- 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 a $866 million subsidy to provide its service in remote areas.
SpaceX is piloting 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’s satellite internet service on buses, turning “ride time to connected time,” the filing said. Elon Musk’s company told the FCC it is focusing the pilot program on bus routes that are over an hour long and are “predominantly inaccessible to other mobile broadband services.”
“Many students who need the most support live miles from school, with lengthy commutes but no connectivity,” SpaceX said in its filing, noting many lower income students also don’t have internet access at home. “No service is better situated to better close this overlooked part of the Homework Gap than Starlink,” it added.
In the letter, SpaceX urged the FCC to approve federal funding to support providing school buses with WiFi. Earlier this year, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal to direct funds from a program designed to outfit schools and libraries with WiFi toward providing connectivity on school buses.
Spokespeople for SpaceX and the FCC did not respond to a request for comment from Insider ahead of publication.
SpaceX’s letter comes only a month after the FCC rejected a $866 million subsidy for Starlink to provide its service to rural communities in the US. The commission said the space venture “failed to demonstrate that the providers could deliver the promised service” and labeled Starlink a “still-developing technology.”
SpaceX was quick to hit back at the agency over the decision. The company called the FCC decision “grossly unfair” and “contrary to the evidence” the company presented in its bid for the subsidy.
Musk’s company only just received approval from the FCC to use the Starlink for vehicles in motion in June. But, the service is continuing to grow. Last week, SpaceX held demo 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 deliver high-speed internet of up to 200 Mbps to customers in rural areas and higher latitudes.