In-flight Wi-Fi has been a much-requested service from flight passengers to remain connected to the internet, even at high altitudes.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has started making a few deals with airline companies to offer Starlink’s satellite-based internet service to flyers. The company recently secured deals with Hawaiian Airlines and charter airline JSX to bring Starlink Wi-Fi services on their flights.
While there are in-flight Wi-Fi services for passengers in some airlines, considering they pay a few extra bucks, the internet speeds are nowhere near those of a good home Wi-Fi setup.
And well, SpaceX’s Starlink aims to change that soon enough.
SpaceX wants to show the world its Starlink satellite system can deliver Netflix and YouTube at 30,000 feet. So it recently held a demo for the media aboard a jet operated by its first airline customer, regional carrier JSX.
Starlink, a part of Musk’s Area Exploration Applied sciences Corp., delivers broadband from a constellation of low-flying small satellites.
According to the company’s most recent filings, Starlink has deployed over 3,000 satellites and now has over 400,000 members. However, Musk’s invention has a drawback in that tiny satellites have less capacity and may find it difficult to support the demands of large airplanes in congested skies.
The company has been struggling to expand its satellite-based internet services. However, if the Elon Musk-backed company can successfully deliver in-flight Wi-Fi before its competitors, it could have an upper hand over other companies and capitalize on the potential billion-dollar market.
Starlink says it can serve aircraft of all sizes and cites an agreement with the parent of Hawaiian Airlines to serve large Airbus and Boeing planes. As for the subsidy rejection, the company said it was unfairly rejected by officials who judged the current data speeds rather than the faster service envisioned when the celestial network is built out.
Airlines in coming years may upgrade over 1,000 aircraft in regional fleets from slow legacy internet systems, and Starlink is “a leading contender” to win such contracts, DiPalma said.
Intelsat says it remains the largest provider of in-flight service, with about 2,000 aircraft linked by its satellites and about 1,000 aircraft connected by air-to-ground systems that communicate with earthbound gear. Viasat says its in-flight system serves about 1,930 aircraft, with agreements to outfit another 1,210 planes.
About 10,000 commercial aircraft already have in-flight wireless, a number projected to exceed 36,000 by 2031, according to NSR, a satellite and space industry researcher owned by Analysys Mason. Annual revenue in the market is expected to reach more than $7.3 billion by 2031, from $1.9 billion in 2021, NSR said in an email.