The US Federal Communications Commission has authorized Elon Musk's SpaceX to use its Starlink satellite internet network with moving vehicles including ships, airlines and road transporters.
"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," the FCC said in its authorization document.
Early last year, SpaceX had petitioned the FCC to authorize KU band Earth Stations in Motion (ESIM) Starlink terminals for its satellites. SpaceX has placed around 2,700 Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit since 2019 and boasts over 400,000 subscribers around the world. SpaceX proposes to use the 14.0-14.5 GHz band to transmit (Earth-to-space), and the 10.7-12.7 GHz band, including 12.2-12.7 GHz (generally known as the 12 GHz band), to receive (space-to-Earth). The SpaceX request had been opposed by Dish Network Corp under the pretext that roving earth stations in the 12GHz band would substantially increase the chance of interference with DBS antennas – antennas designed to receive direct broadcast satellite service, including direct-to-home services.
Starlink, a fast-growing consortium of internet-beaming orbital satellites, has been seeking to expand its customer base from individual broadband users in rural locations to include enterprise customers. Additionally, satellite internet company Kepler has also been granted authorization for the same.
SpaceX wants to offer Starlink connectivity for in-flight WiFi, and has already signed several deals with welcoming airline companies. An earlier experimental FCC license has allowed SpaceX to test aircraft-tailored Starlink terminals on Gulfstream jets and US military aircraft.
Key players in the low-earth orbiting (LEO) satellite industry such as SpaceX, satellite operator OneWeb and Amazon’s Kuiper project remain in constant competition to capture new market shares.
Satellite communication networks can be instrumental in emerging national and global information infrastructures by aligning the interoperability of satellites and terrestrial networks.
By transmitting signals from thousands of orbiting satellites in space, satellite technology can provide end-to-end cellular backhaul managed service and cost-effective 3G, 4G, and 5G coverage to rural and remote areas.
Additionally, satellite connectivity may benefit other areas of operation including telemedicine for healthcare, supply chains for logistic companies, remote maintenance for public utility services and so on.
Based on planned per-site demand, satellite networks can also dynamically distribute a single standard of capacity across an entire network of rural sites while meeting all quality-of-service requirements.
The telecommunication infrastructure is regarded as one of the fundamental factors for economic development worldwide. In the case of remote environments, it can be an essential lifeline to enable access to telemedicine, government services, commercial opportunities, social infrastructure, e-learning, information and communication networks.
Conversely, while the construction of new fiber-optic networks might seem to be a logistical nightmare involving exorbitant expenses and lengthy timeframes , innovative wireless internet solutions are increasingly being embraced as viable alternatives.