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Musk’s SpaceX can serve planes, cars with broadband, FCC says

SpaceX launch site as delays from the FAA on the launch of SN9 and SN10 in Boca Chica, Texas/USA. (Gene Blevins/Zuma Wire/TNS)

Elon Musk’s SpaceX won permission from U.S. regulators to offers its Starlink broadband-from-space service to users in vehicles, vessels and aircraft.

The Federal Communications Commission announced the decision in an order published Thursday, which said it also granted permission for the service to mobile customers of Kepler Communications Inc.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the formal name of Musk’s closely held company, has launched about 2,500 first-generation satellites in its Starlink fleet and serves almost 500,000 subscribers worldwide.

Customers get Starlink signals from space through small dishes that can be mounted on their homes or businesses. It’s designed to serve remote and rural areas. SpaceX said its mobile gear would be much the same, although it would include extra sensors and mountings for use with trucks, recreational vehicles, boats and aircraft.

The FCC said it received requests to deny or defer the new SpaceX service from Viasat Inc., Dish Network Corp. and RS Access LLC. Viasat has objected to SpaceX’s Starlink, saying it raises the risk of in-space collisions, while Dish and billionaire Michael Dell’s RS Access are embroiled in a dispute with SpaceX over airwaves use.


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