SpaceX’s somewhat controversial Starlink satellite constellation aims to bring high-speed Internet to places that traditional cables and radio waves don’t always reach. It seems that it doesn’t just apply to remote areas but also to moving vehicles that don’t always get the best Internet connectivity. In line with that grand goal, SpaceX is asking the FCC for permission to deploy Starlink even on trucks, aircraft, and trucks.
SpaceX notes that Internet users don’t just stay at home and, despite movement restrictions these days, people need a reliable connection even while on the go. Those needs can range from your usual business uses cases during flights to truckers driving across the country and everything in between. SpaceX wants to serve these customers as well by installing a Starlink dish on such vehicles.
These “Earth Stations in Motion” or ESIMs are noted to be electronically identical to the home terminals that Starlink testers have installed in their homes. While the latter could be set up by almost anyone with some technical know-how, ESIMs will require qualified installers. SpaceX doesn’t expect these ESIMs to add to the 1 million terminals it was granted permission to install but it requested for an expansion to 5 million anyway in a separate filing.
Despite the application’s wording, Elon Musk later clarified that on Twitter that ESIMs are not intended for passenger cars, particularly Tesla EVs. The terminals are just too big and, as such, are intended for larger vehicles, like an RV as the smallest example.
While the application will open up new business opportunities for SpaceX, not to mention new classes of customers, Starlink continues to face opposition, doubt, and even complaints from all sides. In addition to concerns about the satellites littering the skies especially at night, other network operators are worried that Starlink could also interfere with other services that may use the same bands in the future.