SpaceX could soon operate two new Starlink dishes after the Federal Communications Commission approved its application on Tuesday, according to a filing spotted earlier by PCMag.
The first device is about the size of an Apple MacBook — smaller than SpaceX’s first-generation Starlink dish — and will likely be portable. The second dish builds on SpaceX’s previously authorized fixed user terminal models, PCMag reported, and is also smaller than SpaceX’s current high-performance dish. Both dishes will be able to communicate with first- and second-generation Starlink satellites. It’s unclear when SpaceX will start selling the new hardware, or how much it will cost.
A portable dish would mean Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency broadband will be even more accessible to customers and that it could address one the biggest hurdles for consumers: equipment price. But the demand for speedy and reliable internet is only increasing, and low Earth orbit satellites, like those from Starlink, have proved that they can meet that need. Low Earth orbit satellites can shorten the round-trip time for data and improve speeds. Because they’re less confined than fiber, for example, more households have the opportunity to get high-speed internet — some for the first time.
The satellite-based internet landscape is shaping up to be a competitive one. Through Project Kuiper, Amazon is set to launch over 3,000 satellites into low Earth orbit in 2024 and start selling home internet service in 2025. To date, SpaceX has over 5,000 Starlink satellites in space. The company has permission to launch an additional 12,000 satellites, and it awaits authorization on another 30,000.
Starlink isn’t as widely available currently and has a years-long waitlist. So far, the satellite internet provider has about 1.5 million customers. This is a far cry from the 20 million it anticipated amassing by 2022. On the other hand, SpaceX is closer to turning a profit on its Starlink satellite kits through improved production.
Space X wasn’t immediately available for comment.