September 24, 2022

  • SpaceX is piloting a program to deliver Starlink to school buses in some rural communities.
  • On Tuesday, SpaceX sent a letter to the FCC urging it to approve funding for school bus WiFi.
  • In August, the FCC denied SpaceX an $866 million subsidy to provide its services in remote areas.

SpaceX is piloting a program to extend its satellite internet service to some school buses in the US, it said on Tuesday submission with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The company told the FCC that it is currently working with school districts in rural areas of the country to provide students with SpaceX’s satellite Internet on buses, turning “drive time into connection time,” according to the filing. Elon Musk’s company told the FCC it is focusing the pilot program on bus routes that last more than an hour and are “predominantly inaccessible to other mobile broadband services.”

“Many students who need the most support live miles from school, with long commutes but no connectivity,” SpaceX said in its filing, noting many lower-income students as well. they don’t have internet access at home. “No service is better positioned to close this neglected part of the homework gap than Starlink,” it added.

In the letter, SpaceX urged the FCC to approve federal funding to support the provision of WiFi to school buses. Earlier this year, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal to direct funds from a program designed to equip schools and libraries with WiFi to connecting school buses.

Spokespeople for SpaceX and the FCC did not respond to Insider’s request for comment before publication.

SpaceX’s letter comes just a month after the FCC rejected an $866 million subsidy for Starlink to serve rural communities in the US. The commission said the space venture “failed to demonstrate that the providers can deliver the promised service” and labeled Starlink as a “still developing technology”.

SpaceX quickly hit back at the agency for the decision. The company called the FCC’s decision “grossly unfair” and “contrary to the evidence” the company presented in its subsidy bid.

Musk’s company just received approval from the FCC to use Starlink for moving vehicles in June. However, the service continues to grow. Last week, SpaceX held demo flights in a private jet to demonstrate Starlink’s capabilities from an altitude of 30,000 feet.

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

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