SpaceX’s new Starlink satellite internet service is in a very limited beta testing period right now, but the company is already thinking ahead: as first noted by CNBC, SpaceX has filed an application with the FCC for Starlink components that would allow the service to work on moving vehicles. Big moving vehicles, that is — Elon Musk tweeted that the existing Starlink terminals are too big for Tesla’s vehicles, and the idea is targeted at planes, RVs, trucks, and ships.
Not connecting Tesla cars to Starlink, as our terminal is much too big. This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 8, 2021
This would be a big change for Starlink, which right now does not even allow customers to move the existing hardware from address to address — if you can get in the beta, the signup forms are clear that the service is limited to the location you enter at checkout. That’s because the Starlink satellite constellation isn’t fully built out yet, so it’s not a permanent limitation, but it’s still a limitation today, and one that Elon once again clarified today in a tweet:
Yeah, should be fully mobile later this year, so you can move it anywhere or use it on an RV or truck in motion. We need a few more satellite launches to achieve compete coverage & some key software upgrades.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 15, 2021
I actually have a Starlink system that I’ll be reviewing for The Verge’s upcoming Infrastructure Week — the promise of fast, reliable satellite internet that can compete with America’s various broadband monopolies is very enticing, but early testers have reported mixed results. (Which, again, Elon says will improve.) Let me know if you have questions in the comments below!