Capitalism in space: SpaceX has submitted a request to the FCC to expand its Starlink customer base by providing the service not only to rural areas but to large moving vehicles, such as trucks, ships, & planes.
In its application to the FCC, filed on Friday, SpaceX said expanding Starlink availability to moving vehicles throughout the U.S. and to moving vessels and aircraft worldwide would serve the public interest. “The urgency to provide broadband service to unserved and underserved areas has never been clearer,” David Goldman, SpaceX’s director of satellite policy, said in the filing.
Goldman said SpaceX’s “Earth Stations in Motion,” or ESIMs, would be “electrically identical” versions of the $499 antenna systems that are already being sold to beta customers. He suggested that they’d be counted among the million end-user stations that have already been authorized by the FCC.
…SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet that Starlink’s ESIM terminals would be “much too big” to mount on cars — such as the electric cars that are made by Tesla, the other company that Musk heads — but would be suitable for large trucks and RVs.
The article at the link notes in detail how this request poses a serious competitive threat to two of SpaceX’s biggest rivals, Klymeta and Amazon’s Kuiper constellation. This is true, but it is so mostly because SpaceX has already launched more than a thousand satellites in its constellation, and is simply taking advantage of its advanced position to undercut its rivals.
For example, though Klymeta might be using already orbiting satellites put up by different companies, it is also charging twice what SpaceX wants to charge for its antenna system, making Starlink a more attractive product. Amazon meanwhile appears years away from launching its first satellite. It might have a better design, but such things are worthless if they aren’t built and operational.
These companies have no one to blame but themselves if Starlink grabs their hope-for market share. And the FCC should not block SpaceX just to protect them.
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