Fast internet in flights? Elon Musk's Starlink shows 100Mbps is possible at 30,000 ft in the air

Fast internet in flights? Elon Musk's Starlink shows 100Mbps is possible at 30,000 ft in the air

Starlink, a service by Elon Musk's SpaceX, is working on fast internet in flights. The company has now shown that using satellite connectivity speed of 100Mbps is easily possible.

Story highlights
  • Starlink tests internet speed of 100Mbps in a plane flying at 30,000ft.
  • The test was carried out on a flight operated by JSX, a private airline in the US.
  • Elon Musk's Starlink satellites are now providing internet in all seven continents.

Fast internet in flights has been a long-time dream of flyers. Now there is a possibility that it may soon turn into a reality. While the internet is available in some flights, the speeds are low. But recently Startlink -- a satellite internet service by Elon Musk's SpaceX -- has demonstrated that it is possible to get speed of up to 100Mbps in planes cruising at the height of 30000 ft.

Starlink, which uses thousands of small satellites currently orbiting the earth to beam internet, is expanding its footprint quickly. Elon Musk recently tweeted that the Starlink service is now available in all seven continents, including Antarctica. Although in most countries, government regulations mean subscribing to the Starlink internet service is still not the possibility for users.

To test the feasibility of high-speed internet in a flight, SpaceX conducted a Starlink demo with JSX, a private airline in the US. The test was conducted on a JSX regional flight from Burbank to San Jose, California and during it speed of up to 100 Mbps was achieved even when the plane was flying at 30,000 ft.

The JSX passengers tested the speed of the internet provided by Starlink using Ookla.

US-based JSX is among the first airlines which have sealed a deal with SpaceX for Starlink's in-flight internet connectivity. Hawaiian Airlines also announced a collaboration with Starlink and the service is expected to start by 2023.

SpaceX is currently the world's largest operator of satellite internet services. The company recently tested one of its Starlink internet terminals at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The McMurdo Station is inhabited by almost 1,000 people and now gets satellite internet at the speed of up to 17Mbps.

How Starlink service works

Starlink uses thousands of satellites that orbit the Earth at 550 km from the surface. SpaceX aims to provide high-speed internet to people living in remote locations and extreme climates via satellite, in addition to providing direct internet links to its customers irrespective of where they live. Given the Starlink satellite system's relative proximity to Earth's surface, it can offer considerably fast signals with latency between 20-40 milliseconds and internet speeds between 50Mbps to 150Mbps.

Starlink currently has around 3,000 low-level satellites in space. In recent months they have appeared in sky, even in India, as slow-moving streak of light. This has led some to nickname them "light train", although on some occasions their sightings have also sparked talk around alien objects and unexplained phenomena. The number of Starlink satellites is expected to increase in coming months as Musk wants more than 12000 of such internet beaming machines around the earth. Musk also has plans to launch the Starlink Version 2. The next-gen spacecraft part of this Gen 2 service will offer internet directly to smartphones.