Starlink: SpaceX signs first agreement to provide Internet on airplanes

The American airline JSX has announced the signing of the first contract with SpaceX to provide broadband Internet access services to its customers using Starlink satellites.

Other companies are also showing interest. In March 2021, SpaceX applied to the Federal Communications Commission with a request to issue a license to operate Starlink terminals at “stations in motion”. It is a general term for cars, trucks, ships and other aircraft. For months, SpaceX, which produces nearly eight Starlink satellites a day at its Redmond, Washington plant, has been preparing to expand its market, especially in the aviation sector. In this regard, the company, which currently has more than 250,000 subscribers, has developed a special square-shaped antenna (a design usually associated with aeroplane antennas). Once installed, these aerial structures can be connected to ground stations to communicate with orbiting satellites and provide broadband communications. After months of negotiations, SpaceX has finally concluded the first agreement in this sense. The service will be available in a few months for JSX customers.

JSX is an independent American airline offering domestic flights (Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, Texas and New York) using semi-private aircraft mainly for business customers. The company operates Embraer ERJ-135 and ERJ-145 aircraft, each of which has about 30 seats. Now, the company has reportedly signed a contract to provide in-flight Wi-Fi on about 100 of its aircraft. “The service will be offered free of charge to all JSX customers and will not require connectivity or other complexities associated with legacy systems,” JSX officials said in a statement. According to Reuters, the company refused to disclose the value of the transaction. However, it is known that in recent months SpaceX has also been in talks with several airlines, including Delta Airlines, which recently conducted “research tests” of Starlink Internet technology.

SpaceX has also previously tested its network on several Gulfstream jets, as well as military aircraft. According to the company’s website, Starlink users can expect download speeds from 100 MB/s to 200 MB/s and a delay of up to 20 ms on land. According to the latest speed tests conducted by Ookla in the 4th quarter of 2021, these promises are generally being fulfilled. However, it is not yet known how the network will work in flight. To date, SpaceX has launched 2,388 satellites to expand the Starlink network.