- SpaceX is piloting a program to provide Starlink to school buses in some rural communities.
- On Tuesday, SpaceX sent a letter to the FCC urging it to approve funding for WiFi on school buses.
- In August, the FCC denied SpaceX an $866 million subsidy to provide its service in remote areas.
SpaceX is testing a program to expand its satellite Internet service to some school buses in the US, according to a Tuesday filing 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 satellite Internet service on buses, turning “travel time into connection time,” according to the filing. . Elon Musk’s company told the FCC that it is focusing the pilot program on bus routes that are longer than an hour and are “predominantly inaccessible to other mobile broadband services.”
“Many students who need more support live miles from school, with long commutes but no connectivity,” SpaceX said in its presentation, noting that many low-income students also don’t have internet access at home. “No service is better placed to better bridge this overlooked part of the homework gap than Starlink,” he added.
In the letter, SpaceX urged the FCC to approve federal funding to support the provision of Wi-Fi to school buses. Earlier this year, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal to direct funding for a program designed to equip schools and libraries with WiFi to provide connectivity on school buses.
SpaceX and FCC spokespeople did not respond to an Insider request for comment before publication.
SpaceX’s letter comes just a month after the FCC rejected an $866 million subsidy for Starlink to provide its service to rural communities in the U.S. The commission said the space company “was unable to demonstrate that providers could provide the promised service” and labeled Starlink as a “technology still in development.
SpaceX quickly responded to the agency for the decision. The company called the FCC’s decision “grossly unfair” and “contrary to the evidence” that the company presented in its offer for the subsidy.
Musk’s company just received FCC approval to use Starlink for moving vehicles in June. But, the service continues to grow. Last week, SpaceX conducted demonstration flights on a private jet to demonstrate Starlink’s capabilities from 30,000 feet in the air.
Starlink currently has a user base of over 400,000 subscribers worldwide. The company has a network of more than 2,500 satellites in lower orbit. The service is designed to provide high-speed Internet of up to 200 Mbps to customers in rural areas and higher latitudes.