Starlink: SpaceX eyeing aeronautics players

Starlink does not intend to stop at the sole floor of the cows. If SpaceX’s satellite internet service has set itself the main mission of eliminating white areas by improving mobile connectivity, the latter also applies to journeys at altitude.

Elon Musk’s company recently signed its first deal with private airline JSX to provide mobile internet based on its Starlink satellite constellation. The deal is for a set of 100 semi-private jets, which will eventually be equipped with Starlink terminals, with the first Starlink-connected aircraft set to take flight by the end of the year.

While this is a first for SpaceX, the company intends to establish itself in these buoyant markets for in-flight mobile connectivity. Proof of SpaceX’s interest in these markets, the space company has already requested authorization to operate Starlink on board aircraft and ships from the American authorities. It would also have already tested its internet network on a handful of Gulfstream jets, as well as on military planes.

Starlink service on JSX aircraft will be free to JSX customers, the company said in its statement, adding that it will require “no logins or other complexities associated with legacy systems.”

Diversify offers

SpaceX has already launched some 2,000 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit since 2019. Although its network is not yet fully deployed, Elon Musk’s company is already aiming to diversify its offer so as not to limit itself to the general public.

This is why it recently launched a new service, Starlink Premium, with the stated objective of attracting companies in need of connectivity, or those located in white areas. This new offering will feature “150-500 Mbps download speeds and 20-40 ms latency, enabling high-speed connectivity for small businesses, factories, and professional users worldwide.” However, it will not be available before the second quarter of 2022.

Be careful, however: do not expect to see the offer become widespread in France anytime soon. Elon Musk’s satellite internet service was indeed deprived of its terrestrial frequencies in France, after a winning appeal by environmental associations before the Council of State in early April. At issue: the lack of “public consultation” in Arcep’s decision to open the way for spectrum frequencies to the American service, even though it was “likely to have a significant impact on the market the provision of high-speed Internet access, and to affect users”.

The Council of State had been seized by the environmental associations Priartem and Agir pour l’environnement, at the origin of numerous appeals against the deployment of 5G, in particular.

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