Starlink Boarding SpaceX Cooperates with Airlines. Aviation Wi-Fi

At the Connetcted Aviation Intelligence Summit held on the 9th, Johnathan Hofeller, deputy general manager of Starlink under SpaceX, said that he is discussing with several airlines to provide Starlink broadband network services on flights and formally join Aviation Wi -Fi competition.

Hofeller pointed out that Starlink is intensively testing aviation Wi-Fi-specific equipment and has shown the test results to airlines. Therefore, it hopes to resolve the technical certification as soon as possible and officially launch it.

SpaceX has successively applied to the US Federal Communications Committee (FCC) since the end of last year, and will use five Gulfstream commercial airliners for Starlink in-flight testing this year. The FCC agreed in March of this year to list Starlink as one of the inflight network service providers.

Hofeller also stated that Starlink’s in-flight transceiver equipment is technically similar to the current household equipment, except for the relevant adjustments required for aircraft movement. For example, if the aircraft is flying over the ocean and there is no ground transceiver station, it must use “inter-satellite “Inter-Satellite Connectivity” technology allows aircraft to receive signals, and Starlink’s next-generation communications satellites will fully utilize this technology to ensure a smooth Wi-Fi experience on the aircraft. However, it is still uncertain whether Starlink’s aviation Wi-Fi speed can reach the 100MB download and 20MB upload level of the existing home network.

The Wi-Fi technology on the Starlink machine is not much different from that of household equipment, and the antenna will be changed to a square-shaped standard machine antenna shape.

The highly competitive aviation Wi-Fi market
However, the aviation Wi-Fi market is very competitive. In addition to Amazon, which will launch 3,000 low-orbit satellites (which has not yet launched any satellites), there is also the British OneWeb, which has launched 182 low-orbit satellites. In addition, existing in-flight Wi-Fi service providers, IntelSat and ViaSat of the United States, will also join the ranks of low-orbit satellites.

ViaSat and IntelSat currently use earth co-orbiting satellites to provide on-board Wi-Fi, while ViaSat has planned to launch 300 low-orbit satellites and a new generation of co-orbiting satellites in 2022 to form a new inflight Wi-Fi. Fi service network.

SpaceX is confident of winning in the highly competitive aviation Wi-Fi market,” Hofeller said at the summit. “After all, consumers really need better network quality than existing on-orbit satellite WiFi. Therefore, airlines must Decide whether to use better equipment to respond to customer needs.”

Compared with SpaceX’s implicit product schedule, OneWeb in the UK, which is also expanding the low-orbit satellite group, was much more generous at the summit. When the host asked when consumers can use OneWeb’s in-flight WiFi service, “Next year It can be launched in China, or earlier.” Ben Griffin, deputy general manager of OneWeb mobile services, said directly that airlines would prefer to see the demonstration of product entities and actual operations as soon as possible.

SpaceX seems to be much more conservative about the same problem. “We are making every effort to accelerate the construction of satellite constellations and the development of in-flight equipment,” Hofeller said. “As for the official date, we are still confirming it. Of course, we hope that the sooner the better.” .

Judging from the current state of competition for in-flight WiFi, perhaps starting next year, passengers will be able to start enjoying broadband internet services on the plane instead of watching in-flight movies all the time.