SpaceX wants to connect cars, ships, and aeroplanes with fast, low-latency Internet via its Starlink satellite service.
As it stands, Starlink can provide broadband connectivity to users with fixed antennas located at home or businesses.
As first reported by Teslarati, SpaceX recently asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a blanket licence to expand the service to moving vehicles.
According to its filing with the US-based telecommunications authority, these would be equipped with end-user stations collectively referred to as “Earth Stations in Motion”, or “ESIMs” for short.
Cars would be fitted with Vehicle-Mounted Earth Stations (“VMESs”), ships with Earth Stations on Vessels (“ESVs”), and aeroplanes with “Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft” (“ESAAs”).
“SpaceX Services seeks authority to deploy and operate these earth stations as VMES throughout the United States and its territories, as ESVs in the territorial waters of the United States and throughout international waters worldwide, and as ESAAs on U.S.-registered aircraft operating worldwide and non-U.S.-registered aircraft operating in U.S. airspace,” SpaceX stated.
The company said it aimed to offer connectivity for those users who were unwilling to forego connectivity while on the move, such as when they were on a flight or freight ship.
“To help meet this demand, SpaceX has deployed an innovative, cost-effective, and spectrum-efficient satellite system capable of delivering robust broadband service to customers around the world, particularly in unserved and underserved areas,” the company said.
“This application takes the next step by seeking authority for ESIMs that will enable the extension of that network from homes and offices to vehicles, vessels, and aircraft,” it added.
SpaceX claimed that operation under the requested blanket license would promote competition in the market for in-motion broadband services, to the benefit of drivers, ship operators, and air travellers in the United States and abroad.
The report comes after SpaceX CEO Elon Musk previously alluded to a portable Starlink terminal becoming available in the future.
Twitter user John Kraus in late February asked Musk whether a miniaturised version of the Starlink antenna designed around portability was being considered.
He suggested this variant could have a smaller dish diametre, self-contained router, and rechargeable battery, with compromises on Internet speeds.
Kraus said that this could be particularly beneficial to travelling photographers or those frequently on the move.
Musk responded to Kraus’s proposal and called it a “good idea”.