The next time you go on a cruise, you could be enjoying high-speed Wi-Fi provided by Starlink, the satellite internet service operated by Elon Musk and SpaceX.
Cruise line Royal Caribbean has submitted a filing to the US Federal Communications Commission (opens in new tab) (FCC) requesting that Starlink be approved for use on moving vehicles (via PC Mag (opens in new tab)).
In the filing, the company’s Vice President John Maya says that “working with Space X Services Inc., we believe we have identified a true next-generation solution for our vessels.”
Currently, Starlink is available in over 20 countries, including parts of the US, UK, and Australia. Most recently the service added Ukraine to the regions it supports in an effort to keep citizens in the war-torn country online.
Analysis: Travelling by the Starlink
You’ll find plenty of complaints online about Starlink internet if you go looking, from astronomers concerned about the disruption it could bring to the night sky to those who just aren’t fans of the company’s controversial CEO.
But chief among the issues users have is that the service’s signal is very easy to block – so easy in fact, that some have reported that a single tree (opens in new tab) is all that’s stood between them and access to Musk’s satellite Wi-Fi.
Out on the open sea, though, trees and other potential signal-blockers wouldn’t be a problem – and Starlink could enable Royal Caribbean to offer a significantly improved internet service to its passengers.
Currently, Royal Caribbean uses an internet service called Voom. We haven’t been able to find official details of its speed, but users typically report download speeds of at best 5Mbps (via HighSeasCrusing (opens in new tab)).
By comparison, while Starlink’s Residential service promises to deliver speeds of up to 150Mbps, Royal Caribbean would likely use Starlink Business, the company’s commercial arm, which promises speeds of between 150Mbps and 500Mbps; and considering that this connection would have to be shared across an entire ship it may be looking for speeds towards the higher end of that range, or even faster.
If the FFC approves Royal Caribbean’s request, and the rollout of Starlink’s service to its ships proves a success, such collaborations might not stop at cruise ships – we could see Starlink being used on trains and even airplanes.
And who knows – you might even be able to have Starlink beamed straight to your Tesla car.