SpaceX’s satellite internet division Starlink will now be providing internet connectivity on planes. The company launched Starlink Aviation on Thursday claiming speeds of 350Mbps to each plane equipped with the company’s “Aero Terminal”. Deliveries are expected to start in mid-2023.
The company claims that the internet will be available as soon as users enter the plane. This means internet connectivity during taxi, takeoff, flight and landing. Their speed claims are also significantly faster than the current in-flight WiFi systems, topping out at 10Mbps using air-to-ground systems, which only work when flying over the ground.
Satellite internet for flights already exists, but those systems offer between 30 to 100Mbps per flight, meaning individual internet speeds can depend on the number of passengers in-flight and their usage.
Starlink aims to solve all these problems by offering global connectivity regardless of the flight path, with speeds up to 350Mbps and latency as low as 20ms. The company claims its internet will be good enough for video calls, gaming, streaming and other “high data-rate activities”.
There’s a one-time hardware cost of $150,000. This includes the “Aero Terminal” and two wireless access points. Once the hardware is installed, something that can either be done by either your current maintenance organisations or Starlink recommended installers, monthly service fees range between $12,500 to $25,000, feature unlimited data and no long-term contracts.
According to Aviacionline, Starlink was able to offer internet up to 100Mbps on a demonstration flight between Burbank and San José. The demo flight was run by JSX, which will also be one of the first air carriers to adopt the service when it comes out. Hawaiian Airlines also announced an agreement with Starlink back in April and expect installation to begin next year.