectivity
“We have our own aviation product in development … we have already done some demos to date, and we hope that this product will be finalized to be put on airplanes in the very near future “, they have explained from Starlink, as described The Verge.
Starlink is currently available in beta, also in Spain. Its hardware costs 499 euros and its service is 99 euros per month. As described by the service, through its satellites we can expect between 50 Mbps and 150 Mbps and a latency of between 20 and 40 milliseconds.
Since 2018, SpaceX has launched more than 1,800 satellites Starlink out of a total of 4,000 satellites that they aspire to launch to complete coverage globally. Now, in addition to targeting rural areas, from Starlink they also look at the heights.
The connectivity on airplanes will be different from what we can have on the ground, regardless of how far we are from urban centers. In the case of Starlink for ground users we have ground stations that can provide stable service. However, in airplanes you cannot depend on these when you are traveling over the ocean.
For connectivity at high altitude, Starlink satellites are linked together using lasers. At the moment this function is not available, but Hofeller explains that it is will be possible in the next generation of Starlink satellites, which are already being developed and would be the ones that would make it possible to offer WiFi on air travel.
Nowadays WiFi on airplanes is slow and very expensive, but Starlink’s promise is to have a “great experience”, closer to what users are used to.
The million dollar question is “when?” We do not have a concrete answer, although we do have some comments that suggest that it will be “earlier than later”. One of its rivals, OneWeb, also present at the event, has pointed out that they have prepared a similar service for “half of next year, maybe sooner.”