SpaceX can now deliver its satellite-based internet service to “Earth Stations in Motion,” paving the way for the network to go live on airplanes, ships, and other moving vehicles. The FCC ruling is a major step forward for Starlink’s consumer and enterprise services, including plans to activate service on commercial aircraft later this year.
More than a thousand larger regional jets fly across North America. All of them deliver a sub-par inflight WiFi experience. But that could soon change, as multiple airlines move to upgrade the systems on board over the next few years.
Nearly every conversation about in-flight connectivity at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2022 in Hamburg this week includes mention of the SpaceX Starlink offering. Company executives are wandering the show floor carrying an antenna panel that they hope will soon be certified to fly, while airlines and competitors alike debate the unique path the company has chosen for nearly every facet of the offering.
Hawaiian Airlines will offer fast, free in-flight WiFi on its long-haul flights from 2023. The carrier announced a deal with Starlink to deliver the internet connectivity service on its A330, A321neo, and 787 aircraft.
SpaceX signed the first airline customer for its Starlink satellite service. JSX will offer in-flight WiFi powered by the low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, with the first plane expected to be equipped later this year.
“We are already on airplanes. We are testing the antenna and working towards certification.”
With that statement at the Satellite 2022 conference in Washington, DC this week, Jonathan Hofeller, VP of Starlink Commercial Sales kicked off another round of speculation about what the future of in-flight connectivity will be.
“We are in active conversations in the LEO and ESA world.”
That comment from Gogo CEO Oakleigh Thorne earlier this summer kicked off significant speculation on what the next next generation (after Gogo 5G) will look like.
Gogo reported its first quarterly profit in history on record service revenues in Q3 2021. And the company is not slowing down. Executives continue to push the potential for future growth opportunities, both terrestrial and satellite-based, while also still talking down competitive inroads.
It should come as no surprise that a trio of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite operators believe more than 90% of in-flight connectivity traffic will pass over their networks in a decade’s time. Still, hearing how SpaceX, OneWeb and Telesat believe their upcoming constellations will compete for traffic during this week’s Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit reveals slightly different takes on the market and what they believe will be necessary to secure customers going forward.