SpaceX’s satellite internet service is officially going mobile after the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday authorized the company to provide its Starlink WiFi service to vehicles. SpaceX already offers Starlink home internet, which left beta last October.
“We agree with SpaceX… that the public interest would benefit by granting with conditions their applications,” The FCC wrote in its authorization letter. “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.”
Starlink had already begun expanding its terrestrial footprint, even before the FCC decision, installing receiver dishes at Tesla Supercharger stations, raising prices and unveiling a $500/month Premium service tier. SpaceX has also recently announced partnerships with Delta and Hawaiian Airlines to potentially offer the service aboard their aircraft.
SpaceX, and CEO Elon Musk, have also played the hero in recent months by offering an “internet bridge” to volcano-devastated Tonga and providing Starlink terminals to the Ukraine government — a generous offer that was, like most of Musk’s ventures, footed by the American taxpayer. The internet service — more specifically, the massive constellation of microsatellites in Low Earth Orbit that enable it — has also drawn condemnation from astronomers worldwide who argue that the highly-reflective satellites, of which there currently more than 2,200 in orbit and which Musk wants 40,000 more of, are grossly interfering with the operation of ground-based telescopes.