Starlink Satellite Internet Connection Now Available at Tesla Superchargers in Some Spots
Elon Musk is also Starlink's CEO, and that is basically the connection between the two companies. Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX providing satellite Internet access to most of the Earth. The constellation consists of over 1600 satellites in mid-2021, and will eventually consist of many thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), which communicate with designated ground transceivers.
While the technical possibility of satellite internet service covers most of the global population, actual service can be delivered only in countries that have licensed SpaceX to provide service within any specific national jurisdiction. As of October 2021, the beta service offering is available in 19 countries.
As of 13 November 2021, SpaceX has launched 1,844 Starlink satellites, including demo satellites Tintin A and B. They plan to launch up to 60 more per Falcon 9 flight, with launches as often as every two weeks in 2021. In April 2020, SpaceX modified the architecture of the Starlink network. SpaceX submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposing to operate more satellites in lower orbits in the first phase than the FCC previously authorized. The first phase will still include 1,440 satellites in the first shell orbiting at 550 km (340 mi) in planes inclined 53.0°, with no change to the first shell of the constellation launched largely in 2020.
Fred Lambert, from electrek, reported that "…with charging, the goal is always to make the charging sessions shorter, but it is still not unusual for Tesla owners to spend over 30 minutes at the stations. It’s generally a good time for a snack or a bathroom break, but the automaker has also been building an experience inside the car while charging. Tesla has been building in-car apps for entertainment, such as Tesla Theater, which includes Netflix, Youtube, Twitch, and other streaming apps, and Tesla Arcade, which includes several video games."
According to John Fingas, from techcrunch, "…you don’t need that much bandwidth (the median US Starlink connection is about 97Mbps) just to process transactions, though, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Tesla used the satellite link to provide WiFi to Supercharger customers. You’re typically parked at a charger for long enough to watch some TV episodes — you could stream shows without a Premium Connectivity subscription or using your phone as a hotspot. Network congestion could be a problem if the chargers are busy, but it would be convenient and potentially sell customers on Starlink service at home."
In order to offer satellite services over any nation-state, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) regulations and long-standing international treaties require that landing rights be granted by each country jurisdiction. As a result, even though the Starlink network has near-global reach at latitudes below approximately 60°, broadband services to rural and underserved areas can only be provided in approximately nineteen countries to date. SpaceX can also have business operation and economic considerations that may make a difference in which countries Starlink service is offered, in which order, and how soon. For example, SpaceX formally requested authorization for Canada only in June 2020, the Canadian regulatory authority approved it in November 2020, and SpaceX rolled out service two months later, in January 2021.
As of yesterday (November 14th), the service was spotted and reported at the Lake City, Florida Supercharger station; it is not clear yet if the service is available right away to all drivers and/or the other exact locations where the service is deployed; we will be providing further detailed information regarding those next deployments on the spot. But it is certainly very good news for all Tesla customers.
All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.