The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has authorised Elon Musk’s SpaceX company to use its satellite connectivity on vessels for the first time.
The FCC approval of the Starlink Ku-band satellite was issued on 30 June.
It covers various mobility applications for the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satcom service, as well as granting authorisation to SpaceX to operate Earth Stations In Motion (ESIM) on vessels in US territorial waters and throughout international waters worldwide.
SpaceX first filed an application to operate mobile earth stations on vessels and other moving vehicles in March 2021.
The Starlink satellites seek to extend broadband connection to users in rural and internet-poor locations.
SpaceX has launched some 2,700 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit since 2019.
“ESIMs can enable the provision of very high data rate broadband communications, navigation, situational awareness, and other services to mobile platforms that often cannot be served using other communications technologies,” said the FCC in its authorisation document.
“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.”
The FCC has also granted the request from another satellite company, Kepler Communications, opening up a new class of user terminals that can connect to broadband-beaming satellites while on the move.
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SpaceX has also focused on distributing in-flight WiFi to airlines worldwide, with a first deal inked with Hawaiian Airlines and semi-private jet service JSX.