Starlink will be offered on flights in the future. The company is already negotiating with the airlines its commercial implementation.
Starlink, SpaceX's satellite internet service, wants to provide WiFi service during commercial flights. Billionaire Elon Musk's company is in talks with several airlines to do so.
Days ago, Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of Starlink and sales business of SpaceX, said at the Intelligence Summit Aviation Conectada (Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit) that the company is moving forward with plans to change its network of connected satellite broadband to provide serving predominantly rural households. And he also spoke of the more commercial interests that will begin to materialize towards the end of 2021.
"We are in talks with several airlines. We have our own aviation product in development and have already done some demos to date. We hope that this product will be finalized for installation on airplanes in the very near future," said Hofeller.
SpaceX began with a beta launch of its Starlink satellites in 2018 to fill the global shortage of broadband internet connections, particularly in rural areas where fiber connections are generally not readily available. Most Starlink customers pay a one-time fee of $ 499 for a past router kit and then $ 99 per month for internet services in the beta plan.
From 2018 to today, nearly 1,800 Starlink satellites have already been launched out of the 4,400 that the company estimates it would need to provide global coverage. The company's service is based on a low Earth orbit model. The satellites are closer to the planet than the far geostationary orbits of the larger internet satellites that typically provide the network to commercial aircraft.
Satellite internet service is a technology with which SpaceX competes with other giants. For example, Amazon recently announced plans for its low-orbit mega-constellation with a capacity for 3,000 satellites, and OneWeb in the UK has already launched 182 of the approximately 640 satellites planned to provide service.
"Overall, passengers and customers want a great experience that (geostationary) systems just can't provide. So it will depend on each airline if they want to respond to that or if they agree to have a system that does not respond as much to the demand of their customers," said Hofeller on the panel.
Weeks ago, SpaceX signed an agreement with Google to work as partners providing satellite internet service. Thus, Musk's company will install Starlink terminals in the technology giant's cloud data centers worldwide.
The agreement between the two companies will allow SpaceX to install ground stations that connect to orbiting satellites in Google Cloud data centers, as reported by CNBC and shared by Google through Twitter. The objective of this alliance is "to offer uninterrupted connectivity to the cloud and the internet," said the company founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Musk's company will install Starlink stations in Google Cloud data centers in different parts of the world. This will be possible thanks to the wide availability at a geographical level offered by the company's satellite internet service. Customers will be able to start using this service by the end of 2021.
The most robust competition from the union of these companies today is Amazon's Kuiper project, which seeks to launch more than 3,000 satellites to power its AWS ( Amazon Web Services ) cloud computing services. However, it does not yet have satellites in orbit.
Jeff Bezos's company has accused Musk of moving satellites into the orbit that the Amazon project would occupy. Meanwhile, SpaceX has already launched 1,625 satellites, although around 1,550 are operational today. It currently has more than 10,000 customers testing the beta version.