SpaceX has launched a new variant of its Starlink Internet service developed specifically for maritime use.
Starlink Maritime is promising high-speed, low latency Internet with a download speed of up to 350Mbps while at sea.
To use the service, customers pay $10,000 (R167,450, excl. taxes) for the kit, while the monthly service fee costs $5,000 (R83,630).
That compares with a $599 (R10,032) equipment fee and a $110 (R1,843) subscription for the fixed residential Starlink service.
The company claims the Starlink kit is rugged enough to withstand extreme cold, heat, hail, sleet, heavy rain, and gale-force wind.
It can also hold its own against rocket engines, as SpaceX currently uses Starlink to broadcast video from its Falcon 9 landings on drone ships at sea.
Starlink said the service includes the ability to remotely monitor and manage a customer’s fleet of terminals from a single portal.
The company also explained that Starlink implements end-to-end encryption to protect the confidentiality of users’ data traffic.
Customers can pause and unpause the service at any time, with minimum billing in one-month increments.
The service’s coverage map shows it is available in select areas along the coastlines of North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and all around New Zealand.
Deeper sea waters in the Northern and far Southern hemispheres are targeted for coverage in the fourth quarter of 2022, while the remaining ocean area is planned to be covered by the first quarter of 2023.
Covering areas further away from land will likely require more Starlink satellites to have laser links allowing them to communicate directly with each other instead of a ground station.
The map below shows the current and future coverage plans for Starlink Maritime.
The launch of Starlink Maritime comes only a few days after its received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to provide its service on boats, planes, and moving vehicles.
Starlink also offers a service specifically for RVs (recreational vehicles) geared towards campers who want to stay connected while travelling.
That service uses the same equipment as the standard residential product and costs $135 per month, with the $25 being added for the added benefit of portability.
Several airlines, including Delta, have also started testing Starlink on their commercial planes to provide better in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity to passengers.