June 9, 2023

SpaceX is aiming to expand its satellite Internet service Starlink to school buses in the United States

The organization mentioned this effort Filing(opens in a new window) Tuesday with the Federal Communications Commission. “Now, in collaboration with school districts, SpaceX is piloting projects to help students travel on longer bus routes with the goal of turning ‘ride time into connected time’ in rural areas of the country,” the filing said.

SpaceX is currently working to bring Starlink to school bus routes that are “more than 60 minutes each way and largely inaccessible to other mobile broadband services.”

The company adds: “Furthermore, the vast majority of participating students will not have access to high-speed broadband at home. Connecting school buses will give students the ability to optimize their commute time for essential educational Internet access, as well as time spent with family and friends or for recreational activities.”

The pilot projects come after the FCC in June approved the company to begin bringing Starlink to moving vehicles, including cars, planes and boats. It has since been deploying a high-performance dish that can deliver high-speed broadband to cruise ships and commercial jets.

SpaceX sent filings to the FCC asking the commission to approve federal funding to support school buses with Wi-Fi access points. In May, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenwarcel made an announcement offer(opens in a new window) It does this by taking money from the commission’s e-Rate program, which focuses on bringing affordable broadband to schools and libraries.

The commission has received “many requests” over the years to allocate money to school buses. “E-Rate Program Funding Based on Demand Up to Annual Commission-Established Cap of $4.456 Billion,” FCC said(opens in a new window).

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In the filing, SpaceX said the company supports Rosenworsel’s proposal. “Providing new funding for these mobile services is critical, since in many cases, these students lack high-throughput, low-latency options not only during their commute to school, but also at home,” the company wrote, while adding: “And many students who have the most More support is needed miles away from school, with long commutes but no connectivity.”

SpaceX also said it was the best-suited company to bring broadband access to moving buses, citing Starlink’s ability to deliver high-speed internet to the world’s most remote areas.

SpaceX applied for $886 million in funding from the FCC to bring broadband to rural areas of the United States. However, the commission denied federal subsidies due to doubts that Starlink could deliver the promised speeds at an affordable price. SpaceX appealed the decision.

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