Internet access on planes isn’t usually very good and Starlink from SpaceX is looking to potentially help some of those issues. Starlink has been rolling out in the US and the UK over the past few months and it seems like a good solution for those users who live in remote areas and have poor and expensive infrastructure.
The Starlink dish is powered by PoE, with a single injector and can power up the included WiFi router via PoE too. You can use your hardware too. The WAN connection is DHCP and to handle the amount of users going to be using it, Starlink is using CGNAT currently.
However, while Starlink is helping to solve internet issues on the ground, SpaceX is looking to airlines where the experience is typically quite poor, with issues ranging from no WiFi offerings at all to expensive and patchy access. SpaceX is said to be in talks with “several” airlines to being faster internet access to the skies.
The VP of Starlink said this on Wednesday, whist speaking at the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit:
“We’re in talks with several of the airlines. We have our own aviation product in development, we’ve already done some demonstrations to date, and looking to get that product finalized to be put on aircraft in the very near future.”
Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX VP of Starlink
In the US, the two companies that offer satellite based internet access for airlines are Intelsat and ViaSat. The latter just announced that it is going to be upgrading its network with 300 low-orbit satellites, similar to what SpaceX is doing.
SpaceX currently has 1,800 satellites in orbit and is aiming to have 4,400 to achieve coverage of the whole globe. The service is still in beta currently and is aiming to open up the network later this year.
Whilst in the beta phase, speeds are expected to be up to 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload, for $99 US / £89 UK a month on top of a $499 / £439 up front fee, which includes the WiFi router.