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Starlink announces 350Mbps broadband access for aircraft

Starlink, the satellite connectivity arm of Space X, is taking orders for a 350Mbps broadband unlimited data service for aircraft customers called Starlink Aviation.

There doesn’t appear to be a press release as such, but Starlink tweeted ‘With Starlink, passengers will be able to access high-speed, low-latency internet from the moment they walk on their plane.’ While Starlink and Space X CEO Elon Musk added: “Internet in airplanes will feel same as if you were accessing Internet at home!” and “We even did a Starlink video call on one airplane aloft to Starlink on another, far away, airplane aloft and it worked perfectly with no lag!”

In terms of the technology it uses an Aero Terminal with an electronically steered phased array antenna, which we’re informed enables ‘new levels of reliability, redundancy and performance.’ Apparently there are no long-term contracts and all plans include unlimited data.

“With latency as low as 20 ms, passengers can engage in activities previously not functional in flight, including video calls, online gaming, virtual private networks and other high data rate activities,” claims the Starlink website. “Starlink’s simplified design enables installations during minimal downtime and combines well with other routine maintenance checks. Your Starlink Aviation Kit includes your Aero Terminal, power supply, 2 wireless access points, and harnesses.”

It’s not clear, since as mentioned there isn’t really a proper announcement about this so much as a link to a fairly bare-bones order page, but presumably there’s nothing to stop it being set up on commercial flights as well as private jets. Deliveries are starting in 2023, and it’s being reported that  pricing wise it will cost between $12,500 a month $25,000 with a one-time hardware installation cost of $150,000 – so not cheap.

Internet access from the skies has been around for a while, but the point of this appears to be about allowing you to stream and video call and perform other high bandwidth functions that previously wouldn’t really be doable – which is nice, but how much access costs when it ends up being passed down to the consumer through a commercial airline will determine if this has potential as a mass market product, or will be a rich person’s toy.

 

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