FCC Authorizes SpaceX To Use Starlink Internet Service On Vehicles In Motion

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The Federal Communications Commission or FCC has granted SpaceX Services, Inc. authorization to use its Starlink satellite internet system on vehicles in motion.

SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, is allowed to operate consumer and enterprise Ku-band Earth Stations in Motion or ESIM using frequencies allocated to the fixed satellite service. The approval would help the company to expand its services to various consumers.

The agency also granted satellite company Kepler Communications Inc.’s application for blanket authorization of Ku-Band earth stations on maritime vessels such as boats, cargo ships, or cruise ships.

SpaceX’s sister company, Space Exploration Holdings, LLC, is authorized to launch and operate a constellation of more than 4,400 Non-Geostationary Orbit or NGSO satellites using Ku- and Ka-band spectrum to deliver high-speed internet around the globe.

SpaceX began launching satellites in May 2019, and now has more than 2,500 satellites on orbit as of June 1, 2022. SpaceX was granted a license for operation of fixed end-user customer earth stations to communicate with SpaceX’ NGSO constellation in 2020. Until now, antenna, or user terminal to access internet coverage needed to remain in a fixed location. The company reportedly has 400,000 residential users.

In March last year, SpaceX requested regulatory approval from the FCC to allow ESIM Starlink terminals to be used in moving vehicles.

The company signed deals with commercial air carriers, such as Hawaiian Airlines and private jet service provider JSX, for providing Starlink internet service on their aircraft.

In its authorization, the FCC said, “We agree with SpaceX and Kepler that the public interest would benefit by granting with conditions their applications. Authorizing a new class of terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand the range of broadband capabilities to meet the growing user demands that now require connectivity while on the move, whether driving an RV across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a U.S. port, or while on a domestic or international flight.”

The agency added that authorization of the Kepler ESVs service will provide much-needed connectivity to vessels in territorial waters of Hawaii and Alaska and remote areas throughout the world, including the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions.

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