Air transport: Elon Musk’s plans to improve in-flight connectivity

Air transport: Elon Musk's plans to improve in-flight connectivity

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service may soon be available on select flights through its Starlink Aviation service. SpaceX has announced that its high-throughput, low-latency service will soon be available in many business jet models.

With this new service, which will sadly be absent from most commercial flights, SpaceX says it can deliver speeds “up to 350 Mbps” on each plane, allowing all passengers “to access a Internet connection compatible with streaming”.

“With latency as low as 20ms, passengers can indulge in previously non-functional in-flight activities, including video calls, online gaming, virtual private networks and other high data rate activities. “, can we read on the website of the operator of Elon Musk. As a reminder, aviation is the fourth sector targeted by Starlink, after the residential and commercial sectors, as well as that of recreational vehicles and maritime transport. SpaceX has reached an agreement with cruise line Royal Caribbean to deploy Starlink across its entire fleet.

A very competitive market

SpaceX has designed a streamlined, low-profile receiver terminal on the roof of an aircraft. The terminal is equipped with an electronically controlled array antenna. “The internet on planes will be the same as if you access the internet at home!”, exclaimed Elon Musk, the boss of SpaceX, on Twitter.

The Starlink Aviation kit includes an Aero Terminal, power supply, two wireless access points and harnesses. According to SpaceX, deliveries will begin in 2023. Still, Starlink is not alone in this market, far from it. Viasat already offers commercial airlines a satellite Wi-Fi service on board aircraft. Its geostationary satellites orbit about 34,000 km above the Earth. Intelsat, the largest provider of inflight services, is also present on about 2,000 aircraft via its satellites, and another 1,000 are connected by its air-to-ground wireless network systems.

SpaceX says Starlink Aviation will have global coverage, even in the polar regions. The company points out that geostationary satellites do not cover the polar regions. The service appears to be aimed at business jets rather than commercial carriers. SpaceX notes that the aircraft types currently supported by Starlink Aviation are: ERJ-135, ERJ-145, G650, G550, Falcon 2000, G450, Challenger 300, Challenger 350, Global Express, Global 5000, Global 6000 and Global 7500. The company will update its list of supported aircraft types over time.


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