Having barely expanded Starlink onto the seas and looking at the Ukraine war as a business opportunity, Elon Musk has expanded Starlink through a commercial- and private jet-focused sub-brand, Starlink Aviation.
The idea of having Wi-Fi up in the sky isn’t new, but your service is typically limited. On a commercial flight, one is charged fees to access, at best, mediocre service. Most in-flight services use air-to-ground services which top out at around 10 Mbps. Because the speeds offered are per plane, what you actually get is dependent on how many individuals are using it.
For the most part, Starlink Aviation is tackling the speed issue, claiming to provide services that’ll let users game, stream, make video calls and so on “at any altitude”. The service will offer 350 Mbps (the same offered on Starlink Maritime) on each plane and with “latency as low as 20 ms.”.
“Passengers can engage in activities previously not functional in flight, including video calls, online gaming, virtual private networks and other high data rate activities,” Starlink claims on its website. “As the world’s largest satellite constellation with coverage over land, the oceans and polar regions, Starlink is positioned to connect passengers wherever your flight routes evolve.”
However, with monthly fees ranging from $12,500-$25,000 and a one-time hardware installation cost of $150,000 the question of accessibility has been thrown out the door. The kits will include the Aero Terminal (an “electronically steered phased array antenna” that sits flush to the plane’s surface) 2 wireless access points.
The service noted there are no long-term contracts and any hardware is covered by warranty for as long as the buyer subscribes.
Starlink has already secured a deal with Hawaiian Airlines to provide their Wi-Fi service to passengers, according to a report from CNBC. The report further detailed the airline will provide the service to passengers for free across their Boeing 787s and 717s. SpaceX has also secured a contract with charter carrier JSX. It’s a direct challenge to Gogo, the leading inflight connectivity provider.
Buyers can begin accessing Starlink Aviation at the start of 2023.