The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted Elon Musk’s SpaceX authorisation to use its Starlink satellite internet system on vehicles in motion such as cars, trucks, boats, and aircraft.
Along with SpaceX the FCC has also granted the approval to Kepler Communications, paving the way for a new class of user terminals that can connect to broadband-beaming satellites while on the move, the Verge reported.
“Authorising a new class of terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand the range of broadband capabilities to meet the growing user demands that now require connectivity while on the move, whether driving an RV (recreational vehicle) across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a US port, or while on a domestic or international flight,” FCC international bureau chief Tom Sullivan, said in a statement on Thursday.
The approval comes after SpaceX and a slew of other companies had last year requested regulatory approval from the FCC to allow Earth Stations in Motion (ESIM) Starlink terminals to be used in moving vehicles.
While the FCC approved SpaceX’s and Kepler, it has denied a petition from Dish Network that sought to prevent the companies from using frequency in the 12GHz band.
However, the FCC will continue to conduct analysis as it moves forward with rulemaking on the presence of ESIM devices in the 12GHz band and said Kepler and SpaceX will be subject to any future rules it sets, the report said.
The FCC argues that approving the new capability is in the public’s interest.
“We agree with SpaceX and Kepler that the public interest would benefit by granting with conditions their applications,” the FCC wrote in its authorization.
Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious initiative to launch a constellation of thousands of satellites into low- to medium-Earth orbit in order to provide low-latency broadband coverage to the Earth below.
The company has more than 2,400 satellites in orbit so far, and after coming out of beta testing near the end of last year, the company recently boasted that it had 400,000 users.
Customers who want to order Starlink must purchase the kit — which comes with a user terminal — for $599 and then pay a monthly fee of $110.