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SpaceX's in-flight Wi-Fi, Starlink Aviation, takes to the skies

Oh c'mon! Was it too much to expect Skynet?

SpaceX's in-flight internet service for airplanes now has a name – Starlink Aviation.

Hawaiian Airlines announced earlier this year that it would be the first major carrier to provide free Wi-Fi to passengers through the Starlink broadband satellite network.

However, at the time, the airline-focused part of the business lacked specific branding. SpaceX announced the official launch of the service via Twitter earlier this morning along with a website explaining the service.

The company says that Starlink will be able to provide up to 350Mbps broadband to planes fitted with its specially designed, low profile Aero Terminal, which features an electronically steered phased array antenna to enable "new levels of reliability, redundancy and performance."

This means passengers will be able to make video calls, play online games, use VPNs and perform other bandwidth-munching activities "with latency as low as 20ms," it is claimed.

SpaceX says the Aero Terminal is straightforward to install and can be done during other routine maintenance checks. Purchasing airlines will receive a power supply, two wireless access points, and harnesses along with the terminal.

The reason Hawaiian Airlines tapped SpaceX for in-flight internet was that it was difficult to provide reliable Wi-Fi over the Pacific Ocean. "We waited until technology caught up with our high standards for guest experience, but it will be worth the wait," CEO Peter Ingram said the time. "Our guests can look forward to fast, seamless and free Wi-Fi to complement our award-winning onboard Hawaiian hospitality."

"As the world's largest satellite constellation with coverage over land, the oceans and polar regions, Starlink is positioned to connect passengers wherever your flight routes evolve," SpaceX says.

The financial terms of the contract were not revealed in April, but now we have more idea of the costs involved for interested airlines – and it's a little more expensive than regular consumer Starlink.

The hardware kit has a price tag of $150,000 and internet subscription ranges from $12,500 to $25,000 a month depending on the airline's needs. The product is available to reserve and pre-order for $5,000, with the service starting from mid-2023.

The new service will also share its name with Canadian private jet charter company Starlink Aviation, which says on its website that it guarantees "privacy and discretion" for its no doubt well-heeled customers. We asked the company about this, and it said: "We were made aware of the decision from SpaceX and are currently looking if it does in fact infringe on our trademark." ®

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