June 7, 2023

SpaceX aims to expand its satellite internet service Starlink to school buses in the US.

The company mentioned an effort archive(opens in new window) with the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday. “Now, SpaceX is working with school districts on a pilot project in rural areas of the country to support students traveling on long-distance bus routes, with the goal of turning ‘ride time into connection time,'” the filing said.

SpaceX is currently working to bring Starlink to school bus routes “over 60 minutes each way and primarily without access to other mobile broadband services.”

The company added: “In addition, the vast majority of participating students will not have access to high-speed broadband at home. Connecting school buses will allow students to optimise their commute time for essential educational internet use, as well as time with family and friends or recreational activities. “

The pilot project comes after the FCC gave the company approval in June to start bringing Starlink to mobile vehicles, including cars, planes and boats. It has since been deploying a high-performance antenna that could provide high-speed broadband on cruise ships and commercial aircraft.

SpaceX sent documents to the FCC to urge the committee to approve federal funding to support equipping school buses with Wi-Fi access points.Back in May, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal(opens in new window) It does this by taking funding from the Commission’s E-Rate program, which focuses on providing affordable broadband to schools and libraries.

Over the years, the committee has received “many requests” to allocate funds to school buses. “E-rate program funding is need-based up to a Commission-mandated annual cap of $4.456 billion,” FCC Say(opens in new window).

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SpaceX said in the filing that it supports Rosenworcel’s proposal. “New funding for these mobile services is critical because in many cases these students lack any high-throughput, low-latency options not only on their way to and from school, but at home,” the company wrote. “Many of the students most in need of support live far from school, with long commutes and no connectivity,” it added.

SpaceX has also said it is best suited to provide broadband access to mobile buses, citing Starlink’s ability to provide high-speed internet in the most remote areas of the world.

SpaceX has also applied for $886 million in funding from the FCC to bring broadband to rural areas across the United States. However, the committee denied federal subsidies due to doubts that Starlink could deliver the promised speed at an affordable cost. SpaceX has appealed the decision.

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