Elon Musk on Thursday touted SpaceX’s plan to use Starlink for in-flight Wi-Fi, emphasizing that his company is in discussions with airlines to add the high-speed satellite internet service.
“Please let them know if you want it on your airliner,” Musk wrote in a tweet, adding that Starlink could add “low latency ~half gigabit connectivity in the air!”
Starlink is the company’s plan to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites, known in the space industry as a constellation, designed to deliver high-speed internet to consumers anywhere on the planet.
SpaceX has launched 1,740 Starlink satellites to date, and the network has more than 100,000 users in 14 countries who are participating in a public beta, with service priced at $99 a month.
SpaceX Vice President Jonathan Hofeller earlier this year said that the company is “in talks with several” airlines about adding Starlink in-flight Wi-Fi, noting that it has an “aviation product in development.”
“We’ve already done some demonstrations to date and [are] looking to get that product finalized to be put on aircraft in the very near future,” Hofeller said in June.
Airlines work with satellite broadband providers for inflight Wi-Fi, with Viasat and Intelsat – the latter of which purchased Gogo’s commercial aviation business – two such companies that add connectivity on flights by airlines including Delta, JetBlue, American Airlines and United. But, while existing services use satellites in distant orbits, Starlink satellites orbit closer to the Earth and could boost the speeds that passengers see inflight.
Hofeller also emphasized that Starlink “provides a global mesh,” so that “airlines are flying underneath that global mesh have connectivity anywhere they go.”
Shares of Gogo, which now focuses on business aviation rather than commercial airlines, fell as much as 5% in trading Thursday.
Musk has previously said that “regulatory approval” is currently dictating the timeline for when Starlink can be used by airlines, as the service “has to be certified for each aircraft type.”
“Focusing on 737 & A320, as those serve most number of people, with development testing on Gulfstream,” Musk said in a tweet in June.
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