Advanced Television

SpaceX looks to in-flight broadband for Starlink

June 10, 2021

By Chris Forrester

SpaceX is reportedly in talks with several airlines about them utilising its Starlink broadband satellite system on their aircraft.

Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s VP of Starlink and commercial sales, told a panel at the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit on June 9th that Starlink was in talks with several airlines and had carried out “some” demonstrations.

Starlink already has plans to see its equipment on private executive jets and has requested permission from the FCC to use Starlink equipment on “Earth stations in motion” which is the jargon used to cover vehicles on the move, trucks, maritime users and aircraft. However, Elon Musk at the time commented and said that Starlink wasn’t intended for use in private cars as its equipment was too large.

Hofeller said that SpaceX’s airline antennas would employ enhanced technology for aircraft connectivity. He also told delegates that Starlink’s next generation versions would have inter-satellite links for improved connectivity.

But Starlink is coming late to the aircraft queue. Already busy supplying aircraft broadband are companies such as Viasat, Gilat, Intelsat, Hughes, SES, Eutelsat and others. Recent entrants also include OneWeb and there are other would-be suppliers of airline connectivity.

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