SpaceX wants to put Starlink internet on rural school buses

Starlink satellite Internet access has already spread to boats and RVs, and now it could accompany your child on their way home from class. SpaceX told the FCC in a filing that it is piloting Starlink aboard school buses in the rural United States. The project would keep students connected during long drives (over an hour in the pilot) and ensure they can complete internet-related homework on time, even when broadband at home is slow or non-existent.

The space company also backed FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s May proposal to introduce WiFi on school buses and said it supports the regulator’s efforts to fund internet access for schools and libraries through the E-Rate program. Unsurprisingly, SpaceX felt it had the best solution for the most “remote” areas, thanks to rapid satellite deployment, portable dishes, and fast service.

We have reached out to the FCC and SpaceX for comment and will let you know when they respond. The pitch comes just two months after the FCC approved Starlink’s use in vehicles, noting it would serve the “public interest” of keeping people online on the go. The concept is not new – Google, for example, equipped school buses with WLAN after tests in 2018.

There is no guarantee that the FCC will accept SpaceX and fund the bus-based Starlink service. The commission rejected SpaceX’s request for $885.5 million in assistance from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, and the company responded by blowing up the rejection as “grossly unfair” and allegedly unsupported by evidence hunted. However, satellite internet service theoretically offers more consistent rural coverage than cellular data, and Starlink competitors like Amazon’s Project Kuiper have yet to make a serious effort.

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