One of the biggest challenges of living in some rural communities or on off-grid land is the lack of broadband. Broadband is considered an essential service, and competition in some areas is nonexistent or lacking. Many rural Americans rely on slow and expensive older satellite services, but SpaceX is trying to change that. A new report indicates that SpaceX is currently working on a ruggedized version of its Starlink satellite dish.
The ruggedized dish aims at consumers who live out of an RV or work from a vehicle remotely for significant amounts of time. The ruggedized dish will also reportedly allow users to get broadband Internet service aboard a boat or aircraft and is designed to work in harsh climates. SpaceX applied with the FCC to operate a high-performance Starlink dish recently.
While the exact specifications of the new ruggedized dish are unknown, we do know that it will rely on the same phased array antenna to receive broadband Internet from Starlink satellites in orbit used by the current satellite dish. In addition, the application SpaceX filed with the FCC notes that the high-performance “HP” models will operate with higher gain and lower transmit power to maintain consistent EIRP compared to other SpaceX user terminals.
The dishes will also use a higher scan angle and have other features that ruggedize the unit for use in harsh environments. SpaceX asked the FCC for a blanket license that authorizes the HP end-user earth stations for deployment as vehicle-mounted stations, earth stations on vessels, and earth stations aboard aircraft. SpaceX has also asked the FCC permission to deploy and operate the HP earth stations throughout the United States and its territories and in territorial waters of the US and international waters worldwide.
It also seeks authorization for operation in all US-registered aircraft and aboard non-US registered aircraft operating in US airspace. The new rugged terminals will transmit in the 14.0-14.5 gigahertz band and received in the 10.7 to 12.7 gigahertz band. SpaceX also requested a waiver to authorize the use of 12.2 to 12.7 gigahertz band that’s not specifically available for use by services of its type. There’s no indication at this time when the new high-performance terminals might be commercially available.