Royal Caribbean Group, the world's second largest cruise ship operator, plans to provide SpaceX’s Starlink internet to passengers. On Friday, June 10, the company shared it submitted a filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the regulatory agency to approve SpaceX Starlink for use on sea-going vessels. “Working with SpaceX Services, Inc., we believe we have identified a true next generation solution for our vessels that meets the rigorous technical and operational requirements commensurate with our growth plans,” said Royal Caribbean representatives.
To date, SpaceX operates approximately 2,600 Starlink satellites in Low Earth Orbit and plans to launch a total of 12,000 in the next five years to provide high-speed internet globally, even in the most remote regions. SpaceX already provides internet access to over 500,000 subscribers living across 32 countries. The Starlink satellite constellation will be capable of beaming internet to sea-going vessels and aircraft in motion, however, the FCC has not yet approved use of Starlink onboard moving vehicles. Royal Caribbean's Vice President of Operational Excellence, John Maya, wrote a letter asking the FCC to "expeditiously" grant the license. “We believe our work with SpaceX, the first of its kind in the cruise industry will set the standard for other cruise operators and will mean a leap in terms of guest experience and business operations while at sea,” the company said. “For this reason, we are eager to advocate for new market entrants to drive a marketplace innovation step change.”
"We write today to respectfully request that you act expeditiously and look favorably upon the pending application filed by SpaceX Services, Inc. and referenced above," wrote Maya to the FCC. They also highlighted the importance of reliable maritime internet coverage. “The increase in marine vessel operations—whether cargo, cruise, commercial or personal watercraft—as well as the technology industry shift to cloud-based software solutions, has meant an increase in satellite internet service demand. Yet the supply side of the satellite internet equation has suffered from attrition, bankruptcies, and consolidation,” they wrote in the filing. As of January 2021, Royal Caribbean Group fully owns three cruise lines: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises.
SpaceX already has contracts with multiple airlines to use Starlink aboard aircraft. Hawaiian Airlines will be the first major airline to provide free Starlink Wi-Fi for passengers. Hawaiian Airlines currently does not provide any Wi-Fi service during flights because they have not found a network that serves flights over the Pacific Ocean; SpaceX will be a reliable solution. JSX, a charter airline that offers private point-to-point flights, will also be one of the first to use Starlink Internet during flights.
Delta Airlines is already testing SpaceX Starlink internet aboard some of its planes, according to the airline CEO Ed Bastian. The commercial airline is in discussions with SpaceX representatives who are collaborating to conduct “exploratory testing” of the internet technology
Featured Image Source: Royal Caribbean