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Elon Musk’s Starlink held in-flight WiFi demo on private jet after Delta passed on a deal with SpaceX

SpaceX hosted a demo flight to showcase the capabilities of its Starlink satellite internet service on a private jet last week as the internet service vies for more customers.

During a one-hour flight from Burbank to San Jose, California, SpaceX demonstrated the capabilities of Starlink to deliver WiFi for Netflix, YouTube, as well as video chats from 30,000 feet in the air, Bloomberg reported.

Reporters who attended the media event said the in-flight WiFi hit speeds over 100 Mbs — more than enough connectivity to seamlessly stream videos, surf the internet or even host live video chats. Though, it’s unclear whether the internet speed would have been slower had it been used on a larger flight with more than 20 to 30 passengers.

The event was held on a JSX jet, a regional carrier that describes itself as a “hop-on jet service.” JSX was the first airline to sign a contract with SpaceX for its Starlink internet. Hawaiian Airlines has also signed an agreement with Elon Musk’s company for the satellite service.

JSX CEO Alex Wilcox previously told Insider the carrier chose SpaceX for its small antennas and “kissed a lot of frogs” before the company settled on Starlink. Since SpaceX entered the satellite internet market it has been vying with more established providers, including Viasat and Intelsat.

Bloomberg previously reported that SpaceX has pitched its internet service to four of the largest airline carriers in the US, including Delta, to no avail. The publication said that Musk’s technology uses smaller and lower-flying satellites than competitors, which allows the WiFi signal to arrive faster. But the smaller satellites might not be enough to power larger planes with more user demand, Bloomberg said. SpaceX has said Starlink can service planes of all sizes.

What’s more, regulators have expressed doubt in SpaceX’s satellite internet service. In August, the Federal Communications Commission rejected a $866 million subsidy for Starlink, saying the company “failed to demonstrate that the providers could deliver the promised service” and labelling it a “still-developing technology.”

SpaceX called the FCC decision “grossly unfair” and “contrary to the evidence” the company presented in its bid for the subsidy.

Starlink has also branched out into the cruise industry. Last month, Royal Caribbean announced it had launched the satellite internet service across its fleet of ships. In the past, the airline and cruise industry have been plagued with historically poor WiFi options for passengers.

SpaceX only just received approval from the FCC to use the Starlink for vehicles in motion in June. But the service is continuing to grow. Most recently, Musk announced SpaceX is teaming up with T-Mobile to offer its users access to Starlink satellites as soon as next year.

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. –