Starlink Held in-Flight WiFi Demo on a Jet After Delta Passed

  • SpaceX held a demo of its Starlink satellite internet service on a JSX jet last week.
  • People who attended the event said they were able to stream movies and host video chats with ease.
  • The demo comes after four major airlines reportedly struck a deal with SpaceX.

SpaceX held a demo flight last week to demonstrate the capabilities of the Starlink satellite internet service in a private jet as the internet service competes for more customers.

During a one-hour flight from Burbank to San Jose, California, SpaceX demonstrated Starlink’s capabilities to provide WiFi for Netflix, YouTube and video chat from 30,000 feet, Bloomberg reported.

Reporters attending the media event said the onboard WiFi reaches speeds of over 100Mb – more than enough connectivity to seamlessly stream videos, surf the web or even host live video chats. However, it is unclear whether internet speeds would have been slower if used on a larger flight with more than 20 to 30 passengers.

The event took place on a JSX jet, a regional airline that bills itself as a “hop-on-jet service.” JSX was the first airline to sign a deal with SpaceX for their Starlink internet. Hawaiian Airlines has also signed an agreement with Elon Musk’s company for satellite service.

JSX CEO Alex Wilcox previously told Insiders the airline chose SpaceX because of its small antennas and “kissed a lot of frogs” before choosing Starlink. Since entering the satellite internet market, SpaceX has been competing with more established providers, including Viasat and Intelsat.

Bloomberg previously reported that SpaceX has unsuccessfully offered its internet service to four of the largest airlines in the US, including Delta. The release states that Musk’s technology uses smaller and lower-flying satellites than the competition, which allows the Wi-Fi signal to arrive faster. But the smaller satellites might not be enough to power larger planes with more user demand, Bloomberg said. According to SpaceX, Starlink can service aircraft of all sizes.

Additionally, regulators have expressed doubts about SpaceX’s satellite internet service. In August, the Federal Communications Commission rejected an $866 million subsidy for Starlink, saying the company “has not demonstrated that the providers could deliver the promised service” and calling it “itself still in development.” existing technologyā€¯.

SpaceX called the FCC’s decision “grossly unfair” and “contrary to the evidence” the company presented in its bid for the subsidy.

Starlink has also branched out into the cruise industry. Last month, Royal Caribbean announced that it had launched satellite internet service on its fleet of ships. In the past, the airline and cruise industries have been plagued with historically poor WiFi options for passengers.

SpaceX just received approval from the FCC in June to use the Starlink for vehicles in motion. But the service keeps growing. Most recently, Musk announced that SpaceX is teaming up with T-Mobile to offer its users access to Starlink satellites as early as next year.

Starlink currently has a user base of over 400,000 subscribers worldwide. The company has a network of more than 2,500 satellites in low orbit. The service is designed to provide customers in rural areas and higher latitudes with high-speed internet of up to 200 Mbit/s.