After having reached Antarctica, now Starlink has set itself a new challenge: to offer Internet on commercial flights.
This time the challenge is not minor, Elon Musk’s bet has to overcome several obstacles, among them the fact that its satellites are small and would offer limited capacity in large planes in very populated skies. However, this stubborn businessman does know how to face challenges.
The best thing is that to show that it is possible, Musk organized a test flight to more than 9,000 meters high. Thus it was possible to demonstrate that the capacity of Starlink satellites is such that Netflix and YouTube videos can be played without problems. This test flight was made between Burbank and San Jose, California. This is the first step to being the leader of a business currently held by satellite providers Intelsat and Viasat Inc.
The same president of commercial aviation of Intelsat, Jeff Sare, confessed that Starlink are a serious competitor. Although he was confident that “We do not believe that there is anyone who can beat us.”
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So far, Starlink has around 3,000 satellites in orbit that circle the planet in 90 to 120 minutes. With this, it has managed to gain a base of some 400,000 clients around the world, mainly in rural homes that are difficult to access. The main question about the capacity of Starlink is that the satellites are constantly in motion. Since there is no guarantee that enough will be available, for example, over the sky of Atlanta, with a very busy airport.
Starlink knows it has a lot of work to do to get there, because there are “a lot of challenges in getting to where we want to be,” said Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of commercial sales. A competitive advantage for the company is that the design of its antenna facilitates its integration with aircraft, unlike other existing ones. According to data from NSR, a satellite and space industry researcher owned by Analysys Mason, around 10,000 commercial aircraft already have wireless connection in flight. This amount is expected to be increased to 36,000 by 2031.
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